There are tons of sites out there that help you build a website, but most of them are built for novices or, on the other end, developers. Many of them rely on template-systems: The user is given a couple stock molds to choose from — you can change a few colors, add a logo, and that’s about it. For example, those with Macs might be familiar with iWeb, which allows you to use a few pre-existing templates to publish your own website. These services are great; they’ve made building websites so simple your grandmother probably has one.
Then, going a step further for those with loftier ambitions, there are Content Management Systems (CMSes), which are designed to make creating and editing HTML content easier on publishers and developers. WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal, are a few well-known examples used by large publishers. But, if I’m using Drupal as an example (though I’m a big fan), designers are often forced to work with ready-made blocks of HTML and, generally speaking, designers want to be crafting their own HTML and CSS, which is possible in Drupal, but not always easy.
So, this is where Webpop enters the picture. The creative Spanish startup has built a CMS that it believes will solve a long-existing problem: How to put website creation back in the hands of designers without requiring lots of web development, while giving designers the tools they need to build powerful but flexible dynamic sites that prioritize good design over the pre-fab template model.
With Webpop, you get full control over HTML and CSS — there are no pre-defined blocks of HTML, nor any drag and drop interfaces requiring you to go through lots of clicks to get the result you require. Just good ol’ plain and simple HTML and a few custom tags and you’ll be able to make your content dynamic. For a deep dive of what Webpop means by “full control”, check out their blog entry here.
So, basically, Webpop’s cloud platform (like Scoble, it’s Rackspace-hosted) makes it easy for any web designer to take full control over both the design and content, with the result being a beautifully designed, robust website that stays true to the designer’s vision. The startup was conceived by co-founders Daniel Villegas, Julio Gonzalez Cotorruelo, who previously built Domestika (the largest CMS platform in the European market, with more than 10,000 SMB customers), and Mathias Biilmann. Following the success of the European platform, the team has set their eyes on the U.S., hoping to bring highly scalable, cloud CMS to the states.
Many CMSes conflate the distinction and admin privileges between user and designer, often leading to a situation in which designers suffer because things are too restricted and difficult to tinker with, while too advanced and byzantine for the average end user. So, Webpop is completely dividing the roles of the designer and the end user by providing an interface optimized to resist limitations to flexibility for the designer while providing the simplest possible interface for the end user. Overlays on the website itself will show clients shortcuts, what can be edited and quickly changed, and so on. The interface looks fairly similar to Drupal. Check it out here.
Webpop also integrates an active SEO system that allows you to design an SEO strategy for your client and measure your success. You can find the best keywords to drive traffic to your site, monitor search engine rankings, and track the progress of link building campaigns. The built-in reporting system makes it easy to share the results with your client.
Webpop is, as mentioned, hosted in the Rackspace Cloud, and takes care of caching contents, monitoring system performance, and adding new servers dynamically as needed. It also handles updates transparently, so you won’t have to worry about self-hosted WordPress installs getting a virus or anything like that.
Webpop offers a 15-day free trial, with pricing plans varying according to how you will use the platform. Personal use, which offers 5 projects and 1 GB of storage is priced at $15 a month, while “freelance”, which allows 10 projects, 5 clients and collaborators, and 5 GB of storage, is priced at $50 a month. Large-scale “Agency” pricing plans very from $100 a month to $300 a month, depending on your requirements.
With many of the CMSes out there already operating as well-established entities, Webpop has its work cut out. But, I think anyone who uses WordPress or Drupal, while appreciating the many benefits these services offer, will be more than willing to admit that there’s plenty of room for improvements. While Webpop is by no means perfect, it’s nice to see a CMS that gives some of the power back to designers while making it easy for we noobs.
To learn more, check it out for yourself.