A website without fresh content is like a sushi bar without fresh tuna. Customers might visit once, but they probably won’t be back. Whether you operate a simple corporate site or complex eCommerce storefront, new content is a valuable asset. But professional content creation software can be expensive. I work with some small businesses who simply don’t have $650 for Adobe Photoshop, $300 for Sony Sound Forge, or $350 for Microsoft Office.
A large business may scoff at such trivial expenses, but even if they have the budget for premium software, these free applications are worth a look (even if they’re just for the interns):
- Adobe Photoshop, try GIMP.
- Microsoft Office, try OpenOffice.
- Adobe Dreamweaver, try NVU.
- Sony Sound Forge, try Audacity.
- Acrobat Professional, try PrimoPDF.
Students who lack funds for premium apps should also try these free alternatives. Granted, most employers in the real world expect college grads to know the name-brand versions. Nevertheless, open source apps use concepts and features similar to their premium counterparts. So if students learn the freebies, upgrading on an employer’s dime won’t be too painful. Just keep in mind: good content comes from creativity and communication acumen, not name-brand software.
I must admit, as a professional graphic designer, web developer, and audio/video producer, I prefer my premium tools. I use all the Adobe products, Quark, Final Cut Pro, Pro Tools, et al. But since I use both Mac and Windows, I normally get the premium apps for my Power Mac, and open source for my Windows laptop.
A few caveats about free apps:
- Support might be sketchy.
- Installation might not be as easy as premium apps.
- They might not work with all operating systems.
- They probably won’t have all the bells and whistles as the premium apps.
- Documentation might be hard to come by.
But don’t take my word for it. Check out the free apps and see if they’ll accommodate your needs. If not, then most of the premium apps are available for a 30-day free trial. Plus, some have a less-expensive version (Photoshop Elements). Whatever you choose, keep your site fresh so visitors keep coming back for more.