Web development is a terrifying thing for many people. For the last couple of decades, it’s been the field of the experienced techies. Nowadays, having an online presence is something essential for almost everyone and a must especially for businesses. The ability to create a pretty good-looking, professional online platform often holds people back. In addition, not everyone has the budget to hire a professional developer to get the job done, and much more do not have the time to learn to program themselves, which is a very normal thing.
This current research is going to give you the full rundown of the website development available methods and approaches. From the hand coding aspect to the content management systems and the WYSIWYG editors.
The key issues starting a website
Thinking of starting a new website, a lot may think directly that this field is dedicated to only experienced web professional and programmers. Several questions may come up to our minds and many things to consider before doing so. For instance, we cannot start building a website without thinking about the budget, graphic to please the eyes, security, who are going to be our visitors, target countries and much more. Most importantly, and the main challenge actually start by, how and with what tool we are developing the website. That could be the most crucial part of the online adventure.
WYSIWYG: Features and limitations
I had the opportunity to work with couple website builders, which they are Weebly and SquareSpace, two of the best worldwide, most popular site builders for the last few years. For this research paper, I will be writing regarding the WYSIWYG editors based on the few projects that I worked on with these builders.
Either using an online or an installed client-side WYSIWYG editor, anyone will be going through almost the same features. These editors such as Dreamweaver, FrontPage, were the oldest to bring this approach to the market. It all started with some installable software that provided an interface allowing us to create some pages and link them to each other.
Microsoft FrontPage was one of the very few editors worldwide, according to Charles Ferguson (1996), a co-founder of Vermeer Technologies, the company that created FrontPage before it sold it to Microsoft, «Our lives would have been far simpler if we could have written just a shrink-wrapped PC application like Word to let people develop websites. “. It’s being said, Ferguson’s company, Vermeer, was among the first to tackle the issue of visual web development (HTML) design and management, and its product, FrontPage, was designed to tackle the issue by combining simple HTML design and, if needed, complex functionality. Vermeer had a completed first version of what would become FrontPage in just a handful of months and then its software was sold to Microsoft with over $130M. The amount that Microsoft spent on buying out Vermeer was in January of 1996 – and it was paid in stock.
Years went by we started seeing more and more WYSIWYG editors such as Dreamweaver, which already became as popular as FrontPage. These last few years, online website builders such as Squarespace, Weebly, and WIX have become the trends in the WYSIWYG field. For instance, nowadays, Weebly alone hosts over 40 million websites all across the globe and that number is growing every day. This can give us a little hint on these website builders. Thousands of people tend to choose them to start their online adventures for several reasons. Most of these reasons because simply they won’t be hiring a professional web designer with a cost of $3000 and more. The simplicity of launching a website for quick with no extra cost is also a major thing to consider for them not counting the included features.
WYSIWYG editors make website development a bit easier — especially for non-techie people. They allow performing several tasks faster than we could do them by programming. For instance, complex nested tables with different rows and columns are often a way easier to draw using a site editor than manually, by hand. Most of the website builders nowadays offer several useful features such as easy ready-to-use theme selection, visual interface to drag and drop elements, the ability to even integrate a blog and other interesting things. Most importantly, website builders are super beginner-friendly.
While they are beginner-friendly, WYSIWYG editors have various limitations. For example, if we build a website with one of the most know site builder, let’s say, SquareSpace, it won’t be possible for us to migrate it to any host provider. If we decide to switch hosts, will have to start everything from scratch. This fact applies to most online website builders. One of the other major disadvantages is that HTML generated by the WYSIWYG editors is usually incorrect and not validated which decreases the chance to rank higher in the search results.
CMS – Content Management Systems
When it comes to CMS, we can straight think of creating advanced websites. Depends on what we are looking to launch, we can find different optimized CMS for our needs. For instance, PrestaShop or OpenCart are highly recommended in starting online stores. Drupal, Joomla, and WordPress can be used for a variety of purposes from blogging, e-commerce to streaming websites. Several platforms worldwide are being powered by these content management systems. We may cite the White House official website, which is built with Drupal. This definitely gives us an idea of how these CMS are popular and widely trusted and used.
It is true that working with CMS is a lot more challenging to do than with simple WYSIWYG editors, yet it’s very recommended to do so. There are plenty, easy to follow tutorials online. I, personally, created several websites based on different CMS, most of them were powered by WordPress and the results were amazing. The good things are that these actual CMSs are open source applications, flexible to work with, which is means you can almost alter everything and you may have full control on where to host the website. Not like the case with the website builders. Huge communities are also behind these CMS, they allow us to get a lending help very easily when needed.
While those less knowledgeable, techie people find working with hand coding is more trouble than it is worth, hand coding it is still very highly valued in the corporate world.
For instance, when applying to be hired in a company for a web related position, the ability to code in let’s say PHP and some other web languages by hand is a must and very important. Awareness at least of the most known CMS such WordPress is highly preferred. It’s been said, anyone’s looking to work for an IT company, or in the Web development field in general, they, unfortunately, won’t get the job by just knowing Dreamweaver and how to setup Weebly. They absolutely have to be familiar with programming. If the question is why the answer is simple: knowing how to code will allow anyone to work smarter especially when it comes down to problem-solving. Even though it’s not required to perform programming when doing a project for a company. You might develop it with a website editor, that’s fine, but still knowing how to program to go beyond the basics is a must. That’s why it’s preferred at the corporate level.
Every WYSIWYG editors, either a client-side or a based web application is built with hand coding. Same thing applies to the different CMS’s we are working with today such as WordPress, Joomla, Drupal or any other one. All of them have been built with hand-coding using different programming languages. Yet, every period they are still maintained and is updated by the web specialists with hand coding, otherwise, they can be outdated, and useless to use as the technologies advance. This makes us realize, no matter how we can build websites with any third party application other than programming it, hand coding still a must for every professional web developer. That’s some of the many reasons hand-coding is still valued highly
In short, coding simply stays the best option for full customization and control over any given website.
In short, since the beginning, WYSIWYG editors tried to solve an important problem in the early-internet era – it’s simply the idea of making web development accessible to everyone regarding their technical skills or past experiences. These website editors gained a big popularity over the next few years. We have seen thousands of people without any technical knowledge developing their websites, which it wasn’t the case for the first Internet decade era, at least. CMS are here for creating pretty advanced websites while hand-coding still a major part of what programmers do on a regular basis to develop, update, and/or improve any CMS/website builders. Without hand-coding, we wouldn’t, for sure, have any of these editors or CMS. But, what we can add also, context is still everything. Depends on what we’re trying to achieve, it’s always preferred to grab a solution that best fits the situation doesn’t matter if it’s a CMS, a visual editor or with pure hand coding.