It’s almost too good to be true. With free web hosting, no ads and an incredibly slick interface Webnode raises the standards for combined hosting/editing packages.
webnode.com – overview via kwout
It boasts an impressive set of features suitable for personal web sites, but aimed squarely at small business users, with drag and drop e-commerce components for Paypal, Google Checkout and Worldpay.
webnode.com – create your website easily via kwout
The built in templates are an adequate starting point; with the system giving easy access to style sheets. More importantly, the templates themselves can be downloaded as an archive, edited and brought back into the system as a completely customized theme. (Web designers can now breathe a sign of relief, they still have a role.)
webnode.com – samples via kwout
Webnode have taken a very pragmatic approach that has made their system extremely flexible. They have streamlined the embedding of third party widgets and gadgets. With direct links to Google Gadgets, YourMinis and SpringWidgets, users are given a very clear and straightforward way to place and manage embed codes. The real beauty is that once your code is pasted you able to drag the embedded objects about the page as you would any other content with a simplicity that rivals Pageflakes.
There are some rough edges, with missing links to some documentation, and occasional delays while the servers catch up with their expanded audience. I’m sure the outstanding technical issues will be cleared up promptly.
My only concerns about the success of the application are connected to marketing. The site doesn’t speak about it’s own origins or credentials. It’s only by looking at downloaded templates that I was able to identify the developers as Czeck integration specialists Westcom. While the product is excellent, more effort needs to go into documentation, marketing, reputation building and public relations if its full potential is to be realized.
Every now and then I need to find a new tool to work with. It might be a blog or a content management system, a image gallery or an e-learning platform. It could be for a personal project, for a client’s needs, or just a whim. More often than not my starting point is opensourceCMS.com.
Home – OpenSourceCMS via kwout
This site hosts 150 live demos of open source content management systems with both the public interfaces and the administrative interface exposed for you to experiment with. This means you can get a quick feel for a packages interface, structure and capabilities without having to download, unpack, install, configure etc.
Three things to bear in mind:
- There is only one instance of each package running, so if someone else is evaluating the same application at the same time you will see some unexpected changes.
- Each application is refreshed every 30 minutes. This means that all your changes will be lost and you’ll be starting from scratch. This is a way of shortlisting, not of conducting an in-depth evaluation.
- Only PHP/MYSQL packages are included. If you’re looking for .NET, Rails or Servlet solutions you’ll need to look somewhere else.
- The installations are plain, vanilla, out of the box; no extra plugins, modules or themes. So in Drupal, for example, you won’t see a WYSIWYG editor even though there are several available.
Although the site’s focus is on content management systems it’s fairly broad in its definitions, including blogs, forums, shopping carts, project management systems and e-learning applications in the mix.
I use this site intensively three or four times a year. Each time I use it I save time and effort, quickly drawing up a shortlist of applications that meet my needs or my clients’ needs.