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.
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.