If someone asks you to name an application for creating web pages, the chances are that one of the first things you'll think of is Adobe Dreamweaver. While it may not have quite as much mindshare as its Creative Suite stablemate Photoshop, it's still regarded as the premier application for creating web pages.
However, that status leads to many novice developers, or ordinary people who just want to set up one website, thinking that they need to use it, and that's completely wrong. At work we have an intranet with a discussion forum, and someone with no experience of creating web pages was asking for advice on the best application to use to create a website, and of course someone suggested Dreamweaver, something I strongly disagree with.
So, if you're wanting to build a basic website, and are thinking Dreamweaver might be the way forward, you might want to bear these points in mind:
HTML was intended right from the start to be reasonably easy to use, so why not just write HTML? I learned the basics in a weekend, and there's plenty of good resources around, so rather than shell out for a copy of Dreamweaver, just get a book about it and work through that. It's a useful skill to know and it costs a lot less, and the resulting web page will be easy to maintain. Granted it may not be that impressive to start with, but there's nothing stopping you refining it over time.
You probably don't need to mark up web pages yourself at all. There are many excellent content management systems that make it easy to build a website yourself without having to write any HTML or CSS at all. Wordpress is capable of static pages and blogs, is easy to theme, and can be extended with plugins. Drupal or Joomla are also possibilities, so the chances are it's not necessary to hand-code the page at all.
If you're only after a basic site and you don't have any interest in creating any other web pages, but you want something that looks professional, then forget Dreamweaver and hire a freelance web designer to create the page for you. For a small site they'll probably cost less than buying a copy of Dreamweaver, they'll be able to create a much more professional-looking result and they'll be able to help you with other issues that arise.
Is it the most cost-effective WYSIWYG editor for what you want? The world is full of WYSIWYG HTML editors, many of which are free, others of which are a lot cheaper than Dreamweaver. Okay, you could just use a trial version of Dreamweaver for free, but what about if you want to edit your site later on after your trial has expired? And yes, you probably could use a pirate copy, but is it really worth the bother when something else will probably do the trick? Some great alternative HTML editors include:
1* [Coffee Cup HTML Editor](http://www.coffeecup.com/html-editor/)23* [Bluefish](http://bluefish.openoffice.nl/)45* [Quanta Plus](http://quanta.kdewebdev.org/)
There are many more cheap or free HTML editors around, which make great alternatives to Dreamweaver for inexperienced users.
- Dreamweaver is a powerful tool, but it's not a magic bullet - it won't make you able to create a great website, any more than a copy of Microsoft Word will make you a great writer. Dreamweaver's a professional application, with a price tag to match, and it takes experience to use it properly. In the hands of an experienced web professional, Dreamweaver can create a great website, but in unskilled hands the results are going to be less than satisfactory.
What do you think? Is Dreamweaver a good choice for making your first (or indeed only) website, or not?