NetObjects Fusion8

If you don’t have a website, you don’t exist. If you have a crap website, you’re less than non-existent - you’re inept. So if you are a small business owner, you need to accommodate this business need. NetObjects Fusion8 can provide the complete website solution for you, and it can be as simple, or as complicated as you like.

The software comes with the installation disc, and a Getting Started booklet - this is basically a tutorial to get you started by building the start of a website, and performing a few tasks. It is simple and effective, and difficult to go wrong at the start. If you don’t follow this guide you run the risk of getting horribly lost on the first few attempts - as we did.

You get to view your website through logical icons on the screen, making it simple to link up all the pages and make sure you have the right framework. Then you can click on a page icon enter that page and edit the contents, but adding objects where ever you want. You can start from scratch, or use one of the many templates. You might find that using the preset options gives you a fairly common look and feel. Of course, you get all the power here, but that doesn’t mean you have the design skills to back it up.

Out of the box it supports some more advanced options - you can incorporate more advanced elements, such as Flash and JavaScript, and add video or put in an online store front. The provided style sheets mean you can quickly change the look of your website without going through and selecting each different part - you can also edit these to get a consistent feel that you want. Because you are building offline, you can get your fully working site before you dump in on your host.

But what is covered in the manual is only the start - there’s lots to explore and play with, including access into a number of web tools and basic image manipulation software (for that essential red-eye correction!). If you register your version of the software, you gain access to even more - updates, unlimited online help, a statistics package for your site and so on.

Verdict

Whilst this is a powerful tool for website development, there was a feeling that a more detailed manual would have been useful - especially for a beginner wanting to be a little more ambitious. However, because you can build and preview your site offline, you can advance your website through trial and error.

Priced at £150, it pretty much sidesteps the home user, aiming to get into the workplace. As a small business user, it’s an ideal tool for a marketing manager to sit down and give the company a web presence. Of course, the key to success is not just having the power, but knowing how to use it. The real question is whether NetObjects Fusion 8 is the best use of your £150.