Identify the Best Software for Words & Images

Identify the Best Software for Words & Images

During the previous steps in this series, we’ve walked you through the information you need to decide you’ll take on the work of building your own Web site and be the true master of your domain.

Now it’s time to decide what design software and other tools you’ll use to take your vision live on the Web, whatever the size of your business, and whether or not you want to handle retail transactions online.

In this step we’ll cover:

  • Wysiwig vs. HTML Software
  • Best Values
  • Some Tips on ‘Deals’ to Avoid
  • Top-of-the-Line Design Software

WYSIWYG vs. HTML Software

The two most common types of design software are WYSIWYG and HTML, which is used to build a Web site with Hypertext Markup Language (see Step 5). Better software combines both, automatically converting your visual design to HTML.

WYSIWYG (say “wiziwig”) makes Web-building a lot easier for those of you new to the whole thing. It’s an acronym for What You See is What You Get –you watch your site come together on the screen while dragging and dropping its pieces into place.

But if you’re building anything more than a basic Web site with limited functions, HTML is the way to go.

The code isn’t hard to learn, if you have the time, and gives you endless flexibility and options, and better control over every element of your new site and how it looks online.

A blend of both is best and usually offered in higher end – more expensive – design software.

Tip


When choosing design software for your website, look for an ability to design both in HTML and drag-and-drop.

WYSIWYG (say “wiziwig”) makes building a website a lot easier for those of you new to the whole thing. It’s an acronym for What You See is What You Get – you watch your site come together on the screen while dragging and dropping its pieces into place. But if you’re building anything more than a basic website with limited functions, HTML design software is the way to go.

This is one case, though, where you don’t have to choose one over the other. A blend of both is best and usually offered in higher end – more expensive – design software. But there are exceptions. Some software with both WYSIWIG and HTML can be had for less than $50. Microsoft Office Live Premium includes it, and is a good place to start your shopping.

Best Values

But cost is a serious factor, you say. You don’t have thousands or even hundreds of dollars to plunk down for software, and can do fine without all the tasty functions of sites like Yahoo, MSN or Amazon – although taking some pointers from Amazon’s site is a good idea for any level Web designer (see Step 7).

Here are some well-regarded, solid, meat-and-potatoes software choices. All get the job done and, with one exception, for less than $50. You can download the software from their Web sites, where you should look for more detail:

  • Microsoft Office Live Basics.  If a simple, straightforward Web presence is all you need, you can’t beat the price – free. That includes a domain name and hosting (but just 500 MB of space), basic Web design tools, 25 e-mail accounts for your company, and a $50 credit toward search engine advertising. There are two more tiers with more functionality – free to try, $19.95 and $39.95 monthly.
  • CoffeeCup HTML Editor. Both WYSIWYG and HTML, as well as more advanced options like DHTML scripting, live chat, blogging and loads of graphics. Buy add-ons for more functions. Free to try, $49 to buy.
  • Web Easy Professional. WYSIWIG/HTML. Flash animation; SEO; real-time visitor analytics; RSS; e-Commerce functions; Web color selector; fades, wipes and other special effects; 85,000 images and lots more. Free to try, $49.95 to buy.
  • Web Studio. WYSIWYG/HTML, flash animation, video, music, full-featured shopping cart, HTML e-mail, large graphics library, comprehensive user manual and two hours of video tutorials. Free to try, $169.99 to buy.
  • WYSIWYG Web Builder. WYSIWYG/HTML, image maps, photo and graphics libraries; ready-to-use Java scripts; ActiveX; flash animation; Windows Media player, Quicktime, Real Audio and other plug-in support; PayPal shopping cart; online tutorials. Free to try, $34.95 to buy.

Some Tips on ‘Deals’ to Avoid

As you shop around online for business Web design software, be careful about certain great looking “deals.” Here are some to avoid:

  • Software that allows you to use both WYSIWYG and HTML, but not at the same time. While you can switch between them, you can’t use them simultaneously. That’s a big disadvantage if you’re managing your own Web site, want to do it right and are pressed for time.
  • Packages that play up design templates, graphics elements and images, but downplay functionality – because there isn’t much.
  • WYSIWYG software with little or no HTML editing ability.
  • Many ISPs – internet service providers – like Verizon, Quest and Earthlink, and giants Yahoo, AOL and Google, offer free tools and server space for personal Web sites – but not enough for even basic small-business needs.

Top-of-the-Line Design Software

As you might expect, top-tier Web design software is much more sophisticated – and costly. It’s harder for novices to control, and even if you learn to use their professional design tools, you may still need a pro to put it all together, make it work and maintain it.

But it will serve you well as your business grows, and your Web design needs grow with it. Here are some of the most popular examples:

Even at this level, the software doesn’t include hosting or advertising services, your domain name or Web address.

For More Information

The following sites offer a wealth of design tips and strategies:

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