iWeb, like any new Apple app these days, is generating lots of conversation. I’ve been following the comments in Giles Turnbull’s article, Mac OS X Website Builder Face-Off, and have read things such as, “iWeb=puke” and “iWeb is a joke.”
I decided to do my own testing of Apple’s consumer web tool. One of my websites was in dire need of a facelift. Why not use iWeb to build a real site, post it on the Web, and let people decide for themselves? So that’s what I did. Here are the details.
I have a commercial website that’s designed solely for wedding and portrait customers. The URL has been on the web since 1997, so it’s easy for people to find via search and aggregate web sites. Its components are simple:
- Home Page - I want to make a good visual first impression and provide links to all the information potential customers would need.
- Pricing Pages - These two pages detail the packages I offer and list how much they cost.
- Contact Page - Just your basic “contact us” page.
All of my sample galleries are generated directly out of iPhoto or Aperture. I then add links to those pages on the home page of my site.
I dedicated this Saturday morning to redesigning this aging site with iWeb. I spent 3 hours from start to finish. You can look at the results by visiting the Story Photography home page.
The site consists of four pages, all are displayed as links in the top nav bar. The nav bar shows “state” as well as highlights the links as you mouse over them. I’m using big Jpeg graphics on all of the pages, which I’ve optimized in Photoshop CS, but haven’t compressed them too much because this is a photography site and I want the pictures to look as good as possible. So there’s definitely a tradeoff here for load times. (I had a friend test load times on dial-up, and the big graphic pages were around 15 seconds.)
I use one gradient screen for the background on the home page, but all other pages have a simple white backdrop. The urls are ugly because iWeb generates a folder structure with spaces in the directory names. It also uses upper and lower case.
Side by side comparisons of the Story Photography site on modern Mac and Windows computers shows that they parse almost identically, even in IE for Windows. I really like the nice design touches such as the gray type (that I can control while designing the pages), drop shadows for the images, and the sharp looking templates that helped me organize the material.
My bottom line as a business person was that my total time investment was one morning to build a new site. I had iWeb export the site to a folder on my hard drive, then I uploaded it to my server and went to lunch.
I wouldn’t be quite so open to using this tool for my blogging site that serves podcasts. I like Movable Type for that project. But for constructing a flat site in a hurry, iWeb was pretty fun. Take a look at the site and decide for yourself.
My conclusion is that iWeb is what it is — a very easy to use web site building tool for anyone. Some people have remarked that iWeb is the Pages-equivalent for online. I think it’s even easier than Pages to learn. Not once did I refer to Help or look anything up. I just got to work, and finished it quickly. And for that reason, I would recommend iWeb to my photography students and to non-technical folks who want to build a flat page site quickly and cheaply.