If you're a Dreamweaver user, then this could be just the post for you. No doubt you've heard of WordPress, but maybe the idea of learning a new piece of web design software isn't appealing to you at all -- and I totally understand that! After all, everything's working just fine in Dreamweaver, right? Maybe for now, but truthfully, at some point you'll hit it's limitations. And for online business owners and ecommerce website owners, that limit hits hard 'n fast! So in this post, I'll lay out my five reasons (plus a bonus reason) for ditching Dreamweaver and going with WordPress to build your online business. This one's a dozy, so let's get started!
Alright now before we get started, full disclosure: Prior to WordPress, I'd been using Dreamweaver for years and years, since the late 90's, in fact. This was even before Adobe bought out Macromedia! So for the longest time, Dreamweaver was my go-to web design tool. I knew it inside out and backwards. I used it every day, I taught countless classes on it, recorded video courses for it, built websites with it for my freelance business...heck I even wrote a book about Dreamweaver for Peachpit Press (please don't buy it...it's horrendously outdated and has a wreched cover).
Anyway, but I kept hearing about this platform called WordPress and how easy and simple it was to use. Finally in 2006 or 2007, I reluctantly gave WordPress a look. Within an hour I was hooked ("What is this thing?!"), and within a week I'd completely switched over and dropped Dreamweaver almost entirely.
So what caused me to make the switch so quickly all those years ago? What does WordPress have that Dreamweaver doesn't? This is exactly what I'd like to cover in this post. The idea here is to help you make the right choice for you and your business. In fact, you might want to check out another post I did about Dreamweaver versus WordPress, called Which One, Dreamweaver Or WordPress? Give it a look.
Now as a word of warning (only cuz I been there, done dat...and trust me it's no fun), once you start down the path to building your online business with Dreamweaver, there's no going back. Later, if you realize that WordPress is indeed the better platform for your business, you'll have to start over and rebuild everything from scratch.
I say this because in the early, early days of Ten Ton Online, I had to rebuild my website from scratch three times. First, I built it with Dreamweaver, but it was just way too restrictive and limiting. I couldn't get it do do what I wanted. So then I scrapped everything and rebuilt my site using what I thought was a great ecommerce platform. Unfortunately, I chose wrong...it turned out to be way too unwieldy and needlessly complicated. Finally, I rebuilt everything with...wait for it...WordPress! This is the platform that now runs not only Ten Ton Online, but my other online ventures, too. I don't build websites without it these days.
So I just want to give you that word of warning to maybe help you save the time and frustration I had to go through. Choosing the wrong platform for your business is can cost months of lost work and effort -- and it's easy to choose wrong. Hence why I'm hoping to help you out here!
So with that out of the way, let's jump into our five reasons to use WordPress for our online business. There is some overlap with a few of these, but by the end of this post, you'll have a complete understanding of the differences between Dreamweaver and WordPress, and why WordPress is much better suited for your online business.
Let's take a look...
One of the big, big things that WordPress has going for it right out of the gate is just how quickly you can get a site up and running with it. Using WordPress, setting up a new website is fast. I can get a site up and live on the web in a matter of minutes. And I can have it decently customized and running smoothly well before lunch.
And the day to day tasks of adding products, adjusting content, and adding new pages is fast and smooth too. What's more, any specific things you want to do (things like image galleries, contact forms, etc.) you're not building from scratch either. To add these sorts of things to your website, you'll be using pre-existing plugins and modules. This means you're not building anything from the ground up, but simply choosing from pre-existing options.
This is because rather than being software that's installed on your computer, WordPress runs live on your web server. WordPress very much is your website, as opposed to Dreamweaver, which is simply an editor that creates the files for your website. Big difference.
Further, with WordPress you're not starting from zero. You're starting with pre-existing templates and structure to build your site with. In fact, upon installing WordPress, you'll have a website ready for working on as a starting point.
I can get WordPress installed, giving me a new website to work with in about as much time as it takes to launch Dreamweaver! I'm serious!
So, WordPress allows us to work much faster and more efficiently -- not only in getting a site initially set up, but running and maintaining it long term. I don't know about you, but I don't want to sit and fiddle with code or try to troubleshoot why the freakin' background colour on my site's header isn't appearing. That's the stuff that'll drive you crazy! Instead, WordPress lets us focus on much more important issues -- your products, the design of your website, the visitor experience, and running your online business.
So we know that WordPress makes quick work of our tasks, but why? It really boils down to how WordPress functions, as opposed to how Dreamweaver is built.
Because I'd used Dreamweaver for so long (the better part of ten years), I noticed that it began getting bulker and slower as new versions came along. It was getting that mid-life midriff!
