Open source website software is used by website owners to help create a digital space on the Internet that looks pleasing and draws in more visitors. The best open source website software for many users will include What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get (WYSIWYG) technology, so the designer can see how the website looks without having to code blindly. Many website design programs leave a large footprint of unnecessary, and sluggish, coding; the best website software — whether closed source or open source — will use standard code without any footprint. Aside from designing the website, the website software also should have special features, such as a content management system (CMS) or e-commerce features, to help the user run the website. An online following also will help, because open source programs tend to have a lack of technical support.
WYSIWYG is an element of most good open source software that allows the user to type in HyperText Markup Language (HTML) and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) while being able to see the website being created. Before WYSIWYG, website designers would type code in a text editor, which required saving the work in HTML format and opening it in an Internet browser to see what the website looked like. Any changes needed would require a return to the text editor. With WYSIWYG, users see exactly how the website will look, making it easier to design and troubleshoot.
Many open source website software packages leave a digital footprint. This footprint is typically a large block of code, or awkward markup that is not part of any standard language, which is unneeded by the website. A footprint will slow down loading, because the user’s computer will have to read the extra code, which can take several more seconds or minutes. A program without this footprint is easier to work with and makes websites that load the quickest.
Creating a static website with open source website software is just one of the functions of such a program; it also should be able to create dynamic pages for the user. To do this, the website software should have a function that creates a CMS, like a blog, or an ecommerce website. This will help the user manage website upgrades.
Developers make little or no money creating open source software, so there is typically a lack of technical support. Before deciding on one program, the user should check for good documentation on the program and an online following. Both of these will help the user if there are technical issues, and an online following means that some developers may create new functions or modules to make the open source program more useful.