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As you know, this site is all about how to make a website. You can learn different ways from using WordPress over Joomla to Drupal. We even have a guide on using pure HTML like in the old days (though of course with HTML5, the latest version). In this Dreamweaver tutorial for beginners, you will learn another one.

For those who don’t know, Dreamweaver is an application that lets you design, code and manage websites. What is interesting about it is that it offers both the possibility to write code as well as make a website through a visual interface.

In this Dreamweaver tutorial, you will learn everything you need to know to get started with creating websites with Dreamweaver. You will get to know the program and what it can do, feature highlights and how to set it up. After that, you will find a step-by-step guide how to create a simple website with Dreamweaver, make it mobile friendly and then upload it to your server.

This will be a long ride, however, you will be amazed at how quickly you will get into this very intuitive program.

What is Dreamweaver and What Can It Do?

On the surface, Dreamweaver is an IDE (integrated development environment). That means, it’s a piece of software that combines different tools to make web design and development easier.

However, what makes it special is that it is somewhere in between a CMS (where you control everything about your website through a visual interface) and a pure code editor. Here’s how the different parts work.

Create Websites through a Visual Design Interface

The visual design toolbox basically lets you build websites with your mouse. It allows you to place website elements the way you create a layout in Word. Basically, you see your website like in a browser but also have the ability to manipulate it.

This is very useful because it allows you to build the skeleton of a website quickly and without the need to write a single line of code. Instead, Dreamweaver will automatically create the necessary code for you. That way, theoretically, you can put together an entire website by hand and upload it to your server.

However, if you are capable of coding, Dreamweaver also has all the necessary tools.

Works as a Full-fledged Code Editor

The second part of Dreamweaver is a fully featured code editor. It comes equipped with all the standard functions, including:

  • Syntax highlighting — That means Dreamweaver highlights different elements (such as operators, variables, etc.) in different colors in order to make code easier to read and correct.
  • Code completion — Code completion works like autocomplete on your phone. Start typing and the editor will make suggestions for what you are trying to write. That way, you don’t have to type everything out completely.
  • Code collapsing — Code collapsing is another feature for making code easier to read. It allows you to visually shrink parts of your code when you don’t need it. That way, you don’t have to scroll through the entire file but can only deal with the parts you need to work on.

Dreamweaver supports the most important languages for web design (HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP) and a whole lot more.

The best part: if you change anything in your code, Dreamweaver will automatically display it on the visual side as well. That way, you can see it without having to upload your files to a server or fire up the browser.

Of course, there are a lot more features and you will see many of them in action in the upcoming Dreamweaver tutorial for beginners.

Dreamweaver Setup and Overview

As a first step, you need to acquire Dreamweaver from the official Adobe website. As part of Creative Cloud it costs $19,99/month on a yearly plan or $29,99/month with a monthly subscription. Dreamweaver is also part of their All Apps plan that costs $49,99 per month.

dreamweaver tutorial for beginners pricing

Other plans for businesses, teams, students, teachers and schools exist. Plus, you can get a free trial here or from your Creative Cloud client.

Download and Install

When you get the program from the official website, just download the installation file, execute it and follow the instructions.

If you are already using Creative Cloud (as I do), you can simply click Try inside the client. Then, when the program is done installing, click Start Trial.

First Startup

When you first start Dreamweaver, you will see this screen.

dreamweaver first startup

If you have never used the program before, choose No, I’m new. When you do, Dreamweaver leads you through a setup wizard. The first step is to choose whether to use the workspace for developers or standard workspace.

dreamweaver onboarding guide choose workspace

Since this is a Dreamweaver beginner tutorial, choose the standard version. After that, you can pick a color theme for your workspace from four different options.

dreamweaver onboarding guide choose color scheme

The final step is choosing whether to start with a sample file, new or existing project or watch a tutorial.

dreamweaver onboarding guide last step

Choose to start with a new or existing folder and you are done with the setup process. Good job! Now let’s start a project and learn how to create a website with Dreamweaver.

How to Design a Website Using Dreamweaver

Alright, now we are getting to the heart of this Dreamweaver tutorial.

1. Start a New Site

The first step is to create a new site. For that, go to Site > New Site. It will get you to this screen:

create a new site in dreamweaver

The first step is to give your site a name. Then, you need to choose where to save it. This is up to you, but it usually makes sense to keep all projects in one place for simplicity’s sake.

You also have the possibilitiy to associate your new project with a Git repository. This can be a good idea since it gives you version control but you can skip it for now.

