You've probably seen MyWebsite advertised on TV in the last few months. 1&1 claims its sites are quick to set up for individuals and small business and include standard text, which can speed the establishment of a web presence. See Group test: what's the best web-design software?
There are two different offerings, for personal and business sites, both priced exclusive of VAT on the 1&1 site, though inclusive they cost £6 and £12, respectively. We’re looking at the personal version here. Take a look at Adobe Dreamweaver CS5.5 too.
In the marketing screens on 1&1’s site, the site designs look homely and divided neatly into categories. Once we signed up, though, we were presented with 300 templates categorised under less helpful headings, like Trendy, Futuristic and Portfolio, with all the heading text in the thumbnails in German. It can take a good while to scan through all the templates before choosing one and starting a site design.
The good news is that site structure in the templates is well established, with many obvious headings already in place. So for example, menu options like Our Hobbies, Our Sports and Our Pets are available, though they can be easily hidden or removed if not needed. New pages can be added too, taking on the template styles.
Adjusting the site structure and page elements is straightforward. Click on any element and an editing frame pops up in situ, so a text frame offers a text editor and typographical choices, while picture frames offer to upload new images. Picture size optimisation is automatic, but images can be resized, flipped, rotated, sharpened and brightened.
YouTube videos can be included on pages and documents can be held on a site for download, subject to a 10GB site storage limit. MyWebsite Personal also includes the facility to maintain a guestbook for direct feedback and a contact form, so your readers/customers can get in touch directly.
Widgets provide buttons to link social networking and other services such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Delicious. 1&1 also provides for Flash movies, photo galleries, forms and visit counters, among many other smart page elements. There are no facilities to sell items in MyWebSite Personal, so if you need this feature, you’ll need to go for the Business version or manually include HTML code for PayPal buttons and the like.
1&1 MyWebsite Personal is a decent tool for putting together a standard website, quickly. There are a lot of pre-defined templates, so finding something to work from is easy. Widgets which expand what your site can do are quick and easy to add, though there’s no shopping cart available in the Personal product.