I absolutely love Webmasterworld's Highlighted Posts feature. I would love to implement something similar for my vBulletin forum--something that just lets me add a post to the Highlighted Posts very quickly (versus editing HTML).
There are several 'front page' apps for vB, can't mention names here I guess. I haven't used them, so can't say if HTML editing is involved. I'm almost certain there are auto-gens for stuff like panel lists of 'most viewed', 'most replied' etc stuff--probably results of database queries.
If you can get a HTML framework page set up, it should be possible to use includes so that you would only have to edit a text file, and upload it to your server.