If you think that making a website ought to be as easy as clicking, dragging and typing, get a load of Designly.
Considering how long the web's been around, you'd think building your own site would be a lot easier by now. We take it for granted that if you want to make a site - and you don't want it to be a super-templated Mickey Mouse effort - then you'll have to roll your sleeves up and learn a little code. Maybe more than a little.
Does it really need to be like that, though? The people behind Designly think not; they think that making a website should be as easy as clicking, dragging and typing, and you shouldn't have to learn code, complex programs, or be limited to someone else's style. And they've taken these beliefs and made them into a website builder for those of us whose brains freeze the moment anyone mentions tags, divs or CSS.
Designly's almost obscenely easy to use; once you're past the simple sign-up process you can create a site from scratch (or more realistically pick a template to work from), and then populate it however you want.
With its straightforward drag and drop interface you can create sections, add shapes and images, drop in text boxes and use a pretty hefty selection of free web fonts and useful page furniture. You can move layers backwards and forwards, you can embed content, you can do plenty of things without ever having to even think about code.
Designly also does its best to help you create good-looking stuff at every step; it uses a 12-column grid and cleverly nudges you towards placing things to align nicely with it, and its colour picker suggests palettes based on the colours you're already using. Obviously it can't take the place of a decent grounding in graphic design, but it should steer you away from creating anything too hideous.
It's excellently easy to use, and Designly makes it just as simple for you to show your work to the world; simply hit 'Save and Publish' and you're done. Plus, if you're happy with your site being on the Designly domain and are happy with slightly limited bandwidth and storage, it's free to use.
If you need unlimited bandwidth and storage and want to use your own domains, it's $14/month for your first site, plus $10 per additional site. And if you already have a site but fancy switching, for $99 per page Designly will convert your site to its platform.
Obviously it's not for everyone, but we're amazed at how versatile Designly is and at how much you can do with zero web skills. If you fear the code - or even if you just want a quick and easy platform for wireframing - you should at least give the demo a go.
Words: Jim McCauley
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Sites without code? What fresh madness is this? Come and comment!