Monday, December 01, 2008

Great Website Building Tool: Weebly.com

I've been meaning to post something on the free Web-based website-building tool Weebly because I find that I use it for something at least a couple of times a week. I personally have about 10 websites that I've created there that are in various stages of deployment. I find it particularly amazing that I can purchase a domain name (I use GoDaddy but you can get them through Weebly as well) and then have a site up with that domain name in about 10 minutes.

Of course, then the tweaking of the site begins, but it's the lack of a real barrier to entry that allows me to feel experimental. As Clay Shirky says (paraphrasing): when failure is (almost) free, you try a lot more things! And this is how I like to work--get it up fast, get feedback, and make it better.

When a project won't necessarily benefit from user collaboration, instead of using Wikispaces or Ning, I now use Weebly. I created a private Weebly site for my daughter's soccer team, which I coach, and it was super-easy to posts practice and game information, maps, and other material and not to have to worry about communicating with everyone. I have also used it for my new project, K12OpenSource.com. I used Weebly for the landing page, which then handily links to the associated wiki and Ning sites. This allowed me to get the project started in a matter of hours, and when the site needs more sophistication, I can graduate to something appropriately more complex.

(I also love using customized prefixes to keep everything related. "http://www.K12OpenSource.com" is the Weebly site. "http://community.K12opensource.com" is the Ning site. And "http://wiki.K12OpenSource.com" is the wiki.)

More and more, as the tools become easier and cheaper, it seems to me that the value proposition of a project is no longer primarily the ability to create a revenue stream model in advance that will overcome the financial hurdles to creation (that's a mouthful); but rather the ability to quickly and easily gather an audience--and if the goal is commercial, working with that audience to find authentic services that they want you to provide.

Here's an "infommercial"-like video on Weebly that gives a pretty good sense of what it can do.

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