The Best Web Design Software + Free Resources
The thought of designing your own website may be a little daunting. There are plenty of decent website builders out there, some of which are free web builders. But for some, designing their own website is an exciting venture. Even if you’ve never designed a website before, don’t feel put off. There’s a whole bunch of software ready for you to sink your teeth into.
If you’ve never built a website before, it may be worth considering a free tool or free trial first. I’m going to cover a selection of the best web design software, as well as loads of free resources.
This guide is designed to show you that anyone can create a website. You can create web pages, content, images, videos, etc. It doesn’t matter if you know (or don’t know) how to use FTP, this collection of the best web design software will assist you.
Even if you’re a web designer but don’t know how to code, web design software can create pages using the likes of What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG).
1 | Adobe Dreamweaver CC (Best Overall Software Package)
Adobe Dreamweaver has been around for a long time, so holds a high reputation. You can code your website directly into Dreamweaver (you don’t even need to know much programming). Dreamweaver allows you to edit your website visually as well as using HTML/CSS editing (a lot of which you can obtain from free resources).
Although Adobe Dreamweaver doesn’t offer any website templates, it does allow you to preview your creation at any time. Dreamweaver ensures you can develop responsive web design, meaning you can optimise your website for multiple devices. This is essential to a good user experience and can affect your SEO if you don’t incorporate it.
If you’re lucky enough to be more of an advanced user, Dreamweaver supports the following technologies:
- Multi-monitor support (Windows only)
- Chromium Embedded Framework (CEF)
Adobe Dreamweaver CC does come with a free trial. All the elements within the free trial are functional and allows you to enjoy the full experience. If you want to purchase a full copy of Adobe Dreamweaver CC, an annual plan (paid monthly) will cost £19.97 per month. If you’re not ready to commit to a full year, you’ll be looking at a hefty £30.34 per month.
- Responsive design
- Easy to use
- HTML5 support
- Quite expensive
2 | Google Web Designer
Google Web Designer offers users a simple GUI with point and click tools. It offers basic shapes, text, 3D animations and more. Although it ‘s great for creating interactive content, it’s main purpose is to build adverts.
Google’s software has a large library of images, videos, and other useful advertising features. The interface is easy to use with accessible panels allowing you to customise options like colours and fonts. The service is entirely free, so it’s worth playing around with!
That said, Google Web Designer is currently in beta testing, so not all features are operational. You can’t open HTML files that have been created outside of the software which is somewhat frustration. However, you can preview your work at any time using the preview option. It’s also really simple to publish content from a Windows, Mac, or Linux machine.
- Easy to use interface (WYSIWYG)
- Includes support for Google Maps & YouTube
- Great for building adverts
- Still in Beta
3 | BlueFish
BlueFish’s lightweight installer is just over 50MB in size. This probably makes it the smallest web design software available to download. Because of this, it’s really easy to setup and get running in a matter of minutes. BlueFish is by no means the prettiest web design software as it is just text.
My thoughts are that BlueFish is designed for beginners, using obvious toolbars and customisable menus to navigate with. Although it’s main focus is HTML, BlueFish also support a wide range of languages including:
Perhaps due to it’s size, BlueFish’s software can handle a lot of queries. You can have multiple projects open, perform searches, and open documents without any trouble. My only real grumble with BlueFish is that they don’t support direct uploading via FTP. It’s not a huge deal but it’s something I’d expect to see of web design software in 2019.
- Lightweight web design software
- Free to use
- Advanced code can be used
- Lacks a visual interface
4 | Webflow
Webflow is a perfect web design software solution for those with no coding experience. It’s cloud-based service offers a drag and drop interface where you can seamlessly use elements, text, and images. Templates are available for those who want to use them, making it a great choice for beginners to the industry.
What’s unique about Webflow is that even when you use their WYSIWYG editor, the code produced is actually really good. Often these kind of editors produce messy code that can actually slow down your website. The ‘no coding experience’ option is ideal for new users, but gives the flexibility to make changes through the HTML and CSS code if you want to.
You an try Webflow for free before committing to a subscription. You can actually continue using Webflow for free, forever. But if you want to make your site live, you’ll need to pay for a plan. Site plans start from around $12 per month (if paid annually). The cost goes up if you want to include additional features or web hosting.
- Easy to use
- Drag and drop interface
- Perfect for beginners
- Quite expensive
5 | WordPress
You may be surprised to see WordPress on this list. Although it’s not web design software in the way you may know it, it is a content management system (CMS). For those of you who have never used WordPress before, you can setup a new website in literally a few minutes. It’s super easy to install, and most web hosting providers include WordPress for free.
You don’t need to know anything about coding to use WordPress efficiently. In fact, there are millions of websites powered by WordPress that you wouldn’t even imagine. Big brand names, musicians, you name it! Professional looking websites with creative design can be published in no time at all.
WordPress offers a wealth of plugins (add-ons) for your website, which makes customising it actually pretty fun! Plugins can be installed with the click of a button, and uninstalled in the same way.
