making my site look professional (NOF/dreamweaver)

  mco 19:13 27 Sep 2005

Finally plucked up courage to ask advice - please be gentle!! I made a site for local councillor (ignore the politics) Total novice, I just used first(web-based) WYSIWYG program I found...9 months on, punters are perfectly happy, but the more I learn here, the more a fraud I feel, and all I can see is my amateur bits and the limitations of the current program. I want my site to look like a professional site PLUS I want to extend my skills. I've access to dreamweaver or NOF and have read the posts about them on here: Should I plough thru dreamweaver and reap the benefits or settle for the easier NOF?
click here

  Taran 20:29 27 Sep 2005

you've nothing to be ashamed of if that is indeed your first effort, even if you did use a web based program to create the site.

Dreamweaver is superb, but I feel somewhat overrated.

NetObjects is also superb, but in different ways and for different reasons. I feel that it is vastly underrated, mostly by people who don't appreciate its full capabilities.

Now, the tool (or software) you use is not nearly as important as how you use it. I know loads of people who have the latest all-singing-all-dancing software and their results are poor, simply because they have the tools there but don't know how to use them properly.

A close friend (and incredible web developer) stubbornly refuses to go beyond Dreamweaver MX (version 6). She says that she knows it inside out (which she does) and the added features of MX 2004 or the latest version 8 are either of little use to her or she has already written her own extensions to do, broadly speaking, what the latest versions do. She makes me sick... ;o)

Likewise a colleague introduced me to one of their friends who had a two versions old NetObjects program installed from a magazine covermount CD. Their site was, at first glance, stunning. That's the only word I can think of to describe it and it falls well short of the reality. This individual had spent a lot of time learning the program ,reading the NetObjects newsgroups and discussion boards and it all came together for them.

I feel that NetObjects offers a less intimidating learning curve than Dreamweaver, but Dreamweaver has by far a more powerful feature set. Everything in computing is a trade off between features and how easy it is to use.

I'm still waiting for the day when browsers can actually display a page how I intend it to look, where I tell mycomputer what to do and it does it, and where I don't have the headaches currently in mainstream web development...

What I will say is that you should settle on one or the other program and stay with it for several months. Chopping and changing will throw you right off.

Also keep in mind that content is everything - your design should assist and support delivery of the content, but the best design can't make boring or poorly written content work.

Good luck with it no matter which program you shoose to use.


  mco 20:40 27 Sep 2005

Thanks for your comments, Taran (I was hoping you would comment as I value your input - hope the great FE will comment too) I take your points. I feel I've outgrown the possibilities of this current program, so I downloaded and am working through the trial of Dreamweaver but it IS hardgoing - NetObjects I haven't looked at yet but will. I want one (yes,to stick with!) that will 'grow' with me if, you get my meaning. (Guess I'm just going to have to make my own mind up!)

  Taran 20:54 27 Sep 2005

I have the 'getting started' manuals for NetObjects version 7 and version 8, which is sitting on a shelf in the study.

You can download them as PDF files from the Website Pros site click here but some people find a paper manual easier to follow.

I confess I've never read them, but if you'd like them you're more than welcome - I'd need an address to send them to (click the envelope icon next to my username to conatct me via email if you want to pass your details on to me).

As I say though, you can download the manuals from the Website Pros site and you get the option to install them as part of the main NetObjects installation, which dumps a copy on your hard drive for reference.

As far as Dreamweaver is concerned, have a look through this forum or run a search in Google for:


You will find more information than you will want and much of it is excellent.

  mco 23:02 27 Sep 2005

Somewhere amongst all my badly filed cds I have a copy of Netobjects 7.5 as a freebie from the hosting company my site's with -so I assume the manual would be there, but if not, I'll be in touch thanks. I have been working through the tutorial of dreamweaver that comes with the free 30 day trial - it makes me realise just how much my original site and webbuilding program are lacking.

  Bebee 23:25 27 Sep 2005

I downloaded the trial for NetObjects Fusion8 and worked through the tutorial before building my site. It was well worth taking the time to do that. I then bought the full version. I think the reason is as Taran has said - familiarity.

I don't think I would gain a great deal from trying all the options and I chose NetObjects because it seemed fairly comprehensive but likely to be easier to learn than Dreamweaver, and having worked through I found I could do more or less what I wanted.

I think Taran's advice on getting to know a program well is spot on - I intend to stick with what I've got now.

I have also found it useful to browse around sites that I like the design for and work out what it is I like - I don't necessarily mean the fancy stuff, just the look and navigation. It's also important to look at what the site is for - a good commercial site can be quite different from a good personal site - or political one. And I learnt a lot from the feedback here.

Your site design is straightforward and presents the content clearly. A good start I'd say, but I'm no expert.

  mco 23:44 27 Sep 2005

Yes thanks Bebee; a lot of what I've learned (come to think of it, all of what I've learned!) in recent months I've picked up from here.I'm on it several times a day - and if your site's an example of NetObjects, it's a good advert.

  ade.h 00:54 29 Sep 2005

My experience is exactly as that of Bebee, except that I tried a Dreamweaver trial initially. I may one day try it again, budget permitting (as it's very expensive), but I've come nowhere near to the limits of NOF8 in the last three months. I started with a trial, liked it and saw potential, and £120 is not too bad! It suits my needs.

I tried hard to tackle DW, but just didn't have the time (or patience if I'm honest!) Web design is itself a huge task without over complicating it. Incidentally, the FE uses FP2003, which is reckoned to be as capable as any. I don't know how easy it is to use, though.

  mco 09:46 06 Oct 2005

After a couple of weeks trying both NOF and dreamweaver I've come to the conclusion that, although I can just about put a site together on dreamweaver, I can do the same spec site with a lot less hassle and more user friendly help on NOF....but there's this nagging thought inside me that, unless I'm familiar with dreamweaver I'm never going to reach the realms of 'serious' webdesign .. It doesn't help when you get comments (admittedly from people who don't actually use either) that 'oh you MUST use dreamweaver; it's the industry standard'.. I want a slick, professional looking site but I'm not going to do this as a full time job or operate major sites like this one so ...what exactly would persevering with dreamweaver give me that I couldn't get from NOF?

  ade.h 13:09 06 Oct 2005

If it was me, who only designs sites for the businesses and interests of myself and a few friends, I would still keep Dreamweaver if I already had a full version. It might be worth learning in more depth later on when you are more knowledgeable about web design. Maybe you'll need to to something that DW does better than NOF.

  Forum Editor 16:02 06 Oct 2005

talking about DreamWeaver as if it's the be-all and end-all of site design applications I always smile to myself - for it's such nonsense. They are simply repeating a mantra they've received at some point or another, and once you get down to talking with them you often discover that they haven't used much else - they've been under the impression that FrontPage and NOF are for amateurs, and they wouldn't be seen dead using them for that reason.

Let me say it loud and clear - both NetObjects Fusion and FrontPage 2003 are superb tools, and capapble of far more than most web designers will ever throw at them. FP in particular is much better than DreamWeaver when it comes to working with data sources, and it has the added advantage of coming with some very useful extras - like a built-in discussion forum facility. The forum is a bit basic, but it's there, it's easy to set up and run, and comes in very handy for some of my corporate clients, who want in-house or industry-wide collaborative working in discussion groups.

Don't write DreamWeaver off - it's a wonderful program, and no professional site builder would be without it - but give the others a chance, you'll be suitably impressed, I promise you. Any thing you can do in DreamWeaver you can also do in FrontPage 2003, and NOF is capable of much more than most people realise - it will certainly keep pace with you in terms of power, and many people find the huge array of ready-to-go site templates and styles a real asset.

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