The CMS vs hand coded debate!

So to start off 4 years ago I came into my robotics team wanting to do something different and decided to join my web team. Right now Team 537 is using Wordpress as a Content Management System ( and don’t get me wrong, I love the easy use of Wordpress but I am not sure about long term! I am the web lead on our team and currently we have 3 other people on the web team and I feel like the “webkins” aren’t learning any thing using WordPress. As a team member and a web leader I feel it is important to teach them something that they can use in the future, not saying you can’t find a job with wordpress experience… I just don’t want one of them trying to apply to facebook thinking that wordpress is what runs the web… I compleatly hand coded At The Control but that was from what I learned on my own time durring the past 3 summers. I am curious what do other people think? What are you using to run your site?

I use Wordpress for our site because we have very few members and most of them are on the build team. Besides that, I would love to hand code our website. It’s a great learning experience and comes in handy. I’ve heard if you want a more hand coded CMS, Drupal is a good option.

Which is more important, the experience of hand-coding a website, or a steady, widely-supported platform for disseminating information in your community?

(If you have an itch to code something from scratch, consider thinking of something internal that solves a need like 254 did.)

I have coded my teams website completly hand coded,
I would suggest you teach them to code not using wordpress, because you have more customizable things with hand coding and its a great skill to have, I am the only web designer on my team so I started the website during the summer and finished in january. Teach them dont let them be blobs

Those who fear the internals of a black box will spend a fortune purchasing, configuring and debugging their system around them.

Those who think their code doesn’t smell will spend a fortune re-writing the black boxes for no good reason.

Which Wordpress are you talking about? .com or .org? There are some major differences. is completely customizable and is easily updated. You get to hand code the theme, you can hand code the widgets and the nav bar. There are professional website design companies that use Wordpress. However Facebook is not just a simple website. I do realize this went from a simple question into a rant and don’t mean to offen anyone. I just would like to make a point.


Besides the completely customizable feature has, the real question is, if you hand code it, how to do learn the code? do you take a few months to learn from w3schools or another source of teaching, or do you go to a website, find a feature you like, inspect the element, and just “STEAL” the code? most company’s frown on stealing code, but like Facebook, everyone has before and will continue to do so, their for they really are not learning how to code but learning how to tweak code.

so how exactly is a CMS better than Hand Code and how is Hand code better than CMS? the answer Hand code is better with a good CMS System, if you have multiple people working on it plus need something done fast or will be updated constantly, CMS Handcoded is perfect, but never rely on strict CMS or Strict Handcode, because you will always find flaws but with the 2 combine even though you are still hand coding a CMS its the best way to go.

In the end, it’s really only about content.

In the team environment, you have complete turnover in four years (hopefully). Have your people work on quality content. You will have enough customization with Wordpress to change the UI and keep it fresh.

that is good in all but with small teams most will start out with a cms, while that is great in all and some teams stick with CMS, a website can not be called 100% yours because your using everyone elses themes and templates, except for the content. If there is even one person on your team that knows how to code in HTML/PHP/MySQL/JS have him create a custom CMS that way it will be 100% yours and you can own a copy right, thats what I am doing with my teams website, its finished 100% coded in HTML/PHP and now im just working on the cms that way we can finally own the copyright (100% of it)

Using a CMS like WordPress and writing code are not mutually exclusive. Create a custom theme or plugin that fulfills your team needs. WordPress is amazing and I’d be hard-pressed (sorry) to find a reason not to use it.

I feel like this didn’t get enough attention. Some teams aren’t interested in learning how to write a CMS from scratch. They just need an easily-updatable system to get information out.

There’s a market out there for both people who can code from “scratch” and people who can customize the heck out of Wordpress/Drupal/other-boxed-CMS. Like many others, this debate has been done a few times, and ultimately it’s up to each team’s need at that specific time.

How many people do you have helping with your teams website? and how many actually know code? and how many keep it constantly updated?

Just a couple with the technical skills/interest, and a few more responsible for content. If you have a crew of students itching to do something, then by all means go for it! But perhaps think about creating a scouting system, registration/paperwork management system for your team, online inventory/part management, etc. too

Just because you can, doesn’t always mean you should.

See my teams has about 20students on it, I would say 10 actually do work, we have 1 web designer while when we get new students the others encourage the new students NOT to do web site design. The web designer is also the lead scout (3-5 people do this and some are forced because they do nothing else) and the scouting program is created by the web designer and one other person, so if there are teams out there like mine, most will probably create a CMS system and try to keep it updated, I went full hand code and wont update until I finish some other projects, I made it so that it wont have to updated until next year or a big event comes along, and when that happens 1 document updates everything I need.

So like it was said before, it depends on the team, and it definitely depends on who is doing the work, because some teams are just starting and know a lot and some may not and then their are veterans that might even use for their website because they have no one interested in the website.


I also echo the “content is more important than what you build with” feeling I was getting from a couple of comments. I don’t care how good a site looks it lacks content.