So you’ve made the decision to build yourself a shiny new website, but you don’t know how. You look around for a few tools to help you on your way to web development prowess, and you hear about two very popular solutions to help you build your shiny new site – WordPress and Dreamweaver.
Now you’re in a dilemma. “If both are so good, which one should I choose?”
In reality, both are excellent ways to build a website, but which one is right for you depends on several key factors about your goals.
To make the comparison easier, here’s a summary table of the key differences between the two.
|Development Process||Find a theme you like, install it, and most graphical choices are made for you.|
Build a great looking site very quickly, but while it comes with a lot of customisation options, you still don’t have full control of the look without coding knowledge.
Functionality usually reserved for more advanced developers such as scroll effects come default in many themes, and if not can be added via plugins without the user needing to dabble in code.
|Templates can be used to speed up development, but you have full control of every area of design.|
Utilising more advanced functions often requires more in-depth understanding of code to implement.
|If quick and simple yet gorgeous is what you’re looking for, WordPress is the way to go. Even HTML isn’t strictly necessary.
If you have a very strict set of requirements and have the technical expertise to execute it, Dreamweaver may be more suitable. HTML and CSS are absolutely necessary.
|Customisability||Literally thousands of themes to choose from that come in all shapes and sizes. Very likely to be able to find a theme that suits your needs.|
Themes come with many default settings that very quickly make your site look modern even with little input, but making massive overhauls to the entire design can get messy.
|Dreamweaver is designed for your website to be customised from the ground up. If you have the specifications of your website envisioned very clearly, Dreamweaver is among the best tools for the job.|
If you’re new to web design, it can be very daunting for you to figure out how to create an excellent website design.
|WordPress themes come with many default settings that look great without much input, but the level at which you can customise it depends on the theme you choose.
Dreamweaver was built to allow you to completely customise every aspect of your website’s appearance
|Speed of Development||With literally thousands of ready-made themes, installation of a new WordPress site is a snap and almost any kind of additional feature may be added via plugins.|
Many style settings are automatically applied across your entire site so your website will always look uniform. Meanwhile, you can still make changes to the layout.
|Dreamweaver designs can be quickly deployed with templates, but additional features like animated sliders may need a bit of code to work the way you want.|
Styles can be quickly applied to pages by creating and editing templates. However, this can be complicated and yield inconsistent results if you do not plan your website ahead of time.
|Once you’ve learned the ropes, both WordPress and Dreamweaver can develop sites quickly.|
|Managing the Website||Adding new pages or blog posts can be as simple as clicking an add button, typing in your content and clicking publish.|
As a CMS, contains dedicated menu where you can easily access all the pages on your website.
|To add a new page, you need to open a new page using your saved template, type in your content, and then save and sync it to your server.|
Site structure depends on how you organise the file on your local drive.
|As a CMS, WordPress is highly effective if you’re intending to add a lot of pages. With a dedicated menu where you can view all your pages and many settings automatically applied across your site, it’s easy to give your site a uniform look.
On the other hand if your website will consist of only a few pages and you know exactly how you want your website to look, then Dreamweaver may be more suitable.
|Overall||Friendly enough for beginners, while functional enough even for demanding users.|
Excellent for SEO because many settings are automatically optimised to be SEO-friendly.
Excellent for users who want a quick solution that looks great, without having to pay attention to so many technical details.
Great customisability, but out of luck if you can’t find a theme that matches the design you envision.
|Steeper learning curve that takes time to get used to, but once proficient can create websites quickly.|
Dreamweaver can create a site of any kind, exactly as you dream it.
Many advanced functions cannot be added without understanding code.
If you’re frequently adding new pages, can start to get messy and difficult to manage, especially without sufficient planning at the start of the project.
|For the vast majority of users, WordPress is the easier, more functional option. From sliders to blogging to forums and even to membership sites, WordPress allows you to do almost anything Dreamweaver would allow you to do, in a fraction of the time, often by simply installing a plugin.
Again however, if you find that having the flexibility to customise your website’s design exactly as you envision it is worth the additional time and you have the necessary coding knowledge, then Dreamweaver may be the way to go.
The WordPress Approach
So what is this “WordPress” you keep hearing so much about? No, it’s not a lousy pun about pressing lots of words together. Before we get into the meat of this article, it’s important to differentiate between WordPress.org and WordPress.com. We will be referring to WordPress.org in this article.
What is WordPress?
WordPress is what is known as a Content Management System (CMS). The goal of a CMS is exactly as its name suggests – a system to manage content. But that sounds cryptic. In plain English, WordPress was designed to allow you to quickly add any number of webpages or blog posts without constantly having to worry about how it’s going to look.
