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50. Creating your own site free and easy

By Mark Alberstat

It seems these days that every group, organization and small business has its own website, and why not? Creating websites today is far easier than ever with several good website development tools that are available for downloading.

For the computer novice who wants to build a website, WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) software is the order of the day. This type of visual software allows you to plan and lay out a website, and the program then writes the HTML code, which is more complicated than most novice users need to deal with or learn.

But one caveat concerning these editors is that they often write bloated code. Pages with extraneous code will take a bit longer to load in your web browser then tightly written pages.

If you know how to code in HTML, your own pages written in a plain text editor, such as Notepad or Textpad, is bound to be tighter than almost anything a WYSIWYG editor can create.

When looking for this type of software, features you should watch for include drag and drop ability for easy graphic placement; table wizards, which will aid in the sometimes complex feat of creating HTML tables; and Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) support, which will make the overall coding and writing of your pages easier.

One of the few free WYSIWYG editors is Mozilla Composer, a component of the Mozilla web browser. This editor allows you to create a web page very simply with little or no HTML knowledge.

The user tells the system, in a Windows-like interface, the size and placement of text, tables, images and other web page elements. Once the user is happy with how the page looks, they simply save the file and the underlying HTML code is generated and the information is saved to an HTML file.

Overall, this is one of the best editors you are going to find. Its free price tag is also compelling.

If Composer isn't for you, but you have a relatively recent word processor such as Word97 or later, you can save your files as HTML. The built-in converter in these programs doesn't do a bad job, but not a great one, either. Like most editors, the code is a bit longer than it has to be, but the ease of use will outweigh this for most people.

CoffeeCup Editor is a commercial WYSIWYG editor that is quite popular with a related suite of software. This flexible software package has both a visual editor and a mode where people who know HTML code can work.

The software is free to download and try for 30 days, after which time you will have to pay $49 US to use the software further. For that price you receive access to hundreds of templates and thousands of graphics. This program also has a built-in FTP feature, which users need to upload their files to a server to make their website viewable by the world.

For those who want to learn the basics of HTML coding point your web browser to or for tutorials on many aspects of website design.

Once you choose the WYSIWYG web editor you are comfortable with, you can create good-looking web pages, and entire, multi-level sites with limited or no coding knowledge and no one will know the difference.

The following are a few helpful links: - for a list of web page editors. - home page for CoffeeCup HTML editor.

The Mousepad runs every two weeks. It's a service of Chebucto Community Net, a community-owned Internet provider. If you have a question about computing, email If we use your question in a column, we'll send you a free mousepad.


The Mousepad Index


Originally published 26 December 2004


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