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What is the Best Web Design Software?

Web Design SoftwareCreating a new website from scratch can be exciting and intimidating at the same time. If you are new to web design, whether you are making a personal website, a web store or are doing Internet marketing, the right web page design software can make the process much easier.

When creating web pages, you will need some kind of web page design software to get the job done. This software allows you to build and edit web pages visually or in HTML and CSS.

Good web design programs will allow you to see what you are making as you make it – your text, graphics, layout, everything. It will perform validation of your code as you write it, which means it will spot mistakes automatically as you go (kind of like the red underline you get when you spell something wrong in a word processing program) so they don’t make it to your final design.

You might be saying, “but wait, won’t that make it more complicated… giving me a program to learn too?” That’s where we come in. Our web design software reviews covered many web design programs. We looked at feature set, price, ease of use and other benefits – and productivity gains they provide. We narrowed it down to winners – the ones that will help you the most – in 5 categories.

For those who are completely new to web design, we have also located the best books, where available, to teach you how to use these programs. Web design software has really come a long way in recent years. The interfaces are intuitive and easy to understand. That means less time trying to figure out where everything is and more time building your new websites. The help files and tooltips are better so you know what to do once you find the tool you are looking for. They also have tools that integrate all of today’s web standards so you can create your site to look the same across multiple browsers (e.g. Internet Explorer, Safari (Macs), Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera, etc.).

These web design software titles have active communities as well. If you have a question about the program or even web design in general, all you need to do is visit the community. It doesn’t get any easier than that!

Whether you are designing a simple personal website, a small business web presence, a huge ecommerce site or Internet marketing affiliate landing pages or subscriber squeeze pages, you need the right web design software to make it all happen. Even if you are using a template, you will need to customize it by adding your content, menus, logos, etc. Check out the categories below to see which one you belong to and discover which web design software best meets your needs.

The Best Web Design Software For Professional Web Designers


Adobe Dreamweaver CS5
Adobe Dreamweaver CS5

Dreamweaver combines the simplicity and speed of a WYSIWYG visual editor with the precision of a code editor. You can develop your websites fast, and also have the option of tweaking the code to meet your exact needs. Trained developers and web designers will appreciate the efficiency of getting basic tasks done automatically. Hobbyists, newbies and web business proprietors will appreciate the helpful community and the opportunity to learn.

Pros: Adobe Dreamweaver represents the gold standard in web development software. Manipulate pixel-level designs in ‘design view’, or craft complex code in ‘code view’ while working in the real browser environment of ‘Live View’. You get cross-product integration with Adobe’s suite of powerful tools such as Flash, Photoshop, Fireworks, Device Central and more. You also get comprehensive CSS support and validation. Design and code in a tool that supports most of the leading web development technologies, including HTML, XHTML, CSS, XML, JavaScript, Ajax, PHP, Adobe ColdFusion software, and ASP. Tap the power of built-in code hints for faster and cleaner coding in HTML; JavaScript; Ajax frameworks such as Spry, jQuery, and Prototype; and several server languages. All of this functionality also comes with an active, friendly and extremely knowledgeable community.

Cons: Being an industry-leading tool, it also has an industry leading price. If you are an intermediate or professional level designer or developer, the benefits this software offers makes it well worth the price. Since there is such a vast array of features, Dreamweaver’s learning curve is longer than other web editing software. If you are unfamiliar with Adobe’s menu layout and web editors in general, it would be best to get a book to help you learn this program.

Bottom Line: Dreamweaver is widely regarded as the best web design software in existence. While it is not as easy to learn as other web editors, it does have the most comprehensive suite of features geared toward web designers, web developers and visual designers. If you fall into these categories, are a casual web designer or are an Internet business owner who wants to have the top web design software, Adobe Dreamweaver is the one.

Click here to get your copy of Adobe Dreamweaver CS5


Dreamweaver CS5: The Missing Manual
Want to learn Dreamweaver?

Dreamweaver CS5: The Missing Manual is your key. When it comes to building professional websites, Dreamweaver CS5 is capable of doing more than any other web design program – including previous versions of Dreamweaver. But the software’s sophisticated features aren’t simple. Dreamweaver CS5: The Missing Manual will help you master this program quickly, so you can bring stunning, interactive websites to life.

Web designers, web producers, and webmasters rely on one program above all others to design, build, and manage professional websites: Adobe Dreamweaver. It provides the tools you need to create everything from simple HTML pages to database-driven PHP pages. But what makes Dreamweaver so versatile is also what makes it difficult to learn. This bestselling guide offers you clear, jargon-free explanations to help you master this sophisticated program — and bring stunning, contemporary websites to life.

Written by veteran Dreamweaver teacher and author David McFarland, Dreamweaver CS5: The Missing Manual takes you through site creation step-by-step, from building your very first page to launching a template-driven, fully interactive site. You’ll hone your skills with the help of hands-on, guided tutorials throughout the book.

