Our decision to hand-code was very easy. We wanted the site our way. By hand-coding, we were able to adjust every part of our site and customize it to what our consumer wants. The one thing that students underestimate is the fact that hand-coding is easy to learn. We were also pushed by our adviser Jason Nix to go hand-code as opposed to using a template-based site. We feel that the lessons and experience we get from hand-coding will benefit us in the long run.
Customized designs are the way to go, and they do require some skill at coding to deploy successfully, but I think there’s a great untapped market for WordPress themes oriented towards college media outlets.