We will deal with everything under Servers on the left side later. Same with CSS Preprocessors, which is only important when you use that kind of thing.

However, what is important to us is Local Info under Advanced Settings.

enable default images folder in dreamweaver

Here, be sure to click on the folder icon on the right where it says Default Images folder. Then, go to your newly created site directory, open it, create a new folder called images and select that as your default folder. That way, Dreamweaver will save images associated with your site automatically there.

That’s it for now, click Save to go back to your workspace.

2. Create Your Homepage File

Now that you have created a project site, it’s time for the first file. We will start with the homepage.

If Dreamweaver doesn’t offer you the option by itself, go to File > New. You can either create a completely new file or use an existing template. The program comes with a few of those (see Starter Templates). However, we will create a new one instead.

create a new file in dreamweaver

HTML is set by default and you can leave that as is. For document title, input index.html and choose Create. This will leave you on the following screen.

fresh project in dreamweaver

Here you find what we mentioned in the beginning: a live view of what your site looks like (blank, at the moment) and the code behind it. You will also notice that Dreamweaver has automatically created some basic HTML markup that you can build on. Let’s do that now, shall we?

3. Create a Header

To insert an element into the page, you first need to choose it’s location. For that, either click on the empty page (Dreamweaver will automatically choose the <body> element if you do) or place the cursor in the same element in the code portion of the screen.

After that, you need to head on over to the Insert tab in the upper right corner. This gives you a list of common HTML and site elements that you can add to your page. Scroll down until you can see Header as an option.

insert header element in dreamweaver

A simple click inserts it into the page. You also see it appear inside the HTML document.

header visible in visual interface and code editor

Simple, right?

Now you will change the text inside the header and also turn it into a heading. For both, first mark the text in the code editor at the bottom.

mark header text in dreamweaver

After that, go back to Insert, click on the arrow next to Heading and choose H1. This wraps the page title into an H1 HTML tag. For more information on heading tags, read this article.

After that, you can also type in a title for your page. In real life you would you choose something descriptive with keywords and not just Welcome to My Test Website as in the example.

changed header in dreamweaver

Alright, you have just created a page header! However, at the moment it still looks a little crude, so let’s change that via CSS next.

4. Create a CSS File

In case you are not familiar with it, CSS is the part that provides all the styling on a web page. It allows you to define colors, dimensions of elements, font types and sizes and a hell lot more. We want to use the markup to spruce up our page title and also learn how to change CSS in Dreamweaver.

Theoretically, you can add CSS right inside the HTML document. However, that is a lot less elegant that what we will do, which is create a dedicated file for all the CSS styling of the entire site.

The first step to do so is to give your new header a CSS class or id. During that process Dreamweaver will also prompt you to create a style sheet file. So, go to the DOM menu in the lower right part of the screen that lists your entire site structure. Here, make sure your header is selected.

In the live view, you will now see it marked in blue with a little label and a plus sign at the bottom.

add css file in dreamweaver

Click the plus sign and type in #header in the field that open. The hashtag means you are assigning an id as opposed to a class. Press enter. In the opening menu, instead of Define in page select Create new CSS file. In the popup, choose Browse… and navigate to your site folder. Then type style.css (which is the standard name for style sheets) into the File name field and hit Save.

create style sheet in dreamweaver

When you now select Ok, a new file will appear at the top of your live view. You can view and edit it from there. It will also be linked to in the <head> section of the HTML part of your page.

style sheet added to website

Awesome possum! Now you are ready to change your page’s styling.

5. Create a CSS Selector for the Page Title

Alright, the first thing you want to do is change the font of your heading and also center it. For that, you first need to create new CSS selector. A selector is the name of an element on our page that you can assign properties like color, size, and more to.

To do so, mark your H1 heading in the DOM view on the lower right (like you did with the header before). Then, above that, choose CSS Designer.

prepare styling for heading element

To create a CSS selector, click on the line where it says Selectors and then click on the plus symbol. This should automatically propose a selector to you named #header h1.

create css selector in dreamweaver

Hit enter to create it. Done.

Quick note: for all those new to CSS, this selector means that you are targeting the element named h1 inside the element called #header. That way, whatever you input as CSS is only applied to the written text only and not the header element overall.

6. Change the Headline Font

Now that you have a selector, you can assign properties to it. If you know your way around CSS, you can simply type markup into style.css and the program will automatically take care of it.

