Free WYSIWYG Designer

A web designer happy at his computer

Using a free WYSIWYG designer web program can save you big bucks when you're trying to establish a presence on the web. Some are better than others, but they all combine ease of use with personalization for your site.

Why WYSIWYG?

The acronym stands for "What You See Is What You Get", and has become one of the most common ways that websites are designed. Even though the only thing you really need to design a site is a text editor, trying to generate all the HTML and javascript is difficult for many, especially without a visual representation of the design.

WYSIWYG programs try to show you exactly what your page will look like and also lets you edit it directly. You can change the background color and see immediately what it looks like, or size fonts appropriately and preview them first. There is one big caveat to both free WYSIWYG designer programs and paid versions: what you see in the program is never exactly what you get, thanks to variations in browsers, computers, and the changing standards in HTML and other protocols. However, if you don't want to deal with code, getting a WYSIWYG editor is easier than ever.

Three Free WYSIWYG Designer Programs

There are a lot of different kinds of software out there for designing sites, but some have stood the test of time and stand out as useful tools for both novice designers and those with experience.

NetObjects Fusion Essentials:

NetObjects was one of the first WYSIWYG website software programs out there, and while it never reached the popularity of Dreamweaver or FrontPage, it has them beat on price: free. It is a fully-featured point-and-click design tool that has everything you need for a basic site. Features include things like color selection, page layout, font type, font size, as well as the site management tools like file transfer protocol (FTP). When your site grows enough to need more features, there are two other levels of NetObjects software that can be added on at a relatively low price. Best of all, because it's been around for years, there is a large userbase and support system for the program.

EvrSoft

EvrSoft is a shareware company that has created several WYSIWYG designer programs. Their 1st Page 2006 software has amazing capabilities for any design software. It includes the capability of editing CSS along with it's own "SmartHistory" tool for creating the best code for your layout. Previews are powered by Netscape's Mozilla program, while the "design view" uses Microsoft technology to give you instantaneous control over your pages. Over three million downloads of the program testify to the popularity of this free software. EvrSoft is only for the Windows platform.

Kompozer

Many consider Kompozer the best Mac solution for free web design software with a simple interface. Based off the popular NVu software (which is no longer released) Kompozer is a true open-source labor of love created by people who didn't want to let NVu's design software die. It has an extensive list of features to rival either of the Windows programs above, and also includes little advantages such as a style editor for any page element at the click of a mouse. Best of all, it's made by users, for users, to be "extremely easy to use".

Another WYSIWYG design program that has not been around quite as long also comes from the open source community. It is part of the "Seamonkey" project, which has taken many of the original elements of the old Netscape browser and turned it into a full-fledged internet application suite complete with email, web browsing, and other features.

Included is a basic free WYSIWYG designer feature called "Composer." It is bare-bones in terms of features, with none of the more advanced CSS or other web 2.0 protocols that the other design programs have. However, if your design needs are basic, it has the advantage of being integrated into the same browser engine as the very-popular FireFox. This gives you a very good idea of what the site will look like in your audience's browser.

What Kind of Design Software is Best for You?

"You get what you pay for" is a cliché that has been proven wrong again and again on the web. The accessibility and ease-of-use in these apps make them suitable for almost any kind of site. The primary disadvantage to using them is simply that your site may outgrow their basic capabilities. There is also no guarantee that any of the free software will continue to adapt to changing web standards. As long as you keep these factors in mind, any of these free apps can get your site from design idea to functioning website with almost no impact to your budget.

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Free WYSIWYG Designer