Enterprise Software

Designing websites without code

You don't necessarily have to know how to code to produce a website these days. Ryan Boudreaux looks at some of the platforms that allow for easy, rapid website development.

A trend toward creating websites for the masses without knowing a line of code seems to be catching on. I will briefly highlight the three platforms that many organizations are using, and without going into too much detail, I will describe some of their attributes and inroads they have made in the web development community.

Several content management systems (CMS) have amassed a large following in the past several years, including WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla. These three are at the top of the list, but there are plenty of others out there to choose from. Each of these systems utilizes a graphical user interface that bridges the gap between coding your own and getting content into production. If you are creating customizations of themes and templating, this still requires coding, but many folks use these platforms straight out of the box.

There are benefits to these systems and while some of them do require a longer and steeper learning curve, with little skill, you can have a decent website up in hours or days.


WordPress, the semantic personal publishing platform, for example, is probably one of the easiest for the novice web designer. Many hosting providers will automatically install WordPress and set up the MySQL database for the backend — all you have to do is assign an administrator, a few passwords, and you are all set. Adding content is easy with the dashboard; type or copy text or code by hand, and you are done. WordPress also features an import and export utility that is helpful. And now that WordPress is into version 3.01 it has moved from the "best blogging platform" and into a full-fledged content management system. Examples of organizations that currently utilize WordPress for their web development platform are Reuters, Flickr, Harvard Law School, OpenID, and 2Advanced Studios.


Several United States Federal government agencies are using Drupal as their web development platform today, including the White House website. The EPA is currently looking into using it for its public website. Drupal is currently used by many other well known sites such as Grammy.com, Intel, AT&T, and CNNGo.com, to name a few.


Joomla is a more advanced CMS, and its functionality requires a bit more expertise than, say, a WordPress installation, but it still offers an easy interface to quickly build inventory control systems, data reporting tools, reservation systems, integration for e-commerce systems, and custom product catalogs. Joomla CMS platform is currently utilized for powering these sites: Deep Purple (that's right, the rock band), Epson R&D, and Porsche Brazil just to name a few.

A few questions

Are these open source rapid development CMS platforms taking over from traditional systems and previous coding practices? It sure seems that they are catching on with many government, business, and non-profit organizations. With many of them being free and open source platforms, it makes sense for organizations that are looking to pinch pennies; not having to pay thousands in licensing is a boon to the bottom line.

  • Do you think CMS platforms will become the mainstream development tools for organizations web development, web masters, designers, and developers?
  • Does your organization currently use any of these platforms?
  • If so, how has this affected the workload and coding that your developers did before the CMS implementation?


Ryan has performed in a broad range of technology support roles for electric-generation utilities, including nuclear power plants, and for the telecommunications industry. He has worked in web development for the restaurant industry and the Federal g...

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