However, for less experienced users, Dreamweaver also makes it really easy. Stay in the CSS Designer menu and uncheck the box where it says Show Set. When you do, it will unlock a lot of additional options.

enable css options in dreamweaver

With the new buttons you can choose many CSS properties from the areas of layout, text, border and background. Under More you may also input your own rules.

To change the font type, click on the Text option at the top (alternatively, scroll down). In the upcoming options, hover over font-family and click on default font.

change font family in dreamweaver

This will give you number of options for common fonts including their fallbacks (in case the user browser is unable to show the primary font). However, you want to click on Manage Fonts… at the bottom to get to this menu:

adobe edge web fonts

Here, you are able to choose free fonts from Adobe’s Edge Web Fonts service. Either search for a font by name or use the many filter options on the left to narrow down your choices until you find something.

A click on any of the typefaces marks it for inclusion in Dreamweaver. Once you have done so, you can either use them directly or go to Custom Font Stacks to define your own fallback fonts.

create custom font stacks in dreamweaver

However, for now simply hit Done and then click on default fonts again. This time pick your chosen custom font and voilá, the change is done including all necessary coding.

changed font in dreamweaver

If you click on your style.css file at the top, you see that all markup has been added here as well.

updated style sheet in dreamweaver

7. Center the Headline and Change Its Size

However, the text could still look better. So, the next task is to center it and increase the font size. For that, you can also use another feature called Quick Edit.

To use it, go to the code view and right click the part you want to edit. In this case, it’s on the <h1> bracket.

open quick edit menu in dreamweaver

Here, choose Quick Edit at the top. This will open the CSS associated with this element below it. Now you can input additional properties without having to search the entire style sheet file (which can get very long). In order to center the text and make it larger, add the following code to it.

font-size: 42px;
text-align: center;

When typing, Dreamweaver will also make proposals for what you are trying to input, making it even easier. That’s the code completion feature mentioned earlier.

When you are done, it ends up like this:

change css via quick edit in dreamweaver

Note that the text has already changed in the live view. Now, press Esc to leave quick edit and head over to the style sheet. You will find that the new CSS has been added in the appropriate place.

Pretty cool, right?

By the way, if you are ever unsure about what a CSS property means, simply right click it and choose Quick Docs (or press Ctrl+K). Dreamweaver will then give you an explanation.

dreamweaver quick docs

8. Add more Content

With what you have learned so far, you can now build a rudimentary site. For the sake of this Dreamweaver tutorial, I have done the following:

  • Defined default fonts for headings and paragraphs
  • Added a navigation bar and created a link to the homepage in it
  • Added a div box for content with two more boxes inside
  • Moved one of them left and one right with the float property
  • Limited their width to percentages so they can align horizontally
  • Added a sample heading and dummy text to the left including an unordered list
  • Created a form (use the drop-down menu under Insert), two text fields and a submit button
  • Added spacing around the elements via CSS margins and padding
  • Provided background colors and borders
  • Created a footer and a copyright message

Here’s the result:

website with advanced design

Code for the Example:

Since this is a bit advanced and not everybody will know how to do it, you find the the HTML and CSS below so you can reconstruct it for yourself. First the HTML:

<!doctype html>
<html>
<head>
<meta charset="utf-8">
<title>index.html</title>
<link href="style.css" rel="stylesheet" type="text/css">
<!--The following script tag downloads a font from the Adobe Edge Web Fonts server for use within the web page. We recommend that you do not modify it.--><script>var __adobewebfontsappname__="dreamweaver"</script><script src="http://use.edgefonts.net/aguafina-script:n4:default;muli:n3:default;karla:n4:default.js" type="text/javascript"></script>
</head>

<body>
<header id="header">
  <h1>Welcome to My Test Website</h1>
</header>
<nav id="navigation"><a href="index.html" title="Back to homepage">Home</a></nav>
<main class="main">
  <div id="main-left">
    <h2>Sample Heading for Main Content</h2>
    <p>Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Pellentesque scelerisque id est sit amet ornare. Suspendisse eget elit mi. In imperdiet auctor leo vitae blandit. </p>
    <ul>
      <li>Etiam tempus urna condimentum libero varius</li>
      <li>Ut commodo risus finibus</li>
      <li>Duis odio lacus, elementum eget sem finibus</li>
      <li>Mollis dignissim enim.</li>
      <li>Quisque molestie suscipit odio vel facilisis</li>
    </ul>
  <p>Curabitur vestibulum, lorem a tincidunt dapibus, erat sem rhoncus nisl, non dapibus quam mi ac ligula. Vestibulum id auctor eros, nec porttitor odio. Nunc efficitur turpis sed nulla vestibulum viverra. Maecenas iaculis mi ornare, dapibus lectus in, facilisis nisl.</p>
  </div>
<div id="main-right">
  <div class="cta">
    <h3>Sample Call to Action!</h3>
    <p>Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Pellentesque scelerisque id est sit amet ornare. Suspendisse eget elit mi.</p>
</div>
<form method="post" name="form1" class="form">
  <div>
    <label for="textfield2" class="label">Name:</label>
    <input name="textfield" type="text" class="textfield">
  </div>
    <div>
      <label for="textfield3" class="label">Email:</label>
      <input name="textfield" type="text" class="textfield">
</div>
    <input type="button" name="button" id="button" value="Subscribe now!">
</form>
</div>
</main>
<footer class="footer">
  <p>Copyright © 2017 My Imaginary Website</p>
</footer>
</body>
</html>

