Adobe Dreamweaver Review
Adobe Dreamweaver was once the king of website design. But, does it still stand up as the best platform to build websites in code in the modern era? Our review found DW remains a stellar program that offers an HTML editor for building sites. It is still arguably the best option for customized website building, but with so many alternatives available, Dreamweaver is becoming increasingly archaic.
Starting from: $20.99/per month
Pricing Model: Yearly Plan
No free trial
Yes, has free version
- Makes coding easy
- Massive feature set
- Powerful tool
- Built-in visual editor
- Perfect for integrating with Adobe apps
- Better visual editors are available
- Complex with steep learning curve
- Small business
- Medium business
- Cloud, SaaS, Web-Based
- Desktop - Mac
- Desktop - Windows
Dreamweaver – Adobe Website Builder
We have reviewed plenty of website builder software on Tekpon, from the best to the not-so-great. Of course, the most popular website creation tools are designed to make it easy for beginners to create their unique webspace. But what about professionals? Which software do you use if you want to build a ground-up website completely to your specifications?
Well, for decades, Adobe Dreamweaver has dominated the site-building landscape, and it remains a unique offering. In many ways, the Adobe website builder stands on its own in the market, a useful tool for individuals or those looking to build enterprise-scale sites. However, if you are coding websites, Dreamweaver is the gold standard.
What Is Dreamweaver?
Adobe Dreamweaver is a website designer that allows users to develop and build their proprietary webspace. However, while online-based builders provide plug-in designs and hosting, the Adobe website builder is more specific. It serves as an HTML editor with coding software and WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) functionality.
That means Dreamweaver is not the simple website builder you would find online. Instead, this is a tool for professional web designers who are comfortable coding and creating something from the ground up. It is also the perfect enterprise-level website builder for users already ingrained in Adobe’s Creative Cloud ecosystem.
What Is Dreamweaver Used For?
So, that means Dreamweaver is a website builder for the professional, whether an individual or an organization. However, Adobe has also decided to make DW more accessible by budling in a visual editor. This allows the platform to compete with services like Wix and Squarespace. However, while this is a nice touch, those alternatives remain a better choice for non-professionals looking for efficient website building tools.
If you are a corporate web designer or lone professional who wants to build a multiplatform desktop website from the ground up, Dreamweaver is the best option. While alternatives are available (which we will discuss a little later), Adobe Dreamweaver stands above all competitors when making responsive websites for desktop or mobile.
Although, when you get to grips with Dreamweaver for the first time, there is a learning curve to overcome. Sure, Adobe has been providing DW for 20 years, and the platform is slick, but it is also an enterprise-grade tool with many advanced features. In other words, a lot is going on here, and it takes some time to get accustomed to all the abilities.
Still, the HTML editor in Dreamweaver is for serious workers who expect a learning curve with powerful software. The DW coding software uses the popular Bootstrap framework, HTML, CSS, and JS library available. Bootstrap is mobile-first these days, so your website creations will be ready for smartphones or tablets. However, Adobe bundles Dreamweaver web templates that make sites look good and responsive on desktops.
So, how does that steep learning curve we discussed translate when you fire up Dreamweaver for the first time? Well, there is a lot to dig through for sure, but experience with other Adobe products is helpful. For example, if you use Photoshop, you will have a solid idea of the general UI of Dreamweaver because the two apps share a common design.
Of course, if you are coming to DW completely fresh, then expect to have more challenges. This is a feature-rich experience, so finding that obscure tool you need can sometimes be frustrating. For the casual user, that is a problem, but for serious users, it is standard for an enterprise-ready platform. It is worth remembering that Dreamweaver is not aiming for the casual crowd.
Even so, the familiar Adobe interface is what you will find. You get the main editing window taking up the bulk of screen real estate in the middle, with the feature toolbar on the left and info tabs on the right. There are two options for editing: complete coding, where you do all the work yourself, or the WYSIWYG visual editor.
If you are using visual editing tools, there are a lot of features that clutter this screen. We recommend using a computer with a larger screen to make the most of all the tools and options. You can hide these elements to maximize screen space for users who are expert coders and do the heavy lifting manually.
We will mostly skip over code editing because that speaks for itself. You can write code directly into Dreamweaver and build your website from scratch. This editing method works best for expert-level coders who have experience.
For most users, the visual editor with WYSIWYG tools is the easiest way to build websites in DW. Building your site is intuitive and comes with an array of expert tools. Although, it is also complex, again lending to the enterprise-grade credentials of Dreamweaver.
That’s not all… there is also a custom toolbar on the left to add the controls you want the most and a menu at the top of the page. So yeah, we weren’t joking when we said Dreamweaver is an ultra-complex tool with a maze-like interface. But, if you take the time to learn this program, it is the most powerful visual website builder around.
There are two visual editing views available. The design view shows each design element of the webpage, including those invisible to the front-end website visitor. Then there is Live view, which represents the web page how the visitor would see it in a web browser.
It is also possible to mix and match code and visual editing. For example, Dreamweaver splits the screen showing the code in one window and the WYSIWYG views in another. Alternatively, you can open two code panes simultaneously to edit different code sections simultaneously.
Dreamweaver 2020 is the latest version of the program, and it comes with some new features. While this is not a sweeping overhaul of the platform, DW 2020 makes the following additions:
- Live View Editing: Users can now edit both images and text elements and classes directly to the Live View with a single click. It is also possible to preview those changes in real-time without switching between editing modes.
- Multi-monitor support for Windows: Dreamweaver has furthered its integration with Microsoft’s Windows platform, adding support for multiple monitors. This is available on both Windows 10 and Windows 11.
- Git support: Collaborating through the open-source community is now easier thanks to Git support in Dreamweaver.
