Do I need coding knowledge to use a CMS?

Overall, content management systems do a great job of limiting the amount of coding required when developing a website.

Content management systems are touted at making everything easy. It’s no surprise then, that a lot of people new (or foreign) to web development find themselves asking whether they can dive head-first into working with a CMS, even with a lack of any prior substantial web development experience.

But can anyone really develop a website using a content management system, even without prior web development experience?

Let’s explore this.

You don’t necessarily need to know any markup, styling, or coding languages to use a CMS. For the most part, they ‘just work’.

One of the biggest selling points of content management systems is the attraction of ease. They are, in many ways, marketed and often used by individuals with a lack of coding knowledge.

Content management systems provide a means for people of even a minor technical background to create something functional. All without the need to work with any code, if that’s what they desire.

This doesn’t mean that a CMS can necessarily create a desirable, quality end product without the use of code modification, but it is technically... possible.

In fact, a content management system might be a great way to initiate your engagement and facilitate learning with simple markup and styling languages, if you’re new to them.

Some minor background in HTML, CSS and PHP is definitely preferable, and will allow you to get a lot more done, since you’ll undeniably have a much easier time finding your way around the CMS and making small modifications as you go along.

With that said, however, the ability to write this kind of code fluently is not necessarily a requirement if all you want to do is spin up a few very simple pages. But then, if that’s all you need, you might be better off opting for a simpler online site building tool instead.

Content management systems have come a long way in enabling users and administrators to engage with their website, in many ways eliminating the need to touch a line of code to accomplish many tasks.

If your plans are to experiment using a CMS without prior coding knowledge, it’s probably best that you opt to use a pre-packaged premium theme to kickstart your journey.

Premium themes often come bundled and pre-packaged with additional extensions to the website and its administration interface, making the site even easier for people who lack development experience and code fluency.

Eventually, though, as you gain traction, there will come a point where at least some basic knowledge in the big three languages will become a welcome skill. HTML, CSS, and PHP, those are.

Once you begin to create more complex content, or if you wish to make more intricate changes to the look, feel and function of the website, possessing reasonable knowledge in these areas will become pretty key.

Luckily for you, there is an abundance of information available on the internet, but this definitely doesn’t act as a substitute for knowledge acquired through experience.

When working with more complex content, and how it is displayed, a knowledge of HTML is going to be pretty much necessary. That is, if you intend on breaking out of the CMS’ design constraints provided by its WYSIWYG text editor.

And for modifying style and functionality, CSS and PHP become a necessary skill too.

Overall, content management systems do a great job of limiting the amount of coding required when developing a website. Usually, the more complex development work is required during the early phases of CMS development, in order to make the website look and operate as desired. But adding and updating content on a longer term basis tends to be as easy as pasting some text and uploading an image — an area where the CMS succeeds at ease and convenience.

If you are daring enough to attempt to learn a CMS without a solid background in web development, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that most content management systems have great online guides and documentation for beginners.

You may find that using a CMS accelerates your learning of these basic coding languages, but definitely isn’t the desired way to learn.

As an aspiring developer, we think it might be best for you to learn the basics of (at least) HTML and CSS before venturing into the world of the CMS.

Solid PHP knowledge is probably more optional, unless you intend on making major changes to the website’s functionality yourself. Fortunately, there are many developers worldwide who can integrate additional functionality into a variety of popular content management systems for a reasonable price tag.

Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of the CMS.

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