As a Computer Science student, this is one of the pieces of software I get free through some Microsoft Initiative. Being an experienced web designer and Dreamweaver fan, I was a little wary of trying this product as it is a very different format than that which I am used to. However, unlike Dreamweaver, this is a complete studio package and is useful in every stage of web development from image creation and editing to the design and implementation of a fully dynamic website.
In comparison to Dreamweaver, this software matches it on features. Like Dreamweaver it has drag and drop functionality as well as allowing you to hard code in your preferred language. Furthermore, there are a number of shortcuts which mean that this software will largely write a lot of your code for you saving you a lot of time, something I have not found in Dreamweaver.
There are however two potential pitfalls to this software. One is the user, in this case myself, as if you are used to using something like Dreamweaver you will find this very hard to get used to. However if you are starting from scratch I would possibly recommend some of the features of this software over those of Dreamweaver. A further pitfall however is database connectivity. Dreamweaver has some excellent facilities for making a database backed website and will largely connect up all the back-end workings for you through a wizard. Expression however requires you to do a lot of this yourself which can be very tedious if you are not used to it.
I would recommend this for people who have not used Dreamweaver before and are just starting out as you will potentially benefit from this software's better features. I just wish I had tried this before using Dreamweaver.
I am currently in my first year studying for an A Level in ICT, and one of the areas we study is Web Design, and it also is part of the coursework. I have done little bit's of web design before, but mostly simple sites written with HTML, but the college has Microsoft Expression Web installed, and this is what we have been taught to use. To enable me to work at home on web design, I have also acquired a copy of Expression Studio, amazing free and totally legal thanks to the "Dreamspark" program from Microsoft that allows Higher and Further education students to download fully functional copies of various professional Microsoft development programs for free (worth well over a thousand pounds in total, who says Microsoft isn't generous).
Whilst Expression Studio contains 5 pieces of software, Blend, Design, Encoder, Media and Web, I will be focusing on Web, since it's the only one I have made much use of. Expression Web is Web Authoring software, used to create websites. It is a professional and quite powerful piece of software, used for many professional web sites, possibly including Dooyoo. It works in the language of websites, HTML, but unlike text editors, it gives a graphical representation, so as you make changes you instantly see them, unlike Word Processors and Desk Top Publishers which require you to convert your work into a web page before seeing what it looks like. Also, there is no need to know all the commands and syntax (the ordering correct commands of), since it does all this for you. It's pretty much drag and drop, and right clicking to change properties of objects. Due to the way it works, the pages created by Expression Web are very efficient, and also highly compatible with different browsers.
As I said above Expression Web is fairly simple and quick to use. Basic sites can be created in a very short time, to high standards, yet it also has many more complicated features available for those wanting advanced features on their sites. Like all Microsoft products, it comes with a comprehensive help guide, and also good on-line support.
Expression Web allows the creation of Dynamic Web Templates. These are pages which as you would expect are templates that allow you to keep a particular style and layout for you pages. Take Dooyoo as an example, when you click through different pages, some parts change, but others, such as the bar at the top stay the same. This was likely done with templates. After creating the template, you create editable regions, these are the parts that are changes on each page, the rest is locked. A big advantage with dynamic templates is that if you want to make changes to the original template, the other pages created from it are automatically updated.
One of the most useful features of Expression Web is it's ability to preview in web browsers, so you can see exactly how the pages will look when viewed. You can not only preview in various versions of Internet Explorer and Firefox, but also at various resolutions. It really helps to make sure your sites are as compatible as possible. I just wish more professional web authors went to the same trouble. Whilst Expression is pretty much "what you see is what you get" there will be minor variations between browsers, and the screen size and resolution will have quite an impact on how pages look, but with previews you can make sure that common combinations will look reasonable, and at worst be readable and usable.
Really, it's such a useful and powerful piece of software, it's impossible to go through all it's features here, and I'm sure I haven't used half of them. It's very much a bit of software for playing and experimenting with, and it's nice to instantly see the results of the experimenting.
Overall, at around £200, I wouldn't recommend Expression to casual web designers, stick with using Word Processors or Desk Top Publishers, or use the web design tools often provided with hosting services. It's only really worthwhile if you are going to be able to make full use of what is quite a powerful piece of software. Also, whilst fairly simple, it does require at least a basic knowledge of how web sites are made. For anyone thinking about serious web design though, this is a really useful piece of software. Obviously, if you are lucky enough to get a free copy, even better.