Professional designers tapping into the booming web design industry have traditionally faced two options for bringing their clients’ projects to life.
Option A is to divert vast amounts of creative energy into learning and utilizing front-end programming. While it’s entirely possible for designers to learn to code, the dry, tedious work doesn’t exactly appeal to the right-brained creative and consumes more than its fair share of precious time. Next!
Option B fixes this problem — at a price. Outsourcing the coding to suitably left-brained professionals keeps creatives in the line of work they find most fulfilling: design. However, this option is expensive and is guaranteed to eat a massive chunk of the profits, driving up costs and driving away budget-conscious clients.
You might be considering an out-of-the-box template solution as Option C, but if you’re a serious professional, that’s really not an option. Clients don’t hire you to make cookie-cutter websites, and as a designer, that lack of flexibility can be a bit soul-crushing. Let’s just leave that one out.
So, what is the best option for a designer in this position? It’s safe to say that neither of the traditional options are ideal as you’re sacrificing either time or money, so let’s table those for a minute and talk about something completely new, something that lets designers do what they do best — create pixel-perfect, custom websites in a design program. Wouldn’t that be revolutionary?
Webydo, an up-and-coming web-based program claims to do just that. It boasts a smart interface that allows designers a level of freedom and flexibility reminiscent of their favorite design programs. When the design phase is completed, designers can watch their creations go live without having to write a single line of code.
Analyzing the Interface: Can Designers Have Their Cake and Eat It, Too?
We’ve gotten our hopes up in the past. Need we mention a certain Adobe web design program that requires advanced training just to create a basic website? As any designer can attest, when using a
program like that, more time is spent trying to work in the clunky design interface than it would have taken to hand-code it. It’s enough to make any professional swear off of WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editors for good.
If a program really could replace a programmer, it would need to meet the following criteria.
- Replace the need for a separate design program: Give us an interface that allows us to actually design … within the workspace … like a design program. In fact, it should be so much like a design program (with drag-and-drop functionality, functional toolbars, layers panel, etc.) that we don’t even need to use a separate program to create our mockups.
- Create a live website that exactly matches the mockup: Better yet, let’s just make sure the mockup is the live website. There is no need to separate the design and coding processes.
- Wireframe templates to jump-start the design process: Sometimes a blank canvas is refreshing; other times, we just don’t want to reinvent the wheel. A variety of easy-to-customize wireframe templates gives us a head start in our custom designs without doing too much of the creative work for us.
- Create websites in real, cross-browser compatible HTML: We don’t want flash or text rendered into images. Search engine robots speak “HTML,” so we don’t want a website built completely in an unreadable format. More than that, we need our websites to look good in all of the modern browsers that our clients (and their clients) are using.
- Enable clients to make edits in a user-friendly CMS: Who wants to call his web designer to make a simple text or image change (and what designer wants to be bothered by every little change)? Having a built-in CMS is handy, especially if you can control what clients are able to edit.
With those criteria in mind, let’s take a look at how Webydo measures up.
The interface requires no special introduction or training for designers. With familiar elements like a layers panel, it’s easy to jump in and start working. The intuitive panels adjust available tools depending upon what type of object is selected, so the working area remains uncluttered. Best of all, the drag-and-drop capability allows designers to freely move and size objects with pixel precision. Web-specific needs, like the creation of rollovers and menus, are met so simply that it makes one wonder why other web programs have to make it so complicated.
Live Website as a Mockup
It seems almost ridiculous that simply pushing a “Publish” button is all it takes to get a design live on the web, but Webydo manages to pass this test with flying colors. It’s easy to switch back to design mode if a change is needed. Another quick “Publish” makes the correction live. Send the unique link to your client and let them browse a real, functioning website instead of a flat image. Once the design is finalized, the client can choose the domain and hosting package that works best for them.
Flexibility is a must, and we should be able to design from a blank canvas if we so choose. Webydo makes this option available, but you may not be interested once you see the variety of wireframe
templates. There are even a few completely-designed templates, which isn’t necessary for a good designer but can be handy for inspiration or even showcasing a variety of options to clients.
No matter how good a website looks, it needs to be formatted properly in order to get noticed by search engines. Having a website that is noticed by Google is a high priority for most clients, which is why we’re relieved to see Webydo putting out HTML that is readable by search bots and even allowing users to input search-friendly metadata. Additionally, the code can be read properly across the most popular browsers, which is a must for today’s diverse audience.
It makes sense, given the level of user-friendless for designers, that Webydo would be user-friendly for clients as well. This means that no two-hour training sessions are needed just to learn how to change a block of text. Our favorite aspect of Webydo’s CMS capability is the ease with which designers can control what can and can’t be edited by other users. Simply check a box on a selected
element if you don’t want to grant clients the ability to edit that element. That’s disaster-prevention 101, if you ask us. And unlike other CMS platforms, Webydo enables designers to completely rebrand the whole system as their own. Thanks to the unique “Build Your Brand” feature, the designer’s own name can be front and center when clients log into the CMS – not Webydo’s.
The Prognosis: Would Web Designers Recommend Webydo?
We couldn’t find much not to like about this platform . It’s completely free and web-based, which equates to no expensive product purchases (and equally costly upgrades) and access wherever and
whenever you have an internet connection. When your client is ready to go live, a low monthly fee covers your hosting and domain needs, thereby eliminating another headache.
In addition to fulfilling our basic requirements, we found one impressive feature that we didn’t expect from a web design platform: a “Bill Your Client” feature that allows designers to invoice their clients right from the dashboard. With that in mind, designers could practically run their entire business from one single platform.
Would web designers recommend Webydo? Absolutely.
Check it out for yourself at Webydo.com, and let us know if you agree!