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. 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.
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 Small Business 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 (including 500 MB of space), basic Web design tools, 25 e-mail accounts for your company, and a $50 credit toward search engine advertising.
- 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.
- Avoid programs that aren’t aimed at small business owners.
- Avoid software that doesn’t let you make easy changes quickly and easily.
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:
- Microsoft Expression Web, $299, free trial
- Adobe Dreamweaver, $399, free trial
- NetObjects Fusion 10.0, $199
- Microsoft.com/SilverLight, free download
Even at this level, the software doesn’t include hosting or advertising services, your domain name or Web address.
What’s the buzz about AJAX?
The intent is to make Web pages feel more responsive by exchanging small amounts of data with the server behind the scenes, so that the entire Web page does not have to be reloaded each time the user requests a change (e.g., changes the font or inserts a block of text).
This is intended to increase the Web page’s interactivity, speed, functionality, and usability.