Website builder

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There are two kinds of web site builders: on-line proprietary tools provided by web hosting companies which cater to people who wish to build and publish their website without learning the technical aspects of web page production; and software which runs on a computer, creating pages off-line and which can then publish these pages on any host.

On-line website builders typically require customers to sign up with the web hosting company -- most offer free trial periods -- and choose the page design that best suits their purpose. They offer a variety of services, anywhere between creating basic personal web pages or social network content (Widgets) to making full blown business/e-commerce websites, either template based or - on the more flexible platforms - totally design free. Some companies' tools allow the user to see the source code, that is, the HTML behind the page he is building. Many do not, meaning that only certain designated areas on the page can be modified. Usually, these areas are: headers, text and some graphic elements. These web builders are WYSIWIG or “what you see is what you get” meaning that the page can be edited as in a word processor. Examples are uCoz, CirclePad, JustType, Soholaunch, Moogo, weebly,, Yola, Qapacity and Moonfruit.

Off – line web builders cater to professional web designers who need to create pages for more than one client or web host. Modern off-line web builders are usually both WYSIWIG and allow direct editing of source code and CSS styling. They are generally quicker and more flexible to use than on-line builders, but may be expensive to buy. Examples are Adobe Dreamweaver (previously Macromedia Dreamweaver), and A4Desk. There are some open source web builders which may be downloaded free of charge. SeaMonkey is an example of an open source free web builder.


The first websites were created in the early 1990's [1]. These sites were hand written in a markup language called HTML. The early versions of HTML were very basic, only giving websites basic structure (headings and paragraphs), and the ability to link using hypertext. As the Web and web design progressed, the markup language changed to become more complex and flexible, giving the ability to add objects like images and tables to a page. Features like tables, which were originally intended to be used to display tabular information, were soon subverted for use as invisible layout devices. Page layout using tables made these pages difficult to update, as adding information generally meant rewriting the whole page. [2] With the advent of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), formatting pages became separated from content making pages easier to edit. Database integration technologies such as server-side scripting and design standards like W3C further changed and enhanced the way the pages are built.

Software was written to help design web pages and by 1998 Dreamweaver had been established as the industry leader, however purists criticised the quality of the code produced by such software as being overblown and reliant on tables. As the industry moved towards W3C standards Dreamweaver amongst others were criticised for not being compliant. The Acid2 test, developed by the Web Standards Project is used to test compliance with standards and most modern web builders now support CSS and are more or less compliant, though many professionals still prefer to write optimized source code by hand.

Open source software for building web sites took much longer to become established mainly due to problems with browser compliance with standards [3][4]. Most open source developers are interested with being standards compliant rather than commercially viable, whereas those producing software for sale need it to work with Internet Explorer which is still not completely standards compliant. W3C started Amaya in 1996 to showcase Web technologies in a fully-featured Web client. This was to provide a framework that integrated lots of W3C technologies in a single, consistent environment. Amaya started as an HTML + CSS style sheets editor and now supports XML, XHTML, MathML, and SVG. [5]

With the coming of the second generation of the Internet, also known as Web 2.0, many more people are surfing the web, few of which have any technical knowledge. These users want an easy and stress free experience. With the explosion of commerce on the Internet more and more people need their own web site and so software designers created better and simpler WYSIWIG web builders. As more people connected to the web using broadband it became possible to use web builders on line rather than buy or download one. Web hosts began to provide web building software as part of the package. These on-line web builders are easy to use and offer small businesses and private individuals a relatively quick and cheaper alternative to employing a professional web designer or learning how to write source code. They can produce colourful and professional looking pages but are tied to a single web host.

See also


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