Most graphic designers will tell you that anybody can use Dreamweaver. Although this is true, you can’t always just download the program and expect to know how to start using it. If you’re an experienced graphic designer that hasn’t built a site in Dreamweaver before (or you have no website design experience and want to get the hang of it), your first point of departure is creating CSS layouts – also known as Div-based layouts. CSS layouts help you create a website with a creative layout without using inhibiting tables.

So, after you’ve opened Dreamweaver, defined the site and saved the pages, this is what to do to start creating CSS layouts:

Create CSS layouts

  • Step 1: Turn the Insert bar on (if you don’t have the Insert bar turned on, go to the Window menu at the top of the page and look for insert – this is the first command in the drop-down menu).  Inside the insert bar, go to the Layout tab and click on the second icon in the bottom row called “Draw AP Div”. Once you’ve clicked on this button, you will be able to draw a box in your screen. Click anywhere in the screen and draw a box – this box is called a Div (if you have used Dreamweaver before, this can be confusing because these Div’s used to be called “layers” in previous versions of Dreamweaver).
  • Step 2: To change the size of placement of the Divs, click on the box and drag. These Div’s can hold any type of content such as text, video, images, another Div and tables. If you come from a print background, Div’s may remind you of image boxes when designing in InDesign or Quark. For the first exercise, draw three Div’s (boxes) in the page – you can do this by going back to the “Draw AP Div” button on the insert bar. You will need three Div’s for this exercise because we are going to be making a header, content and footer layout. When you are done, close the Insert bar at the top of the page.
  • Step 3: Click on the first Div so that it becomes highlighted, then go down to the property inspector at the bottom left hand side of the page and give the Div a different name than “AP div 1” (rename it to Header for this exercise). Grab second Div and rename it to Content and then the last Div and call it Footer. You can drag these Div’s around on the page to determine positioning, but it’s much more accurate to use fixed values for your CSS layouts.

These are the basics of creating a CSS layout. This article is based on a video by Creativebits.org, an apple based design community. If you want to see the video, click here .  In our next blog, we’re going to be focusing on how to change the sizes and positioning of your Div’s and how to check them out in a browser!