Best free web design software: 10 programs to get the job done

Build the website you need with these free web design programs

Best free web design software

Simple WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) web design programs make creating basic sites as easy as using a word processor.

The next step up combines a WYSIWYG approach with more detailed low-level control of what you're doing, very useful when you're looking to create a more impressive site (although you may have to spend some time learning the basics).

There are plenty of high level applications aimed at the more experienced users, who like to be able to focus on the HTML, CSS or scripting code.

And of course you may also need tools to create your graphics, analyze the finished site and diagnose any problems.

Whatever you're looking for, though, we've found a free tool which can help - just keep reading to discover our pick of the best free software for web design.

1. CoffeeCup Free HTML Editor

Download CoffeeCup Free HTML Editor

CoffeeCup Free HTML Editor is the free version of a commercial product, and so missing a few tools (CSS menu design, FTP upload and so on).

If you're a beginner, though, this probably won't matter too much. You can use the Open From Web option to open an existing web page, for instance, and tweak this to add your own content.

CoffeeCup

There are plenty of powerful editing tools, a local Help file to walk you through the more complicated parts, and you can also upload your page to CoffeeCup's S-Drive platform, where it will host it for free.

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2. Notepad++

Download Notepad

Notepad++ is an amazingly powerful source code editor with a vast number of features. Syntax highlighting makes it immediately easier to read and understand your code, for instance.

Code folding allows you to collapse some areas while you focus on others. Auto-completion helps you enter code more quickly (and accurately).

NotepadPlusPlus

There's also a powerful search tool, easy document navigation, bookmarking, macro support, and more, all of which is presented in a highly configurable, easy-to-use interface. Go grab a copy immediately.

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3. PageBreeze

Download PageBreeze

Experienced web designers won't be impressed by the PageBreeze - it's based on old technology, and distinctly short of features - but if you're just looking to create something very simple then it's a different story.

PageBreeze

This WYSIWYG editor comes with simple templates to help you get started (they're fairly ugly, but you can add your own later).

You can add links, images, tables and forms in a click or two. It's easy to see and edit all your site pages, and when you're done a built-in FTP client puts your work online. So while the end results may be basic, the program's simplicity makes it worth a look for the novice.

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4. Firebug

Download Firebug

You've designed your website, but it doesn't quite look or work as you'd expect - and that's where Firebug comes in. This powerful Firefox extension helps you to view HTML and CSS code; adjust your styles and see the results immediately; understand your page layouts; debug and log JavaScript; manage cookies, analyze page load times, examine error messages and more.

Firebug

Clearly there's a lot of power here, but Firebug isn't just for web experts. At first you might only use it for a few basic things, just viewing code perhaps. It'll still be very useful, though, and you can begin to explore other functions at your own pace.

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5. Bluefish Editor

Download Bluefish Editor

Bluefish is a programmer's editor which also includes plenty of web-related tools and options.

This starts with the usual editing tricks: syntax highlighting (ASP.NET, CSS, HTML, JavaScript, PHP and more are supported), code folding, powerful find and search and replace tools, autocompletion, and more.

Bluefish

The program also supports document templates; has wizards to add CSS, forms, tables, forms, audio and video objects; quick tag editing and easy previewing of the current document, amongst many other goodies.