Sunday, 15 January 2012

Weird World of Web design

If an idea needs the 'right time', then so does software. For me, this is especially true for web creation software.

Three years ago I used iWeb to design a school site which was quite successful. But. The local authority server couldn't allow comments on the blog feature, which significantly reduced the value of that feature. So I did what I have always found as a useful technique. I prevaricated.

The problem was that I couldn't find a true WYSIWYG designer for mac that allows you to fully control the layout, unlike iWEb. Since then, several products have grown up and become useful alternatives to the Apple's good, but unrefreshed, and possibly future-uncertain, iWeb. By chance I stumbled on FreewayExpress in the AppStore when it was on offer. I have now used it to design a personal website (details when launched later) and have found it a fairly useful bit of kit.

Freeway allows you to use template, adapt template or start from scratch. Now I am tempted to say it is intuitive, but that's because I have forgotten the early attempts to understand the jargon, that isn't always explained, and to find out the 'exactly how' steps that I needed to follow. For example to insert a graphic into a cell in a table (took me a time to discover you could!) requires you to click to insert text, select insert graphic item, ctrl+click once on the graphic, insert graphic and click, then adjust with scale+pad. A button would be useful!

So although not exactly always intuitive, once mastered, or at least grasped, it's quite comfortable to use. Fortunately you can google most questions and find an answer on their good community pages or support site. There are also a host of useful 'actions' (extra bits of programs) that have been developed by a growing number of users.

I have upgraded to Freeway Pro (and there's a reduced price for education) but I'm not sure it was wholly necessary. There is more control, especially for the very experienced, which I ain't. I also wish I could find an easy way to have a blog feature on my website, and an extending and scrolling box so I can add lots of new text without it extending the page down. However, this might be revealing my ignorance of the program or programming!

Recommend it? Yes. If you want more much flexibility than iWeb and less trauma than Dreamweaver then have a go. I have not used Flux, but I can recommend Freeway. Oh, and I have still to make that school site!

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