Pumping out HTML may be simple for tech heads, but it’s not simple enough for everyone else. These days it’s not a matter of just designing and coding a page once, but of redesigning it on a whim. MySpace and it’s capricious community of design junkies are case in point, often changing their layouts almost as much as their favorite band of the moment.
Several services have popped up to fill this need by offering simple site creation tools. They’re like Geocities v 2.0. Jimdo is another easy to use AJAX site editor out of Hamburg Germany that launched earlier this year. You can use Jimdo to easily and quickly create a personal website including photos, text, a guestbook, rss feeds, and YouTube videos. They are close competitors with Weebly (one of my favorite), another AJAX editor we have covered before.
One issue I have with these sites is that design can still be fairly constrained. Today Jimdo has tackled that problem by letting you easily grab a design from any site in a couple steps.
- copy and paste the HTML source from the target site into Jimdo.
- click on “xhtml” – the system will automatically cut out the relevant code (content, sidebar, navigation, footer) – and validate it.
- copy your CSS into Jimdo.
- upload the pictures that you need for your layout under the label “Files”.
Jimdo basically places their widgets into key parts of the template using special tags their site understands. The result is that the template displays your Jimdo navigation bar and content. You can see an example of the TechCrunch site here. I still had to fool around with the HTML code to make it work, though, placing the special tags manually where the content needed to go.
A team of three friends originally started selling simple site creation tools for the enterprise as CMS solutions, but decided to add a consumer version this year. They currently have over 25,000 users and sites in three different languages (German, English, and Chinese). Their basic accounts start with 500 MB of storage, with pro accounts going for $6 a month with the ability to host them on your own domain name.
There are some other site design tools out there as well, aimed at different crowds. RealEditor makes an editor specifically for MySpace. Synthasite is a good AJAX based editor with detailed control of the page layout. Sampa, while having a weaker layout editor, is aimed at families looking to create a group website. Webjam is a community of sites created with their editor.
Update (Arrington): Just to be clear, we are not granting permission to copy our site template. :-)