Sorting through all the Web design and image editing programs available can be confusing. That’s why we created this review to help you find the best program for your project (and budget).
The most popular image editors are Photoshop Photoshop Elements, and Fireworks, and the most popular Web design programs, include Dreamweaver, GoLive, and Expression Web.
Comparing image editing programs
You’ll find many choices in the world of image editing programs, from high-end programs such as Adobe Photoshop (which retails for hundreds of dollars) to simple programs that you can download for free over the Internet. Here’s a quick comparison of some of the most popular image editing programs.
Adobe Photoshop is by far the most popular image editing program among professionals (and many pro-sumers). The latest version, Photoshop CS6, adds some great features, but if you’re still using a previous version, such as CS5, CS4, or CS3, are still more than powerful enough to create, edit, and optimize images for the web.
Although Photoshop is hands down the most popular program, but it is a professional program with a professional price tag, and if you don’t already have it, Photoshop may be more more than you need (or want to pay for).
You can find pricing information and download a free trial version of Adobe Photoshop on the Adobe website.
Adobe Photoshop Elements
Photoshop Elements features many of the same design tools as it’s bigger sibling, Photoshop, but it’s easier to use and costs a lot less (less than $100).
Photoshop Elements provides more than enough power for almost anything you’d need to do on a small Web site, including color correction, cropping, and optimizing images so they download faster over the Internet.
You can find pricing information and download a free trial version of Photoshop Elements on the Adobe website.
Compare: Photoshop vs. Photoshop Elements
The difference between the two versions of Photoshop boils down to this: The expensive version is used by people like magazine editors and high-fashion photographers to do painstaking, exacting work on their photos, to make a flawless image suitable for viewing by millions and optimized for print. Given enough time, you can use Photoshop to make a mule look like a supermodel.
For the rest of us, who just want to edit photos enough to maybe make it look like Uncle Ernie’s basset hound was driving the lawnmower, Photoshop Elements is more than enough.
If your goal is to get a job as a graphic designer, web designer, or digital artist, learning to use the professional version of Photoshop is a must. But if you’re just creating a simple website for yourself, your family, or your small business, you can probably get all you need from Photoshop Elements for a small fraction of the price (and it’s simpler to learn to use, too!).
Formerly, Macromedia Fireworks, this image program was designed for the web and has many special features for creating images that look great on the Internet.
With Fireworks you can create animated images and slideshows for your Web pages. You can also create images in Fireworks and use the special Slicing tool to cut the image into pieces before exporting it directly into a fully-functional Web page.
If you’re interested in the creating some of the newest features in web design, such as drop-shadows and gradients with CSS3 (the latest flavor of cascading style sheets), Fireworks has some fantastic tools that make it possible to create these features in a visual design program and then export the code to use in Dreamweaver, WordPress or other web design programs.
Because Fireworks includes HTML features and is integrated with Dreamweaver, you can easily move back and forth between the two programs. If you’re a professional web designer, or you’re creating lots of complex designs for the Web, this is a great tool to have on your hard drive.
You can find pricing information and download a free trial version of Fireworks on the Adobe website.