The ability to create simple, attractive and functional web pages is a highly marketable skill. There is a huge and growing demand for websites and web content, especially for smaller organizations who often can’t afford to hire a full-service web design firm.
Readers often ask me whether it’s necessary to take expensive web design courses or to learn HTML right away to get started in this niche. Is there a cheaper way of learning these skills?
If I were in your shoes, my best investment would be to learn how to use a popular and well-supported website creation software package.
Notice that I said “popular and well-supported.” There are plenty of What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) web page creators out there that allow you to cut-and-paste and drag-and-drop your way to create simple, effective websites.
For instance, you could check out programs such as 123 WysiWyg HTML Editor at http://www.123wysiwyg.com
Mozilla Composer is an HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) editor that allows you to create and edit web pages. Check it out at http://www.mozilla.org/products/mozilla1.x/
Easy Web Editor (http://www.easywebeditor.com/ ) is another low-cost option under $100.
Several Internet “gurus” have created their own software packages. Jim Edwards, for instance, is promoting his “mini site creator” (http://www.minisitecreator.com ) program right now on web and through affiliates.
Many Internet Service Providers (ISPs) such as www.godaddy.com offer their own easy website creation tools. These are fine if you if are a hobbyist or small business owner, and only want to create simple websites for your own use. But if you want to become a professional website designer, and eventually offer your skills and services to other small business owners, you will have to be able to create more sophisticated sites, with more flexible designs and features.
So key questions you have to ask are, “Am I using a program a professional would use? Will it be around five years from now?”
Years ago I chose Microsoft’s FrontPage WYSISYG website editor. I knew that I would not be able to learn all features program had right away, but could create simple web sites for my business using basics, then learn more, a little bit at a time.
I also figured that Microsoft was going to be around for a while, and that webpage creation was an area of business they would want to compete in. So FrontPage would be well-supported for years with new versions, technical support, user forums, etc.
That has all been true. However, FrontPage reportedly has its quirks in way it generates HTML code. Today, best software package that I keep hearing about in WYSIWYG category – and one used by professional website designers as well -- is a program called Dreamweaver, by Macromedia.
There are Dreamweaver versions available for both Mac and PC, which is important. If you learn program on a PC, you’ll still be familiar with same tools used by Mac world, which is dominant platform for graphic arts community.