Apple’s lone web design app wasn’t updated in iLife ’11, and the release of future iWeb versions is in doubt. However, there’s more to creating websites on the Mac than just one program. 

Whether you’re looking for an easy-to-use iWeb replacement or a more sophisticated design program with more powerful features, a host of applications are available for every skill level and budget. Here are some of the highlights.

The iWeb issue

While iWeb is not available on the Mac App Store, it’s unknown at this point whether Apple plans to include it in future boxed editions of the iLife suite. Last summer, Apple updated iWeb to version 3.0.4, and that version will presumably work even after Apple ends MobileMe web hosting on 30 June 2012. After that, many iWeb users will have to find new webhosts, but iWeb will still export to FTP and Finder folders.

New design applications like Adobe’s Muse are blurring the line between desktop and web design

However, many iWeb features, such as password protection, blog and photo comments, and blog searches, won’t work without MobileMe hosting. While iCloud provides data and photo syncing, it’s not a webhost. 

Professional and prosumer

If you’re ready to upgrade your skills and websites, there are plenty of professional web design applications that can help. These applications offer sophisticated WYSIWYG features or rich code-editing tools – or both – and are aimed at building and maintaining complex sites. 

Dreamweaver CS5.5 (£428.40, www.adobe.com/uk) is the choice of many web design professionals for cutting-edge sites using HTML, CSS, JavaScript, or PHP. You can build and maintain complex database-driven websites, but its rich graphical tools (and integration with other Adobe software) let you unleash your inner artist as well. 

MacFlux (£65.96, www.macwareinc.com), sometimes just called Flux, is an HTML 5 and CSS design program for those designers seeking page templates and libraries of HTML, JavaScript, and CSS widgets. Flux can create Ruby on Rails, Concrete5, or ePub projects, as well as WordPress themes. 

Softpress’s Freeway Pro (£159, www.softpress.com) is a strictly WYSIWYG design application that includes templates for beginners. However, it also supports advanced features like CSS layouts and text styling, and it supports PSD, TIFF, and EPS file formats.

Template-based consumer programs

For a more iWeb-like experience that lets you build sites with customisable templates, you have several choices that offer a variety of templates, widgets, and social features. 

Realmac Software’s RapidWeaver (£52.77, www.realmacsoftware.com) offers over 40 themes and templates that you can edit in an uncluttered interface. You can also customise sites with Flash photo slideshows, favicons, web clip icons, meta tags, and more. 

Karelia Software’s Sandvox (£54.99, www.sandvox.com) offers over 50 themes and templates and easy access to both your iLife media and your browser bookmarks. Its widget-like objects let you easily add Facebook-style buttons; your Twitter, Skype, or IM status; and other social interactivity to your site. 

Freeway Express (£49, www.softpress.com) is a streamlined version of Freeway Pro, but still with many of its sibling’s powerful features. A version with more-limited features, Freeway Express AS (£47.99), is available on the Mac App Store.

Many consumer-oriented design applications, such as Freeway Express, offer more tools and flexibility than iWeb

 

Freehand consumer programs

If you want to create pages on a blank canvas but crave user-friendly design features, Adobe’s Muse (currently available as a free beta version, muse.adobe.com) works like a simplified mix of InDesign and Photoshop. Its widgets can add interactive navigation bars, slideshows, and other features. 

Tumult’s Hype (£34.99, Mac App Store) lets you create HTML 5 animations, but you can also use it to build an entire website. To animate objects, you just assign states on a timeline; Hype creates the in-between frames. You can set up animations, page transitions, and JavaScript actions that are triggered as visitors mouse over content.

Free software and web services

KompoZer, Amaya and BlueGriffon are free cross-platform programs that let you create and upload web pages via a combination of visual and code-based tools. You may not even need a dedicated design application, thanks to social media sites such as Flickr (for photos), YouTube (for videos), and WordPress (for blogs). However, you can create a great online presence with a website you’ve designed. 

No matter what the future holds for iWeb, the Mac web design scene offers plenty of alternatives.