WYSIWYG editors are “What you see is what you get” programs that allow designers to see their design as they build it, rather than relying strictly on code they type by hand. As you place elements on the screen or change colors, the WYSIWYG builds the code for you. There are several different WYSIWYG editors, some free and others that require a purchase. These programs do a great deal of good, but as with anything, there are cons regarding their use too. With that, let us take a look at some of the pros and cons of using a WYSIWYG program to design and build your website.
- They are easy to use, so even people who have no knowledge of HTML can use them to create their websites.
- Gives you more creative control as you get to focus more on what the design looks like instead of what the HTML code looks like.
- You will save time because a lot of things that take long time to hand code in HTML are quickly and easily done with a few clicks of a mouse.
- Most WYSIWYG include HTML code that is hard to read that usually doesn’t comply with Web coding standards set forth by the World Wide Web Consortium, also known as the W3C.
- Usually the codes are very specific to the product you are using to generate them, which may create issues with their viewing, or editing.
- It will be harder to market yourself to employers who want you to know HTML, not a specific WYSIWIG editor. You won’t be able do well if you are used to one particular program and are forced to go to using organic HTML with notepad.
- You will not be able to control the elements on the page as precisely as you can with straight HTML coding. While you will likely still be able to edit all of your alt tags, you will probably have to go through leaps and bounds to get to them.
- You will have to use your mouse a lot, which could cause what is known as a Repetitive Stress Injury and cause pain in your wrists or shoulders.
So, what’s the answer?
It generally comes down to personal preference. If you know HTML, you can use the WYSIWYG editors in conjunction with a notepad editor so that you can take the control you general lose with the WYSIWYG. If not, you are likely just doing web design as a hobby and should not really worry about it.
If you’re looking for a good WYSIWYG program, you may want to try Adobe’s Dreamweaver. Though it will run you about $399 for the upcoming CS4 release, it is most definitely an excellent program for web designers as it integrates well with all the other Adobe programs web designers use such as Flash, Photoshop, Illustrator and Director. With plenty of help files and a very user friendly interface, you’ll be able to start using Dreamweaver right away.
Dreamweaver is an expensive program for many of us, so here are some open source HTML editors which are completely free to use and easy to install. These are all linked to the locations where you will be able to download them so you can learn more before you decide to start using them.
- Amaya Web Browsing and Authoring: Not only can you create web pages, you can browse through them too. There is support for multiple file types which you can have open at the same time.
- Trellian WebPAGE: Using a colored HTML editor and support for many Photoshop Plugins, you’ll have the flexibility and precision you need when you use this program.
- Bluefish: Offers focus and support for many coding languages and designing interactive web sites.
If you’re looking for a good text editor, then check out Finding the Right Editor for You by Thord Daniel Hedengren, as he will guide you through everything you need to know about choosing the text editor that will best fit your needs.
What do you use when you design your websites? How do you feel about WYSIWIG editors? Share your thoughts below.