The CMS Challenge: Creating More Designers While Keeping Code Green

Pete Markiewicz

The rise of custom CMS systems aimed at non-web designers like Wix and SquareSpace is enabling a new wave of website – many of which fail on criteria for web sustainability. Do CMS systems aimed at non-coders make the web more, or less green? What principles to non-coder designers need to follow when using a CMS to ensure their site is sustainable?

Right now, WordPress is nearly 20% of all websites. Other CMS systems like Wix, Weebly, and SquareSpace are specifically targeted at designers, promising a “code free world” of unlimited design. In practice, these sites may be encouraging design that makes the web more bloated and less sustainable. I will consider whether the rise of non-HTML editors is likely to raise or lower the sustainability of the Internet.


My background is in science. I originally graduated with a doctorate in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Chicago. Later, I research multivalent vaccines, and ultimately landed at UCLA, where I studied protein structure and evolution under Dr. Jeffry Miller. In late 1993, I made a huge career shift from biology to Interactive Design and Development. I left UCLA to co-found Indiespace (formerly Kaleidospace) with Jeannie Novak. Indiespace went online in March 1994, and was the first web-based arts & entertainment company to sell indie products. During the 1990s and early 2000s, Indiespace was the prototype for modern video and music streaming websites. The site is still available today at In addition to Indiespace, I also co-wrote three books on the Internet, technology, and entertainment with Jeannie Novak available on Amazon.

I have a strong interest in generations, and beginning in the early 2000s, I worked with William Strauss & Neil Howe of Lifecourse Associates, the creators of the “Millennial” generation concept. I was a co-writer of their book “Millennials and the Pop Culture” from 2006, which predicted many of the trends we see in Millennials today. I also developed seminars on the Millennial Generation, pop culture, and virtual worlds for USC’s CTM Programs at the Marshall School of Business.

In 2005, I was a Team Leader for Team Robomonster, a robotic, self-driving rock vehicle entered in the DARPA 2005 Grand Challenge. The team, composed mostly of Web Design and Development students, made it to the second of three rounds in the contest. Currently, I teach Interactive and Web Design at the Art Institute of California, Los Angeles. I also do freelance consulting work with web, game, and virtual reality companies.

In the last few years, my web experience led me to become concerned with the long-term sustainability of the online word. My main interest here is extending web sustainability beyond web performance (WPO) alone, to create a framework for sustainability modeled on those found in other fields including Architecture and Industrial Design. I’ve also been developing “Green Boilerplate” – a concept for a sustainable web architecture that can be used as a starting point for web-based projects.
Sustainable Design Blog
Green Boilerplate
Amazon Author Page (has a Robomonster video)
Millennials and Pop Culture