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Is There Such A Thing As Amateur Web Design Anymore?

By Gary Klingsheim

Let’s get one thing straight right from the beginning. There never was a Golden Age (of anything), the good old days probably were not good (just old) and there is no reverse gear on clocks (the past is staying right where it is, behind us). That said, it does seem at times that Bob Dylan should have named his plaintive old folk tune, “The Times They Are A-Changin’… and Really Fast.” It is hard to stay abreast of the changes in our heavy-duty digital era, and often we notice trends after they have settled in for the long haul.

One area that has changed drastically is the Web, and not just what is available or how great it all looks. What with all the complex tools being used for site creation and under-the-hood operations, it seems reasonable to ask, Is there such a thing as amateur web design anymore? Of course, there are still a few (though very few) entry-level Web design applications. For Macintosh, there is Apple’s iWeb that is bundled with new Macs and RapidWeaver (about $80). For PCs, there is CoffeeCup Software’s Visual Site Designer (about $50) and Microsoft’s Expression Web 2 at about $200-250. Those are the entry and intermediate choices right there.

From basic to ballistic

Truth be told, there are some Web design tools that are more basic than what we are calling entry-level here, and those are text editors. Some, like BBEdit, have been around a long time and have been tweaked for Web work. Still, if you know HTML and have a lot of patience (and a good visual imagination) you can still create a Web site in a simple, plain-text program. There are not a lot of folks doing this anymore, as it is slow and tedious (but the bragging rights are huge). So, unless you use a text editor or choose one of the programs mentioned above, what are you left with? It is the 800-lb. gorilla, of course, Adobe Dreamweaver, available separately or as part of several CS5 premium packages released in April 2010.

Dreamweaver CS5 is not a program that just anyone is going to fire up one day and build a site with, even using just basic tools. There is nothing at all basic about this application, and if you have never seen it before, and do not use its CS siblings, prepare to be alternately flabbergasted and befuddled. Even using pre-made templates does not get you very deep into this learning curve, which is considerable. There are other terms (like “astronomical” and “yikes”) that describe the pricing, which ranges from $399 for the program by itself to $2,600 for the Master Collection (soup to nuts version). Since Adobe has done away with the Web Standard version, Web Premium is the least expensive package that includes Dreamweaver. It’s $1,800.

Real people prices

Very few hobbyists or DIY’ers are going to shell out $400 for a Web design application, much less four, five or six times as much for a Creative Suite bundle. To get state-of-the-art capabilities, you will pay top prices, and that pretty much means Dreamweaver is going to stay in the hands of design studios, Fortune 500s, trust-fundians and solo creative professionals. Clearly, Adobe has a great thing going with its programs, which have cornered the art, design and publishing markets across all media (print, Web, broadcast, mobile). However, there is more than a little of the digital divide evident in its distribution, and the trend seems to be toward widening, rather than narrowing, the distance between the demographics.

Interestingly, Photoshop (often called Adobe’s flagship product) comes in Standard and Extended versions, with the latter offering more 3D tools, an extrusion engine and a host of other potent capabilities. If Adobe were to make a so-called lite version of Dreamweaver at a reduced price, they could possibly capture more business. After introducing users of the intro-level Dreamweaver to the interface and the major functions, those users might be enticed to upgrade to the full version, even as some of them upgrade their career standing from novice to professional. Adobe, however, is not likely to offer such a product anytime soon.

What’s an amateur to do?

Often, it is not the visualization or the creativity that is at an amateur level, but a person’s software knowledge. If, in fact, the entry- and low-level Web design tools are not up to the task of translating your vision into reality, and you don’t want to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on a new program that might take, say, a year to master, your best move is to hire a good, reputable Web designer. You can find plenty of honest, reasonably priced Web site deals from freelancers, design studios and site design specialists.

If you participate in the process, you will get the look you want, the functions you need and the ability to maintain the site without having to buy expensive software. By using FTP (File Transfer Protocol) and hosting company control panels, you can replace and update copy, entire pages and media like photos, music and video clips. Just tell the designer what it is you want to do, and they will weave the dream together for you. Your site will still be built by Adobe, without your having to buy the firm’s premium-priced software, and that is the important thing.

About the Author: Moonrise Productions is a custom web application development company specializing in custom web development and design. Whether you need social network web design or web application development, contact us and we’ll get it done right.

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Klingsheim, Gary "Is There Such A Thing As Amateur Web Design Anymore?." Is There Such A Thing As Amateur Web Design Anymore?. 11 Jul. 2010. 20 Sep 2014 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Klingsheim, G (2010, July 11). Is There Such A Thing As Amateur Web Design Anymore?. Retrieved September 20, 2014, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Klingsheim, Gary "Is There Such A Thing As Amateur Web Design Anymore?"

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