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Getting a Website - Choosing Web Design Software

By Lasa Information Systems Team

Web design software can reduce the learning curve and speed up development when making a new website. It can also be used to update existing sites.

Web sites are written using a computer language called HTML. HTML is far simpler than many other computer languages – you can even write simple web pages yourself, using the Notepad application that comes with Windows. A basic knowledge of HTML is always useful, whatever web design software you are using.

However, for many people without experience of computer programming, HTML may still look pretty complex. For this reason, many companies have developed software which creates the HTML for you. This makes it easier to create complex pages using different backgrounds, typefaces, colours, graphics and so forth.Some of the most common web design packages are:

Microsoft Word

This is one of the simplest ways of producing web pages, because many people already know how Word works. You can only produce fairly basic pages, and the results may not be exactly what you expect, because Word formatting and HTML work quite differently. But ease of use, and no extra to spend on software or training, make this an attractive option for beginners.  However, bear in mind that web pages created using Word are notoriously inaccessible, and tend to look rather amateurish.

Microsoft FrontPage

Microsoft’s package is easy to use for beginners, since it works like the rest of Microsoft Office. Your ISP will need to install Microsoft software for some of the more advanced features to work - a classic Microsoft foot-in-the-door.

NetObjects Fusion MX

Internet Magazine's Best Buy in October 2001, NetObjects Fusion is aimed at beginners. A range of templates and a site wizard make it relatively easy to create and maintain a professional looking website.

Hotdog

Sausage Software's Hotdog Pagewiz product is aimed at beginners. Hotdog Professional is aimed at those with more experience of web design..

Dreamweaver

This package is aimed at people with graphic design training, and works a lot like Desk Top Publishing software. Dreamweaver also integrates with other software to publish databases and include advanced graphics in your site. This is a powerful package considered to be the "industry standard".

Adobe Golive

Another package aimed at professional web designers. Integrates with other Adobe products such as Photoshop, Illustrator, and Acrobat.

Time-limited trial versions of some of the above packages are available so you can try before you buy.

Free alternatives include:

NVU

Open source Web Authoring System for Linux Desktop users as well as Microsoft Windows and Macintosh. Free though donations gratefully accepted. Aimed at non programmers.

This page is one part of a longer document about getting a website. If you want to read through the whole thing, you'll want to start with the Introduction.

If you are reading through all the parts of this document, the next part is Planning the Visual Style of Your Pages.


About the author

Lasa Information Systems Team
Lasa's Information Systems Team provides a range of services to third sector organisations including ICT Health Checks and consulting on the best application of technology in your organisation. Lasa IST maintains the knowledgebase. Follow us on Twitter @LasaICT

Glossary

HTML, Internet, ISP, Linux, Software, Website

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Published: 29th October 2003 Reviewed: 27th April 2006

Copyright © 2003 Lasa Information Systems Team

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