A quiet democratic revolution has taken place in Web-site design software. You no longer need a programming degree or daredevil nerve to juggle with arcane HTML code. Web design has moved out of the domain of those who spend long nights gulping Jolt Cola as they string together snippets of HTML code. Scores of Web-page design programs are available for the average person, and chances are you'll never have to see a lick of raw HTML code. These WYSIWYG apps resemble word processing or desktop publishing programs with wizards to guide you along the way.
Power users who once sniffed at these codeless design apps are now enjoying HTML-generating Web-design programs that deliver the bells and whistles that are requisite elements of sophisticated Web sites. And if you'd like to add slick multimedia and interactive Java applets, there's also a range of Java programming tools to meet every user's needs.
Corel WordPerfect Suite 8 (standard version, $395; upgrade, $179; Corel Corp., 800-772-6735, 613-728-3733) and Microsoft Word 7.0 ($339; Microsoft Corp., 800-426-9400, 206-882-8080). If you have the latest version of either Corel WordPerfect or Microsoft Word, you already have an HTML design program. Although these programs lack the sophistication of dedicated HTML design applications, they do provide the basics to create quick, easy Web pages. Word and WordPerfect also make it possible to convert your legacy word processing documents to HTML without retyping the material.
QuickSite (1.0, $79.95; Developer's Edition, $295.95; 2.5, $129.95; DeltaPoint, 800-446-6955, 408-648-4000) and Microsoft Publisher 97 ($79.95; Microsoft Corp., 800-426-9400, 206-882-8080). If you're a Web-design beginner who wants more than a word processor's simple HTML conversion, DeltaPoint QuickSite or Microsoft Publisher 97 can get you up and running quickly-provided you take the advice of their helpful Web-site design wizards. QuickSite steps you through all the stages of Web-site creation, from naming your Web page and choosing a background to the final production of a complete Web site with menu, text and form pages.
In addition to being an excellent entry-level desktop publishing program, Publisher also offers outstanding easy-to-use Web-site design tools. Its Web-design wizards create snazzy sites in various design styles, including modern, jazzy and classic. Publisher lets you drop elements anywhere on the page, making more sophisticated layouts a snap to produce.
Peachtree Business Internet Suite ($49.95; Peachtree Software, 800-428-9987, 770-724-4000) and Internet Creator ($149; Forman Interactive Corp., 800-299-9638, 718-522-2260). Peachtree and Forman Interactive mean business. The two companies have developed excellent applications that make setting up a Web site for commerce far less expensive and far easier than many alternatives. They offer fully automated business Web-site creation, with wizards to lead you through the Web-site design process. These products don't offer the full array of design tools, but if you want a quick and functional business site with sophisticated shopping features, you can't go wrong with either program.
NetObjects Fusion 2 ($695; NetObjects, 888-449-6400, 415-482-3200) and Microsoft FrontPage 97 with Bonus Pack ($149; Microsoft Corp., 800-426-9400, 206-882-8080). If you like power but don't want to sacrifice ease of use, these two programs are for you. Both are excellent, but NetObjects Fusion 2 stands out for designers. It offers sophisticated design tools, and a flexible, functional interface that closely resembles a graphic-design or desktop-publishing program. Fusion's powerful drag-and-drop layout capabilities, excellent visual site structure editor and high-end Web-page design templates make it the best choice for designers.
You can also create complex Web sites with Microsoft FrontPage 97. The program's wizards will help you create common Web documents such as feedback forms and FAQ files. Although less flexible than Fusion, FrontPage's solid design and layout tools let you create your own designs.
Visual Café 1.0 ($199; Symantec Corp., 800-441-7234, 541-334-6054) and Java WorkShop 2.0 ($99; Sun Microsystems, 800-SUN-SOFT, 512-434-1551). If you have the confidence to create your own Java applets, applications like Symantec's Visual Cafe 1.0 and Sun's Java WorkShop 2.0 offer the cutting edge in Java development. With both of these, you work in a GUI environment, using the latest in visual, object-oriented tools.
Jamba ($295; Aimtech, 800-806-2289, 603-883-0220). Even if you can't write a line of code, you can still jazz up your site with a little Java. Use Jamba to create interactive multimedia Java objects like animations, streaming audio, and buttons that play music or display a graphic. Jamba's point-and-click operations provide relatively pain-free Java creation.