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Lesson 7Software applications for Web Creation
ObjectiveList and describe Categories of Software used for creating Signs and Metaphors

List and describe Categories of Software used for creating Signs and Metaphors

Signs and metaphors are created using a variety of software products. You will learn much more about the Software layer of the Web Interaction Model in a later module, but for now, you can take a look at the four basic types of applications useful for the creation of signs and metaphors: HTML editors, illustration software, animation software and video software.

HTML Editors

There are many HTML (HyperText Markup Language) editors on the market that offer advanced capabilities for creative development. Originally, Web sites were created by writing everything out in HTML code. HTML editors such as Microsoft FrontPage are great time-savers that give you something close to a what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) interface. For example, you can create a table by clicking "Insert Table" in a menu, and dragging the column and row lines to resize the table, rather than having to type out several lines of code with sizing information to create the table.
Another example is Macromedia's Dreamweaver, which combines HTML editing with drag-and-drop functionality for placing images. HTML editors are often divided into categories for "consumers" and "professionals." The former are easier to learn, whereas the latter offer more advanced functionality and customization, but may be trickier to master.

Illustration software

There is a range of software products that enable drawing and painting functionality, such as Adobe's PhotoShop and Illustrator, Macromedia's Fireworks, and Fractal's Painter. Any paint program will work so long as their pictures can be saved as either a GIF or JPEG format.

Question: Which file format, JPEG or GIF, is most appropriate for photographs?
Answer: JPEG is the appropriate file format for photographs. Remember, the P stands for photographic.

Animation Software

Products such as Macromedia's Flash, Fireworks, and Shockwave enable the creation of animated images and "movies." While these features can create user interest in your site, you must balance this with concerns about whether your users have the software to run the "bells and whistles," as well as if they will have the high-speed connections and/or the patience to download these larger files.

Video Software

Developers who produce video for the Web use products such as QuickTime and RealVideo.
Keep in mind that heavy use of graphics raises issues of system requirements, both on the developer side (do you have enough memory to run these large applications concurrently?) and on the user side (do the users have the bandwidth, plug-ins, and memory to take advantage of graphics on the site?).

Personalization

One interesting, new type of software that is of increasing importance is personalization software, which makes each user's experience on a Web site unique. This software also collects user group data that is useful to a business's marketing and growth objectives.
The next lesson is the module wrap-up.