Many have heard that WordPress was designed with blogging in mind. Yes it’s true – but fret not. By now WordPress has evolved to the point where most WordPress sites don’t even look like blogs. Even big brands like Sony, General Motors, UPS use WordPress. In fact WordPress’ blogging roots mean that adding content is snappy and hassle-free.
How Easy is it to Build a Website with WordPress?
So what’s it like building a website with WordPress? It’s actually quite like buying a house – you go house hunting, you find a house you like, you buy it, and then you do renovations to put in the final touches and you have a new house people can visit.
When developing a website with WordPress, you start by selecting your theme – this will set the tone for how your website layout is structured. Worried you can’t find a theme to suit your needs? Just as there are countless number of homes you can look at before deciding on your home, so too there are at least thousands of themes you can choose from.
Once you’ve selected your theme, many settings are automatically applied to new and current pages to make it a mostly pain-free experience. What does this mean for you? Well once you’re done with setting up the layout for blog posts, whenever you have a new article idea you want to share with your readers, adding a blog post is as simple as clicking “Add New Post”, typing out your article, and then clicking “Publish”.
While it is possible to create a website using WordPress without any prior knowledge of code, basic HTML and CSS knowledge comes highly recommended. Here’s an example scenario where basic CSS knowledge comes in handy.
If you want to increase the margin between Element 1 (Text) and Element 2 (Image), you need to know CSS.
You may be thinking, “But if I don’t know any code, how am I going to use all these cool features like slider animations, contact forms, and the like?” Simply add a plugin.
In fact, the official WordPress plugin directory has practically a plugin for every need. Ever heard of the term “a pill for every ill?” The WordPress plugin system is exactly that.
Need to backup your entire WordPress site? Install and activate the Duplicator plugin. Want a tool to filter out spam comments? Activate the Akismet plugin or Math Comment Spam plugin. Want to add a forum to your WordPress site? Install and activate bbPress. Want to start selling stuff on your site? Install and activate the WooCommerce plugin. Want to do anything else? Just ask Google and hunt for a new plugin.
The Dreamweaver Approach
“When I used Dreamweaver to build my website, it felt as though I was weaving a dream…” said no one ever. Still, that was the concept behind Dreamweaver – to bestow upon you full flexibility to weave your website into existence. Building a website with Dreamweaver is similar to designing your entire house from the ground up – complete freedom, but with a few caveats.
Firstly, you have to have a good idea of how your house is going to look. If you don’t, then by the time your house is built, you’ll realise you have a layout that makes absolutely no sense. Secondly, creating a thoughtful layout takes time, and if you’re already time starved as it is, you may not be able to complete your new house on schedule. Similarly when using Dreamweaver to build your website, it’s necessary to have a plan for your website design or your project will end in a mess before you know it.
What is Dreamweaver?
Dreamweaver is a What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) editor, meaning you drag menus, frames and icons into position in a visual window to bring your website to life, and Dreamweaver writes the code for you. All that code is saved into local files on your computer, and will have to be uploaded to your web server before it will go live.
Is Building a Website with Dreamweaver Tough?
Fortunately, Dreamweaver comes with built-in functionality to handle all the uploading to your server – just key in your FTP information into Dreamweaver. If you’re uploading just one page to the server, select upload, and if you want all changes to be uploaded into your server, select sync.
If you’ve no prior experience with HTML and CSS, it may seem daunting to have to learn two languages before you can start creating a site with Dreamweaver, but those two languages are relatively simple. If you’re looking for a free resource to learn these languages, w3schools has some excellent tutorials that will quickly get you proficient in these languages.
Templates can be used to quickly flesh out your website, which you can download or create on your own. If you’re experienced with web designs and you’re confident about your ability to create a fresh, compelling web design from the ground up, Dreamweaver is among the best tools for the job.
WordPress vs Dreamweaver – The Showdown Begins!
So now that we have a rough idea of what each solution does, it’s time for a direct comparison.
WordPress requires absolutely no knowledge of code in order to use. Even basic HTML knowledge is not strictly required, though it is highly recommended. With Dreamweaver however, developing your webpage without knowledge of basic HTML will quickly become a messy affair.
To establish the look and feel of the website, WordPress uses “themes”, while Dreamweaver uses “templates”. A WordPress theme automatically assumes many default options that generally give you a great looking website, but your ability to customise is limited by what the theme allows. With at least several thousand themes available on the market, it’s highly likely you’ll find a design to suit your needs, but there needs to be a certain attitude of “take what you get”.