  • Learn how to control the appearance of your web pages with CSS, from the basics to advanced techniques
  • Design dynamic database-driven websites, from blogs to product catalogs, and from shopping carts to newsletter signup forms
  • Add interactivity to your website with ready-to-use JavaScript programs from Adobe’s Spry Framework
  • Effortlessly control the many helper files that power your website and manage thousands of pages
  • Examine web-page components and Dreamweaver’s capabilities with the book’s “live examples”

Perfect for beginners who need step-by-step guidance, and for longtime Dreamweaver designers who need a handy reference to the new version, this thoroughly updated edition of the bestselling Missing Manual is your complete guide to designing, organizing, building, and deploying websites. It’s the ultimate atlas for Dreamweaver CS5.

The Best Web Design Software For Everyone / General Use


Microsoft Expression Web
Microsoft Expression Web

Whether you’re an expert or just getting started, building standards-based Web sites is faster and easier with Microsoft Expression Web. If you think and create visually, use the state-of-the-art design surface to layout your Web page. You can make design decisions on the fly, knowing that you’re seeing a faithful representation of the final browser-rendered page. If you think and breathe code, Expression Web has you covered there too with flexible support for a wide range of essential technologies: PHP, HTML/XHTML, XML/XSLT, CSS (with validation), JavaScript, ASP.NET and ASP.NET AJAX, Silverlight, Flash, Photoshop files, and video/audio for webcasting.

Pros: Microsoft Expression Web is only a hair away from Dreamweaver’s top spot and is quickly closing in. It has all the power you need to develop professional web designs quickly and easily. If you are familiar with Office or are coming from FrontPage, Expression Web will be a near seamless transition. Even if you are new to web design software, Expression Web’s interface is intuitive and easy to use. What’s even better is that with all of it’s power, usability, development community members and design possibilities, it is a fraction of the price of Dreamweaver.

Cons: Standing alone, it’s difficult to think of any negative points. In comparison with Dreamweaver, it understandably lacks the 1-to-1 integration of the Adobe software suite. However, Expression Web supports Flash and Photoshop files very well. If you are more familiar with Adobe products, learning the controls will take a short time, but since they capitalize on Microsoft’s well-known layout it won’t take long.

Bottom Line: Expression Web is the best web design software for general web design and development. Combine the robust feature set, ease of use, and the low price and you have a clear winner. To justify the price of Dreamweaver, you really need to be a top professional web developer or web designer, which most of us are not. If you want to get the job done for your business or personal web site, whether you do it in the WYSIWYG panel or the code window, Expression Web is the right choice. That’s why we use it!

Click here to get your copy of Microsoft Expression Web


Microsoft Expression Web 3 In Depth
Want to learn Expression Web?

The Microsoft Expression Web 3 In Depth book gives you the advice and techniques that you need to get the job done. Are you looking for ways to streamline your work so that you can focus on maximizing your time? In Depth provides specific, tested, and proven solutions to the problems you run into every day—things other books ignore or oversimplify. This is the one book that you can rely on to answer all the questions you have now and will have in the future.

The book starts off with an overview of Expression Web’s features which lets you know just what is available within the program if you have not used it before. It then provides all of the details you need to take your skills to the next level while explaining everything clearly.

In Depth is the only tool you need to get more done in less time!
Microsoft Expression Web 3 In Depth gives you:

  • Comprehensive coverage, with detailed solutions
  • Breakthrough techniques and shortcuts that are unavailable elsewhere
  • Practical, real-world examples with nothing glossed over or left out
  • Troubleshooting help for tough problems you can’t fix on your own
  • Outstanding authors recognized worldwide for their expertise and teaching style
  • Quick information via sidebars, tips, reminders, notes, and warnings

The Best Web Design Software For Internet Marketers or Non-Designers


XSitePro
XSitePro

Creating professional websites just got easy. With XSitePro, you can build awesome websites in as little as 1 hour. This powerful website design software is perfect for beginners, affiliate marketers, info-product marketers, Adsense site creation, landing and squeeze pages, general Internet marketing, business owners and power users.

Pros: XSitePro is incredibly easy to use and delivers an unprecedented combination of power and control with a straightforward design interface. You can make web pages that look exactly the way you want and it’s as easy as using a regular word-processor. It comes with hundreds of templates to get you started and offers true WSYWIG editing.

A spell checker, thesaurus, SEO analysis tool, XML sitemap generation tool and website preview tool are all built in. For easy website monetization, it includes tools for affiliate link and PayPal integration, Amazon links and Google Adsense. XSitePro also has tons of scripting that you would otherwise have to add manually included at the click of a button. Things like a collection of royalty-free images, audio and video wizards, RSS feed wizard, banner rotator, image gallery, email cloaker, password page protector, countdown timer, future date offers, breadcrumb trail, popup wizard, redirects, mobile phone website wizard and social network linking are all built in. This software was designed with the Internet marketer in mind.

