This is part of our ongoing series comparing Content Management Systems (CMS) to help you identify which is the right fit for you.

WordPress and Dreamweaver: A Comparison

Carving out your own space on the Internet is easier said than done. Luckily, there are a number of tools available to make the process significantly easier. While you’ve likely heard of WordPress, Dreamweaver stands as an alternative that could allow you greater design freedom – for a price.

When it comes to WordPress vs. Dreamweaver, which is better? How do their features compare, and, depending on your needs, which is the ideal choice? Let’s dive into all the nitty-gritty details, so you can select the content creation platform that’s right for you.

WordPress Logo

Getting to Know WordPress

Before comparing these two platforms, let’s take a glance at them individually.

WordPress was founded in 2007 by Mike Little and Matt Mullenweg. It is an open-source content management system that is free to use and which currently houses up to 70 percent of independent web content online. It’s said that WordPress is the easiest blogging platform to use on the Internet – but, as you’ll see, that’s up for debate.

WordPress Features

What sets WordPress apart from its online competition? A litany of content-creation features, plugin add-ons for additional functionality and ease of use. Here’s a more detailed rundown:

Content Creation

What does the basic content creation process look like on WordPress? When you first register for an account, you’re prompted to choose a platform theme. This theme doesn’t necessarily impact the functionality of your site, but rather establishes its initial aesthetic, or visual design. Some WordPress themes will add additional function to your site, what features a theme includes vary pretty widely depending on the developer. Though WordPress requires you to choose a theme to progress through the initial creation of your site, you can change your theme after moving forward on the platform.

Your WordPress theme will generally consist of four basic elements:

The Header

This is generally where the title of your website will be listed, along with the main navigation found at the top of most websites.

Content Area

The content area makes up the largest percentage of your website. This is where all of your web copy, pages, blog posts, photos, and shareable content will exist.

The Sidebar

In most WordPress themes, sidebars consist of author bios, anchor links on the page, or links that will take your readers to different pages or posts on your website. Consider this area as a pseudo-table of contents, or tailor it to fit the intent of your overall site. That’s one of WordPress’s benefits: whatever you intend to use your platform on the site for, you can modify WordPress’s structure in order to see your goals achieved.

The Footer

Finally, the footer at the bottom of your page. This is where you’ll often see additional navigation (so a site user doesn’t have to scroll back to the header at the top of the page to continue reading your website, and your contact information if you so choose to share it. It is also often used to display copyright information for the website.

One way to think about these sections, is that the Header, Footer, and Sidebar will display the same content across all pages of your site (unless you decide to hide them) while the Content Area of your website is completely unique to the page or post you have written.

Changing Content

As has been mentioned, WordPress is extraordinarily easy when it comes to content alteration. You’ll be able to modify the physical text of your content, as well as its arrangement, affiliated images, and position on your site using the WordPress Editor (and Guttenberg Blocks if you’re on the newest version of WordPress).

Your primary ability to alter your site’s structure comes in WordPress’s various available themes. The majority of these themes are free, but you can also purchase third-party themes through Themify or Theme Forest.

WordPress Plugins

WordPress’s real customization comes in its use of plugins. At present, WordPress Developers have made over 50,000 plugins available to users, many of them free of charge. These plugins allow you to make your site on WordPress entirely your own, add many custom functionalities, and make your site look and feel completely unique.

Examples of available plugins include:

  • Akismet, an anti-spam plugin.
  • bbPress, a forum management plugin.
  • Jetpack, providing more design tools.
  • BuddyPress, which adds community features like direct messaging.
  • Theme Check, which verifies that self-created themes comply with WordPress’s standards.
  • WP Super Cache, a caching engine that helps improve website load times

You can also buy premium plugins, but with a huge library of options available for free, you may not need to. WordPress and its massive Community of Developers go to extreme lengths in order to ensure that you have all the tools you need to make your site look and function exactly how you please.

Interested in some of our favorite plugins? We’ve got you covered here.

WordPress Pros and Cons

With that, you have a general idea of how WordPress functions and how it could benefit you. How does this CMS balance out, though?

  • Nearly everything on WordPress is free to use.
  • No matter how new you are to online content creation, WordPress will make it easy for you to create nearly any style of website.
  • There are a litany of tools sponsored by WordPress, as well as third-parties, that are designed to make your WordPress experience easier and more customizable.
  • Managing and updating your website is very simple, so you don’t have to pay a developer to make changes to your website.
  • If you want to use WordPress to host an eCommerce-oriented site, you may have to pay a fee to use the appropriate plugins.
  • With most themes, you don’t get to start out on WordPress with a blank slate. You have to work within some of the site’s initial boundaries. While this is great for beginners, more experienced web builders may find the restriction frustrating. (With our own Hedorah Theme, this is not a restriction for Spark Logix Studios, we can build literally anything you can dream of in WordPress).

Overall, WordPress presents a strong front. However, if it’s not the right kind of content management system for you, don’t fret. You have plenty of other options available.

