People Ask Me Questions: Web Design Software (or is it Website Management Software?)

The question:

What’s a good user-friendly Macintosh web development program? A friend called. She’s thinking of buying Dreamweaver, but is afraid it will be overkill. She found Frontpage to be easy and needs something similar.

My answer:

If the intent is to design individual pages on an unknown number of sites, then I don’t have a recommendation.

If the intent is to build a site (or any number of sites), then I’d suggest looking at WordPress. It’s an open source CMS, and there’s a hosted version that makes it easy to try out at

What I didn’t say, well, it was buried in my answer, was that I see a big difference between designing a page and building a site. The tools are very different.

wordpress, web design, site management, cms, content management, questions

10 thoughts on “People Ask Me Questions: Web Design Software (or is it Website Management Software?)

  1. WordPress is not the end-all be-all for CMS. It’s blogging software, pure and simple. Sure, with enough technical skills, you can make it do other things.

    It certainly isn’t my first choice for brochure-ware type sites.

  2. Non-dreamweaver mac apps (I agree that DW is overkill for most people) I think are decent for “mom” or “grandma” to make a web page or six are:
    Coda (from your friends at Panic)
    iWeb (part of iLife from Apple)
    RapidWever (from Realmac)
    SandVox (from Karelia)

    These will make pretty pages simply. The come with lots of pretty templates. Many will also deal with making things like sitewide footers and styles pretty accessible. There’s also always google’s web page generator – it’s free and makes pages that aren’t too hideous.

  3. There are article/post-based and page-based CMS products. For blog type sites, WordPress is top-notch. For brochure-type sites that are largely page-based, depending on your requirements, Joomla can fit the bill quickly and easily. However, for the most flexibility, I’d recommend Drupal. It’s got a higher learning curve, but is far more suited to this type of site.

    Take for example – WordPress does not lend itself well to this type of setup. Another example is – done with Drupal.

    My point was that when you’re talking about managing sites and content, there is no one size fits all solution.

  4. For a blog site, wordpress and moveable type are good, simple solutions, but if you want flexibility to design and develop anything you want in a web page, then Dreamweaver is still probably the best way to go.

    It’s a good investment because it takes just as much time to figure out as any of the blog software, but essentially allows you to do way more things, if you ever chose to, in the future. Front Page is generally veered clear from by most professional web developers I know because of its tendency to throw in its own strange code here and there while you are developing that muddles up your own page.

    Dreamweaver is the cleanest, simplest, straight coding you can get away from coding straight into a word processor. plus it allows you to see design and code in the same screen, and offers many shortcuts for doing things like creating simple tables, forms, or assigning attributes to the look & feel.

    If cost is a concern and you are a student (or even a teacher), you can check out stores that sell academic versions of Dreamweaver for a much lower cost than regular retail prices.
    here’s a good one:

    anyway, as a developer myself, i say Dreamweaver is still the best way to go. good luck!

  5. Hi Holly,

    I’m a college student currently building a website that has some very
    specific security requirements.

    Before I get into the more complicated “security” questions, I want to ask
    you about your feelings on membership software such as aMember, software
    that organizes member information and pages (login and register pages) for
    you. Do you recommend using that kind of software?

    Next, I need to figure out a way to stop users from viewing certain pages
    more than once. Is there a way to stop them from refreshing the page or
    using the back button to access this page again?

    Finally, I want to allow visitors to view the important pages I mentioned
    above only once every hour. In other words, after they visit the page once,
    they can’t visit it again until one hour has passed.

    I know this sounds a little confusing. With my limited knowledge of the
    field I’m not good at wording these questions. Please send a response to

    Kyle Lewis

  6. uhm, i have the same questions with above..
    um the newbie in this field, may u answer me the question asked by above please?
    Thanks a Lot !

  7. Hi
    Comment but a question. I am Student and i like to start the developing system (software) for companies. which they can use to do thier pay roll and adniministation but Idon’t know how will a charge them and what are the procedure should i follow on charging. I Have potetial customers.

  8. Dreamweaver can now opens WordPress theme files in Design View so that you can make offline WYSIWYG edits and instantly see CSS changes as well as common template tag parameters. If your using Dreamweaver and WordPress without ThemeDreamer, your only seeing half the picture and are stuck with the trial-n-error routine of making mods, uploading, refreshing, trying again. You can unlock DW’s potential using ThemeDreamer.

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