Add to that a step-by-step walkthrough, plain English essentials instruction manual, advanced user manual, 24×7 technical support and the most helpful, friendliest and fastest growing user community and you have the best web design software in the world for Internet marketers and non-designers.

Cons: XSitePro costs slightly more than Expression Web, however with all of the specialized tools (and the tremendous amount of time it will save you) it is well worth it. Professional web developers who prefer coding may not be happy with this product and should go with Dreamweaver. Even though you don’t get as much of the code-level functionality included like the Adobe or Microsoft product, if you are primarily an Internet marketer or a more visual designer, you really don’t need them.

Bottom Line: We think XSitePro is a fantastic tool. It was designed from the ground up to support the Internet marketer and anyone else who needs to get a professional, powerful website up and running quickly and easily. But don’t just take our word for it… Check out the video demonstration here to really see how easy and powerful XSitePro can be.

Click here to get your copy of XSitePro

The Best Web Design Software For People On A Budget


Coffeecup HTML Editor
Coffeecup

Do you need a greast website but are on a budget? Coffeecup web design software is the solution for you. The Coffeecup Visual Site Designer with code-free website design is perfect for beginners and people who are unfamiliar with HTML and CSS coding. The Coffeecup HTML Editor with code completion and build-in validation tool will help you easily build standards compliant websites. There is a reason it is the most popular downloaded web design software.

Pros: Coffeecup offers either a fully-featured HTML editor or a push-button easy visual website editor. The HTML editor comes with 10 professionally designed themes to get you started. It gives you a comprehensive HTMS, CSS and PHP tag reference with code completion technology to virtually eliminate unclosed or mistyped tags. The help manual is easy to follow and jam packed with with tutorials to get you up and running quickly. Split-Screen Preview lets you view your webpage in a browser right from inside the Code Editor.

With the Visual Site Designer option, if you can point and click, you can create a website. It gives you true WYSIWYG layout and design functionality in an intuitive interface that takes virtually no time to learn. All pages are created using fully W3C compliant code so they will validate perfectly and work correctly when you publish them. It also includes graphical effects like predefined shapes, text shadowing, patterned fills and image rotation.

Cons: These software titles do not contain all of the bells and whistles that Dreamweaver, Expression Web and XSitePro have. While that is to be expected at this price point, more experienced web developers will certainly miss the benefits of CSS validation and scripting tools, among other things. You also have to choose between a code editor and a WYSIWYG (visual) editor instead of getting it all in one program like the big boys.

Bottom Line: If you have a limited budget, Coffeecup Software’s group of web design programs represent a tremendous value. You can add on other modules for increased functionality, but they are an added cost. These web editing programs are great for beginners and hobbyists, and will get the basic job done for Internet marketers or more experienced developers. However, Internet marketers and more experienced developers may be better off with XSitePro or Expression Web, respectively. Oh, did we mention that you can download a fully-functional free trial to check it out before you buy.

Click here to get your copy of Coffeecup HTML Editor or Visual Site Designer

The Best Free Web Design Software


EvrSoft First Page
EvrSoft First Page

Evrsoft First Page 2006 is our winner in the free HTML editor category. First Page 2006 is a great basic HTML editor, plain and simple.

Pros: First Page 2006 supports HTML, XHTML, PHP, ASP, Cold Fusion, JavaScript, CSS, SSI and Perl with advanced syntax highlighting. It has tag and class history along with tag auto complete so you can get your designs done faster. 1000+ JavaScript and DHTML scripts are included with 1-click insertion so you can create an interactive experience for your visitors. First Page allows you to create rollover images, custom scrollbars, image maps and pop-up windows with ease. Plus, you can get instant help for any tag so you don’t have to search the web for answers anymore. It is also very easy to use.

Cons: This is a basic web editor. While it does have syntax coloring for multiple scripting languages, it does not have any validation built in. While it does offer WYSIWIG editing, it offers less precision, both in layout and code generation than we would like. As a basic HTML/CSS editor, however, it does the job very well.

Bottom Line: The free version of this software has a nag screen when you open it and some of the features are locked. When we used it, we were able to do everything we needed to get a set of web pages designed and published. The paid version removes these restrictions. Since this is a fairly basic HTML/CSS editor, upgrading to the paid version is relatively inexpensive. If your budget prevents you from purchasing one of the titles above, Evrsoft First Page is a good alternative. It is especially good if you want to learn HTML as you go. It’s also good if you just need something to make quick edits to existing web pages and need something where you can see your edits as you make them. We used Evrsoft First Page when we started out and it worked great.

Click here to get your FREE copy of EvrSoft First Page

 

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