This is actually an email response I sent to a friend who was asking about this sort of thing. It kind of complements Richard’s blog post below.
There are a number of programs out there to make the life of people designing websites much easier. Choosing the right one depends on what kind of website you want – so you need to ak yourself the following questions:
1. Are you designing a completely new site, or are you putting a new
design to an already existing site?
2. Is your site big (greater than 30 pages) or small (less than 30
3. Do you see the site as a project that will take a finite amount of
time (15-20 pages and then stop) or will it be an ongoing project and
pages will be added as time goes on?
For small, finite sites we recommend using a very easy to use design program called Dreamweaver, which is expensive. There are also free equivalents of Dreamweaver which Richard mentioned in his blog post.
However, these programs can be a little inefficient if you want to add
lots and lots of content very quickly – there are specialised programs called Content Management Systems that handle this much better – for
example the Plone program used to manage content on this very site (there are also other programs like WordPress (used primarily for personal sites and blogs), Alfresco and Drupal. The only problem is sites using Content Management Systems often start out looking not quite the way you envisioned them (and perhaps even a little ugly). With some technical expertise you can also make these sites as beautiful as Dreamwaever sites, but it will take longer to learn, especially if the people you have in mind to work on the project have no computer experience.