The modern Web is a strange beast indeed. For many, the rise of blogs and hosted services has meant an end to worrying about actual Web design and a renewed focus on the actual content.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing. On a practical side, while the tools at your disposal are incredibly powerful, the sheer number of languages, scripting methods and standards to remember has made putting a Web page together much like assembling a jigsaw. A jigsaw that asks you to cut out the pieces yourself, in the dark.

Adobe's - formerly Macromedia - Dreamweaver is the heavy hitter in the professional market, namely for its features, its scope and of course for its price. Namo is a fair bit lower down the ladder, but with many of Dreamweaver's aesthetics and interface elements on its side. The big difference, at least when dealing with the personal and smaller professional sites that Namo aims to build, is that this suite goes out of its way to make things easier. This is in contrast to Dreamweaver, which expects you to be an expert from the word go.

As an obvious starting point, the Site Wizard offers plenty of beginner templates and site structures to begin working with. Furthermore, it's backed up with one-click access to scripts that can perform tricks such as banner rotation and fading in the screen when the visitor arrives.

The big question

Whether you're likely to get on with Namo largely depends on whether your response to that feature was 'Oh, neat' or 'Oh god, no!' It's true that there are some gimmicky features in the pack. However, there are plenty of useful ones too. These include automatic navigation bar creation, strong layout tools, resource management, photo albums and integrated FTP to shunt your files from your machine to the Web. Namo also features support for database driven sites. These are less important than a few years ago, thanks to effective content management.

You can fl ick into source code mode at any time, making manual edits to your site when the WYSIWYG design interface doesn't quite fit - and yes, CSS is on the menu right from the off. The editor is rather friendlier than Dreamweaver's, although it's the big package that still feels the most comfortable to edit with.

Along with WebEditor itself, you get several bonus applications. ImageSlicer carves up larger images, ready to be converted into a table-based HTML layout, while GIF Animator does exactly what the name suggests.

Canvas is the most interesting of the additional tools. It's a simple art package, but one that focuses on vector-based images instead of the more standard bitmaps handled by most PC art tools. This makes it a useful addition to your toolbox, especially coupled with the ability to import and edit images from within the main menu (which are heavily used by the various templates on offer within Canvas itself).

For the money - indeed, even for a bit more - Namo is a very powerful, very comprehensive product. It lacks some of Dreamweaver's polish and style, but in most instances you're really not going to miss it. Certainly, compared to other packages at this price point, it's an incredible offer. However, you can still expect something of a learning curve if this is your fi rst dip into the Web design waters.