This is because Adobe just keeps piling more and more features and extras onto an existing piece of software. They can't strip it all down and rebuild the software from scratch, so instead they keep piling onto the heap of an already bloated piece of software.
This similar to problems Adobe faces in some of their other software. Take Photoshop, for example. Still, after all these years we don't have true multiple undo's (no, not History; real multiple undos!). Why? Because in order for them to do so, they'd have to essentially tear apart the software and rebuild it from the ground up. So instead, they just keep piling stuff on.
Instead of bulldozing and rebuilding, they just keep renovating and adding on, over and over.
Back in the world of web design, working with bloaty software just makes everything take longer. I mean, just launching Dreamweaver has me wanting to pack a picnic for the haul. "I'm about to launch Dreamweaver. Put the coffee maker on!"
By comparison, WordPress is built in a very modular way. There's the core WordPress software, which is actually fairly slim and streamlined, and then it can be added to and extended to expand it's capabilities. This is done primarily via WordPress plugins, or by adding bits of code here and there where we need it.
Imagine a modular house. What do you need? A kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and living room? Great. Those are the core components. Now, let's say you want to add two bedrooms. Air-drop 'em in and connect them on. Then, let's say you want a bigger kitchen. Extend that module. How about a family room? Add that module on. And so on and so on. That's kinda how WordPress works -- and we'll talk more about this modular behaviour of WordPress in a moment.
Alternatively, Dreamweaver is like having way too much house. It's bulky, expensive to maintain, and you don't use three quarters of it anyway.
So all of this means that WordPress is always running fast and lean. It never needs to be launched like a traditional piece of software, but instead, we log into it -- it's always running. And using it to create content and build layouts is always a smooth process.
And if WordPress is acting sluggish, the culprit isn't WordPress itself, but instead something that's been added to it -- an outdated plugin, or an add-on that's taking up too many resources. And it's a fairly straightforward process to track down the offending extension.
To summarize, with every new upgrade, Dreamweaver feels more and more sluggish and cumbersome. On the other hand, because WordPress is running directly on our web server, it's light, lean, and fast. This means you and I can get in quickly, make our changes, publish our content, and then move on to other areas of our business.
A lot of people think that because Dreamweaver's an Adobe product, and because it comes alongside programs like Photoshop and Illustrator in the Creative Cloud, that it's a visual, graphics-like editor. They're often surprised to discover that it isn't.
Back when I used to teach Dreamweaver regularly, students would ask me all the time, "How do I just drag 'n drop stuff?" And when I told them that you can't do that in Dreamweaver, they'd look disheartened. I even started beginning classes by saying as much, level-setting the group I'd be leading that day. "Look, this thing isn't like your other Adobe programs. It's more like a word processor like Microsoft Word."
The look on artist and graphic designer's faces especially...it would have been hilarious if it weren't so crushing for them!
Anyway, so this means that everything in Dreamweaver is menu commands, dialog boxes, and palettes. There is no drag 'n drop. So when I find myself in Dreamweaver, I'm often hunting around for things, trying to figure out it's five-step process for an otherwise simple task.
Alternatively, in WordPress, things are laid out in a much more intuitive interface. Each main set of tasks is given it's own screen -- managing media has the Media Library, publishing new posts has it's own interface, and so on. WordPress is still like using a word processor, but things make much more sense.
And what's more, you can use Photoshop-like drag 'n drop visual builders with WordPress by simply adding them on (again, think modules). Tools like Elementor and Pinegrow make building layouts visually by dragging and dropping building blocks a breeze.
I suppose this point relates to a previous point about speed, but with WordPress, publishing new content (that is, new pages, new posts, and so on) is extremely fast and efficient.
With a WordPress-drive website, new pages and posts are already formatted. This is because at it's root, WordPress is a CMS (Content Management System). This means that things like a website header, a footer, fonts, the layout, and so on, are already in place. This frees you and I up to focus on the actual content of the page -- the text, the images, the product we're selling, and so on.
It's like we're working within an existing, established template that already has all the formatting in place.
In Dreamweaver, new pages would need to be created from the ground up, every single time. That is, unless I use something in Dreamweaver called templates. Templates can be used to achieve a similar result to what WordPress does natively, but truthfully they're clunky, unintuitive, and intended for more advanced users. In WordPress, this kind of behaviour is built right in. It's what WordPress does!
In WordPress, I choose New Post, write my content, click Publish, and I'm done.
Furthermore, any edits that are made to WordPress pages and posts are pushed to the live site as soon as you click the Update button. It's fast and simple. With Dreamweaver, we have the extra steps of making the changes, saving them, then uploading any changed files to the live website...and making sure we've upload all necessary files and don't have any broken links. Otherwise the changes won't publish correctly.
