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A Beginner's Guide to the Best Web Design Software

A Beginner's Guide to the Best Web Design Software

Having an error-free, professional-looking website with a sophisticated design as a front for your business, or even to give yourself an identity online personally, is a necessity nowadays. But what do you do if the ABC's of web designing leave you flummoxed? This article will give you the solution, by compiling a list of easy-to-use web design software especially for beginners.
Padmini Krishna
Last Updated: Feb 10, 2018
Did You Know?
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an organization that develops standards for the World Wide Web, and also tries to maintain and enforce them amongst members, so as to ensure universal compatibility of web pages amongst various browsers, amongst other things.
A website can don many faces. For some people, it is more about personal expression, for example, a blog. For others, it serves as an advertisement for their business, as it provides all relevant information that one would seek about it. And for those who are involved in an e-commerce venture, it is the very front of their business. Whatever be the purpose, creating a website that is appropriate is the actual challenge. The good news is, there is more than one road that can be taken along the path to building your website.

Some web design software/tools are simplified to such an extent that all one needs to do is drag and drop the various elements around in a readily available template. Other software follow the what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) mechanism, where one can format their work the same way as one does in a word processor, and they get to see these effects in real time. Some web designing software even provide templates so that one just needs to modify content. We have featured both visual-based web designing software, as well as powerful editors.

Before you embark on the task of picking an appropriate web design software to meet your needs, here are a few tips for aspiring web developers who are just getting started.
Tips for First-timers Wishing to Build a Website
  • Web designing is a process like any other; it involves systematic planning and execution.
  • While designing a website, one needs to have a clear idea about the layout one expects for his or her site.
  • It also helps to know beforehand, what content and images you would wish to feature.
  • If you wish for some animated effect to appear dynamically on your page, you should plan that out too.
  • Languages like HTML, CSS, Javascript, PHP, Ruby, Flash, XML, Visual Basic Scripting, and many more are the building blocks of web pages, and it will help you greatly if you take a crash course in some of the aforementioned. A lot of free tutorials are easily accessible online as well.
We have provided you with a glimpse into the various options you have, and the best software you can take the help of, especially if you are a beginner. While not all these software are free-to-download, all of them are definitely very easy to use.
The Best Web Design Software For Beginners
Note:- The prices mentioned are subject to change. Also, the order in which we have presented the following software in no way indicate their ranking, as each is unique and has its own benefits.
CoffeeCup HTML Editor
  • This program is part of a software suite that provides an all-encompassing solution to superior web creation, developed by CoffeeCup Inc. However, by itself, this software is quite capable, and provides a number of handy tools for aspiring web designers. 
  • There are two versions available for download; the Free version, and the Full version, which costs USD 69. Purchasers of the Full version can have access to advanced features, while basic features have been made available to those who download the Free version. However, the striking features of this software (Open from Web, Tabbed UI for different pages, etc.) have not been denied to those who are using the Free version. 
  • Versions of this software are available for Windows Vista and above, as well as Mac OS X.
The Key Features of CoffeeCup HTML Editor
  • Learning Environment- The software comes with an easy-to-understand user guide, and interactive learning capabilities at every step of coding.
  • Code Completion- For inexperienced HTML coders, code completion prompts you with a valid syntax as you type, which helps to minimize your code debugging time.
  • Moreover, the software comes with an HTML Validator, compliant with W3C standards, that automatically tells you where and how to fix coding errors.
  • Availability of Templates- This software allows you to choose from a wide range of templates, that can give you a head-start, as opposed to designing the layout from scratch. You can view how the template looks beforehand selecting it for your page.
  • Advanced Support- Professional or experienced web designers are provided inherent support for multiple programming languages. It even comes with a CSS menu builder. Also, unlike in other coding environment, repetitive code can be modified just once, and the changes will be reflected in all instances of it.
  • Open from Web- A unique feature of this software is that it allows you to open a pre-existing page (even if you aren't the author) off the internet, and use it as a base template, where you can make changes and edit content.
  • This software helps you organize various pages on your website very efficiently in a tabbed interface format.
PageBreeze HTML Editor
  • PageBreeze is a WYSIWYG-format HTML editor, and it is one of the best available software for beginners in web design. It provides excellent tools to build simple, professional-looking web pages, and is thus favored by experienced web creators too.
