In the past there have been many attempts to make the process of creating a website painless, simple, and easy. Some have been decent attempts and others not so decent. Weebly is a new startup by David Rusenko and Dan Veltri which is taking a very Web 2.0 approach to this. They’ve been privately beta-testing for the past few months (and still are) a way of creating, managing and editing simple websites and webpages through their very intuitive drag-and-drop AJAX-based interface.
If you remember Google’s Page Creator which created a shortly-lasted buzz a few months ago, Weebly is a very similar tool. I had a chance to try out Weebly and the founders were nice enough to give me 20 invitations for the readers of this blog – so if you feel like trying it out, post a comment or shoot me over an e-mail.
Weebly’s concept is fairly easy to understand. Users have an account, and within each account they can create as many sites as they like. Within each site is a webpage, and in each webpage the actual content. Using Weebly’s interface, you basically drag in the content into the webpage and fill them as you like. Once all the content is in, and you’ve set your pages out correctly, you simple choose a theme and hit publish. Currently, since Weebly is aimed at a very consumer demographic, you can only publish to a subdomain on Weebly.com.
Weebly provides a fixed header-bar which shows all the types of content you can put on a webpage. From the basics, you can choose from a Paragraph, Paragraph with Picture, Two Column Layout, Standard Picture, and Title. More interestingly, however, you can also put in Videos from Google Video, YouAreTV, and YouTube. What’s interesting is that this isn’t an ordinary video HTML cut-and-paste integration scheme, but an easier and customizable version of that – fits in perfectly with its targeted user base. Coming soon, you’ll also be able to add ads, feeds, and other things to your page.
Weebly gives you 18 themes to choose from currently, although this is very likely to grow in the future since they do take in user submissions. What I find interesting is that these themes, unlike you’d expect, are actually quite well made and designed – Vox style. My favorites include ‘Industry1’ and ‘Greenlush.’ One of the good things is that you can change your theme anytime you like, and this won’t affect your content. One of the disadvantages is that these themes aren’t editable, but since Weebly isn’t aimed at this demographic at all it makes perfect sense.
For any person thinking of having their own website or essentially ‘space on the Internet,’ I’d highly suggest a blog on either WordPress.com, Blogger, or Vox – three really good services. Currently, I personally think that’s the best option there is. If, however, you want to stick to a basic website, whether it’s on yourself or sunflower-seeds, you don’t have the time and knowledge to put together something professionally and would like a quick, dirty way to make and manage it, services like Weebly are the best way to go. What I found interesting about Weebly particularly is that it keeps the user away from codes – even basic HTML – as away as possible. Infact, there’s no way to edit it or even view it. Infact, you can’t even insert it onto your webpages. This in a way is a really good thing, where users don’t have to put up or deal with anything overwhelming, but on the other hand, most of use – now with our MySpace pages – know a lot about HTML as well. Is it in the web’s best interest to sideline it and raise a generation who only knows how to drag-and-drop? I’m not so sure. In any case, using Weebly was an interesting experience and it’s certainly one of the prime examples of what’s possible with Ajax.[tags]AJAX, Weebly[/tags]