Developing a Website is more complex than simply using a HTML export filter from a desktop publishing package or word processor. Website professionals must take on board a whole raft of techniques, standards and legislation and still produce a product which meets the creative aspirations of both the client and the design team.

One only has to use analysis tools on websites revealed using a Google search to realise that there are many websites in use which do not meet the latest standards. Many sites don't just fail to comply with basic page formatting standards, such as HTML, XHTML or CSS, but they fail to meet accessibility criteria. We are not just talking about client websites; we are talking about the home pages of some website design companies. One cannot really defend this, however, some of the problems are caused by a reliance on development tools which do not work well with the latest standards and techniques. This could be due to a lack of support (e.g. FrontPage® 2003) or it could be by virtue of the overly complex and non-intuitive nature of configuration for the tools themselves.

This tutorial requires the participant to have a good knowledge of XHTML, CSS and Website Accessibility standards. It also assumes that you can work with XHTML and CSS code in a text editing environment. The aim is to demonstrate that high-end visual tools can be used to develop standards based accessible websites with minimal recourse to use of the text-based code view.

Microsoft® Expression® Web Designer

There are many WYSIWYG Web page/site editing tools, the market leader being Adobe® Dreamweaver®. However, the majority (including Dreamweaver®) carry a lot of legacy support baggage and as a result provide an overly complex interface and toolset. Microsoft® Expression® Web Designer (EWD) has been built specifically to work with current standards and its toolset is optimised to work with the latest techniques and practices.

A 60 day trial version of the software is available for download from Microsoft's website (as of January 2007). Student licenses are also available as well as competitively priced upgrades from FrontPage.

This tutorial will explore the features of EWD that make it suitable for the development of websites based on sound engineering principles and current practice.

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