Simple WYSIWYG (what you see if what you get) web design programs make creating basic sites as easy as using a word processor.
The next step up combines a WYSIWYG approach with more detailed low-level control of what you're doing, which is very useful when you're looking to create a more impressive site (although you may have to spend some time learning the basics).
There are plenty of high-level applications aimed at more experienced users, who like to be able to focus on the HTML, CSS or scripts.
Or you might consider an online solution, enabling you to build or manage your site from anywhere. (Just beware – the free versions often have annoying limits and restrictions).
Whatever you're looking for, though, we've found a free tool which can help – just keep reading to discover our pick of the best free software for web design.
Mobirise Website Builder
Mobirise Website Builder opens with an appealing, minimalist interface - more like a mobile app than a regular desktop application - and enables you to create sites that will look just as good on smartphones and tablets as they do on your PC or Mac.
The main design process is quick and easy. It's just a matter of adding the blocks you need to your page – menus, headers, text, sliders, image galleries, videos, maps, tables, forms, footers and more.
Everything can be customised in many different ways, and there are buttons to preview your site in desktop, tablet or mobile views.
When you're finished, the completed site may be exported locally, to an FTP server or Google Drive.
Mobirise Web Builder has some problems – sites didn't always behave as we expected, it can generate messy HTML code, and the management tools struggle on sites with a lot of pages. It works well most of the time though, produces good-looking sites, and is free with no strings attached. Definitely worth a try.
Available for: Windows, OS X
PSPad is a powerful programmer's editor which also has a pile of helpful web design features.
Coders will appreciate the syntax highlighting, CSS editor, auto correction, search and replace across files, matching bracket highlighting, and more.
There's plenty for less expert users, too, like a spellchecker. PSPad also offers smart HTML previews of your site, and the ability to work with several documents at once, then save them all as a "session" for easy restoration later. And it also includes an FTP client to help you edit files directly on the server.
PSPad will require some time to master, but if you're interested, take a look – it's a superb program, entirely free, and there's a busy forum to help out if you have any questions.
Available for: Windows
Launch TOWeb and you're presented with over 120 responsive templates to start your website. They're not exactly leading-edge designs, but you get plenty of layouts and colour schemes to explore.
It's easy to customise the template text and images, and a sidebar offers plenty of surprising extras. You're able to watermark pictures, password-protect individual pages, allow visitors to post comments, add buttons to your social network sites, and more.
There are also plenty of advanced options available, and at any time you can see how the site will look on a mobile device, tablet or desktop.
The free build has some major catches: it only supports one website, with a size limit of 10MB, and the pages will have ads.
Still, if you can live with that, TOWeb's core editor is strong enough to justify the download.
Available for: Windows, OS X, Linux
With its last update having been made way back in 2010, KompoZer probably isn't the best choice for building modern, responsive websites.