Building a Website on the Cheap – Graphics Programs & Tools

If you’re new to building websites, you may think that it costs a lot of money to get one up and running. While it’s true that you’re not going to be able to create your own equivalent of Facebook in a few days and with a few dollars, a simple website is not something that has to set you back thousands of dollars.

Firstly, if you have a limited budget (and enough spare time!), then the cheapest way to get a website up is to build it yourself. Of course there are many advantages to having professionals do it, but if you’re more interested in just building a personal site, then not only will a D.I.Y attitude save you a lot of money, but it will also allow you to learn the ins and outs of websites! This sort of knowledge can prove invaluable if you ever have to hire professionals, because at least you will have some sort of insight into what they are talking about.

Creating Visual Elements & Graphics
Firstly, I won’t go into either buying a domain or web-hosting. There’s a ton of information and guides out on the web, not to mention here on Instead, let’s have a look at some of the tools you can use to help use to create graphics for a website. Most importantly these tools will be 100% free, although you will still need a computer; sadly that is a critical requirement.

Most graphic and web design pros favour commercial applications such as Photoshop when it comes to creating their own visual elements for a website. There’s a good reason for this: if you do design for a living you’ll always want the best tools, and Photoshop is a very mature, robust and feature laden program. It’s also quite expensive, so I suggest to those who want a cheap program check out “The GIMP”. No, I did not mistype that, nor was I making a joke, “The GIMP” actually stands for “The GNU Image Manipulation Program”, and it’s an open source – completely free – visual editing and manipulation program. Sure it’s got something of a questionable name, but it’s got a ton of functionality. It’s also totally cross-platform, you can download it and run it on Microsoft Windows (XP, Vista), GNU/Linux (i386, PPC), Mac OS X, Sun OpenSolaris and FreeBSD computers.

While “The GIMP” isn’t 100% user friendly, and won’t suit pros used to high-end commercial software, it has more than enough features for a newcomer who wants to create graphics for the web. It exports to all of the major web formats (JPEG, PNG, and GIF) and comes with a wide variety of filters and graphic manipulation tools built in.

Now that you’ve got a fully fledged graphics editor, it’s time to start thinking about selecting a HTML editor so you can take those visual elements and put them into HTML. In my next article I will look at what free software programs are the best for editing HTML.