And then the CSS:

@charset "utf-8";

body {
  background-color: #F5F5F5;
  margin-top: 0px;
  margin-right: 0px;
  margin-bottom: 0px;
  margin-left: 0px;
}

p,
a,
ul,
ol,
li,
label,
input{
  font-family: muli, sans-serif;
  font-style: normal;
  font-weight: 300;
  font-size: 17px;
}

h1, h2, h3, h4, h5 {
  font-family: karla, sans-serif;
  font-style: normal;
  font-weight: 400;
  text-transform: uppercase;
}

#header {
  padding-top: 25px;
  padding-bottom: 25px;
  background-color: #FFFFFF;
  border-bottom: 4px solid #EB232F;
}

#header h1 {
  font-family: aguafina-script;
  font-style: normal;
  font-weight: 400;
  font-size: 42px;
  text-align: center;
  margin-top: 0px;
  margin-bottom: 0px;
  text-transform: none;
}

#navigation {
  margin-right: auto;
  margin-left: auto;
  max-width: 1140px;
  margin-top: 10px;
  margin-bottom: 10px;
}

#navigation a {
  color: #EB232F;
}

.main {
  display: block;
  margin-top: 15px;
  margin-right: auto;
  margin-left: auto;
  margin-bottom: 15px;
  clear: both;
  overflow: auto;
  max-width: 1140px;
}

.main #main-right {
  float: right;
  width: 37.5%;
  display: block;
}

.main #main-left {
  float: left;
  width: 57%;
  display: block;
  padding-right: 20px;
}

.main #main-right .cta {
  text-align: center;
}

.main #main-right .form {
  width: 92%;
  margin-right: auto;
  margin-left: auto;
}

#main-right .form div {
  margin-bottom: 10px;
}

#main-right .form .label {

}

#main-right .form .textfield {
  width: 100%;

}

.main #main-right #button {
  text-align: center;
  padding-top: 7px;
  padding-bottom: 7px;
  margin-left: auto;
  margin-right: auto;
  position: relative;
  display: block;
  padding-right: 36px;
  padding-left: 36px;
  border: none;
  background-color: #EB232F;
  color: #FFFFFF;
  cursor: pointer;
}

.footer {
  display: block;
  padding-top: 25px;
  padding-bottom: 25px;
  text-align: center;
}

I want to use this as an example to show you the next steps. However, even if it seems complicated, I put this together the same way I showed you before.

9. Preview in Browser and on Mobile Device

How did I do all of this? Well, first of all I am a bit more experience at building websites than you probably are. Therefore, I already have the steps in my mind on how to create a proper web page.

Secondly, I am using a very useful feature that helps me speed up the process: browser preview. Dreamweaver allows you to view your web pages in real time in a browser and even on mobile devices.

To get started, click the real-time preview button in the lower right corner.

enable preview menu in dreamweaver

This will open the preview options.

real time preview options in dreamweaver

A click on one of the browser names will open your  website project in it. You can can also scan the QR code with your phone or tablet (for example with Firefox Quantum) or type the displayed address into your browser to start the live preview on your device.

Just be be aware, that you need to input your Adobe ID and password for that. However, you should have that from signing up for Dreamweaver.

The best part: Any changes you make in Dreamweaver will automatically show up in the browser the moment you make them.

How did this help me put together site faster? First of all, depending on the size of your screen, the display in the browser might be closer to the original than what you see in Dreamweaver.

Secondly, checking the site in the browser allows me to use the developer tools to test changes.

developer tools in browser

These are very similar to what you see in Dreamweaver, however, more familiar to me so I can work faster with them and just copy and paste code into my style sheet.

