What web design software should you use to build a website?

Focus not on the tools, but the outcome you desire.Web design software an the tools for building a website have changed over the years. The reasons for building a website have not.

As a community college instructor I focused on teaching people how to build websites, more than how to use software.

Even thought questions on what web development tools are the best to use in building a website are still common, I start with recommending a basic overall understanding of concepts.

I started with teaching basic HTML and other scripting languages such as Javascript, PERL, and PHP. Some people may say that learning the basic fundamentals is more than the average webmaster needs to know, but a basic knowledge of HTML and scripting languages has been useful over the years in troubleshooting web site problems.

After I covered the basic fundamentals concepts, then I moved on to software packages like Dreamweaver and Microsoft Front Page. I have not used desktop based Web site administration tools like these in many years. Currently I focus on the Drupal content management system.

The one constant in building a website over the years is that planning begins with simple tools, like a pencil and a piece of paper, or an outline of ideas and goals in notepad. I taught how to plan a website out on paper with idea maps and story boards before you sat down in front of a computer.

Even with a major evolution in the tools to use, the answer over the years has remained clear, focus not on the tools, but the outcome you desire.

If you were asking someone to build a house, would you ask questions on hammers and saws? Or would you discuss what you wanted the house to look like?

The evolution of website building tools

Let us continue to use the analogy of building a house to put the buzz words of website building into context and help you understand their evolution.

Using HTML is like building a house using a hammer and saw. You manually create the framework. Other scripting languages such as Javascript, PERL, and PHP, helped to add functionality to our house, such as plumbing and electrical systems.

The next generation of tools were website editors like Dreamweaver and Frontpage, which were power tools. Website editors help you to create the framework a lot more quickly, and provide you with a tool kit to make sure all the rooms in your house are created in a consistent manner.

With website editors you installed the software on your local desktop computer and typically built the site on your personal desktop computer and moved the files to the web server once you had your site building done.

The next generation of tools, content management systems, you have a process to mass produce houses. The actual creation of the framework is done more quickly, and you have the ability to replicate anything you create quickly and consistently. I use Drupal as my preferred content management system, others that you may have heard of are WordPress and Joomla.

With a content management system, the software that creates and manages the website is installed on the web server, not on your local desktop. If you do your homework ahead of time, and have some content ready to add to your site, you can have a website up and running in a very short period of time. You can add content quickly and easily from any location having internet access simply by using a web browser.

Technology changes quickly

Website editors and content management system are tools. Don't get hung up thinking too much about the tools. You can quickly get bogged down by the technology that changes often.

Focus on what you want the house to look like and what you want to do with in once you get it built, not the tools you are going to use to build it.

Want to learn more?

Here at Smart Technology Info we aim to educate people in their roles as business professionals or managers as we try to separate the tasks and tools of technology in this section on managing your website.

If you want to learn more from the perspective of the technology professional check out the section on Learning how to create a website and web design tools at our companion site Computer Guru.  You may want to check out, What is HTML and What is the Value in Learning It?