I'm fairly new to designing a website, and what I have been doing to design it is: I sketch out what I want it to look like on paper, and then I hand code the html and CSS. I'm using netbeans for this which checks for errors and has autocomplete of css rules.
It just seems incredibly slow though. I wish I could just drag an element around with the mouse and resize things with the mouse rather than typing in different paddings and margins and seeing what looks good.
What tools do professional web designers use? Do they also just code the html and css by hand?
I think that you'll find that every good html author creates code by hand.
WYSIWYG tools, simply can't produce code that is compatible across browsers, standards-compliant and semantic. Not to mention that such tools throw in huge amounts of code that is unneccessary and painful to read.
Standards for professionalism these days require web developers to produce light, hand-coded source.
The short-term costs in time will result in down-the-track savings in pain.
I used Dreamweaver for a few years, code-view only, because it's easy to use and has nice code-completion, syntax highlighting, and easily able to switch between lots of different sites. I always had it through a company, but it's probably a little on the expensive side if you don't use a lot of its functionality. It can be a little unstable at times. These days I use Visual Studio, which is like DW but more oriented to .net programming.
Aptana is a very good free alternative to DW and there are some very nice, ultra-little code editors out there like notepad++
I would always code by hand; a visual drag and drop IDE may save you time in the short-run, but the code that comes out the other end is generally hideous and non-semantic which can lead to increased trouble-shooting and unmaintainability
First, I sketch out the concept, then I put it in GIMP, a graphics program, to play around with colors and basic shapes. I'll use it again later to make the final images. After I get the basic layout, then I use vim to code the page by hand, often incorporating snippets of code from previous projects. Once that is done, I open the page in Firefox and use the Web Developer add-on to make adjustments in real-time, and so much more. Each tool does it's job well and doesn't try to do anything else.
I have yet to find a WYSIWYG editor that can produce code that I like. They usually seem complicated and spew out garbage. Besides, "<div>" doesn't take much work to type and saves a lot of time and headaches later.