We are a fairly diverse group of tech loving folks, some of us have graphic design backgrounds and think nothing of quick website design while others of us are much more comfortable with designing a website that goes beyond blogging through the use of WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) tools. What are WYSIWYG tools? A WYSIWYG interface is a way of designing a website (or really adding any content online) that requires no web design or development experience and makes it as easy as creating a word processing document.
To say that there are a few options out there would be a massive understatement, but like most things there is a huge difference in the quality that you will find of the pre-made templates in many WYSIWYG website editors. Since we are a website focused on good design, we are only going to list solutions that have well designed templates that go beyond the basic very 2000 and late templates that are a dime a dozen online.
Of course with most of the website creation (CMS, content management systems) tools that we've looked at, they do allow you to tear off the pretty skin and do the coding yourself (with their paid option generally), however since this is a piece aimed at the lay user, this is not a feature we're going to talk about. Solutions that have a free option beyond a free trial are marked with an F.
Pretty Pretty Templates
- Squarespace: Easily one of the simplest solutions we have ever watched a non-web designer use, Squarespace makes the task of getting your site to look like how you had imagined it to be incredibly simple. One of the things that sets them apart is that not only is it simple to edit your content (think writing a blog as easy as writing a paper in Word) it is also easy to edit where everything is on the page (going beyond simply changing the font or color in a template) and add elements like forms (so useful for home businesses!). The templates are also out of the box some of the most modern and elegant that we've seen and they are incredibly easy to edit. Month to month plans start at $13.33 (free trial available).
- Jimdo: One of the biggest things that makes Jimdo stand out is how very easy it is to create your own great looking site built for commerce. Want to sell your creations online yourself? Look to Jimdo as a great place to build your site with its own shopping cart and secure payment system. F
- Cargo Collective: While unfortunately not open to everyone (by invite only), Cargo Collective offers a great variety of templates for artists to display their work. F
- Edicy: With a nice variety of fresh looking templates, Edicy is another great website building tool that also boasts a nice custom form builder. F
- Jigsy: Another easy to use website creator, Jigsy comes with 175 themes. F
- Webs: With over 300 templates and great small/home business support in the form of commerce and social media integration, Webs is another solid choice for an easy to use website creator. F
- Yola: It definitely does not hurt that one of our favorite cupcake recipe websites, Ming Makes Cupcakes was created using Yola. Yola, like all of the options listed, has fresh looking templates and an easy to use interface. F
- SnapPages: With a nice variety of templates for both personal and business use, SnapPages is another nice option for drag and drop website creation and editing. F
- Weebly: Another good option particularly if you are more blogging focused, Weebly offers 100+ themes and is free.
Honorable mentions for easy to use basic templates go to iWeb and Google Sites.
In the category of robust CMS but not terribly easy to use for the lay user, honorable mentions to Concrete5, Movable Type, Drupal, Wordpress, and ImpressPages.
Have we left off a great WYSIWG CMS tool? Let us know in the comments!