Microsoft website builder was one of the renowned niche leaders people applied to design different types of websites. As time went by, niche competition has become much stronger, giving way to more advanced and functional website builders – those that currently enjoy worldwide popularity.
When it comes to modern website development, however, many users keep working with Microsoft-powered website builders to create versatile projects to come up to their web design requirements and needs. So, what makes these products so popular? Why do they remain in demand with users and are there any better alternatives to them? Let’s try to find that out now.
Microsoft Website Builder in 2018
As of today, Microsoft doesn’t have its own web building service to create simple-to-complex websites. If you have ever worked with the products of the system before or heard so much about it to get the desire to give it a try, you can use the solutions available in the platform’s app market.
To start building a website with a Microsoft-based website builder, you should initially get a Microsoft account. If you don’t have the one, you can either sign up for it or use your Skype account. This will grant access to all the applications available in the Microsoft brand store.
There are different web building tools you can use for universal and specialized purposes, but the most popular of them is Wix. This website builder is definitely worth the attention of users, who intend to launch decent websites even without any specific web building skills and niche knowledge. Let’s find out know what the system has to offer contemporary users and what makes it stand out from the crowd.
Wix – The Best Choice for Microsoft Users
Wix is the world-renowned website builder, which has gained popularity due to the abundance of design customization tools, extensive feature set, convenient drag-and-drop editor, rich collection of high quality responsive website templates, good website promotion and marketing options, affordable pricing policy.
The website builder makes it possible to create different types of websites, ranging from small personal portfolios and up to online stores that reflect your brand identity in the most favorable light. The customer base of the service currently constitutes over 130 millions of users, who reside in 190 countries. This is the best proof of the company’s recognition, which is definitely worth the attention.
Ease of Use. Wix ensures stunningly simple and convenient web building experience to everyone, who has an intention to design quality and functional websites. Whether you are a newbie making your first steps in the web building niche or a professional web developer involved in the web design customer-oriented business, using Wix won’t be a problem for you.
The website builder comes with an intuitive WYSIWYG interface and the drag-and-drop editor. Advanced Wix ADI tool will automatically design a website for your based on the content you will submit.
Wix works under the SaaS model, which simplifies the process of website creation for users, who create websites on their mobile and desktop devices, having signed up for the platform. It is a user, who has full control over the web building process and can see the result to make the changes on time.
Feature Set. When it comes to the feature set, Wix will exceed your expectations. The website builder has much to offer each and every user, irrespective of the web design experience he/she has got. It comes with powerful eCommerce and blogging engines, which let you create small-to-mid online stores or blogs with no hassle at all.
This is where you will be able to sell and advertise products, update their assortment, offer discounts, special features, add, schedule and update blog posts and perform other actions to run a successful blog or a web store.
Wix Code is another highlight of the website builder, which will let you create web applications in a simple and effective way. You don’t have to possess coding skills to use the tool – Wix Code is intuitive and understandable to everyone. This web app builder makes it possible to create content and add it to the required web page.
Another highlight of the website builder is the App Market with lots of extensions, apps and add-ons to give your website advanced performance. The apps are developed by third-party designers and can be free and paid based on their application sphere and characteristics.
Templates and Design. Wix offers lots of high quality templates and designs, which make it possible to create different types of websites, such as business sites, blogs, forums, online stores, portfolios, landing pages and what not.
All in all, Wix has a collection that encompasses over 550+ high quality themes to fit various niches. The developers of the service regularly update the template gallery with fresh and up-to-date themes. For those users, who cannot find a suitable template, there is an opportunity to select and customize a blank theme to design a website from scratch.
Cost. You can use Wix at no cost at all for as long as you need. The system has a free never-expiring plan that allows testing the features it offers and may be a good solution for all types of websites. If you still need a website with a personal domain, you are welcome to choose one of Wix premium plans, the cost of which starts from $4.5/mo.
Mind that Wix offers money back guarantee to users, who are not satisfied with some of its features. You can get your money refund during 2 weeks after your payment. The pricing policy of the system is quite clear and affordable.
WebMatrix 3 is a free, lightweight, cloud-connected website builder that operates as a web development application for Windows. The builder enables developers to create sites using ready, built-in templates or popular open-source applications. It’s vital to note that the system mainly targets professionals, who create websites for their clients (as opposed to website builders that target the end user).
The purpose of Webmatrix 3 is to provide web developers with coding, customization and publishing capabilities all in one place. The platform was released in 2011, but Microsoft has stopped supporting WebMatrix already. However, it makes sense to get a quick overview of the product to see how Microsoft has changed their approach to the web building process.
Ease of Use. WebMatrix has a very user-friendly interface, smart guides and many other cool things as for a web development app. But of course, it’s not as simple and intuitive as DIY, code-free online website builders. It works great for a particular group of customers only. It’s much like a standard site builder, but it’s mainly geared towards the needs and skills of pros.
The app provides a sophisticated development environment for your projects that are developed in different programming languages, so that you don’t have to get separate programs. While most DIY site builders are in-browser softwares that can be reached from any device through the sign-up form, Webmatrix is a downloadable application that requires preliminary installation.
WebMatrix offers support for PHP frameworks including WordPress and Drupal, among others. By choosing the WordPress framework, for instance, WebMatrix will install and configure a full-fledged WordPress website running locally. Once configured, you can put your site together on your computer and then upload it to a compatible host using Microsoft’s Web Deploy technology. You can use this possibility to create WordPress sites for developing plugins and themes, or testing new code before deploying to your live website.
Installing, customizing and publishing web apps is easy with WebMatrix. It makes it possible to create websites optimized for mobile viewing and provides several integrated features that make the task more convenient for web designers. The product comes with mobile-friendly templates, device emulators, code completion for jQuery mobile and more etc. It’s also possible to remotely edit websites with it.
