You may have heard of web design software and wonder what it is and how it can help you. Let’s quickly discuss what a web page is. A web page is a collection of text, pictures, audio, and/or video that is viewed on a Web browser. If you’ve ever used Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Avant Browser, Opera, Safari, Maxthon, or some other browser, you’ve seen web pages. So how does a web page know where to display the images and where the text goes? The web site creator writes instructions for the web page to follow in a computer language known as HTML (Hypertext Markup Language). HTML tells the browser what color to make the text, what background image to use, table properties, text color, shape, and size—the whole nine yards. (Note that there are other languages used, but HTML is the predominant one.)

Web design software is used to assist the web developer in writing HTML. Many web design software programs color code your HTML so you can tell the difference between the code and the content to appear on your site. For example, let’s say you want to create a web site that says “I Love New York” in red letters. The HTML coding would look like this:

<TITLE>New York</TITLE><BODY><FONT>I Love New York</FONT></BODY>

The text that appears in red is the code, while the text in black is the content. This makes it easier to read. You may say, “But what if I don’t know any HTML?” Well, you have several options. Some web design software has help files that offer lessons on learning HTML. You can also use a WYSIWYG application. WYSIWYG, an anagram for “what you see is what you get”, is a type of web design software allowing you to see a near exact replica of what the finished product looks like as you’re creating it. With WYSIWYG, you don’t have to know HTML. You simply click menu drop-downs and icons and select options for formatting and design. The code is automatically written by the software.

There are many web design products available. Some of them are free (CoffeeCup, EasyHTML). Some are somewhat expensive (Microsoft FrontPage, Macromedia Dreamweaver). Some let you create very powerful, professional features (such as Flash animation, JavaScript, PHP tools, creating animated GIFs, forms and database-driven pages, and more). Other applications are simple, and intended to simply assist you in reading HTML code more clearly. And actually, you can write code with a simple Notepad application and save it as an HTML file.

Is there a “best” program out there? The most “popular” programs are Dreamweaver and FrontPage. However, my suggestion is to go out and check out the demos for several programs. (The ones who don’t offer a demo probably aren’t worth your time or consideration.) Weigh the pros and cons of each and draw your own conclusion as to which web design software beats out the competition.

Matt D Murren owns and operates http://www.web-design-software-advisor.com

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