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Web Design Fundamentals is a survey of Web design and development techniques and technologies, fundamental concepts, terms, and best practices involved in professional web design. Instructor James Williamson examines popular web development tools, server-side software solutions, content management solutions, and cloud-based software, providing a high-level overview of the world of Web publishing.
One of the most important decisions a new web designer can make is which programs to use for creating and building websites. At a minimum, you will need a graphics editing program to create your site graphics and an HTML editor to edit the site's code. Using the right tool can make you more efficient, ensure the creation of quality content, and help you create a workflow based on your own personal preferences and strengths. Choosing the wrong tool can make editing your pages a frustrating experience and possibly result in pages with non- valid markup and inconsistent user experiences.
HTML editors come in many flavors from simple text editors, to kitchen sink applications and in many price points, from free to hundreds of dollars. When choosing an HTML editor, you should consider whether you're the type of person that prefers to hand code everything, or if you prefer more of a visual interface. Do you need powerful integration with other programs or is your workflow more conducive to working separately in each application? Either way, here are a few of the more popular choices for a web page offering. By no means is this list complete, but it should give you enough of a head start to begin comparing which type of program best meets your needs.
The open-source nature of the program means that documentation and support are a bit light as well. For free software, KompoZer is amazing. However, if you've been using Dreamweaver or Expression, it's unlikely that you'll want to make the switch. BBEdit is one of the few HTML editors that are Mac only. BBEdit does one thing and it does it very well. It makes editing and writing HTML a snap. If you're the type of person that prefers to hand code and doesn't need your web editor packed full of features, BBEdit is a compelling choice.
Code snippets, code completion, and could support for over 20 languages makes BBEdit a logical choice for a web designer that needs to work heavily in code or switch between scripting languages. Unfortunately, it's Mac based only. CoffeeCup's Software HTML editor is another clean and standards-compliant HTML editor that is packed full of powerful features. Code validation, multi-browser testing support, code completion, code snippets, and site management tools make this a very powerful web authoring tool.
Although it's not free, the low price tag makes it an attractive alternative to the more expensive programs in the market. Unlike Adobe, who releases integrated software in bundles, CoffeeCup releases separate programs for specific tasks. As such, you could simply buy the programs for the functionality that you need a la carte. While cheap at first, buying several programs quickly moves CoffeeCup's price point more in line with the larger web authoring tools. Microsoft Expression replaces FrontPage as their web page authoring program. In every single category, it's a very welcome replacement.
Expression is a powerful, feature- rich program that rivals Adobe's Dreamweaver in capabilities. It produces clean standards-compliant code and has terrific CSS capabilities. It's obvious when using it that Microsoft heard of the oft-voiced criticisms of FrontPage's lack of web standard support and proprietary code. Expression even supports Adobe's Photoshop and offers a solid alternative choice to Dreamweaver. There are some bad points however. Expression doesn't offer support for server-side languages other than .NET. As a Microsoft product, there is also no Mac version.
Coda is a very popular and powerful web design program that's released on the Mac only. Coda offers powerful file management, cool code editing tools like live collaboration, which allows you to edit code with co-workers, and a built-in terminal for interacting with your Web server. While many of its tools are focused more towards web developers, Coda has a little something for everyone. Coda also has a low price point and robust support. Keep in mind, it is Mac only. Adobe's Dreamweaver is the recognized standard in web design applications.
That statement might rankle some, but there is a reason that Dreamweaver is so popular. As part of the Creative Suite, Dreamweaver integrates very well with tools such as Illustrator and Photoshop and Fireworks. That's something that makes it little bit easier for many designers to migrate to over competing programs. Dreamweaver is expensive, but it offers a feature list that is very hard to match. Advanced file support, powerful code editing software, a robust WYSIWYG editor, and support for web standards, integrated CSS workflow, and multi-language support makes Dreamweaver a compelling choice.
For a novice, Dreamweaver can be a little intimidating and its FTP capabilities are weak compared to some of its competitors, but overall it is the number one Web authoring tool for a reason. I think it's important to note here that this movie is a bit more subjective than most. The personal style and preferences of designers greatly influences which tools they feel the most comfortable with. Each of the programs I have listed here are either free or offer a trial download. Make sure you spend some time in each of the programs that you consider before choosing a workflow. It's important that the content you create be standards-compliant valid code.
After that, your own personal comfort level and efficiency should drive the application of your choice.
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