For the best website design you need either the best website tools or the best website designer.
This page is about website design tools - please see our section on outsourcing for finding a website designer.
If you are a complete beginner, I would recommend using online software tools to create your first website.
No matter what stage you are at, the way a page appears is a tiny part of your overall online business - designing keywords and other traffic building features into your website is more important. Many website owners miss this point - they are so caught up in designing a great looking website they forget that the purpose of the website is to be found by people. No people to your site = no sales = failure. Building a website does not mean you will automatically have lots of visitors no matter how good it looks.
The best website design software falls into the WYSIWYG category - normally pronounced wizzi-wig.
As you design your web page, the software converts it to html. Html is the language used by web browsers. When you save a page, it is given the .html suffix.
You can open any html page in your WYSIWYG software regardless of how it was created.
WYSIWYG allows you to set up standard elements on a web page, such as the nav bar, fonts or headers. Normally this would happen with a template. You then create the pages.
You create the page through text boxes and graphics which you can click and drag around the screen making it very easy to design fantastic looking pages. When you are working on an element, such as text, you will see an 'options' box to allow you to set features. For example, if you want some text to link to another page, you click the URL option and choose the link from a drop down menu.
The main one I have used to develop websites is Dreamweaver, manufactured by Adobe (formerly it was developed by Macromedia, which was bought by Adobe). Dreamweaver costs £200 - £300, although you can shop around and obtain student discounts.
To get started, try this tutorial to help you through the steps from start to finish. To access the tutorial, click on "getting Started" and scroll down until you find the tutorial.
Alternatively, search Google for more help.
This is Microsoft's version and can sometimes come with a bundle of other software.
To get started, visit their tutorials at the above link or try this tutorial
Dreamweaver is considered by some to be the best of the bunch. There are free alternatives available but general opinion is that they do not offer all that Dreamweaver does. If starting out, you can still have the best website design for free using one of these packages but consider investing in Dreamweaver later.
One of the most popular ones is Kompozer. Free getting started tutorials are available at www.thesitewizard.com (To access the tutorial, click on "getting Started" and scroll down until you find the tutorial.) and www.ilovefreesoftware.com
This is followed by NVU. Tutorials are at www.thesitewizard.com (To access the tutorial, click on "getting Started" and scroll down until you find the tutorial), www.designyourownweb.com and www.webbriefcase.net.
When you have created your website files, you need to copy them to your website hosting site. This is called uploading. To do this, you need software called File Transfer Protocol - ftp. Some hosting websites and some software packages come with this. Please see the section on ftp for more information.