The Tools You Need To Build A Great Website Without Spending A Lot Of Money
The two things you need to put together a truly great website are good ideas and outstanding software. The ideas are up to you, and you have plenty of options to choose from on the software side. Don’t go reaching for your wallet, either; you can find outstanding site-building software available completely free of charge. Read on to learn about some excellent free software options for many common web design tasks.
The heart and soul of web design is the raw HTML code of your site. Your code is what dictates the appearance and content that visitors see. Some web designers insist that the only proper way to build a site is by working with the raw code itself. Others are comfortable using a WYSIWYG editor that is more intuitive and easier to learn. You can get the best of both worlds without paying a dime by using a free editor like KompoZer. This program is constantly updated and allows you to edit your site through a WYSIWYG interface, by editing your code, or by looking at both simultaneously.
Graphics are a big part of most websites, and you’ll find that few images are ready to be posted on your site without needing a little graphical work. You’re probably aware that Adobe Photoshop is the industry-leading program for graphics editing; you’re likely also aware that the cost of Photoshop rivals that of minor surgical procedures. Here, too, there is a completely free option that can meet most of your needs. GIMP is an image manipulation program that can match most of Photoshop’s functionality, although its interface takes a little time to learn. The tremendous difference in price makes that time an excellent investment for any web designer operating on a budget.
In many cases, FTP (File Transfer Protocol) will play an important role in launching and maintaining your website. FTP is one of the most common ways to get new files onto your site’s server. In this case, there are a whole host of free programs available for you to use. Your computer probably came out of the box with some kind of basic FTP client software. If you want to save as much time as possible, it’s a great idea to switch over to a commonly-used free FTP program such as FileZilla. In this case, the industry leader and the free option are one and the same. FileZilla also includes both client and server programs, so you can run your own FTP site with minimal expense.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning a pair of free programs that can really help with the process of proofreading your site’s code. In the same way that typos and grammatical errors can make your content harder to read, broken or invalid HTML can make it difficult or even impossible for browsers to load your site correctly. You can minimize the risk of these problems by using HTML Tidy, a very simple program that cleans up your code automatically. If your site uses Cascading Style Sheets, there is a sister program, CSSTidy, that performs a similar function. Learning these programs takes minutes and running them takes just seconds; it’s well worth the minimal effort involved.
The programs described here can form the core of a highly effective web design software suite without costing you a penny. If you investigate further, you’ll find other alternatives for all of the functions discussed above, as well as more free software to meet your site’s more specialized needs. You should always remember to look for free, open-source programs before you resign yourself to spending money you might be able to keep.