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SEO Website Audit

Best Web Design Programs

August 14, 2013

Hi Jill,
Photo Credit: Alan Light
First I want to say thank you for all the wonderful information you have in your newsletters.

My question is:  What are the top two or three web design programs you would recommend?  We are going to upgrade, as the program we currently use is older and no longer supported. Any help to steer me in the right direction would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.


++Jill's Response++

Hi John,

I'm glad you enjoy the newsletters!

As to your question, my feeling is that most web design programs are old school. I'd recommend simply switching to a content management system (CMS) such as Wordpress, Drupal, Joomla or Magento (to name a few).

Hope this helps!



Jill Whalen has been an SEO Consultant and the CEO of Jill Whalen High Rankings, a Boston area SEO Company since 1995. Follow her on Twitter @JillWhalen

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Post Comment

 Christina D said:
I think Adobe Photoshop or Fireworks are your best choices for web design. Then develop your design into a website with a CMS like Wordpress, etc.
 Ann Wilson said:
I don't like CMS - and I hate seeing WP sites that all look the same (from very similar free or almost free templates) EVERYWHERE!

Where is the customization? The individuality? The difference? They ALL look the same! And in few years will all be horribly outdated for the same reason.

You are doing a huge disservice to those of us that build individual sites - by hand, utilizing BBedit, Dreamweaver etc. What we do takes learning and skill.

These WP templates are now, what outsourcing to India was a few years ago, another way to kill our businesses and make a mockery of our knowledge and skills.
 Adrian Fox-Kirk said:
I would have to agree with Ann Wilson. I wish that people requiring websites would understand the long term effects of not investing in a well designed and built custom website. Sure, you can use a CMS, but ultimately, you'll end up paying for a good quality custom site anyway. I personally believe that a well built website that has been setup for good SEO and with a customer specific hand coded CMS will always be a better choice in the long term.
You can get a $15 pair of shoes and think you're saving money, but after you've been through 5 pairs, the $60 pair makes more sense.
 Chris Hirst said:
A design is still needed to use with Wordpress, Drupal, Joomla or Magento unless, as above, every website built on a particular platfom are going to look almost identical.

A Wordpress powered website doesn't have to look like a Wordpress site, ( & (search and directory are a WIP) and a Joomla! site doesn't have to look like a Joomla! site (

A CMS may make site DEVELOPMENT and management easier, but the real design tools such as Photoshop, Illustrator, GIMP, Inkscape amd the like are FAR from uneccessary.
 David Thatcher said:
Thanks Jill for your SEO research, tips and advice over the years you are a legend!

As I say on my website somewhere I don't always agree with your recommendations but as they are reasoned and backed with research I will always take notice of them.

On this occasion I was surprised you recommended using a CMS when a person asked for "the top two or three web design programs".

I think you probably answered assuming the person was a non-developer did you?

As a designer/developer I have used both environments namely using programs where I use Dreamweaver vs CMS's where I have mostly used Wordpress but have tried lots, inc Concrete5, CMSMS and the ones you mentioned.

I know they both have pros and cons but for pure SEO and the fact the sites are less likely to be hacked I would recommend a program/FTP environment.

That is because page load time is generally longer when using a CMS and because CMS's give varying amounts of control of SEO factors but never give the total control over the code that I believe is needed to inch your way ahead of the pack in a very crowded and competitive environment.

Out of all the other factors I could mention which can be Googled under 'pros and cons of using a CMS' one that is not often mentioned is that it takes longer to perform simple tasks when working online via a CMS backend vs an offline program.

Well for me it does anyway...thanks again Jill I think you demystify the world of SEO beautifully!
 Jim Kandik said:
 Carole said:
I think it depends on how big the site is/will be. I've made Dreamweaver sites for years (ahem!) but had to move to a CMS (sitecore) when we had over 500 pages of content.
 John MN said:
For CMS, Wordpress, Drupal, and Magento are really effective. I don't prefer to use joomla because It seems to be not security enough.
However, the user ask for web design programs...not web application CMS, right?
 Tony Ramirez said:
Thanks Jill...we use wordpress and a template because my web guy is lazy.....I am looking at other design options now. Good insight on CMS