However, a look at the phone version shows that there is still a lot of work to do.

mobile real time preview in dreamweaver

This brings us right to our next point.

10. Add Media Queries

In order to make your website work on all devices, you need to add so-called media queries. These are conditional CSS statements that tell browsers to apply styling only above or below certain screens sizes or on particular devices. That way, you can change the layout on smaller screens.

So far, you have only defined global styles. That means, styles that are applied for the entire site no matter what. Now you will learn how to add conditional styles for smaller screens.

First, go to CSS Designer. Here, make sure that the file you want to add code to is selected under Sources. Then, hit the plus sign under @media. It gives you this option panel:

media query menu in dreamweaver

Here you can define conditions for media queries like devices they apply to, orientation, resolution and much more. You can also add multiple conditions with the plus sign.

What’s more important for our example is the max-width setting. With that, you are able to define custom CSS that will only apply up to a certain screen size.

Let’s say you want to fix things on the phone first, so you type in a max-width of 375 pixels. When you do, you can see the CSS code at the bottom.

create media query in dreamweaver

What’s also going to happen when you click Ok is that a green line appears at the top of the screen. This visually represents the media query. Click it and the screen automatically jumps to that size.

create media queries in dreamweaver

11. Add Conditional CSS

To correct the design for mobile, the first thing we need to do is eliminate the code that makes the two elements on the site arrange themselves next to one another. There clearly isn’t enough space for that.

You can do this the same way you manipulated CSS before, only this time you have a media query activated while you do so.

So, first of all navigate to the element in your DOM view. From there create a new CSS selector for it. Then, set it’s width to auto, float to none (to stop it from going left) and add some padding to the sides so that the content doesn’t border on the edge of the screen.

corrected mobile design

Looks much better, doesn’t it? In the same way, you can change the CSS of all other elements on the page to make them all look right.

And that’s basically it for media queries. You can use the same method to adjust the layout to tablets and other sizes.

Pro tip: Don’t optimize for certain devices and their sizes, instead create media queries depending on the layout. That means, play with the screen size and add queries at those points when the layout doesn’t look good anymore.

One more thing: you can also create media queries a little more easily by using the pre-set device sizes in bottom corner and clicking on the plus symbol on top when you have found a point where you want to add one.

create media queries via shortcuts in dreamweaver

12. Upload your site to the server

Once you are done with the design part, you are pretty much ready to upload the site to your server. As mentioned in the very beginning, Dreamweaver also makes this very easy.

If you don’t have a server/web host yet, consider choosing best web hosting.

First, go to Site > Manage Sites. Here, select your current website from the menu and choose Edit at the bottom left. In the following window, click on Servers.

remote server configuration in dreamweaver

Here, input all important data to connect to your FTP server. The name is up to you, the rest (FTP address, username, password) comes from your hosting provider. Don’t forget to specify which directory to place the files in and the web address of your live site! The last part is important so Dreamweaver can create site-relative internal links.

Under Advanced you have some more options (like whether to upload files automatically upon save), however, you can usually keep things as they are. Hit Save twice and you are done.

Now go to the Files panel (either on the upper right side or via Window > Files) and there, click on the furthest left symbol to connect to your server.

upload site to remote server in dreamweaver

Once the connection is established, select the files you want to upload and click the upward-pointing arrow to do so. Once that is done, your site should be available from your web address.

Well done! You just built and uploaded a simple site with Dreamweaver!

Dreamweaver Tutorial – Final Words

Dreamweaver is a fantastic program to build websites. It combines an intuitive user interface with a full-fledged code editor. Through this mix, it makes it easy for beginners, intermediates and advanced users alike to build high-quality websites.

In this Dreamweaver tutorial for beginners we have introduced you to Dreamweaver and its capabilities. We have shown you how to set up the program and get started with your first site. You have learned how to create a basic HTML structure and style it with CSS. We also went over how to make a website mobile responsive and upload it onto your server.

By now you have a solid understanding of how Dreamweaver works and how you can use it to make a website. From here, it’s up to you to dive deeper and figure out the next steps.

However, don’t forget: Dreamweaver is just one way to make a website. There are many more and you can find a lot of information on that right here. Good luck!

Have you used Dreamweaver before? What is your opinion? Anything to add to the above? Let us know in the comments section below!


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    • Hey Martin, happy to help! I hope you will be satisfied with Dreamweaver. Come back later to tell us how it went. Cheers!

    • Adam, thanks for the input. It’s meant to be “linked to”. Could you please elaborate where you see the mistake? Cheers!