When discussing Dreamweaver pricing, there is one important consideration to make. Specifically, there is no free version, and you are always tied to a subscription. All Adobe products require a subscription and work in the cloud. While this allows for seamless integration and fluid workloads, it has drawbacks.
Namely, if you do not keep up with the monthly payments, Dreamweaver is gone, and all the projects you have been working on are lost. Still, the benefit is perpetual updates that mean you always have the latest and greatest features and security.
Of course, DW is part of the wider Adobe Creative Cloud platform, which means you can opt to buy it as an individual platform or as part of the bundle. If you are only buying Dreamweaver, you can get it for $20.99 per month on a one-year subscription, $32.49 per month if you pay each month, or $239.98 upfront for the entire year.
Sometimes it makes more sense to combine Dreamweaver with the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite. If you are doing that, the following pricing tiers are available:
- Students and Teachers, All Creative Cloud Apps with 100GB ($19.99 per month): Includes Dreamweaver, 20+ desktop apps, mobile apps, and web services for less than a standard single app subscription.
- Teams and Businesses ($79.99 per month): Includes Dreamweaver, 20+ desktop apps, mobile apps, and web services for your business or department, plus a management console and instant asset syncing across devices.
- Schools and Universities ($34.99 per month): Includes Dreamweaver, 20+ desktop apps, mobile apps, and web services for small workgroups, departments, classrooms, labs, or even entire institutions, plus manage license deployments and updates from one central console.
Dreamweaver is an extensive and complex app, and you will need to make a monetary commitment to using it. So, it is important to test the app before you commit long term. Luckily, Adobe does offer a free trial of the website building platform. With the 7-day free trial, you get access to all the DW tools with no commitment to purchase at the end of the test.
This may seem controversial, but the reality is there are no direct Dreamweaver alternatives. We feel that Adobe Dreamweaver stands above the pack regarding enterprise-level website building and associated features. It is the best in class and the gold standard. However, not everybody needs the rich suite of business-grade tools DW provides.
If your web building demands are more basic or you want something more affordable, there are options available:
- BlueGriffon: Another open-source web editor, BlueGriffon, is a popular tool developed by Gecko. Yes, that’s the same engine that powers Mozilla’s Firefox web browser. It is much easier to use than Dreamweaver, and while it is not as well-featured, it boasts plenty of interesting tools. Multiple themes, top-notch tab organization, and more.
If you have come this far into our review, you are probably asking should you buy Dreamweaver? Do many factors decide whether you should or not, such as how much power you need from your web editor? If you are already using Adobe’s ecosystem, such as Illustrator or Photoshop, then DW becomes a powerful companion.
Still, if you are approaching website design with no coding ability, Dreamweaver is too much technology for you. Sure, it has a visual editor, but some alternatives do a much better job of simplifying website design.
Among them is WordPress, the world’s largest CSS. On WordPress, you can easily pick themes and modify them from easy-to-use menus. WordPress does require some technical experience, but it is a low code alternative to DreamWeaver.
What about the no-code folks out there? Well, then you need to turn to a website building software such as Weebly or Wix (there are dozens of other providers too). These lean completely into the MYSIWYG aspect of website design with complete visual editing tools. But, again, you won’t be doing any coding, and this is very much web editing made easy.
The caveat is you will not get the level of control, management, and individuality your coded website built on Dreamweaver can achieve. When using a service like Wix or Weebly, you will always sacrifice some uniqueness. Yes, there are thousands of themes available, and you can make customizations to formatting, but the site will never be truly your design.
Again, that may be fine for many businesses, especially those lacking coding ability. In these circumstances, tools like Wix and Weebly are excellent. They are also generally more affordable than Dreamweaver because they come bundled with web hosting services.
Free Dreamweaver alternatives
What about free options? Most visual editing website building services are available for free alongside their paid options. You will need to make plenty of feature compromises to use these free versions. Perhaps the biggest drawback is the lack of a unique URL address. Your site will be saddled with a URL like “mysite.weebly.com.”
For a completely free option, Microsoft’s Expression Web is interesting. You may remember this as a once – relatively expensive – application, but it is now available for free. That’s because Microsoft replaced the app with Visual Studio. Either way, Expression Web is clean and extremely easy to use, and allows full code editing capabilities.
The downside? Unfortunately, Expression Web was discontinued in 2011 and has not received new features. Although, Microsoft does still issue security updates for the program. It remains a low-cost and effective code editing tool despite its age.
Dreamweaver Review Conclusions
Dreamweaver remains the best option if you want a dedicated code editor for website building. There isn’t a direct competitor to the Adobe website builder, so DW remains a unique tool in the enterprise space. Yes, there are other easier options, but if you need full control and customizability in an HTML editor, Dreamweaver is the best option.
Still, it is not without its problems. It is expensive and has a massive learning curve, even for experienced enterprise-level developers. If you do not know to code or are just starting, Dreamweaver is too sophisticated and complex. For visual editing, the tools offered by alternatives like Wix and Weebly suit customers better.
Is Dreamweaver Still Used?
Yes, is the simple answer. However, if we dig a little deeper, it becomes clear Dreamweaver is nowhere near as popular as it once was. User numbers have been steadily declining for around a decade. However, times have changed, and alternatives are available that cost less.
Visual website builders are more affordable and allow users with no coding skills to create dynamic websites. However, development platforms like Visual Studio provide a better overall user experience for code knowledge. It is also worth noting web browsers now have features that allow users to see website code changes in real-time.
None of these alternatives combine all elements as Dreamweaver does. Even so, it seems users are increasingly willing to branch out beyond Adobe’s tool. That does not mean we do not recommend DW. On the contrary, it remains a fantastic and complex platform. Just be careful to assess what your needs are before committing accurately.