There has been a complete shift in the way websites and web apps are created these days and the new age web design tools are playing a key role in this. The need is to create designs that are interactive, engaging and serve devices of all sizes with seamless user experience.
Creating responsive websites is now the prerequisite for web design, and modern web design tools create responsive websites out of the box without the designers even have to think about it.
These tools give a clear answer to the question of the past decade, which is, “Whether web designers should learn coding to be independent?” Not Really, Anymore!!
Individual web designers no longer have to learn coding or depend on web developers since modern website builders generate W3C standards compliant code with clean and semantic markup. Designers just have to use drag and drop features to build responsive websites that look great on every platform and screen size.
Teams of designers no longer have to sit at one place to give life to their projects since modern website creation tools bring in collaboration features that allow geographically diverse teams to work in tandem on the same project.
Web design tools are mushrooming everywhere now a days. Let us look at the best 10 web design tools that are most advanced, feature rich, popular among community of web designers and make it possible to build complex, modern, responsive, feature rich interactive websites and web apps.
Webflow is the creation of Vlad Magdalin, Sergie Magdalin and Bryant Chou and was first released in 2013 with support of Ycombinator’s startup accelerator program. It is cloud based software as a service platform for creating enterprise grade responsive websites just with drag and drop tools.
Ever since its release, Webflow has grown to become the big daddy of website building software tools and provides features to create multi platform and multi browser compatible responsive websites with ease
Weblfow generates W3C compliant HTML5 and CSS3 and provides a very clean markup, based on Bootstrap from Twitter developers.
While working in Webflow, Web designers across locations can collaborate and work on the projects in tandem. Responsiveness is at the core of Webflow and designers do not have to bother about media queries or breakpoints, those are auto managed by Webflow code generator engine.
The size and growing power of Webflow can be gauged from the fact that big corporate houses like Box, IBM, HP, Intuit, Hitachi and MTV too are using this tool for one or the other web design tasks.
You can signup on Webflow site for free and try your hands on, there are many free website templates available to get you started within no time. However, for building professional grade websites and utilize all features that Webflow offers, you will need to join a paid subscription plan.
Kickstarter project named Macaw, funded by more than 2000 backers and released in the month of March, 2014 is a new kid on the block, but a very aggressive one.
In just a few months of its release, Macaw is competing with the best in class responsive web design tools that offer drag and drop features for creating professional grade responsive websites.
Macaw runs on top of a powerful real time fluid layout engine, named “Stream”. Creating responsive layouts is out of the box feature and you don’t even need to think about that while working in Macaw.
It also features a sophisticated design to code engine, named Alchemy. Alchemy auto creates semantic, clean and usable HTML and CSS from your design.
Macaw pitches itself as web design editor where you draw the code instead of writing it and the statement from Paul Boag that Macaw is “Beginning of the End of Coding” says it all.
Macaw is available as a package that you can download and install on Mac OS X and windows.
You get free trial that can be upgraded by paying one time price that depends on the number of licenses you need.
Webydo is the creation of Shmulik Grizim and Tzvika Steinmetz, the team who created it to build websites for their own clients and later on made it available for commercial use in 2012. Webydo is created by web designers keeping in mind the needs of web designers and hence coding is kept completely at bay.
Web designers create fully responsive professional websites using drag and drop features and the generated code is fully compliant with latest web standards and is cross platform compatible.
Webydo comes packed with hundreds of open source webfonts to give a beautiful look to your website. Parallax scrolling animator is another cool feature that webydo provides.
Webydo also provides cloud hosting and that makes it possible to publish and host your websites with click of a button. Webydo also features its own content management system that makes it real easy for the content editors to create and update content directly on the website, as required.
Webydo is on the cloud software as a service platform and offers 30 days of free trial, doesnt ask for the credit card information. You can upgrade the plan as per your requirements by subscribing for monthly license fee that is billed annually.
Edge Reflow (No Longer Developed by Adobe)
Edge Reflow is from the house of grandfather of web design tools, Adobe Systems Incorporated. Although Edge Reflow is still in its early days but looks so promising that I couldn’t resist including it in the list of top 10 tools for creating responsive designs.
The best thing about Edge Reflow cc is that it connects directly with Photoshop which means your static designs created in Photoshop are converted to fully responsive components with just one click of a button.
Reflow is the perfect tool for designers who are used to work in Photoshop and Indesign, the interface looks quite similar and intuitive to use.
However, keep in mind that Reflow still is not a complete solution for building and running your website end to end, it doesn’t come with any CMS or link to any CMS and doesn’t host your website with click of a button like you can do in Webflow or Webydo.
