Creating Web sites is a lot easier now than it was ten, or even five years ago. NetObjects Fusion has been around since the late 90s offering an easy to use Web site-authoring solution for those who don’t understand HTML and other Web code. NetObjects Fusion maintains this tradition with a host of wizards and tools to create anything from a simple home page to a complete database driven ecommerce Web site.

Starting to build a Web site with NetObjects Fusion is easy enough using the Site Wizard, although the choices are quite simplistic and leave little room for design innovation. Basic choices between personal and business Web sites with a small selection of options leaves little room to manoeuvre when planning a site. You can add extra pages after you have created the basic structure of the Web site but your choices are pretty much restricted by the standardized design.

However, NetObjects Fusion 7.5 has many new features that would make it attractive to small businesses. Probably the most important feature is the ability to create ecommerce Web sites with shopping baskets and checkout features, supporting online systems such as QuickCommerce, PayPal, and Kurant StoreSense. These three options provide different levels of ecommerce activity. QuickCommerce provides a forms-based system for ordering via email. PayPal enables a Web shop front to be created that can accept credit card payments without any need for a merchant account, since all of the processing is performed by PayPal. Kurant StoreSense is the most sophisticated solution, with a range of ebusiness functions including shopping carts, online catalog management, and credit card processing.

Over 60 different styles for Web sites are included and it’s possible to download others from a variety of different online sources. A useful new function is the ability to update a Web site incrementally, so it’s possible to update just the aspects of the site that have changed, rather than re-upload the complete set of assets. Of course, using the built-in FTP functions in, say, Dreamweaver MX enables you pick and choose what you upload anyway.

Much of the code in NetObjects Fusion pages is protected from editing in HTML Source view. However, it’s now possible to add HTML at extra points in a Web page, allowing you to create versatile content. It’s possible to include scripting languages such as Perl and PHP within pages by defining the data types and variables using the new scripting support tool. This enables Web pages to be a little more flexible while still retaining the overall design. Importing an existing Web site into NetObjects Fusion caused some dismay, because the program added its own code into the pages to replace the existing navigation system.

NetObjects Fusion 7.5 is a perfectly good tool for creating Web sites if you have little or no experience with HTML
or Web-page design. It’s ideal for small businesses that want to create sites without having to use a professional design agency, and the program would be fine for home users, clubs, societies, and hobbyists. Ultimately, a Web professional wouldn’t choose to use NetObjects Fusion. Other applications such as Dreamweaver and GoLive are so much more versatile.