Tool up for building your website
The best web design software makes it simple and easy to build a website, either by offering a coding platform, or a drag-and-drop interface.
Wix is more of a website builder than a coding platform, but it is one of the most popular online website creators, offering a range of plans and products. The free version has Wix branding, limited storage space and bandwidth, but move up to the most popular plan (unlimited) and there’s no Wix ads.
An excellent collection of 500 plus templates gets the design process off to a quick start. The drag-and-drop editor gives you all kinds of tools and features to explore – an image editor, video backgrounds, animations, social buttons, an integrated site blog – and just about everything can be tweaked, tuned and restyled. Furthermore, as of recently, Wix introduced Wix Turbo, which increases the speed and performance of websites substantially.
All the core editing functions are really smartly designed, and operate more like a native app than your average website builder. Wix does have some weaknesses, with tech support seeming a little sluggish and limited in some respects. But there’s no denying that the superb editor and range of top-notch templates make it easy for web building novices to create something impressive.
2. Adobe Dreamweaver
Adobe Dreamweaver is a long-established app that allows you to code your website design directly, without having to know too much about programming. The software works through a mix of visual editing and HTML editing, which means it shouldn’t have too steep a learning curve for most users.
Additionally, while coding your own website design requires you to put in more effort than simply using an existing ready made template, at least you have the chance to ensure you get the look you actually want, rather than trying to work around someone else’s design specifications.
A particularly good feature of Dreamweaver is that it allows you to produce a responsive design, which means your website can be optimized to display on desktops as well as mobile devices, without limiting the user experience.
However, if you are a more advanced user you may be pleased to note that Dreamweaver provides multi-monitor support for Windows. It also supports the Chromium Embedded Framework (CEF) to work with HTML5 elements and CSS grids. Additionally, there’s also support for Git to allow you to edit source code directly from within Dreamweaver.
Dreamweaver is available as part of Adobe’s mid-range packaged app subscription service, Creative Cloud, which also includes Photoshop.
WordPress is an alternative way to set up and design your website, being rather different to the other offerings we’ve highlighted here because it’s actually a content management system (CMS). The power here is that it is a simple matter to set up a website in minutes. Indeed, many web hosting packages include a one-click install of WordPress from their Control Panel, but even without that, WordPress is relatively easy to install.
Once installed, the backend for administration and management is very user-friendly. You can use the existing WordPress design templates for your website, but more likely you will want to download and install an existing free or premium WordPress template – all of which can be done with just a few clicks.
Even if you would prefer to work with your own design, you can often do so using drag-and-drop functions, usually from a downloaded design with an in-built framework. This can allow you to create a professional-looking website without having to learn programming or coding at all.
Better still, there are so many free add-ons available to download and install, often requiring nothing more than a few clicks. This makes the whole process of customizing your website very simple, and it does not require any professional skills.
Overall, WordPress is a very easy CMS to use, and can provide a very quick way to get any form of website online fast. The huge variety of template designs and additional community supported features mean that getting something which is near the mark of what you want isn’t hard at all. Just ensure that in the settings you select to turn off comments so as to avoid spam.
Weebly is another online CMS, this time targeted at people with little or no coding experience, by providing easy to use drag and drop tools for creating a website. Weebly also provides the ability for users to create online stores using existing templates to work with their simply website-building framework.
The number of themes available for Weebly is somewhat limited, but the designs are clean and professional-looking, plus there are options to personalize accordingly. Additionally, the themes are responsive, which means they are optimized to work with mobile devices, plus they have in built SEO, analytics, and even a feature for posting ads directly to Facebook.
Tere’s a free tier available for basic use, and allows you to get used to the service. However, to use your own domain and get rid of ads, you’ll need the Professional plan.
Webflow is a cloud-based service which has been created specifically to allow people with no coding knowledge to get started with web design.
Aside from being truly cross-platform, as it’s web-based, Webflow emphasizes the concept of ‘smart codelessness’. In the first instance this means a crisp drag and drop interface allowing you to drop elements such as text and images seamlessly onto a page using one of the freely available templates.
znlike many WYSIWYG editors, the code produced is very clean and well-written even if you choose the ‘I have no coding experience’ option during setup. Webflow’s automation tool will create the necessary HTML/CSS code for you. You can make granular changes to individual elements using the panels on the right.
Webflow offers a free demonstration of its features via the website, and you can also subscribe for a free Starter package which allows you to create up to two projects.
Bluefish is among the smallest web design tools available today. The tiny installer takes only a few moments to setup. While the interface is text-only, it’s clearly designed with novices in mind as it employs clear-cut toolbars, user customizable menus and syntax highlighting.
Bluefish has an excellent search function, allowing you to find text across multiple projects. The tool also has no trouble juggling hundreds of documents at the same time. Although Bluefish supports working with remote files, the varied and useful dialogs and wizards don’t currently support direct upload of web pages via FTP.
Despite the best efforts of the developers, Bluefish may take some time to get used to. The tool is available free of charge, however, so you have nothing to lose by giving it a try.
7. Visual Studio Code
Visual studio (or VScode) has become popular among developers – the ones who aren’t put off by the fact that it’s a Microsoft product, anyway. It offers a variety of packages and free extensions that can be downloaded from its marketplace to add additional features – and the code editor itself can be customized.
While a lot of people may be intimated by the idea of coding if they have no programming experience, at some point in the web design process it can be important to be able to edit code directly. This is particularly helpful if you want to customize code for existing software add-ons in order to get the features you want for your website. Visual Studio Code can help make the process less painful by providing a dedicated platform for coding.