RapidWeaver Vs. WordPress: Part I

Thanks to Google Analytics, I’ve discovered that many people reach this site upon searching for ‘RapidWeaver vs WordPress.’ I offer my apologies if you are one of these people: I posted some short comments on this topic last November, promising to follow up with a complete comparison…but I’m only getting to it now. Why the long delay? I’ve needed this gestation period to think about what I wanted to say.

Comparisons of these two publishing platforms are scarce (my proof: it’s the only search term that I’m aware of for which this blog appears near the top of the charts on Google).

Perhaps this is because they are quite different tools. Perhaps it’s because review sites, in general, don’t offer much in terms of application comparisons.

At first glance, it appears that WP and RW serve different audiences. WordPress is specialized for blogging; RapidWeaver does blogging too, but it’s more of a complete website design tool. WordPress offers web-based content management (server-side); RapidWeaver is managed locally, from the user’s computer (client-side). WP is a free, open-source tool. RW is an application that costs money.

Should they be compared? I think so. That so many people have searched for comparisons of the two to reach this site is a testament to this.

I’ve used both WordPress and RapidWeaver to develop many sites. Despite their apparent differences, I’ve found that both platforms can do just about anything I want them to do when I need to develop a personal (or even small business) site. Both offer great blogging support. Both can handle static/mixed content. Both can be used to create complex, great looking sites for people with little to no web development experience. Yet, these tools remain radically different in many ways. What differentiates the two? Which is best?

I want to start by defining the problem. What are people looking for when they seek a comparison of RW and WP?

Here’s my best guess:

You’re in the market for a good, inexpensive tool to create a website. You want your site to be flexible, easy to use and easy to maintain. You want it to look like it was designed by a professional, but you don’t have the time, inclination, or experience to create something from scratch. Still, you’d like to be able to customize your site with relative ease. Moreover, you want the ability to create, tweak and modify at will, should you decide you want to ‘get under the hood’ at some point in the future.

You want to start a blog, but you also want a system that easily allows you to add static content. You want lots of template and plugin options to expand the functionality and appeal of your site. You want a platform that is powerful, but you don’t want to be overloaded with options. You abhor the notion of navigating a complex user interface. You abhor the notion of reading a long user manual even more. Most of all, you want your site to look beautiful.

You’ve searched the web and are overwhelmed by the many choices out there from which to choose. You want to make the right choice the first time. You look at Blogger and other basic web-based personal blogging solutions, but you think these are a bit too simplistic. You want something more robust. So you look at open source Content Management System solutions like Drupal or Joomla, but these solutions are just too complex for your needs. You consider DreamWeaver, but it’s too expensive, bloated and complicated. You try iWeb, but it doesn’t quite fit the bill. It’s nice, but you feel that it’s just a bit too limited, too tied to .Mac and perhaps tries so hard to be drag-and-drop simple that you worry that it may limit your future options as your site (and your experience) grows.

Enter RapidWeaver or WordPress. Both platforms are very popular. Both have dedicated, passionate users and solid documentation. Both are capable of producing great looking sites and offer the flexibility and ease-of-use you seek. Both offer tons of great-looking templates and plugins.

For my next post, I’ll start the comparison with an overview of each publishing platform. I’ll follow this up with a post on the strengths and weaknesses of each. Finally, I’ll offer my opinions and conclusions about which tool I think is best for which type of user. If you have any specific issues, needs or considerations you’d like to see addressed in this comparison, let me know.



  1. A few months ago I migrated my blog from RapidWeaver to Movable Type. My real reason: I just wanted to use MarsEdit for my blog posts.

    I’ve chosen Movable Type because it seemed the simplest way to install a system on a OS X machine that I could only access through the command line (and I could not find simple ways to install MySQL using only the command line, whereas SQLite is available by defautl).

    I’ve written some of my thoughts about this and some technical information as how to install MT in this post http://alan.petitepomme.net/blog/2007/11/installing-movable-types-on-os.html

    Knowing the kind of reviews you write, I’m very eager to read more entries in this new series. I’ll certainly learn a lot about both RW and WP!

  2. I’ve never really taken a serious look at RapidWeaver. I own it thanks to some software bundle (I am a bit of a software addict), but I’ve never used it because it sounded like another piece of web publishing software that relied on stock templates (I’ve been rolling my own HTML for years and have a bit of a bias against things like iWeb, WYSIWYG, and so forth). It’ll be interesting to see what your experiences with RapidWeaver have been; save me the time of playing around with it. 🙂

  3. brab: your comment struck me as funny because I chose WordPress over RapidWeaver for this site primarily because I had just bought MarsEdit and wanted to use it. I haven’t used Movable Type, but you’ve got me curious about it. I hope you enjoy this series.

    Ian: RW is pretty good when it comes to creating your own template on the quick. I, too, own it because of a bundle (the first MacHeist – and I, too, am a bit of a software addict). My wife uses it for her website and loves it – and I have to say it has a lot going for it for those who want a relatively simple tool that outputs slick sites (template-based, of course). I think it’s also great for churning out a quick site for a client. More to come.

    Thanks to you both for taking the time to comment.

  4. […] At that point, any aspiring interactive would get squeemish. The View from the Dock gives a pretty in-depth comparison. For  my needs, I want the streamlining of blogging with the options of a full functional website. […]

  5. I am new to everything in regards to building a website. I found using rapidweaver was perfect for a newbie like me. I had a problem linking my blog page to technorati with rapidweaver though. Does anyone know if this is a common problem

  6. I’m a musician, and I used rapidweaver to design my website. Now I’m starting to look into wordpress maily due to the ability to post from any computer. I feel really limited by the fact that I need my development laptop with me to post on my website’s blog. WordPress also has a lot of great (and free) widgets.

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