Back in ancient times – 4 or 5 years ago – many people tried their hands at learning a little HTML and creating a web site. Microsoft FrontPage wasn’t easy to learn but other programs were harder and FrontPage is the only one to develop any name recognition with consumers. Did you know FrontPage has been discontinued? There is no product named “FrontPage” in Microsoft’s current lineup.

The replacement is Microsoft Expression Web, part of a bigger suite of programs, Microsoft Expression Studio, aimed exclusively at professionals. Here’s a short description of each program in the Expression suite.

I took a five minute look at Expression Web. It’s superficially similar to FrontPage 2003 but it’s immediately apparent that web design has moved so far beyond HTML codes that nonprofessionals don’t have a chance. It’s not like my little hand-coded site will disappear or stop working, but there’s also no chance that I could redesign it to include the kind of effects that are standard these days. Cascading style sheets, XML, XHTML, Flash animation, Java, ASP.NET, and much more – web site design is a highly specialized world. From the Expression web site:

“Create CSS-based, XHTML 1.0 Transitional-conforming Web sites by default. Work better across browsers, simplifying deployment and maintenance. Configure flexible schema settings to support all combinations of HTML, XHTML, Strict, Transitional, Frameset and CSS 1.0, 2.0, and 2.1 plus browser-specific schemas.”

It’s more true than ever: a small business can set up a moderately presentable web site using canned templates from a web hosting company, or hire a custom web site designer for thousands of dollars – and there’s nothing in between.

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