It's happening, and it's really not a surprise. In some ways it's kind of delightful. The commoditization of websites has outgrown its ugly phase (think godaddy, network solutions, and intuit... YUCK!), and now you can find really beautiful, elegant, and CHEAP website building tools. They're easier than setting up a Wordpress template, and the templates are getting prettier and more plentiful each day.
Here are some of the best cheap and easy website builders that we've come across.
I should note, I have only a tiny bit of first-hand experience with a couple of these. And others I'm just admiring from afar. We're a Drupal shop. When folks needs and/or budgets don't warrant our approach (we're the super-thorough type), we steer them to another shop or to one of these DIY options.
If you haven't heard of this one yet, it's time to crawl out from under that rock. We've been watching them for a couple years, and these days they have some of the nicest looking templates on the block. The editor can behave a bit wonky at times, and when I have removed a good looking page that came with the original template, I'm rarely able to get it back with all its glory. Also, I wonder if they're having performance issues now that they're so popular. Their sites seem to be loading terribly slow these days. (Google grades harshly for poor load times.)
I ran across this one as I was looking at a designer's portfolio. I like to snoop in the page source and figure out what CMS someone's using. About 20 minutes later, I had a site live. I did very little to change the template I grabbed. It looks like they offer a LOT of tools for customizing the look. More than most. So I would guess the learning curve might be a bit higher too. The templates are nice looking, but the selection of themes that were "free" (i.e. included in the cost of the service) was very limited.
I've dabbled in several "designer-friendly" platforms, but I have to admit that I have not tried out Muse. The primary reason for that is the pricing model that Adobe has moved to — charging monthly subscriptions. I use Adobe Creative Suite every day (at least every day that involves a computer), and I'm an honest paying customer. I buy the suite for each of our designers. I have not moved to "Creative Cloud," I'm not a fan. I digress. Back to Muse...
While I don't have personal experience with it, I've seen dozens of designers' portfolios filled with sites they created with Muse. And from what I can tell, the visual aspects of those sites are as good as the designer who created them. Where Squarespace makes it harder to turn things ugly, Muse gives you far more freedom to hang yourself. So it's as good or as bad as the designer pulling the strings.
Let me know what you like to use to get a good-looking website up and running in less than a day.
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