Entrepreneurs who are interested in building an online presence are faced with a critical decision – should they hire a web designer to design the future website, or should they attempt to build the site themselves using do-it-yourself web design software? Those with a generous budget will undoubtedly choose the former, but there are many people who will consider the DIY option; whether it’s because they’re on a limited budget, eager to display their own creative flair or they just want to maintain full control over the project. Fortunately, there are many DIY web design software services available to help both novices and professionals build beautiful websites without spending a fortune. If you’re still on the fence between hiring a professional and designing your site independently, consider the options below to make an informed, confident decision.
Drag and Drop Website Builders
Some of the most popular web design software available is known as drag and drop software, which, as its name suggests, allows designers to simply take different bits of text or images and to drop them directly into the website template as they see fit. Because the concept of drag and drop has been long implemented by common computer programs such as Excel and Microsoft Word, new website builders should have little trouble adapting to the concept as it pertains to web design. And, in fact, many web design software companies rely on just this assumption. Among those offering drag and drop editors are top DIY web design suites such as Yola, Wix and Intuit Website Creator.
Weebly, a drag and drop service that claims to power approximately 10% of websites worldwide, has just taken the simplicity of drag and drop site building to the next level, by launching an iPhone app which the company claims will allow web designers to work on their sites from anywhere. Among the features offered in the new app are blogging abilities, photo uploads and viewing traffic trends. For the busy web designer, an app of this nature sounds not only revolutionary, but entirely useful. However, more advanced designers will likely feel stifled by the simplicity of an app that limits web design to a very small touch screen.
The primary advantage of a drag and drop editor is that web builders will know that all elements of their site will fit properly into place. Likewise, in many drag and drop editors, customizing colors is remarkably easy, so that every site can take on a life of its own. On the flip side, however, some web designers complain that drag and drop builders oversimplify the process and make it too difficult to customize the website beyond the template chosen. Fortunately, there are some more sophisticated options for those who wish to build their own websites and would like a bit more flexibility.
An abbreviation for what you see is what you get, WYSIWYG (pronounced ‘wizzy-wig’) editors are often considered a step up from drag and drop editors because of their slightly more complex configurations. Among the most popular WYSIWYG editors are Adobe Dreamweaver, Amaya and RapidWeaver, a WYSIWYG program that is especially for Mac users. Practically speaking, these editors are suited for designers looking to build high-end websites that require very specific features and whose designers have a somewhat technical background. They cost significantly more than drag and drop editors, and they afford a much greater flexibility in terms of design.
One of the newest WYSIWYG editors on the market is Microsoft Expression Studio 4 Web Professional, which offers most of the same features as Dreamweaver, its top competitor, at a fraction of the price. Frugal shoppers may be able to find the editor for as low as $99.99, while Dreamweaver’s latest version starts at around $199.99. While many web designers find that all of Dreamweaver’s features require a screen wider than most computers allow for, a benefit of Microsoft’s product is that it seems to require a smaller interface which makes it instantly easier to work with.
Website owners who wish to design their own site should make sure to choose a product that will match their technical skills. The biggest mistake that new web designers make is thinking that they can figure out how to use any DIY software, but the reality is that once you advance past a simple drag and drop builder, many options are quite complex (and expensive), and are more suited to the pros. Nevertheless, with literally hundreds of options available, many of which come with a free trial period, web designers at all skill levels should be able to find DIY software that they are comfortable with.
About the Author
Guest blog post by Sari Holtz who is a researcher for Consumer-Rankings.com, a website that provides reviews of the top web hosting providers, VOIP services, web design software and more.