Join-the-dots website creation
Sitemaker allows anyone to create a website without writing code – instead, you select one of the 126 pre-baked templates and replace the dummy content with your own. If you're happy to accept the included illustrations and navigation, this means you may only have to replace the text, which makes it a quick way to get your own website with little work.
Sitemaker is subscription-based and costs range from free to £191.25 a year depending on the features you want, but all subscription plans include hosting for the site and a Webeden-style address – ie www.yoursitename.webeden.co.uk. Sitemaker runs inside a web browser, but it looks much like any other Windows program. Although it's not immediately obvious how everything works, we found Sitemaker forgiving – so, for example, double-clicking an element that appears on every page (such as the site title) opens a dialogue box explaining that this element ‘lives' on what's called the ‘Master Page' and then offers to open it for you. It's also attentive and constantly offers to save your work.
Slightly more adventurous users can replace existing graphics with their own and add new content, from text to forms and tables as well as slideshows and galleries. There are also a range of widgets for adding extras such as image maps (where hyperlinks are assigned to specific parts of an image) polls, live chat, forums and more.
Sitemaker also allows you to add new pages or remove existing ones. New page types include a number that are designed to do a specific job such as a contact form, blog, guestbook or – from the Standard version upwards – even online shopping. Shops can be added as dedicated pages or dropped anywhere onto the site as widgets which make them flexible and easy to implement. They support payment via the Paypal service.
Unfortunately there's no local copy of the site so you can't easily switch to another website editor later if you wish. Although the templates look good, they're not necessarily flexible and even simple things such as replacing a short title with a longer one may require re-jigging the layout in quite involved ways. We also found the interface wasn't responsive and several times we had to close dialogue boxes and start again.
Bear in mind that Sitemaker sites use Flash (this is set to be changed this year to HTML5) which means they can't be seen on the Apple iPhone and iPad, Cunningly, Sitemaker serves up a text-only version of the site instead as a workaround.
If you can live with its flaws though, Sitemaker is a very quick and affordable way of setting up and running your own website.
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If you can accept the inherent limitations of using templates, then Sitemaker is good value – especially the £31 a year Standard version with its support for online shopping.
Attractive templates; create online store and up to five sites from £60 a year; good range of web widgets
Uses Flash; can't move site away from Webeden
Phone 0845 026 1045
from free to £191 per year
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