An acquaintance of mine recently asked me if I knew of any web design software or services which might be appropriate for a teenager who wants to publish a website. They had tried iWeb from Apple and weren’t too thrilled with its capabilities.

Here’s what I had to say:

“The professional’s choice for web publishing is Adobe. They have Dreamweaver, Flash, Photoshop - the entire gamut. Liberal arts colleges and technical universities both have classes and programs focusing on what Adobe products can do. Unfortunately their products are prohibitively expensive.

The hobbyists choice is to work with open source and free online services. Google has some reliable, though not all that exciting, tools like “Google Sites” - sort of like iWeb, but online. I like blogger.com (which is served by Google), but that’s more for blogging as opposed to creating a static website. I like it because its easy to jazz up a site and then customize it to your own preferences. It also makes it easy to upload pictures for the site.

For creating and editing pictures, I use the “Gimp” (Graphical Image Manipulation Program). Its an open source program which runs on several different platforms, including Mac OS X.

http://www.gimp.org/macintosh/

Its not as user-friendly as Adobe Photoshop, but it can perform most of the same functions and the acquisition fee is unbeatable: $0.

Blogger also integrates with Picasa, another Google tool which is used for storing and sharing digital pictures online. They offer a free download of a desktop based photo management program which makes organizing and uploading pictures very easy.

The hands down best solution for animation on the web is Adobe Flash. There are some no-fee open source packages available which can create Flash movies, but they are prohibitively technical. A much simpler though limited animation format is the animated GIF (graphical interchange format). Here’s an example:

Its been around for ages and a few web published still use it. I *think* that the Gimp can handle this type of animation.

Hope that helps!! Let me know if you want any more specifics.