If you're an SMB and need to get your website up and running quickly, there are many tools that will help and don't come with a hefty pricetag. Following are a few of these tools that have helped my company.
Weebly has been around since 2006, and was named by TIME magazine as one of the 50 best websites in 2007. Weebly’s primary advantage is a simple interface for users who have little web experience. The simplicity is achieved by a site-wide drag and drop interface. There is no need to comb through code and manually align images, text and menus. Instead, users need only choose elements they want to include in the site, drag them to the correct position on the page, and they are set!
This simplicity does come at a cost, however. While Weebly is fantastic for new web designers, it does not offer the flexibility of scratch-built or even CMS-based systems such as Wordpress or Drupal. Further, though Weebly offers a free version, users that need a totally customized look will need to upgrade to the paid version to unlock full functionality and remove the Weebly logo from their site. Still, for the user who wants to create professional looking websites that do not require customized functionality, Weebly represents a good jumping off point.
Mozilla, perhaps best known for their Firefox web browser, recently released the Thimble WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor to create websites that require more advanced functionality or design elements. The editor is innovative for two reasons: First, it has built-in alerts that will let the user know when an element is broken on the site. This function alone is absolutely invaluable for designers, both seasoned and novice. One of the most intimidating aspects of site creation has always been the thought of slogging through code looking for that one tag that has not been closed yet or those few symbols that stop a web element from functioning correctly.
The second really innovative feature of Thimble is that it includes several tutorial “Projects” that users can complete. These are web elements showing advanced code generation techniques that provide hands-on learning for web design. For the user who wants to build a custom website without the fear of getting stuck in an endless maze of trivial mistakes while learning some advanced tricks, Thimble represents a great option. The fact that it is totally free doesn’t hurt either!
As tablets and smartphones continue to increase in popularity, you have to think about making your website mobile optimized. However, this can be challenging if you are basing a mobile site’s design and functionality on an existing website. Enter Dudamobile. This new service allows existing websites to be painlessly converted into mobile sites with just the click of a button. After the initial configuration, Dudamobile allows users to delete, reposition, or add new mobile optimized content, as needed. Here at Journyx, we recently used Dudamobile to optimize our website for mobile and we were very happy with the result and ease of use.
Dudamobile does suffer some of the same disadvantages as Weebly as far as restrictions on flexibility, but it’s not as noticeable since the trend for mobile is simplicity of the interface. Further, Dudamobile offers some CSS and HTML configuration support, though it’s typically not necessary for a mobile site. Also, like Weebly, Dudamobile offers a free plan, but most professional users will want to upgrade to their $9.00 per month premium plan. Dudamobile’s customer service is very snappy – the questions we emailed to the Dudamobile team were answered within the hour.
Creating a website has reached the point where it is truly accessible to anyone. The low barrier of entry means that the old mantra of “content is king” is more applicable than ever. Simply owning a website means less, but for those businesses and individuals that can constructively add value to the web, there’s no limit to what you can do.