After spending more time than was probably good for me, I've slogged through a couple dozen tools for creating Web sites that met two specific criteria I'd developed and emerged out the other side deciding to pin my hopes on Jimdo. I thought someone else might benefit from my analysis, so I'm sharing it here. (Actually, this is just a very quick summary of my reasoning, but it hits the highlights.)
The two criteria I had were based in large part on issues I kept running into while using WordPress as my tool of choice for the past couple of years. I had decided that if I was going to find a new tool, it would have to have these two basic characteristics to make the first cut:
- Minimizing the need for me to know or use PHP and/or master relatively complex file hierarchies to do even fairly simple stuff.
- Allowing my clients to edit their sites without having to understand much, if anything, about how they were structured or how to use a sometimes bewildering Dashboard.
I started out by asking a question on LinkedIn. The thread
that emerged was very helpful and I've struck up longer conversations with several of the participants outside the thread. I also made direct inquiries of a number of colleagues. I also found a great site
that specializes in evaluating Web Site creation tools and spent a good bit of time there.
Filtering all that content down based on my two key criteria, I narrowed the initial list to (in no particular order):
- Interspire Web Publisher
I actually built a sample site — or part one a site — in all of those tools except Interspire and Yola, the former because even though it looked pretty decent, it didn't fully meet my second criterion and its price ($395) combined with a good bit of Nettlebut about a slow and non-responsive development cycle and inadequate support didn't feel right, and the latter because it proved to be either too inflexible or non-intuitive.
Of the remaining five tools, I gradually eliminated the following for the reasons indicated:
concrete5 because: (a) although the tool is free and even open source, almost every add-on for it were priced higher than I thought was fair and would have made it a costly investment; (b) the self-hosted solution wasn't available as a one-click install on any of my hosting services even though to of them were advertised as being good hosts to use. (It turned out that in one case the problem wasn't concrete5 but rather the hosting service.)
Squarespace because the templates it offers are pretty simple and plain,which would be fine except that even minor customization requires using CSS and HTML and because simple tasks like centering images required me to set CSS properties for padding and border rather than just clicking a "center" button.
Weebly because, of all things, it does not support sidebars or any other notion of shared content across pages outside the header and footer. I was incredulous, assuming I was just missing something, but an email exchange with support confirmed it. Copy-paste maintenance of content I want on multiple pages is not going to cut it for me or my clients.
Basekit because I ended up having to make a trade-off decision between it and Jimdo. Basekit is a great tool. But it lacks a blog component, which was essential to one of my three new clients for whom I was doing this evaluation. Jimdo has a blog but doesn't support customized forms. I decided it would be easier to use something like Wufoo to create and embed a custom form into a site than to kludge inclusion of another blogging tool without losing the seamless functionality I was seeking. But I could have gone either way. I'm hoping the Jimdo guys will get to the custom form stuff at some point soon.
So I'm off to dive into Jimdo by building the first and simplest of the three new projects. I expect you'll hear from me more on this subject here over time.