- Extremely popular with lots of support
- Loads of plugins
- Professional designs for free
- Can take a while to get used to
6 | Wix
- Drag and drop tools
- Very easy to use
- Professional templates come mobile ready
- Pricing can get expensive
7 | Adobe Photoshop
Adobe Photoshop is an incredibly popular web design tool that’s been around for years. I’d consider it a premium tool because it’s purpose is solely focused around design (and it is pretty expensive). Photoshop offers a wealth of tools to create web design templates, edit them, and even create images for your website.
Photoshop’s tools go into greater detail than other web design software I’ve seen. For example, there’s no limit on colour options, you can import downloaded fonts, and edit your design pixel by pixel if you really wanted.
Adobe Photoshop offers a blank canvas to start your web design journey. You can create whatever you want, or use the mass amount of resources available to you (check out the resources at the bottom of this post). Whatever you can think of doing, Adobe Photoshop probably allows you to do it.
You can create your website layer by layer, undo or redo steps you’ve taken, move elements around (or even hide them). Not only does Photoshop allow you to design your website, it gives you the tools to design elements and objects for your website. There’s plenty of tutorials and guides available to help you through your journey, though it does take a fair amount of time to get the hang of.
- Advanced web design tool
- Insane amount of features and tools
- Create your website from a blank canvas
- Requires a lot of time to learn
8 | Sketch
Sketch is specifically for Mac devices. This web design software offers professional tools in order to create web designs and web templates. Sketch uses vector images which produce high resolution imagery. The Sketch interface is very simple, but this provides an intuitive user experience to start your web design products.
Once you’ve created your design (or even during the process), you can use Sketch’s mirroring feature. The mirroring feature allows you to test your template across multiple devices. Ensuring that your website looks great on mobile devices and tablets is really important; not only for user experience but also for SEO.
You can try Sketch for free via their website, this way you can see whether you like the software before committing to purchasing it. If you do decide to buy Sketch, a licence will cost you $99 for the year. Although that might seem like a lot, it’s actually very reasonable considering other software like Photoshop which is a lot more costly.
Sketch has plenty of plugins and extensions to keep you going. These are developed by third party companies but are available to download on Sketch’s website. They have a large community to engage with should you need advice, as well as tutorials and support.
- Affordable pricing compared to other software
- Intuitive toolbar and design elements
- Test your site on multiple devices
- Can be a bit difficult to get the hang of
9 | Figma
Figma is a great choice for businesses or those that require multiple users to work on one project. It’s offers a multi-user design experience allowing you to collaborate with your team. This comes in handy when you’re working with your own design team as well as showing mock-ups with customers etc.
This software has a pool of fonts and colours available when editing. The toolbar allows you to create icons, logos, and ultimately an entire website template.
You can try Figma for free, which will enable up to two editors on a project. Their ‘professional’ plan offers unlimited editors and comes in at $12 per month (per editor), and finally their ‘organisation’ plan which is $45 per month (per editor). Their pricing is quite costly, especially when you consider this is per editor, so if you have a large organisation, you’re going to have to dig deep in your pockets.
Figma gives developers the tools to inspect, copy, and export assets. You can also copy CSS from the design file itself. You can always see who’s editing what in Figma, allowing you to easily keep track of who’s working on what. Content writers can edit directly in Figma too, so no one will feel left out.
- Fairly easy to use
- Collaborative software
- Price is per editor and can be expensive
10 | Canva
Canva is a free design tool which can be used to create a professionally designed web template. What’s great about Canva is that it’s not limited to web design alone. You can create other designs to compliment your web templates like logos, advertising, and pretty much any imagery you can imagine.
Canva offers lots of templates to make life easier. If you don’t have any web design experience, you can use Canva’s templates to start your journey. This is always useful if you’re just starting out and want to experiment before investing too much time or money into paid design software.
Canva’s features tend to represent what software like Photoshop offers, but in a simpler way. For example, you can create speech bubbles on images, crop images, edit transparency and enhance your photos.
I find Canva useful if you’re lacking inspiration. Sometimes it’s hard to come up with a design unless you get ideas from other places. Canva has a large library of icons that you can use in any of your designs (free and paid).
- Easy to use
- Great for creating images
- Not as professional as other design software
Free Web Design Resources
Fribble: Lots of free PSD files and mock-ups (icons, UI kits, mobile resources)
DaFont: Thousands of free fonts that you can install to Windows and Mac
Textures: Loads of textures and website backgrounds
UI Cloud: Nearly 50,000 UI kits to choose from
Creative Market: 5 free downloads per week (fonts, templates, and patterns)
CoffeeCup Software: Free apps, HTML editor, web form builder and shopping carts
InVision app: Prototyping and collaboration tools
Pixlr: Edit images straight from your browser
Canva: Graphic design software with drag and drop functionality
Easel.ly: Infographic templates for free
Pixiden: Loads of free icons
Font Awesome: Allows you to use popular FA icons[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]