A Dreamweaver site establishes its central design via templates. Load the template, make the necessary customisations for the page, then save and upload it to your server. The Dreamweaver solution allows you to fully customise each page to look how you want it to look.
What about adding functionality? For example, both WordPress and Dreamweaver allows you to add slideshows or sliders. The difference lies in how to add the function. With WordPress, you do this via plugins. Simply install a plugin like Revolution Slider or Fusion Slider, select a few images, toggle a few settings in a graphical interface and it’s all set – complete with animations! With the endless array of plugins, adding functionality to WordPress is never a problem.
With Dreamweaver however, most methods require you to understand code. If you’re an experienced web developer and you’re looking for complete customisation in every way imaginable, Dreamweaver may offer you the flexibility you’re looking for. But if you’re looking for a quick and reliable way to create and maintain a great looking website, WordPress is the more balanced option.
Both WordPress and Dreamweaver allow almost unlimited customisation options. However, their approaches to achieving this is quite different.
Themes and plugins are the essence of every WordPress site. Selecting a theme is going to set the design and tone of your website’s look for the long term, so it’s important to choose wisely.
Once you do that, everything from contact forms to sliders and even forums can be added simply by installing a plugin. With WordPress, you can effortlessly make a modern looking website, but it is inconvenient to make massive changes to a theme you’ve selected.
Similar to house hunting, you find a theme, and then furnish it with content and functions without altering the overall website framework. Your best bet is to find another theme that suits your needs and make minor customisations.
Dreamweaver allows you to build your websites from the ground up, so you have complete freedom over the design process – weaving your dream website into existence.
You can download templates to establish your website’s framework, and then make your own customisations from there. With all that freedom however, it’s important to remember that too much freedom can be daunting for newcomers who don’t know where to start.
In order to add a lot of the more advanced functions, you’ll also need to have at least a basic understanding of code. But if you already have or are willing to brush up on your technical expertise, and you have the perfect vision for your own website, Dreamweaver is an excellent tool.
Speed of Development
Both WordPress and Dreamweaver are great solutions, and can be used to create websites quickly once you get the hang of them. Once again, which solution is ideal for your situation is dependent on your goals.
WordPress is the more beginner friendly option, yet doesn’t lose out in giving power-users the functionality they need. There are literally thousands of themes ready for you to use.
Installation of WordPress takes just 5 minutes, and every manner of functionality can be added simply by installing plugins. Since themes automatically apply many style settings by default, your site immediately looks great and ensures that your design is uniform no matter how many pages you add.
Dreamweaver also allows you to quickly deploy a website by downloading and opening a template. Make the necessary changes, save your new template, and then start adding pages while using your template. However if you’re not very sure about your final design, it might take a lot longer to complete.
Managing the Website
Once you’ve established the layout, both solutions can be effective at managing your website content, although as a CMS, WordPress has a strong advantage if you’re going to be frequently publishing new pages.
WordPress was first conceived as a blogging platform, and some of those excellent qualities persist till today. If you’re looking for a fuss-free solution to frequently add new content, WordPress is an excellent choice.
WordPress separates your website into webpages and blog posts. Generally, pages are more static and unchanging (about us page, product specifications, etc.), whereas posts are more timely (opinions, status updates, news).
Your website has to have at least one, but doesn’t need to have both (i.e you can have a website without a blog area, or you can have a blog area without a main website area, or you can have both a corporate website area with a blogging section). This versatility makes it suitable for a wide array of businesses.
To add a new post to your blog, simply go to your posts and select “Add New”, then type in your content and click “Publish”. Yes, it really is that simple. Adding a new page is also not much more complicated, with plenty of customisations available to make it any way you like. All pages and posts are automatically organised and can be accessed and edited from their respective menus in the administrative panel.
In Dreamweaver, files are most commonly developed on your local computer before being uploaded into your server. For Dreamweaver to know what files to upload into your site, you must define a local site folder for each new website you create, and how the site is structured will be modelled after it.
Once you understand how it works it isn’t difficult to do. In fact power users may appreciate the control they have over the site structure. But it also means that it’s not as hands-free as some may like.
Through the use of templates, web pages are relatively easy to add and manage, but creating a blog is a different matter. In order to add a blog to your website, it’s highly advisable to have knowledge of PHP and MySQL in order to build a CMS to manage blog posts on your website.
So now that we have a better understanding of how everything works, what can we conclude? For the vast majority of users, WordPress is the more balanced solution. Friendly enough for beginners, yet functional enough even for demanding users. WordPress allows you to do almost anything that Dreamweaver would allow you to do, often in a fraction of the time.