  • It comes in two variants; a Free version and a Pro version that is fully licensed for commercial use. While the free version is primarily designed for personal use, or otherwise for the purpose of learning, whereas one can purchase the licensed software for use in a for-profit environment.
  • The major drawback of PageBreeze is that Mac users cannot benefit much from it, as it is designed only for Windows, and is compatible with most versions of Windows. It also requires Internet Explorer 7.0, or higher to be installed on the user's computer.
The Key Features of PageBreeze HTML Editor
  • Visual Mode- Since the WYSIWYG mechanism is supported in this software, one does not need to have much prior knowledge of HTML coding, and it is quite simple to go back-and-forth from Visual to Source Modes. Changes made in one mode are instantly reflected in the other mode.
  • Multi-platform Support- The latest version, PageBreeze 5.0 (and updates), supports the latest HTML standards, and in the Pro version, web designers are even provided support for Flash and PHP. The basic version even provides web-form-generators, which can help one create web forms without the use of scripting or style sheets.
  • Templates- A variety of web page templates are provided in even the free version (obviously, additional templates are made available to licensed users), for ready creation of web pages.
  • Web Page Preview- One can preview how their page will look on an actual browser, as Internet Explorer and this software are integrated.
  • Ease of Use and Support- Help topics and online support, where users' queries are answered, are constantly provided for this software.
  • The Pro version comes with other advanced features like built-in FTP Publishing, that too over secure FTP, and Multiple Editor Windows, a feature that allows one to edit more than one web page at a time, and copy-paste content, and formatting, across them.
Dreamweaver
  • Almost everyone who has decided to embark along the road to web page development has heard of this software at least once. Dreamweaver was first developed by Macromedia, and was later acquired by Adobe. It is a part of Adobe's Creative Cloud (CC), and it is absolutely the best web design software available for both beginners as well as veteran designers.
  • The interface is user-friendly, and the software interactive to make it easy enough for beginners to learn, and optimum for professionals to create masterpieces on. Since Dreamweaver is quite popular in the web designing software, there is no dearth of available web tutorials and videos to come to the ready aid of beginners, and Adobe themselves offer downloadable PDF files with in-depth tutorials and explanations for each and every available feature.
  • There are versions available, that are compatible with both Windows as well as OS X.
  • The only real drawback of this software is its whopping cost. However, some argue that the price is worth paying for the superior experience, features, and learning environment that one can avail of with this software.
The Key Features of Dreamweaver
  • All the basic features of a web design software, such as Syntax Highlighting, and Code Completion are present with other unique features as well.
  • Live View- Taking the WYSIWYG mechanism to a whole new level, this mode splits the screen into two, with one being your source code, and the other being a browser view of your web page, and allows you to literally see changes made in one mode reflected in the other in real time. What's more, you can restructure, copy-paste, and drag-and-drop elements even in the visual mode.
  • Element Quick View- You do not have to physically peruse through many lines of HTML code, as this mode displays the elements in a very clear manner. One can also apply CSS in this mode, and restructure, copy-paste, or delete elements.
  • Multi-Platform Support- Dreamweaver not only allows you to edit HTML and create and edit style sheets, but it also allows you to work with CSS, Javascript, and server-side frameworks (PHP, ASP.NET, etc.) Text input can be in any language; it even provides support to type in Arabic (or any right-to-left script language) in the coding mode.
  • Sophisticated Style Sheet Editing- The support for CSS in this app is unparalleled. Dreamweaver CC comes with a completely amazing CSS Designer, that not only allows you to add and edit effects using a visual tool, but also to select and copy preferred styles and paste them in other elements, giving you systematic control over the process.
  • This software also allows you access the library of Adobe Edge's Web Fonts for free, that can be used in your design.
WebEasy Professional
  • Reviewed to be amongst the top five web design software for beginners by a number of surveys and tech magazines, this software was developed, and is being marketed, by Avanquest Software, and is favored mainly because of its ease of use.
  • It is a Windows-based software that works with Windows XP and upwards.
The Key Features of WebEasy Professional
  • When it comes to design, all kinds of features are available, such as direct insertion of Buttons linking to social networking websites, a built-in Spell-Check, Support to Integrate your Website with PayPal, the ability to display Online Photo Albums, and much more.
