To Dreamweaver? Or not to Dreamweaver?


I need to build me a new website.

Why? As you all know by now, I’m starting a Photography Degree in September. (You didn’t? WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? Do try to keep up.) Everyone’s asking what I’m hoping to do do afterwards. Which seems a bit premature, seeing as I’ve not even started yet. Give me a chance: I’ll think about that soon and tell you when I’m ready.

But in the meantime – I need to build me a new website. For the future photography business that I’m assuming I’ll be setting up one day. For the time being, all I really need it to do is hold an “about me” page, showcase a few images – probably on a photo slideshow of some sort – and tell people how to contact me.

I’ve set up websites in the past. When I did the first website for my church I coded the whole thing by hand in HTML, and I’m very glad I did because doing that gave me a great background knowledge into how websites worked. (Yes, I know, they’ve changed since then.) A few years later I rebuilt the site from scratch using Dreamweaver, and then maintained it for about another six years or so.

Time’s moved on, and now someone else manages the church site. For the latest version, and they’ve gone for a Content Management System (Drupal, if I recall correctly) so that they can give multiple people access to different parts of the site for ease of updating. (Whether that’s actually happening or not I have no idea. In fact I’ve just had a look and it doesn’t look like it’s been updated since 2010. Must tell someone about that.) My own very tiny personal site (which is just a set of links to other places – including here) I built with Apple’s iWeb, and I’ve built a couple of small sites using WordPress.com


My current (very tiny) personal webpage

But for my own new site I assumed I’d go back to Dreamweaver.  But I’m getting mixed opinions about whether that’s the way to go. Well, I say mixed – when I asked online I had about four or five people recommend not using Dreamweaver (all saying “use a CMS”) and no-one saying “of course you should”.

So I’m asking you.

Should I used Dreamweaver, which I know, and like, or should I invest time now learning how to use something else? Let me know in the comments below.

(Do you know,  I sat at the computer tonight with every intention of actually starting to build my new site. With Dreamweaver. But an hour or so passed with me just flitting about online and it felt too late to start. S0 I wrote this instead. That’s life.)

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13 thoughts on “To Dreamweaver? Or not to Dreamweaver?

  1. Rob

    I haven’t been trained in or really used Dreamweaver since I was at university almost a decade ago (oh crap, another one of those ‘feeling old’ moments). That said, I’ve not really designed a webpage since then either, I’ve always made use of something like WordPress.

    The vibe I get from the few pros I’ve spoken to online is the ‘professional’ way of making website is often hand-coding.

    I don’t think it matters any what you use as long as you get the results you’re after.

    Reply
    1. Trevor Post author

      Rob, you’re right, the results are the main thing. But I’m just trying to decide if a bit of work now will save me more work in the future.

      Reply
  2. Kieran Whiteman (@KieranDotCo)

    I personally prefer to code by hand. Dreamweaver is a deceiver when it comes to creating sites, it’s preview mode shows what it looks like running on Dreamweavers engine but not what it looks like in reality on a browser.

    However it is the only designer that I know which provides any kind of help to users at all.

    It’s that or WordPress (Check out these http://mashable.com/2012/04/27/wordpress-photography-themes/#605138-Autofocus)

    hope that helps at all

    Reply
  3. Alex Monaghan

    In my opinion, you want to be building some form of CMS (whether you use something like WP, Drupal, Joomla or home built is not the discussion for now and could lead to religious war!), this will allow you to separate your photos and other content away from the site structure allowing you to add / update the content without having to resort back to DW each time.

    I’ve heard of DW plugins to allow you to use DW to help create your CMS template, in which case you can use DW and not use DW at the same time.

    Most major CMS’s will do the job you describe, there are many CMS “modules” to do clever things like slide shows and photo galleries which you can simply install and setup without needing to get your hands dirty with cutting code or writing HTML.

    Reply
  4. Sean McManus

    Hello. I saw your post on Facebook via Ben.

    I’m the author of the book Web Design in Easy Steps. If you want to put an extensive portfolio online, then it’s worth spending some time to learn a CMS otherwise you’ll spend much longer hand coding in the end. There are some simpler solutions for a basic site too, such as Moonfruit (which is ideal for a small photo portfolio) and similar site builders (which are often bundled with hosting).

    Check out photo gallery software too. Jalbum is software you can use to generate large HTML galleries from folders of photos in various styles, so that might be just the thing, perhaps in partnership with coding HTML for info pages on the site.

    The biggest challenge with websites is actually getting them to launch, so choose whatever you are confident will get you something good live soonest, but be aware many others have built similar sites before and there are specialist tools you can use to save time.

    Reply
    1. Trevor Post author

      Thanks for that, Sean, lots of useful thoughts and some specific ideas to consider. I’ll add those to my research list!

      Reply
  5. Trevor Post author

    It’s occurred to me that I didn’t mention one important consideration: cost. I already have the domain name, I’m already paying for hosting, and I already have Dreamweaver. Options that involve *buying* any software, or paying to ‘unlock’ branded set-ups are not attractive at the moment.

    Just saying.

    Reply
  6. Trevor Post author

    Right, I think what I’ll be doing in using WordPress.

    In the past I’ve only used WordPress.com – where they host it all and so on. Like this blog. Time to branch out to wordpress.org for self-hosting etc. Wish me luck.

    (I may, temporaraily build a holding site in Dreamweaver or even iWeb just to get something in place.)

    Reply

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