Creating your own website Part 5

After a quick break from our website tutorial last week to answer a number of readers questions, today we get back to wrapping up this multi-part series on creating and uploading your own website.

In part one, we looked at an application called ‘FrontPage’ – The full version is available as part of Microsoft Office and a cut down version – FrontPage Express is available free from www.microsoft.com.This product combined with the free Microsoft Image Editor are fine if you are happy keeping with a simple website, however, if you are planning on creating a more sophisticated site then there are a number of other products that you may want to consider trying out:

Macromedia Dreamweaver – Dreamweaver is highly regarded as the most powerful web page creator available on the market today.The program, in my opinion, builds on the features of the complete edition of FrontPage by providing much more comprehensive options and tools whilst still maintaining a high degree of user friendliness.

Dreamweaver includes tools for debugging your site and tight integration with technologies such as Flash as well as tools for debugging JavaScript and HTML errors.These may not be things that you know about too much at this stage, but soon tools such as these will soon become almost become indispensable.In addition, Dreamweaver also seems to create a lot cleaner, quicker to download code than the bloated pages that FrontPage seems to compile, the program makes it quicker and easier to program straight into HTML and your pages should be more compatible with the majority of browsers that your audience will be using.

To summarize, it is hard for me to pinpoint what exactly it is that makes myself and the majority of other web programmers prefer Dreamweaver; It just seems easier and more powerful to use in general.I do recommend that before considering purchase you should download the free trial version from www.macromedia.com/software/dreamweaver so that you can evaluate the software for yourself.

Macromedia Flash – Another popular website design tool in the Macromedia range, Flash allows you to create animated introduction sequences and navigation aids for your website that are both interesting to look at and small to download.Probably the easiest way for me to describe what Flash is about is for you to see an example for yourself – Try going to the site http://animation.about.com/cs/flashexemplars where a list of all the best Flash animations have been compiled for you.

Essentially, Flash is an animator with a number of powerful tools that allow your readers to navigate through the animation to reach specific points in your site or to perform specific tasks.Where Flash really comes into its own however is that the program creates very small files that take a fairly short while for your readers to download.

One major drawback of Flash is that your target audience will have to have a Flash player installed in order to view the animations.The player is free of charge to download and a large number of Internet users will already have it installed on their computer, however it is always a good idea that you create a non-Flash version of your site for those without.

Again, Flash is available for free trial from the website address www.macromedia.com/software/flash/ for you to look at before you considerer purchasing the full product.

Macromedia Fireworks – Macromedia Fireworks is a graphics creator and editor that has been built from the ground up with web graphics in mind.Giving you dozens of tools for creating and manipulating graphics which will be incorporated into your web page, Fireworks ensures that it is both quick and easy to make a whole host of different graphics – Practically anything from image rollovers to web-animations and static images.Essentially, it is important that your images are kept as small as possible which is what Fireworks excels at, automatically selecting the best format and compression rate so that your audience get the fastest possible downloads from your site.

Once again, Fireworks is available for free trial from the website address www.macromedia.com/software/fireworks/ for you to look at before you consider making a purchase.

To summarize, these three Macromedia products make life a lot simpler when designing your own web page however not all users will need all the features included.The most unfortunate point is the price of the complete set; around £650 although the products are obviously available individually of course.In any event, I would still urge you to download the trial versions of these three packages as they are fully featured for 30 days at which point they expire.Even if after this time you don’t think they would be worth buying, just uninstall the products and you would have had 30 days worth of free software with no commitment to Macromedia whatsoever.

About the Author – Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.

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