  • Availability of Templates- More than a thousand templates are available to users, and one can easily make websites on their basis. The templates are completely customizable, and have built-in working navigation links too.
  • Drag-and-Drop- While using this software, one can easily use the simple drag-and-drop features, to add content, images, or elements (forms, etc.), which are customizable, and also, all effects can be added from a visual interface, with no requirement of prior knowledge of coding languages. This makes it even more appealing to beginners.
  • Support for Custom Requirements- This software provides customizable support for features related to personal requirements, such as, if you wish to build an e-commerce website, you can choose from specific custom layouts, or if you want to perform search engine optimization (SEO) for your website, tools are available to help you.
  • Web Hosting/Publishing- Unlike many other web design tools, this software provides support right until your website is published for the world to see. From providing personalized domain names to publishing your site from within WebEasy itself, assistance is provided at every step.
RapidWeaver
  • Move over, Windows-based web design software. This one is especially for Mac users. RapidWeaver is an excellent web design tool, developed and optimized for the Apple environment, by Realmac Software Ltd.
  • Reasons to opt for this software are its simplicity of understanding, visual interface, convenience of use for even people who do not possess any prior coding knowledge, and the beautifully designed workflow.
The Key Features of RapidWeaver
  • The Markdown Feature- One does not physically need to write any code. They can use page builders of different kinds, including photo albums, and blogs, and the code will be dynamically generated by the software.
  • Autosave, and Versions- Something that many contemporary software with the same premise have not thought of, RapidWeaver saves your project dynamically, and also allows you to revert to previous versions with ease.
  • Themes and Add-ons- Unlike other web design software, there are no limitations. One can easily design custom themes for the workflow and web pages, and in fact, there are a number of third-party companies who do exactly that. Templates are available in plenty to choose from. Moreover, the functionality of this program by itself, which will hence result in more options for web design, can be increased with the help of add-ons, such as plug-ins.
  • All the basic features, like Coding with HTML, CSS, and Javascript, Support to Design Responsive Websites, a Workflow Organizer, and so on, are available, and one can even publish their website easily from within RapidWeaver itself.
WordPress
  • WordPress is celebrated as the most widespread blogging website/tool/software available today, and there are very good reasons why it can be used as an excellent web design tool for beginners.
  • With flexible hosting and subscription options (both free and paid), a wide range of themes, or templates are available. Of which many are free, while others fall under the 'premium' category, and are thus chargeable. The facility to extend functionality by using plug-ins, which again come in both charged and free variants, not to mention the wide audience this platform reaches out to, WordPress has an extremely favorable environment for both amateurs and professionals to build websites.
  • A basic wordpress.com blog (hosted by WordPress, and thus carrying a wordpress.com domain name) can be created for free, and one can have access to a whole host of free themes. The themes are all-encompassing, and fall in different categories, thus having appropriate layout, styling, and support for links. If you wish to use premium themes, or if you wish to modify the CSS styling on the themes, you need to subscribe for a premium upgrade, a Business account is used to access still more advanced features. Premium upgradation also allows you a custom domain name, amongst other benefits.
  • Plug-ins can help to turn a simple blog-format page into a comprehensive website with a different functionality. You can add forms, or email/chat support, payment options for visitors (in cases such as, if you are building an e-commerce website), image galleries, embedded videos, and much more.
  • Creation of a website using the WordPress software, requires you to invest in hosting, and optionally in premium themes, and/or plug-ins (which is not even required, given the wide range of free themes and plug-ins available). However, the software is free to download, and supports the WYSIWYG mechanism of web designing, with a two-tabbed interface, having a code editor on one tab, and a visual interface on the other.
  • What's more, someone familiar with coding using MySQL or PHP, in addition to HTML, CSS, and Javascript, can also do so on this platform.
  • Being open-source, a lot of support is provided to new users to familiarize themselves with this platform, and hence, it is the perfect stepping stone for aspiring web developers to successfully make a mark on the internet.
OpenBEXI HTML Builder
  • OpenBEXI is an open-source WYSIWYG-format HTML editor that has a GNU general public license. It is very user-friendly, and is a very handy software for budding web designers with little or no coding experience.
  • Since it is open-source, it is free-to-download, is being constantly updated, and there are readily available tutorials to understand its working.
