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Network World - Building a Web site is, for many people, a task that lies somewhere beyond daunting.
The problem is that the majority of serious tools (for example, Adobe Dreamweaver) are complex and require a considerable knowledge of a whole range of technologies from HTML through to scripting, not to mention being expensive. On the other hand, the majority of the low-end tools really don't make the building process much easier and usually don't produce nice looking results.
A friend of mine dropped me an e-mail a few days ago to tell me that he wanted to build a Web site for his son to highlight his son's baseball talents with a view to promoting his son as a scholarship prospect for a university. He had discovered a Web building and hosting service that he thought might work for him and he wanted to know what I thought of it.
Although my friend is not un-technical he has little experience with Web site construction and his find, Wix, a Flash-based editing system that produces Flash-based Web sites, looked like it might meet his needs.
One of my friend's concerns was over what could be the downsides of using a Flash-based site. The answer is next to none as long as you can edit the page META statements to allow search engines to see what you have to offer as keywords. And the issue of how many people can see a Flash site is also not much of a concern – studies show that something like 98% of Web browsers are configured to run Flash content.
So, what I looked at was whether Wix is actually any good. Does it produce good-looking Web sites? Is its editor easy to use? How sophisticated is it?
On the question of does it produce good-looking Web sites? Absolutely. The templates are professionally designed and mostly look great (those that I don't like are simply because they don't appeal to my tastes rather than being simply bad).
When you sign up you can pick one of these templates and modify it or start from scratch. The editor interface is pretty slick and makes the editing process remarkably straightforward despite it providing a huge range of features that allow very fine-grained control over your site's look and feel.
The result is a multi-page site that can include PayPal support and, in the premium versions, provide a full e-commerce service.
As far as I can determine a free Wix account allows for an unlimited number of pages but how much storage or bandwidth is available appears to be a closely held secret (it is really odd not to explain what a free account provides).
Premium accounts start at $4.95 per month and allow you to use your own domain along with removing Wix ads, unlimited bandwidth, increased storage, Google Analytics site stats, unlimited pages, and premium support.
I've played around with the Wix service and I'm very impressed. Building a slick site is, indeed, very easy and the whole experience should be comfortable for even the newest newbie.
My advice to my friend: Go for it. Wix looks like one of the better choice he could make.
Read more about software in Network World's Software section.