So far, the only application that fit the “easy and free” category is Apple’s iWeb – which is available exclusively only for Mac users. But recently I found another free website builder for Windows users called WebPlus Starter Edition. Even though I think this one is not as user-friendly as iWeb, it’s free and powerful – a perfect tool for any newbie who wants to try their hand at web design.
Before you can start using the software, you have to register yourself on the company’s website. Upon registering you will be brought to the download page where you have to confirm your email address and then download the software.
You will also get the serial number to register the product. You can enter the number when you install the software.
The start page will show up the first time you start the application. The page gives you access to the “Create“, “Open“, And “Learn” menus. Under the “Create” menu, you can start your project using the blank canvas (“Start New Site“) or use the ready made templates (“Use Design Template“), while the “Learn” menu will give you access to videos and tutorials.
You can also choose different Workspaces according to your expertise. Each profile will give you slightly different settings. Beginners should not worry about these workspaces, but you should start with the “Use Design Templates” instead.
Modifying The Templates
While you can use WebPlus to build your site from scratch, the overall interface feels a little bit too complicated for beginners to use. It’s advisable to start with the available templates and familiarize yourself with the environment. Unfortunately, WebPlus Starter Edition doesn’t give too many choices in templates – there are only 4. To get more templates, you are required to upgrade to the paid full version.
However, each theme comes with several color schemes, so you can play a little bit with the preferred template-colors combination. You can also choose which pages from the templates that you want to include in your website.
Click “Open” to start working with your site, and see how the overall interface will look.
At the top left side you can find the site management pane with the list of all pages within your site. You can also see the editing tools along the very left of the window.
Below the site management pane is the “Transform” pane where you can modify Color, Line, Position (Transform), Alignment, and Character of certain element of your page. There’s also the “Swatches/Transparency” pane below it.
You can hide/show these panes according to your preferences.
Editing one element on the page is as easy as clicking and modifying it. As you select an element, some of the tools will become available according to what element you choose.
To modify the basic settings of the page, right click on the page that you want to modify on the site management pane and choose “Page Properties” from the pop up menu.
There are many settings you can adjust on the “Page Properties” window, including: Navigation, Appearance, Page Security, Effects, etc. Just choose one of the tabs to choose a specific setting.
The right-click pop-up menu also gives you access to many other menus such as “Estimate Download Time”
And “Preview in Window“.
If you ever need to learn more about something in WebPlus, you can access the “How To” tab next to the “Site” tab in the site management pane.
Finally, the overall construction of your site can be managed from the “Site Manager” window. You can access this window from the “Tools” menu or from the second toolbar under the menu.
As building websites is a skill that you must master by doing and experimenting, I suggest you explore this great free website builder on your own and build your own site.
Publish Your Site
After you finish the building part, the publishing part comes. WebPlus allows you to easily publish your site to your hard drive or to the web. The second option requires you to have a web hosting account where you can store your site to. The “Publish Site” menu is available under the “File” menu.
If you choose to publish the site to the Web, you will have to complete some information from the “Publish To Web” window. Here you can find options to do “Unattended upload“, use “Site Checker“, choose which page(s) to publish under the “Page Range” and to “Back-up the document to the remote server“.
But the most important information that you need to fill in are the details about your FTP account. You should contact your web hosting provider for more information about this.
Even though I have compared WebPlus Starter Edition with iWeb, in terms of price and the use of templates, I found WebPlus’ interface to be more similar to Dreamweaver. So I think most users will find certain factors of WebPlus to be more powerful – but also more difficult to use – than iWeb.
Have you tried WebPlus? What do you think about it? Please share your opinions using the comments below.