The Key Features of OpenBEXI HTML Builder
  • Easy Visual Editor- Since the WYSIWYG mechanism is followed, users can easily see how changes will appear in the browser view if it was an actual published website.
  • Publisher- With a built-in publisher, web pages created on OpenBEXI can easily be made live, using the OpenBEXI Publisher.
  • Widgets- Adding components to the page is very easy, without requiring prior coding experience or knowledge, as photo galleries, charts, forms, and various other elements can be easily added to the page. It also integrates tools that allow you to add dynamic elements (such as dynamic charts, grids, etc.), form input validators, and so on, to your page.
Xara Web Designer
  • The selling point of this software is its friendly user-interface that makes building websites for beginners or novices very simple. However, it is only available for Windows.
  • It comes in two variants; the basic version costs USD 49.99, while the Premium version costs USD 99.99, and has advanced features.
The Key Features of Xara Web Designer
  • Drag-and-Drop- Adding elements to the web page you are designing involves a simple drag-and-drop feature, which is what makes it so appealing to those who are unfamiliar with coding languages. Restructuring, resizing, shifting components around, and determining properties, such as the effect of a mouse-over action, text-wrap, or adding a hyperlink, can also be done with ease.
  • Interactive Support- The software provides a quick overview of all the features it possesses in the beginning, and later too, there is interactive support provided at every step to help beginners.
  • Beautiful Themes and Templates- This software comes with a wide range of themes and templates, to help you build any kind of website, and these have stunning layouts. Meanwhile, you can add elements like photo galleries, widgets for e-commerce sites (integration of web services like PayPal), social networking widgets, location, and much more.
BlueGriffon
  • Yet another open-source WYSIWYG-based web editor, BlueGriffon was developed by Daniel Glazman, and runs on Gecko―the same engine that powers Mozilla Firefox.
  • The operating systems for which it is available include Windows, Mac OS, and Linux.
  • While the software itself is free-to-download, since it is open-source, out of the various add-ons that are available for it, some are charged.
The Key Features of BlueGriffon
  • Wide Support for Languages and Formats- Not only can you create, open, or edit pages that have not even been created on BlueGriffon originally, but this software supports HTML5, CS3, and lets you create and edit vector graphics with a supported SVG Editor. Using MathML, any mathematical formula can be created in the proper layout. It also supports multiple languages.
  • Unbelievable Extensibility- Everything from obtaining template layouts (for beginners with minimum coding experience), table (and other format) generators, professional CSS editing, web publishing, the Active View mode (that lets you see previews in real time), eye dropper color picker, workflow manager, and even a word count, is possible by using add-ons.
Visual Web Developer Express
  • Microsoft has been one of the pioneers of computer software, and true to that reputation, the company has developed the Visual Studio software suite, which contains a handful of application development tools, including one for web design. The Visual Studio Express suite is also, additionally, free and lightweight, and the software it contains can be downloaded as per one's platform or specific requirement. Microsoft Visual Web Developer Express is one of these tools.
  • Beginners will find this learning environment quite conducive, because of the depth of support available, and ease of understanding. The need for coding knowledge will seem like a drawback at first, but the software is designed to help amateurs learn professional web designing easily. For expert coders, especially those well-versed with working on the ASP.NET framework, this is a very powerful, and capability-packed environment.
The Key Features of Visual Web Developer Express
  • Using this software, you are given the ability to create and/or edit absolutely any kind of website, web application, and server-end web page. One can even create a website on a remote FTP server to which one has access.
  • The software supports web designing using both ASP.NET as well as HTML. For this, it has a built-in web designer.
  • Design Mode- This is a WYSIWYG-format interface, where one can make changes in a more visual interface. A Source Mode is also available for direct coding, and in this mode you have the benefit of auto-correction of code, spell-check, and a code validator
  • Availability of Master Plates- These are templates that are customizable in terms of styling. In the design mode, one can change CSS properties of any element using an easy visual interface.
Since web designing is a dynamic process, and at the end of the day, the beauty of the web page depends solely on the vision of the web designer, how effective your site turns out to be is entirely up to you. While the cost and complexity involved with even the meant-for-beginners software may make the task seem daunting, the truth is, the more you experiment and learn, the better your page turns out to be. And most importantly, although it is tempting, do not completely ignore the merits of familiarizing yourself with the basics of web designing language tools (such as HTML), as in the long run, this is what will help you design better websites