Next, what about cost? Since Adobe switched everything over to a subscription model a few years ago, Dreamweaver has a recurring monthly cost of at least $20. On the other hand, WordPress is free to use, forever.
So right away, you're getting a superior web publishing tool that'll save you at least $240 a year.
And what I don't like about Adobe's Creative Cloud subscription model is that you have to keep it renewed (even when you think you might not need it) just for the privilege of having access to Dreamweaver. If you stop paying, you can't maintain your website. And if you suddenly find yourself in a pinch and need to make a quick fix on your site, you'll have to go through the sign-up process again to re-subscribe to Adobe's monthly subscription.
Fixing something as minor as a typo could cost you $20 to fix. Think about that for a second...
I don't know about you, but not being in full control of my business and website is a deal breaker for me. In fact, autonomy is my number one rule in business. And the idea of yet another monthly subscription isn't appealing in the least. I want to work on my projects whenever I want. I don't want to have to worry about whether my tools are available to me or not. I don't rent my computer, I don't rent the audio and video gear I use. I don't rent my table saw or my fridge and stove...so I don't like renting the software that my business relies on to earn revenue, either!
But even if Adobe hadn't switched to a monthly subscription model, WordPress would clearly still be the lower-cost option. Prior to Adobe's subscription model, a full license for Dreamweaver cost around $400 (as memory serves). WordPress, on the other hand, has always been free -- and ya can't get cheaper than that! And, it's a superior tool that gives us complete control and autonomy over our website and our business.
Alright, I promised a bonus reason to drop Dreamweaver and switch to WordPress, so here it is: In Dreamweaver, it's pretty difficult to put together things like slideshows, portfolio websites, ecommerce online stores, and so on. In fact, if you want to be able to extend your site in any way in Dreamweaver, you'll have no choice but to build most of it by hand, from scratch, with code.
Dreamweaver does have some ready-made components, but nothing that's terribly interesting or (frankly) useful. So the only option is to build them yourself (or hire someone to build them). Even simple things like automated website backups or website security are not possible with a website built in Dreamweaver...unless you have serious programming skills and are able build these sorts of things yourself.
In contrast, WordPress has over 50,000 free plugins, which allow you to extend the capabilities of your website -- everything from SEO and contact forms to website security and daily website backups...all without you needing to know a lick of code.
Even setting up a fully functioning online store that's able to accept credit card payments is just a matter of installing the right, ready-made components. Again, no coding required!
And it's not just our website's behaviour that we can easily control. What about it's design, look, and feel? That's controlled by WordPress themes. There are thousands and thousands of free and premium themes available for us to choose from. And installing them on our WordPress website is a breeze. If we had to do this kind of work in Dreamweaver, we'd be starting from scratch, with a blank page, every single time.
Boy, I feel like Dreamweaver really took a beating in this post! I have to stress though, it's not that it's a bad tool...it's just that much better methods for building websites have come along. Really, Dreamweaver was in it's heyday back in the late 90's and early 2000's when we really didn't have anything better. Times change, and now we do.
But I still keep a copy of Dreamweaver CS6 installed and kicking around. I still even use it every once in a blue moon. Where it excels is with it's powerful code-related tools. So if there's something ultra-complex that I'm working on, sometimes it's just easier to copy and paste that code into a blank Dreamweaver document so I can see what's what.
In fact, I recall working on an intricate footer layout for a website not too long ago. It just wasn't behaving properly in WordPress. I was having a hard time determining where the problem was. So, I pulled the misbehaving section of code into Dreamweaver so I could see what's happening. I made the fix, and copied the code back over to WordPress. This doesn't happen too often, but it's nice to be able to do.
Another positive for Dreamweaver is that it runs directly on your computer. No internet connection is required. So if you ever have any internet connectivity issues or latency, working on your site with WordPress can be a challenge. I live out in the country, so sometimes -- although not often -- my internet connection lags, which brings my work to a crawl. Thankfully, this isn't a regular problem, but when it happens, it requires an extra bit of patience. That said, it's possible to install WordPress on your computer and work offline if you like. And then, just like you'd do with Dreamweaver, you'd just upload your work to your live website later.
So there's our look at Dreamweaver versus WordPress -- our five (plus a bonus!) reasons for using WordPress instead of Dreamweaver to build, run, and maintain our online business websites.
I hope you enjoyed and were able to get some clarity on the differences between these two web design tools. At a minimum, I hope I gave you some food for thought!
Do you have any questions or need anything clarified? Just leave a comment below.
Now if you'd like to learn more about the differences between WordPress and Dreamweaver, I have another post that goes into different website builders and methods for creating your small business website, called Methods For Building Your Business Website: Dreamweaver vs Website Builders vs WordPress. Be sure to give that a look.
I look forward to seeing you there!