Making large design changes to an existing Contribute-based site without Dreamweaver or Contribute is not a quick or easy task, largely because:
- There's no documentation for the Contribute tags.
- There's no easy way to grant and revoke access keys for the Contribute client application.
- There's no easy way to define master templates. These are required both to let users add pages based on an existing template and to reuse repeatable elements such as nav bars.
In addition, it seems that Adobe no longer plans to develop Contribute beyond simple and occasional maintenance updates. [See source 1 and source 2.]
I'd recommend suggesting that your client moves to an alternative content management system. If you need to keep costs down, you could use a lightweight CMS that's not too tricky to implement and maintain, such as CushyCMS (free, hosted solution, edit existing content only, no ability to create additional pages), or Perch (self-hosted solution, pay per licence, simple but powerful). You could sell it to them on the basis that:
- Contribute will be discontinued in future, at which point they may have to upgrade anyway.
- Web-based content management systems allow greater flexibility in terms of ease of access and ease of upgrades than desktop apps like Contribute.
If all you're doing is making small design tweaks to an existing Contribute site, it's possible to edit the source or individual pages directly, as long as you edit the master templates to reflect those changes as well.