Moonfruit is another service which has a free entry-level offering and a range of others moving right up to a business offering. The Standard product sits above Free and Lite variants and should suit most personal and entry-level commercial uses. See Group test: what's the best web-design software?

In many ways, this is what an online web design application should look like. It’s polished and slick, but still has nearly all the features you could want. Starting with a wide range of predesigned templates, all of which look clean and modern, it shows the full page on screen with a tool bar across the top and selection palette down the left hand side. Individual dialogs appear as tools are selected and everything happens in real time, as if the page were being edited locally. Take a look at Adobe Dreamweaver CS5.5 too.

The shop facilities are well integrated into the web design and you can enter each item for sale in a separate database screen, which includes facilities for options, such as colour or postage to different areas. Sale items can be categorised too, so you can list, for example, books, CDs and DVDs under different headings.

There are some other niceties not generally available in online designers, such as photo effects which open images onto the page with a little more pizzazz than just placing them there. There's a video player where you can link to YouTube and other providers and audio players for single tracks or a jukebox - potentially useful for a band website.

Connections to social media include Twitter and an RSS feed, and Facebook Connect enables visitors to log into your site using their Facebook credentials. Any site you create is also available in a mobile-friendly form, with all the graphics removed and the essential text displayed on your smartphone or tablet. Mobile visitors can still read all the content and even buy goods from the shop.

The only real shortcomings of Moonfruit Standard could be the storage allowance, which at 1GB is a lot lower than some of its rivals, and a bandwidth limit of 20GB, when most are unlimited. The nature of your site will determine whether either of these limits are going to present a problem.

Moonfruit Standard: Specs

  • Number of pages: Unlimited
  • Number of templates: 160+
  • Mobile optimisation: Yes, with preview
  • Image editor or optimisation: Image editor
  • Photo galleries: Yes
  • Widgets: Includes: social media feeds, video, audio and special effects
  • SEO details: All sites optimised for search engines by default with clean W3C-compliant HTML
  • SHOP
  • Number of items: 50
  • Support for categories / sizes: Categories and options supported
  • Checkout options (e.g PayPal/Google): PayPal
  • HOSTING FEATURES
  • Domain name included: Yes
  • Storage space: 1GB
  • Bandwidth/month: 20GB
  • No of email accounts: 1
  • MySQL databases: No, but can be embedded with the HTML widget
  • Number of pages: Unlimited
  • Number of templates: 160+
  • Mobile optimisation: Yes, with preview
  • Image editor or optimisation: Image editor
  • Photo galleries: Yes
  • Widgets: Includes: social media feeds, video, audio and special effects
  • SEO details: All sites optimised for search engines by default with clean W3C-compliant HTML
  • SHOP
  • Number of items: 50
  • Support for categories / sizes: Categories and options supported
  • Checkout options (e.g PayPal/Google): PayPal
  • HOSTING FEATURES
  • Domain name included: Yes
  • Storage space: 1GB
  • Bandwidth/month: 20GB
  • No of email accounts: 1
  • MySQL databases: No, but can be embedded with the HTML widget

OUR VERDICT

Moonfruit claims that over two million sites have been built using SiteMaker, and it’s easy to see why. The interface is intuitive and very pleasant to use. While expert users will find the range of options rather limited, despite the various widgets that are included in paid packages, this will not bother the vast majority of people who simply need to get a good-looking site online quickly. This is a recommended service for inexperienced designers.

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