Websites are useful things. We dare say they might catch on. We're being sarcastic, of course, but once upon a time an enterprising small business would have sought out a prominent location in the high street, or liveried up its vans (and in some cases employees) to create a visual presence for potential customers.
Now, though, customers expect you to have a website, and a good one at that. If you don't have a digital shop window, you're missing out on extra custom. Even if this leaves you worrying that you don’t know your SQL from your elbow, then holdfast on those concerns because hope is at hand.
Moonfruit might sound like one of Frank Zappa’s children or the makers of novelty greeting cards, but is a UK-based company that provides everything you require to create websites without the need for coding or design experience. Its template-based options allow you to assemble and customise a website that looks professional in a short space of time with nary a whisper of HTML or PHP.
One of the key features it includes for businesses making the transition to the web is a built-in shop. This allows you to ply your wares on Facebook, accept payments via Paypal, and promote your products directly on social media sites. The shop is highly configurable and many of the templates available are designed specifically to make the most of showcasing what you have to offer. Best of all there are no shop-specific fees to detract from your profits.
The rise of mobile devices was once a pain for web designers as they struggled to get their beautiful creations to shrink down to an iPhone’s 3.5in display. That's no longer a problem if you use a service such as Moonfruit which automatically adjusts the look of your site so it still looks great on a smartphone or tablet. You can worry about the words and images, leaving the technical stuff to people who know what they're doing.
To take a no-risk practice run at building an online empire you can opt for the 15-day free trial, but even at the end of that you have the option of running a small site at no cost. Those with grander plans though can sign up for a paid-for package. Prices range from £4 per month up to the top-end £25 per month package which includes mobile optimised checkouts, 10GB of storage and unlimited bandwidth.
How to make a website with Moonfruit
1. Browse to Moonfruit's home page and enter the details where it asks you for a username, email address, and password. Once that’s completed you’re free to start building your site.
2. Next choose a template for the layout. You can change this later so feel free to experiment. Hover over a design to highlight it, select the plus icon for more details, then if you like what you see select ‘Click to Build’.
3. You’ll be asked to enter a name for the site and a valid address. Don’t worry since this doesn’t mean you need to buy or own a domain name. For the free trial, just enter your site name and it will be prefixed to .moonfruit.com
4. It’s time now to begin customising the site. A useful tool is the small ‘Editor’ pop-up box appear with a drop down menu. Clicking on the various options - square 2, title 3 - highlights areas of the page that you can alter.
5. To change the main logo and heading you’ll need to use the Page Master function. This is found by clicking on the header then clicking ‘Yes’ in the pop-up box. Additional tools are available by clicking on ‘Design’ in the toolbar.
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6. To change the title just double-click it then enter the text you want and format it using the ‘Font’ tab in the Editor Box. Altering the image requires clicking on it, selecting ‘Style’ in the Editor Box, then clicking ‘Choose an image’.
7. Your other main consideration is how many pages to have. To change the shortcuts to these click on ‘Pages’ in the toolbar, then ‘Organise Pages’ in the menu that appears. Here you can reorder, rename, add or delete them.
8. To add a shop click ‘Add new page’ then select ‘Shop’ from the list. A drop down menu then appears with the various product types you can add or edit. Click on ‘Beta Shop’ in the toolbar to set payment and delivery details.
9. As Moonfruit auto-detects which device is being used to access the site, you can check how yours looks on a mobile device by browsing to it. Simply visit the address you entered at the beginning and enjoy the show.