Co-Authored by Katie Brown
What is the range of software options available?
When it comes to website building, there a number of different options that cater to a number of different levels of technical skill and time investment. Some of the more popular methods and programs include:
What is available for users with different levels of expertise?
Hand Coding (html/css) – Though time consuming and kind of difficult to get the hang of, this method offers the most range of freedom of any of the others mentioned here. This method of creating websites is open to all Macs (through Text Edit/TextWrangler) and PCs (Notepad).
iWeb – Available to Mac users, iWeb makes building websites really simple. The program has pre-formatted layouts for you to choose from and use as a starting point. You can add pages, upload images and videos – it’s a really simple way to get a website up fast. iWeb doesn’t allow for customizing the look of themes very well though, so you lose a lot of creative control with this option.
Adobe Dreamweaver – Dreamweaver is a bit of a hybrid of the last two technologies. You can choose to hand-code your site in dreamweaver or you can select from a pre-made template and edit the code to your liking. However, this still involves a working knowledge of HTML and CSS and may not be the best option if you don’t have the time to learn how to code.
Weebly – A free online resource, Weebly is probably the most friendly of the options thus far. On the front page of the Weebly website you’ll be prompted to enter your name, email address and password. After that, you can get started on your site immediately. Making a website with Weebly is a lot like editing a photo with Picnik; there are tons and tons of settings you can play around with. Weebly will also publish your site to the web for free : )
Wix- Another free online website builder. All you need to do is create an account and a variety of tools are at your disposal. It doesn’t take long to learn to navigate and the interface is user-friendly. Option to upgrade to premium membership, but the normal account is usually more than adequate and will allow you to publish your site to the web under the Wix domain. Also great for continuous editing.
Which options are supported by the University?
iWeb, Dreamweaver CS5, and TextWrangler, Fugu, and Fetch are available on University of Michigan Macs. Dreamweaver CS5, FileZilla, and Notepad++ are on all University of Michigan PCs.
What support is available online?
The web is full of awesome places to learn how to hand code, but some of the best sites I’ve found are HTML Dog and W3School. Both offer great instruction on how to use HTML & CSS to build your websites alongside examples where you can actually manipulate code on your own to see how it affects the layout of the page.
For learning Dreamweaver, Youtube is going to be your best friend. Search “How to use Dreamweaver CS5” and you’ll find a ton of resources to help get you off the ground. Google is always a good starting place as well.
Lynda is another great resource for learning about how to build websites and includes tutorial videos on iWeb, Dreamweaver, and general website design and development. Some tutorials do require a subscription, however.
What are your favorites (and why), and/or what else should we know?
Josh’s personal favorite is hand coding HTML and CSS into Dreamweaver – it offers a lot of control and freedom in designing simple sites. It can be a major headache though.
Katie’s favorite is obviously Wix! Takes almost no time to learn and I’ve used it in a variety of classes for a range of different assignments. Great if you are looking for a time-friendly option.
Also, a lot of these resources will help you make a website, but many won’t help you publish it without doing a little extra work. If hand coding or using Dreamweaver or iWeb, you’ll need to push your site to a server space using an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) program. Fetch and Fugu are available for Mac and supported by the university. FileZilla is available for PCs and is supported by university computers.
You can buy domain names and space from places like GoDaddy, but each student has his/her own personal space you can upload a site to through the university, which can be accessed through this URL:
http://www.umich.edu/~umweb/how-to/homepage.html will walk you through the steps.