Dreamweaver Logo

Getting to Know Dreamweaver

So how does Dreamweaver stack up in comparison to WordPress? Let’s take a look at the platform and its content management process.

Dreamweaver was founded by Macromedia in 1997 and was previously referred to as WYSIWYG (or What You See Is What You Get). This original title essentially describes Dreamweaver as an HTML editor. Its original purpose was to serve as software that would help developers create websites and web content.

Dreamweaver Features

How does Dreamweaver operate, and what are its standout features? Let’s check out the highlights below.

Content Creation

Dreamweaver starts you on your website-creating journey by presenting a blank slate to operate on. You can use various menu commands to manipulate the space presented to you and create the visuals you want to see when the site’s uploaded to a hosting server. There’s no need to understand advanced coding to create a site on Dreamweaver, as the software will write your code for you based on the menu commands you select.

Once you have an initial theme established, Dreamweaver will provide you with pre-determined HTML and CSS. This can be uploaded to your site to change the way it looks and the way you can share your content.

Content Alterations

As you may have gathered, altering content on Dreamweaver isn’t quite as simple as on WordPress. You’ll need the HTML, CSS, or graphic files you want to use available before you integrate them into your website. You’ll then have to interweave these elements independently, rather than counting on Dreamweaver to produce them for you.

As such, you can make whatever kind of site you prefer in Dreamweaver – without organization or thematic limitations. That freedom makes Dreamweaver the ideal web creation software for developers who have a little more experience creating content in the field.

It’s also worth noting that Dreamweaver does not rely on plugins to modify its content. As has been mentioned, if you want to add forums, comment sections, or additional features to your website, you’ll have to do so manually.

Dreamweaver Pros and Cons

As you can see, there are some significant differences between Dreamweaver and WordPress. Before we get into a point-by-point comparison, how does Dreamweaver stack up on its own?

  • Dreamweaver is geared toward developers with more experience creating web content. If you like working purely in code, this is a good option for you.
  • Customization is primary with Dreamweaver – whatever you want to make, you can accomplish with the proper use of HTML and CSS.
  • Dreamweaver, as it’s not a web-based content management platform, will not “dynamically” recreate your website every time someone visits it. As such, you’ll have some additional content security.
  • If you’re just getting into web design and content hosting, Dreamweaver’s open take on the process may leave you lost and confused.
  • Operating Dreamweaver requires a working knowledge of HTML and CSS. While these may not the most difficult coding languages to learn, the knowledge barrier is off-putting to anyone who is unfamiliar with them.

Dreamweaver vs. WordPress: The Line-Up

How do these two platforms compare overall? That answer depends more on your intentions and experience, rather than on the systems themselves.

In Favor of WordPress

If you’re just getting used to web design or have no experience in the field, then WordPress is the content management system for you. You’ll be guided step-by-step through the creation of your webpage, and you’ll be able to use any number of WordPress’s free plugins to make your platform look exactly as you desire.

The easy-to-use platform lends itself to fast modifications and more visual web design, making it a popular favorite in the site development world. Even those with advanced coding knowledge (like us!) prefer to use their talents in an already streamlined platform, which allows them to develop complexly or simply, as needed, while providing ease of use for their Clients going forward.

If you’re on a tight budget, WordPress can be free. Businesses, developers, or average Joes with capital to expend, however, can utilize the more advanced plugins or features to really create something cool. This both enhances and streamlines their site design and upkeep, with more tools they don’t have to develop personally. This is the reason why WordPress is the most widely used CMS on the internet.

In Favor of Dreamweaver

Dreamweaver is an excellent piece of software for people who want to dip their toes into the world of individualized web creation from the ground up. If you’re well-versed in HTML and CSS, then this is the software for you. You won’t be confined by any of WordPress’s plugins or third party code limitations.

And the Winner is… WordPress

When you really think about it, the biggest advantage that Dreamweaver presents is the ability to custom code your site. But with WordPress, if you are an experienced coder, you can do that same thing within the CMS Framework. The Customizer within your theme allows for all the unique CSS code you might need, and you can add custom HTML blocks to your site to accomplish literally anything that Dreamweaver can do.

However, if you’re debating which of these platforms to use, then ask yourself:

  • How experienced am I in creating web pages and subsequent web content using HTML and CSS?
  • Do I prefer to edit site content using code, or using a Content Management System (CMS)?
  • Do you prefer to have strict website controls in place, uploading a new version of your website to your server each time you make an update, or do you prefer to login to your website, update it, and see the life changes instantly?
  • Do I need complicated functionality (eCommerce as an example) that can be accomplished with a WordPress plugin instead of having to code it all from the ground up in Dreamweaver?

Answers to these questions will help you determine the best option for your website project.

Talk to an WordPress Developer

Want to ask specific questions and get advice? Reach out to us today and we’ll help coach you on how to get your website just right. No obligation or cost!

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