As with any great endeavor, web design is about both inspiration and perseverance. Back in the day, creating web pages was the sole province of hardcore coders, but that’s not the case anymore given that there are numerous tools to simplify the process. Some of these even have a visual interface, allowing you to drag and drop links, text and images as if you were designing a poster or presentation.
Other web design tools are geared towards programmers, acting as advanced text editors, and allowing for building a website line-by-line. However, most web design tools exist somewhere between these two extremes.
In this guide we have focused on five of the very best tools currently available. When weighing up which to include, we have focused on ease of use, supported web languages, cost, and how easy the tools make it to upload the finished project once you are done.
If this is your first time building a website we recommend using a free tool such as Bluefish before spending any money. All premium tools covered in this guide offer a trial version, in any case, so you can get an idea of what they’re about before you commit.
1. Adobe Dreamweaver CC
Adobe Dreamweaver is a long-established app that allows you to code your website design directly, without having to know too much about programming. The software works through a mix of visual editing and HTML editing, which means it shouldn’t have too steep a learning curve for most users.
Additionally, while coding your own website design requires you to put in more effort than simply using an existing readymade template, at least you have the chance to ensure you get the look you actually want, rather than trying to work around someone else’s design specifications.
A particularly good feature of Dreamweaver is that it allows you to produce a responsive design, which means your website can be optimized to display on desktops as well as mobile devices, without limiting the user experience.
However, if you are a more advanced user you may be pleased to note that Dreamweaver provides multi-monitor support for Windows. It also supports the Chromium Embedded Framework (CEF) to work with HTML5 elements and CSS grids. Additionally, there’s also support for Git to allow you to edit source code directly from within Dreamweaver.
Bluefish is amongst the smallest web design tools available today. The tiny installer weighs in at just under 53MB and setup takes only a few moments. While the interface is text-only, it’s clearly designed with novices in mind as it employs clear-cut toolbars, user customizable menus and syntax highlighting.
Bluefish has an excellent search function, allowing you to find text across multiple projects. The tool also has no trouble juggling hundreds of documents at the same time. Although Bluefish supports working with remote files, the varied and useful dialogs and wizards don’t currently support direct upload of web pages via FTP.
Despite the best efforts of the developers, Bluefish may take some time to get used to. The tool is available free of charge, however, so you have nothing to lose by giving it a try. During our test on a Windows 10 PC we found we had to install GTK+ 2.24.8 in order to run Bluefish. A download link for GTK is available via the Bluefish website.