I’ve spent nearly a decade in the web design industry, and come to find that learning from the experiences of fellow professionals is an indispensable aide to enhancing my own skills. For exactly this reason I’d like to share my own experiences as it relates to the new wave of code-free web design software.
Recently, I made the switch to one such platform in an effort to test the true mettle of these code free claims. My choice: Webydo. With its growing community of over 100,000 designers, I figured it’d be a great place to see just how far a code-free platform could take me. If you’ve had the same curiosity about these intriguing services, go ahead and join me as I find the answers to some of my own burning questions.
The Problem Exposed
Let’s start things off with a quick overview of why platforms like Webydo even exist. You know the old adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”? Well, as it turns out, it was broke and Webydo is the product of an attempt to fix it.
For many years I’ve happily sketched the creative designs and layouts drifting passed my mind’s eye within software designed specifically for these tasks. So far so good right? Unfortunately, those very designs I took so much pride in would then be fed through a long process of transformation into a final, web-ready product.
While this sounds good enough on paper, in practice it takes way too long, costs way too much, and often leads to way too many sacrifices as the design is interpreted by someone other than the designer. While the process ultimately worked, it was clearly broken.
What the design community needed, or rather deserved, was a way to take out the middle man. I’d have given anything a decade ago if my web projects were competed after my final, digital brush strokes. Well, with Webydo, I’m happy to say they are!
As I researched possible platforms for my code-less web design antics, I discovered that Webydo was borne out of the very same frustrations I had lamented for years. In fact, it was created by a professional web design agency that simply grew tired of the inefficiencies and drawbacks of the traditional web design process. Designers after my own heart!
After many years of thoughtful development and tight communication with the design community at-large, Webydo launched a web-based, all-encompassing design suite. Some of the key features I’ve come to thoroughly enjoy include:
- Integrated document and content management systems. This allows my clients to privately manage their own content without me having to setup or install a thing!
- Webydo’s impeccable ability to make difficult, cutting edge technology a point and click affair. Case in point, their new parallax scrolling feature which gives the impression of depth on screen (currently in beta).
- White label, custom branding options that allow me to build my brand and stand out from the crowd.
- The ability to create pixel-perfect, responsive web designs without writing a single line of code.
Webydo surprised me here. I’ve got all the features I’d normally expect from expensive, desktop design software humming along pleasantly in my web browser.
As I perused the Webydo site for the first time, I was immediately comforted by both the simplicity and familiarity of the interface. I was greeted with a simple choice between three unassuming options to begin my design project. Wanting to test the true power of the code-free promises, I chose to start with a blank canvas and to create my first Webydo site from scratch.
Webydo sports a beautiful design canvas that I was up and running with in a matter of minutes. Its subtle dashboard, context sensitive menus and drag and drop capabilities combine to create one of the most intuitive design experiences I’ve ever encountered. The learning curve here was next to nothing. Simply drag elements on to the canvas and adjust pertinent attributes from the handy menus that pop up. Even setting global site variables such as styles, size and positioning can be set with a few clicks.
I found that Webydo’s intuitive nature allowed me to create designs and position layouts in a surprisingly quick manner. In fact I was able to produce a fully functional website in a fraction of the time. As a professional web designer, being able to produce quality web sites in less time is almost too good to be true. Not only was I able to quickly finish my project, but publishing to the web and setting up client-side functionality (CMS/DMS) was automatic.
So what about the code I didn’t write? Again, it’s all generated automatically in the background in a completely standards compliant manner. As much as I pride myself on the designs I create, Webydo apparently takes the same pride in the code created by their design platform.
As far as noticeable shortcomings in the code-free platform, they were actually quite few. The most notable shortcoming I came across was the inability to export my designs. I can certainly understand the need to keep things within the Webydo platform — and it truly does make things easier — but the control freak inside would love an export feature [Update: The Community has spoken! They have added this feature!].
Other Odds and Ends
Oddly enough, the aspect of this web design platform I find most intriguing is its interaction with the professional design community at large. Over 100,000 strong, Webydo’s community regularly votes on specific changes they’d like to see adopted by the platform. I absolutely love the idea of being able to personally influence the future of the design software I use on a daily basis. Even better, I enjoy knowing that thousands of my peers are participating in the conversation as well.
I must be honest here, I’m completely surprised by Webydo. When I first took on this review I was skeptical that a web-based design suite could truly let me create the same quality web designs I was used to without the need to hire a team of developers. Consider me a convert. As I finished my second and third websites, I wasn’t even aware that coding was ever a part of web design. It’s that seamless.
I’ve since come to the conclusion that platforms like Webydo are indeed the future of the industry. It manages to not only unify the design community by taking out the need for programmers, but in the same vein, use its collective experience to drive innovation. That being said, I think every professional web designer should give Webydo a shot (it’s free after all!) if for nothing else than to experience the kind of dedicated community that influences such great software.