29 May 2013

Wix vs Weebly vs WordPress vs Godzilla vs King Kong vs Mothra...

Here are my personal experiences regarding various options for DIY website building/hosting. It is by no means an exhaustive reference, but it might help you with your decision-making or lead you to options you'd not considered.

  • Wix has lovely templates that allow one to create beautiful sites quickly (like this one I created for a client in a relatively short time: http://www.takefiveforfaith.com/). A basic Wix site is free, but you must upgrade to their $5.95 Connect Domain plan if you want to use your dedicated domain name in place of yourdomain.wix.com. Another disadvantage of Wix is that, if you want to reach mobile users, you need to create a second website on their mobile site builder. Wix is simpler to use than Weebly, so for the ultra-beginners, it's a better bet. For that reason, it's also less customizable, so it's not appropriate for a site that needs anything but basic features.
  • Weebly allows you to create a site and redirect it to yourdomain.com for free, but their templates aren't quite as hip and contemporary, imho. One benefit is that Weebly sites are mobile friendly from the get go, though not as pretty in the mobile format as the regular platform (they eliminate the pretty photos and headers and such, so it's mostly text-based....but it is easy to navigate on a cell phone). Weebly is a bit more complicated to use than Wix, but it also offers more access to the base code of a site to allow a person with CSS and HTML knowledge to make it do more tricks than a Wix site can do.
  • WordPress is, at base, a blogging platform, but it's been augmented by a zillion plug-ins over the years and can be manipulated to do almost anything, or so I'm told by a friend who specialized in WP development. I can't recommend it for anything beyond blogging because that's all I've ever created on it. WordPress is free for a basic site with various upgrade packages. As I recall you do have to upgrade if you want your own domain name rather than a WP domain name.
  • Blogger is a blog platform by Google which is free and is very easy to use for blogging. I don't think it would be appropriate for a regular website (but I could be wrong about that, as they do offer a large number of widgets to give the site extra features). We use it for our work blogs, one internal and this one you're reading now (DigoCoDigo.com), and I'm really happy with it. It's also free to redirect to your own domain name.
  • SquareSpace is a site building/hosting service that I've not personally used, but I've heard good things about from friends. From what I know of it, I would say it is like the Cadillac of DIY site builders and it seems just classy all around. They do not offer a free version -- their base plan is $8/month with a free 14-day trial.
  • Facebook. I'm not a fan of Facebook "websites," because they are so limited in format options and scope, but the fact is that many people find that they get more traffic through FB than they do to their standalone websites. FB has upped the ante by adding customization features to fan sites and business pages, and they're adding more features all the time. It's an option one must consider in 2013, as it may be the best (and cheapest) solution for you.

Dynamic design -- the state of the art

This is a rather long article, but it contains good information about current best-practices for dynamic web design. And I suspect that, like me, you'll learn some new tricks if you take time to read it.

The State Of Responsive Web Design

Smashing Magazine

Responsive Web design has been around for some years now, and it was a hot topic in 2012. Many well-known people such as Brad Frost and Luke Wroblewski have a lot of experience with it and have helped us make huge improvements in the field. But there’s still a whole lot to do.
In this article, we will look at what is currently possible, what will be possible in the future using what are not yet standardized properties (such as CSS Level 4 and HTML5 APIS), and what still needs to be improved. This article is not exhaustive, and we won’t go deep into each technique, but you’ll have enough links and knowledge to explore further by yourself.