Websites built with WebMatrix aren’t tied to any particular hosting provider – you’re free to publish them wherever you want. For better performance, WebMatrix offers a list of their partners where you can sign up for a free hosting account. You can also choose from many other compelling hosting solutions at Microsoft Hosting Gallery.
Templates and Design. WebMatrix has you covered with multiple integrated templates that serve as a nice basis for your website development. Starter templates are offered in several languages and work great for standard personal websites. Mind, however, that after the product discontinuation, some templates may not be compatible with your browser version.
Another way to get a WebMatrix template is to design it on your own. To create a new theme, coders can choose one of the existing samples in the corresponding WebMatrix template folder and edit it with regard to their needs. This, however, requires deep understanding of the subject.
FrontPage used to be one of those tools that laid the foundation for contemporary website design. It was really hard to find a website that was not powered by the system at the beginning of the Internet epoch. FrontPage is a WYSIWYG website builder and HTML editor that has been included into the Microsoft Office package since 1997. The product, however, was discontinued in 2003, but it still enjoys popularity with proficient web designers, who wish to get the most out of their programming skills.
After the discontinuation of the product, it was replaced by SharePoint Designer and Microsoft Expression Web, but these two apps are no longer supported since 2006 as well. As of today, users can install and work with web-based version of SharePoint Designer.
Ease of Use. SharePoint cannot be called an easy web building app as it requires deep web design proficiency. This, however, does not belittle the merits of the WYSIWYG editor of the system, which aims at helping users overcome the intricacies of the HTML coding process with maximum efficacy.
To use FrontPage effectively, there is the need to install extra plugins, which were initially known as IIS Extensions and were later enriched with a set of specialized FrontPage Server Extensions. Whatever set of extensions you need, you have to install them to get the most out of their functionality.
Feature Set. FrontPage is feature-laden, which unveils multiple benefits for proficient web designers. The latest version of the app offers a Split View option, which makes it possible to code a project in the Code View mode to further preview the result in the Design View mode without the need to switch between them. The app also has access to interactive buttons, which make it possible to launch web graphics for navigation benefits, eliminating the need to use more complicated image-editing tools.
What’s more, the software has the accessibility checker that grants an opportunity to find out, whether your website code complies with the current standards and can be used by people with limited abilities.
FrontPage includes an HTML optimizer, which makes code optimization much quicker and more legible as compared to previous app versions. One of the highlights of the product is its Intellisense (autocompletion) feature, which helps users simplify the code editing process, when working in the Code View mode. The feature suggests the most suitable code properties and tags generated while a user is writing it. This eventually helps save time and effort. Finally, FrontPage comes with Code Snippets, which makes it possible for users to create and store code pieces they create and might need in future.
Templates and Design. FrontPage offers integrated templates you can choose and customize as you wish. There is also an opportunity to browse the web and select FrontPage themes, which were specially created by third-party developers to provide unique and creative website design. These templates are not always responsive, so, if you need the one that will make your website accessible online, make sure to check that in advance. What’s interesting, FrontPage offers Dynamic Web Templates, which let users create the only theme they will use in multiple website pages or the entire website.
Microsoft Expression Web 4
Microsoft Expression Web 4 is a full-featured professional web building tool you can use to design and publish quality, compelling and functional websites, which conform to generally accepted web design standards. The launch of Expression Web 4 dates back to 2010, while Microsoft announced its complete discontinuation in 2012.
The system was initially paid, but now it is available for free download. However, those users, who have purchased Expression Web before, can still avail technical support for their websites. The same service is no longer available for those, who download the system for free.
Ease of Use. Microsoft Expression Web 4 is a nice choice for professional web design pros, who have an idea to create and manage a project for professional or business use. The product does not work well for newbies, who have no idea of what the process of website creation involves.
Feature Set. The app comes with Microsoft Silverlight, Deep Zoom Composer images, ASP.NET, PHP, AJAX, and Silverlight video support. It is also possible to import Adobe Photoshop files here to publish complex websites with numerous file transfer streams and secure FTP in a quick and easy way.
The product has several preview modes to get the most out of the web development process. The most widespread of them are the Snapshot Preview to see the way your website will look in a browser and the SuperPreview mode to make web page comparisons in several browsers at a time.
Microsoft Expression Web 4 has a SEO Checker feature that lets you make the analysis of your website promotion efficacy, making use of the existing standards. This will help boost your website search engine ranking, adjust SEO options, create SEO reports etc. This version of the app has a re-designed dialog box, with special characters and symbols that can be inserted into a web page as HTML character units. It also comes with jQuery IntelliSense support, snippets management panel, comment/uncomment Code View functionality, Interactive Snapshot Panel as well as multiple toolbar and workspace customization options.
Templates and Design. Microsoft Expression Web 4 templates are available in the special folder of the system after its installation. Those users, who wish to get the most out of their web design experience, can browse the web to download templates that were designed by the third-party users. The themes fit various niches and can be customized via code editing as you need.
There are various options to build a quality website and some of them are provided by Microsoft. The choice of the most suitable system depends upon the expertise rate you have and the complexity of a project you plan to launch.
If you are a web design expert, who knows what result exactly you need and what you can do to reach it, then using WebMatrix 3 or Microsoft Expression Web 4 might be a reasonable solution. These products are no longer supported by Microsoft, but many users still give preference to them, when it comes to the development of complicated projects.
If your web design skills, however, leave much to be desired or you just don’t wish to deal with complex coding nuances, then Wix will work best for your project. This website builder is currently the best in the niche, providing access to multiple features, tools and web design options.
Wix powers millions of websites around the world, being the top notch destination for users with diverse web design background. By using the system, you can launch different types of projects almost in no time. This is what makes the platform a decent contemporary web building solution.