Finding cheap website design software is a great way to start any Internet presence, whether it's personal or for a company. While commercial software has benefits, they are more like luxuries - you don't really need them. Finding an application that suits both your needs and your wallet is a lot easier than you'd think.
Cheap Website Design Software Can Be Free!
Thanks to the open-source movement, many applications for web designers are completely free, including programs like:
- Aptana - a program similar to the expensive-but-awesome Dreamweaver from Adobe.
- Amaya - This CSS-robust web editor comes from the World Wide Web Consortium, which means all of its code is standards-compliant.
- Kompozer - This is yet another super-cheap website design software product, because it's free.
The main drawback to using these and other completely free applications is that there is not as much of a support network if you run into trouble. There is, however, usually a wide and passionate userbase that talks and helps each other through problems in many different forums online. As long as you're ready to deal with the learning curve of becoming a web designer, these programs will work very well.
Paying a Little for a Lot
For only a little more money, you can also use fairly full-featured web design software that will have much more support. These programs are usually tailored to individual business needs, such as real-estate or online stores. An example is CoffeeCup which bills itself as "fresh software, warm people," emphasizing their superior customer service and support.
CoffeeCup contains all of the features that you'd find in many of the open-source Dreamweaver clones, such as CSS and HTML code completion and WYSIWYG editing. However, because you pay a little cash (still only a fraction of what the bigger editors cost) you get additional features such as:
- Project management features
- A clipart library
- "Wizards" to help you design and build common web pages.
Combine that with lifetime free upgrades and support, and it's quite a bargain for less than $100.
Other companies offer free versions of their software, either feature-limited or with an expiration date in the hopes that you will want to buy the full product. Dreamweaver has always offered a 30-day fully-functioning demo for every version, which has resulted in many web designers becoming addicted to it and shelling out hundreds of dollars for the license when the month is up. NetObjects Fusion Essentials goes the other route, with a "lite" version of their full web design product. It will work forever, but it is limited in its capacity for design and site maintenance.
Another way to get cheap website design software is to subscribe to a hosting service that provides it. Homestead incorporates an online web design software suite with their hosting service. While not exactly a flexible design tool, they offer over 2000 templates that have customizable logos, text, and your own personal domain name, all included for a very small monthly fee.
Cheapest of All: DIY
The cheapest way to design a web page in terms of money is to simply open up the free Notepad software that comes with every computer and begin hand-coding it. Not everyone has that kind of knowledge, though, and the learning curve is large. However, there are many free tutorials and sites dedicated to the code that goes on behind the web pages, so someone with very little money and a lot of time might want to take the time to build up their skills. A free or low-cost enhanced code editor like Notepad Plus can help you keep lines and tags clear, but it isn't really required.
Whatever tool you use to design your website, remember: it's not the tool or the design, it's the content that matters most.