Have you ever designed a website in Dreamweaver? Sure, we all have. Have you ever been so mad you could put your foot through your monitor? Again, we all have. If you answered yes to the second question and it relates to the first question, then you are just like me. Fortunately, there is a solution that will blow your mind!
Ok, so it’s nothing new, unless you’ve been hiding out in some dark cave for the past eight years. What am I talking about? WordPress of course. Please tell me you’ve heard of it!? I wasn’t convinced at first, but after some time and seeing all of its capabilities, I’m 200% sold. I’d go as far as saying this is the future of web design, but I think I’m a little late as it’s been changing the way web design is done for many years now. I just wish I had more exposure to it in the early days when I was fresh out of college. It is probably one of the most helpful tools I use. In case you are lost as to everything I’m talking about, here is an excerpt I found on Wikipedia:
WordPress is an open source Content Management System (CMS), often used as a blog publishing application, and driven by PHP and MySQL. Matt Mullenweg first released it on May 27, 2003 and as of August 2010, version 3.0 had been downloaded over 12.5 million times. Pretty amazing to say the least.
There are two versions: WordPress.com and WordPress.org. The first is what a lot of non-technical people use since they don’t have to worry about hosting it themselves and they can literally have their site up and running in just minutes. Since they are hosted by WordPress, they can’t actually access the files through FTP like a normal website. Just one of the disadvantages. But probably the two biggest cons are: no custom themes and no plugins. And those are huge cons. With WordPress.org, you simply download their .zip file and place all of the extracted files on to your server. Then go through a simple setup and bam, you are ready to start creating sites the easy way! To create a new post of page, simply click Add New, write some info, setup links, show images, etc., then hit Publish. Everything is setup for you. Your navigation is updated, your style sheet is already linked, you can start getting comments, and so much more. Then it’s on to customizing your theme and choosing plugins to increase your productivity.
Can Dreamweaver do this? I think not. Enter the world of Dreamweaver. You open the program, and then you stare at the empty html document. “Where to begin…??” I’m sure this has entered your mind a few times. I was taught in school (2000-2002) to slice up a Photoshop image and throw those pieces of an image into a HTML table to create a webpage. Back in the day, that was easy and I liked doing it. Fast forward to my full-time jobs in 2004-2010 and I was asked to create lots of sites with real text and images and not use tables. So I read tons of tutorials and did my best. Looking back, I should have just gave up on all that mess and confusion. Don’t even get me started on Flash. A few years ago I started messing with divs instead of tables, but I could never really get the hang of it, and I never used CSS as it was meant to be. Since I started working at my new full-time job, I’ve learned a lot, and now I breeze through lines of code now and enjoy it since I know what I’m doing.
I will say editing in Dreamweaver is easy if you know HTML and CSS, but it’s really a big editor program that you don’t really need, with a lot of tools that you’ll probably never need. Sure, there will be those clients who know 100% exactly what they want their site to look like and it might be complicated to find a WordPress theme with a matching structure, so Dreamweaver might make sense for you. But if you already know how to code, then take advantage of the WordPress.org platform and edit the shit out of a pre-built theme. You’ll be much happier knowing you can easily add new pages, posts, edit the style sheet, update templates, add/remove widgets, and basically make almost any change on the fly. I especially love using Firebug to edit CSS on the fly for testing before I edit the real code. (It’s an Add-on for Firefox, which really should be the only browser you use.) And did I mention that you can do this from anywhere and you really don’t need a lot of technical experience?
That’s right, just about anyone can maintain their own site. I can’t tell you how much I hated making changes to clients’ sites in the past. At one point, I thought that would be easy money coming in if I setup a contract with them to pay a monthly fee for maintenance. Like every month, they would pay me $50 and I would make whatever changes they wanted, and most of the time they would have none and that would be easy money. (This was my first plan for passive income, although at the time, I had no idea what passive income even meant.) But of course, customers want their site completely redesigned every month is what it seems like. Further on this topic, I can edit a website from my PC at home, from my laptop on vacation, from my Mac at work, and yes, even my cell phone! No joke. I can update my website through my iPhone via the WordPress app or the actual site through the Safari browser. I never thought web design would come this far. Epic!
I just can’t express how much stress I’ve deleted out of my life from not using Dreamweaver anymore. Well, I recently worked on a guy’s site who just needed some changes done on a section of his site. When I looked at the code, I almost said no, but I’m too nice of a guy, and I love to work on sites in the custom truck scene, so I couldn’t pass it up. It was hard to keep me motivated to even want to work on it since everything was in tables and every page had to be manually created. The whole time, all I could think about is how much time I would have saved, how many plugins and widgets are available for what I’m doing, and how there will probably be more gut-wrenching changes in the future. The website for The Little Shop of Horrors just needed some minor tweaks on their merchandise page, but I recommended to the owner that he should switch to a full WordPress setup if a lot more changes ever need done.
Which leads me to my next point: I WILL ONLY be designing new sites with WordPress. If you want a Flash-based site, I’m not your guy anymore. Want a custom site with crazy Photoshop fonts and everything is an image thrown into a table, don’t talk to me. Number one, I feel way too busy as it is with everything in my life, and I don’t want to take on anything I don’t want to do or that will take way too much of my time. Numero Dos, I don’t want to get sucked into having to constantly make changes since I’d be acting as the designer and developer of a non-WordPress setup. I’d rather make you a site then show you how easy it is to update yourself, then you can make those changes without contacting me. C, WordPress has a lot of SEO tools available. There really is almost a plugin for everything. With the way these sites are setup, they just make it that much easier to concentrate on the SEO strategy and not worrying about why your images aren’t lining up because you can’t figure out how to use tables or divs. Who cares how pretty your site is if no one can find it in the search engines? Finally, I most likely will not be taking on sites that I didn’t work on to begin with and just need changes done. I hate digging into someone else’s work and finding everything was done half-assed and then I end up redoing the whole site. If your website has problems and you come to me, my only solution is for me to ditch the old and start brand new. End of story.
In the end, I really want what’s best for everyone and for everyone to be happy. It’s very hard to make everyone happy, but if I can spend 5-10 hours creating a professional site for you or your business that is setup for SEO and you can update it anytime in the future all by yourself, isn’t that just plain awesome? I know I’d rather charge you less money, spend less time creating it, know that it’s going to work when I hit publish, have less maintenance work that I have to do if any, and concentrate on making it optimized for the search engines. It’s win-win for both of us. If you are looking for a new site, feel free to contact me and we can discuss how I can use my skills to get you noticed and looking professional at the same time. And I’d love to hear your comments below regarding my hate towards Dreamweaver and my love towards WordPress. Cheers!