I have some professional web development experience, and I always hard-coded all the HTML and CSS in simple text editors. I don’t think the aesthetic appearance of my websites is bad at all, but when comparing to professional web designers’ work, theirs always seem more professional in some way, and the designers I knew always did their design in Dreamweaver.
Of course I acknowledge that the designers have an experience and talent that I don’t, and that is one great factor in why their design is better, but maybe the WYSIWYG editor is another factor.
I have been given the opportunity to learn Dreamweaver.
Is using Dreamweaver instead of a plain-text editor likely to improve my designs in any way, since I can abstract many technicalities away, and focus more on the aesthetics?
Dreamweaver does not make you a better designer.
In the end, Dreamweaver is merely a tool and like any tool, you may or may not find it useful, but it never improves one’s own aesthetic sense of design.
I’ve found no reason to use Dreamweaver over a solid text editor (BBEdit) and a browser. Throw in a bit of PHP and a server for testing and there’s really no need for Dreamweaver at all. But that’s my preference. Your milage may vary.
Dreamweaver can be very handy in a team workflow where many people are working on the same thing or pieces of the same thing. However, in a solitary designer/builder setting there’s no imperative reason one needs to use Dreamweaver.
In addition, the WYSIWG portion of Dreamweaver can really create nightmare spaghetti code. Most people I’ve seen who use Dreamweaver effectively tend to shy away from editing in the layout view (WYSIWYG) and use the code view. The WYSIWYG aspect of Dreamweaver is actually the bad part if you care at all about nice, clean, solid, code.