You need to take your responsive designs out and use in your favorite editor or CMS. You can call it a supporting tool rather than a complete website builder software.
Squarespace is one of the oldest website creation software around and definitely the only one to keep up to the growing needs of the modern web design. When it comes to building modern looking responsive websites with drag and drop options, Squarespace stands tall and competes with the new age tools like Webflow and Macaw.
Squarespace was created back in 2004 by Anthony Casalena, and as of today, it is available on the cloud as software as a service platform. It has grown gradually in width & breadth and offers blogging platform, hosting services and website creation tools.
Squarespace ecosystem is huge and it comes packed with tons of website templates, logo builder, tools to create iOS and Android apps and tons of other developer resources.
You can get started with Squarespace with its free to use 14 days trial and utilise tons of free to use elegant and beautiful website templates. You can upgrade the free plan by paying monthly licensing fee.
Squarespace offers best in class customer support, which makes it a go to option for big corporates like Target, Wired, HBO and Cisco, to name a few.
Design for the browser in the browser is the philosophy of the development team behind Froont, which was launched back in May, 2013 in beta. Froont became main stream web design tool and got great recognition on release of “version one”, recently in Oct, 2014. Designers get the power by using intuitive drag and drop tools and there is a minimal need for coding.
Froont is the newest tool in this list of best responsive web design tools and is yet improving and maturing with addition of new features regularly. Froont doesn’t really compete with the likes of Webflow and Macaw in its current state. However, it offers good customer support, and other free services that makes it an attractive option for freelancers and individual developers.
Froont comes with the philosophy of Open web design, which is collaboration among distributed web design teams working on single or multiple projects. Resource can easily be shared among collaborating members.
I am personally impressed with Froont and keeping a close eye on how Froont performs in the days to come, stay tuned for updates.
Weebly is a complete product suite for creation and management of websites. It was founded by David Rusenko, Chris Fanini, and Dan Veltri back in 2006 when the idea of responsive websites was not even in the imagination.
Weebly has incorporated new features and adapted to the web design needs of modern times. It features drag and drop website builder as well as inbuilt image editor.
Powerful hosting, ready to use video & audio players, best in class customer support, blogs integration, inbuilt CMS, intuitive form builder, traffic stats, you name a feature required for your website and Weebly has it.
The new age tools like webflow, Webydo, Macaw and Froont are paused to give a tough competition to Weebly and eat up part of its huge market share.
Homestead is the complete set of tools and services to get small business online with do it yourself philosophy, it is owned by Homestead Technologies, IncHomestead offers both website creation tools as well as hosting services. Homestead too dates back to 1996 but is racing well alongside new age web development tools. QuickSites is a service offered by Homestead that helps design websites without even knowing the basics of HTML as fast and easy as possible.
Make it simple is the philosophy of Websitebuilder, create any website in just three steps. Choose a website template from the available repository of more than 10000 website templates, do customization as required and publish the website with click of a button.
Publishing with one click means, you publish on the hosting services provided by website builder. The overall cost for all the services from Websitebuilder is pretty low in comparison to its competitors.
i am not going to miss this giant from the list of best 10 website builders of modern times. Wix is the closest competitor of Weebly and the biggest player in the market of online website builders. Wix was founded back in 2006 by Avishai Abrahami, Nadav Abrahami and Giora Kaplan, however, it became a pure modern drag and drop website builder in 2012 when it got powered with HTML5 site builder.
Wix has thousands of starter and fully functional website templates available for free use. You can pick one that relates to your website theme and start editing using drag and drop toolset. Wix also features image editor and tons of free fonts, colors and text effects.
Wix has launched an online apps market where designers can create and sell their work, you can purchase designs from other sellers to complement your own website.
The number of features that Wix offers is too huge and can not be covered here in this article, please read more about Wix services and features at – Wix Features.
Got to review another website builder recently – Site123.com. Site 123.com is relatively new entrant in the business of “Do it yourself” website builder tools and is coming up well to compete with established players, and that too at a very competitive price.
Site123.com is operated out of United States and businesses around the world have started to use it for building websites with almost around 255K websites built with Site123.com at the time of writing this article. You can try out the free version as well to understand the features that this tool has to offer.
Phenomenon of speed website building backed by hosting services of the provider is not very old but has grown at a very fast pace in the last couple of years. Do-it-yourself, drag and drop toolset based website builders have become the default choice for creating feature rich, interactive, responsive and modern looking websites and web apps.
Different website creation tools offer different feature set and style but attempt to solve the common underlying problem creating responsive modern looking websites without coding, with ease and at lightning speed. The web design tools mentioned in this article are among the top competing the best website builder software tools in the market as of today.
Let us know your experience with website building and the software of your choice via comments.