Do-It-Yourself Web Design for Home-Based Businesses
by Vishal P. Rao

Home-based businesses need a strong web presence to combat 
the inflated advertising and marketing budgets of their 
larger competitors, but establishing that presence through a 
professionally designed and developed web site may not be an
affordable option. In many cases, the only cost-effective
way to get the web site you want for your business is to do
it yourself.

Even if you are not experienced in HTML (Hypertext Markup
Language), you can find helpful programs which will assist
you in your design efforts. Trust me, it is not as difficult
as it may seem to be.

Here are a few tips for finding software to meet your small,
or home-based, business's needs.

1) Know Your Options

When it comes to web site creation software, there are three
types to choose from: Text editors, HTML editors, and WYSIWYG 

Text editors, which are basically any word processing program 
such as Word or Notepad, require extensive HTML knowledge.

NoteTab Light (Freeware)

Metapad 3.5 (Freeware)

TextEd 3.1 (Freeware)

EDXOR 1.60 (Freeware)

SuperEdi 3.2 (Freeware)

HTML editors are much like text editors except they include
additional features to aid inexperienced users, such as
color-coded tags and pre-prepared CGI and Java scripts. If
you have little or no experience with HTML, an HTML editor
is a better choice.

HTML Kit (Freeware)

Web-O-Rama (Donationware)

Webmaster 3.2 (Freeware)

Stone's WebWriter 3.5 (Free for personal use)

AceHTML 5.08.1 (Freeware)

WYSIWYG, which stands for What You See is What You Get, programs 
like FrontPage or DreamWeaver allow you to design the pages' 
appearance without writing code. You pick what you want and the 
program automatically generates the code.

Macromedia Dreamweaver ($399) (Recommended)

NetObjects Fusion ($149.95)

HyperText Studio 4.06 ($99 - $519)

SiteSpinner V2 ($49)

EasyWebEditor ($59.99)

2) Look for the Features You Need

When you start browsing for web site software, you'll want to 
look for a few key features, such as ready-made templates, 
wizards (they make many tasks easier and quicker), auto-backup, 
and pre-built code.

Remember to also keep in mind your own level of HTML experience. 
If you are inexperienced, then you will want plenty of templates 
and wizards to help you along. Likewise, if you feel comfortable 
working with code, then you may want to choose programs without 
all of the bells, whistles, and help since they will cost you 

3) Do Some Research

Never buy a program, especially not one for business, without 
trying it out first. Most of these programs have demos or free 
trials available on their manufacturers' web sites. You can also 
check with sites such as or Epinions to get an idea of 
which programs are being recommended by users. Check with popular 
computer magazines for their experts' input as well.

All of this research will give you a good idea of which programs 
to explore and which to avoid when you are making your final 
buying decision.

4) Keep in Mind Your Budget

Depending on which type of web design program you choose, your 
costs will vary dramatically. Text editors, for example, are 
often already on your computer. Notepad, a feature of Windows, 
makes a very usable text editor and will cost you nothing extra.

HTML editors, on the other hand, can cost anywhere from $0
to $100 while WYSIWYGs are priced between $70 to $500 and up.

Well-known brands, such as Adobe and MacroMedia, will cost more 
but the quality of their programs and the stability of their 
company make them a better choice than the inexpensive software 
from unknown vendors.

Also, be sure to look for programs that offer free or reduced 
price upgrades so you continue to get the most from your software 
without paying full price again every two or three years.

With these tips, you should have no trouble finding an HTML 
program that fits your needs and your experience level so you 
can create your own professional-looking web site without 
draining your business's budget.

-----SIDE BAR-----
No matter which software you use, a good knowledge of HTML will 
always be helpful. Here are some links that have helped me 
tremendously in building my HTML and web designing skills:

Vishal P. Rao is the editor of Home Based Business
Opportunities - A website dedicated to opportunities, ideas
and resources to help you start a home based business. Visit
him at: