Whatchamacallits: Best Website Builder Tools
By Top 10 Staff
Do you need to build a website quickly, but lack the Web development skills to do so? Using website builder tools is an effective way to build your own site with no programming, but selecting the right one depends on several key criteria. Learn about some of the important factors to consider when selecting a tool, and discover the solutions and vendors for both building and hosting your website.
Apple vs. Windows Tools
When choosing the right website builder tool, a lot depends on what operating system you are using. Most of us have a preference for either Windows or Apple desktop, and corresponding tools are for the most part divided evenly down the center. This only applies to your Web development environment, of course-- the actual server provided by your web hosting company is most likely a Linux machine (unless you've explicitly chosen Windows hosting).
Generally speaking, Windows tools tend to be more developer-focused, as traditionally visual designers and creative types tend to flock to the Apple camp. This distinction is fast disappearing, as most solutions these days are developed to be cross-platform. Additionally, the rise of online website builder tools has made in-browser Web development an operating system-agnostic affair.
Integrated vs. Desktop Tools
The best website builder tools these days can either be installed on the desktop or run from inside the browser. When it comes to the latter, web hosting providers will often integrate the tool or solution into their Web hosting offerings as a value-add for customers. These tools are typically open source software or scripts installed on the Web hosting server, and can be accessed by logging into your website's cPanel administration console.
Currently, more than a few vendors are offering comprehensive, software-as-a-service products that combine easy online website building with attractive hosting options. Unified offerings such as Wix and SquareSpace are highly popular options for individuals and small to medium-sized businesses, as they give you all the necessary in-browser Web development tools in a streamlined Web hosting and development environment. These options are highly attractive to Web development novices, as these vendors' intent is to help their customers get attractive yet easy-to-build websites up and running quickly. Subsequently, they will often provide additional materials such as Web building wizards and support resources to help in this regard.
Again, when it comes to desktop tools, options are divided into two camps, and depend on the operating system environment in which you intend to develop your website. A plethora of competent and comparable solutions tools exist for both Apple and Windows desktops, but all are typically designed to simplify Web development.
For this reason, most desktop tools are “what you see is what you get” (WYSIWYG) editors that allow for drag-and-drop website creation, effectively enabling website development without having to write code. As the acronym implies, WYSIWYG editors give you the ability to view your changes and the final Web pages as they are created. CoffeeCup HTML Editor is a longtime favorite for free, Windows-based WYSIWYG website building, and can open up existing Web pages for editing on the fly. Kompozer is another solid Windows desktop offering that also uses an intuitive, WYSIWYG-based interface for website creation.
The selection of desktop website builders for a Mac is also wide, with most of these tools being WYSIWYG-based for easy drag-and-drop web page creation with no programming -- just like their Windows-based counterparts. Sandvox is a popular solution that allows Mac users to build websites optimized for the Safari browser on desktop and iOS devices such as the iPhone or iPad. RapidWeaver is another widely-used Mac-based website building tool that ships with preloaded templates for quick website deployment, as well as a powerful preview features that gives you a preview of the website on various device screens and platforms. Finally, Adobe's Dreamweaver is one of the most powerful and responsive website building tools available for both Apple and Windows, but at premium cost -- though Adobe Creative Cloud now charges by the month, which can soften the blow to your checkbook.
HTML5 is the latest version of the Web's main programming language, and has allowed for more sophisticated interactions and richer display elements to be incorporated into Web pages. In the early days, Web pages were mainly composed of text and images, but websites are now engaging and interactive experiences that often include video elements and social media integrations, among other things. Faster internet speeds and the rise of social networking sites have allowed websites to grow in sophistication, and the HTML language has evolved to incorporate these features and capabilities.
If your website building tool supports HTML5, it most likely has a plethora of options for making Web experiences more dynamic and interactive. Some of these include tools to build advanced in-browser animations, navigation elements, and audio/video controls. Additionally, HTML5 is important for making your website responsive or cross-device compatible.
A myriad of free website builder tools are available on the market for building your own presence online. Keeping these considerations in mind when selecting a tool that will yield superior results -- not to mention a future-proof website accessible on various devices.
You will find even more valuable information about building a website with these small-business articles.