Whether you’re wanting to promote your business online or find a way to let others quickly find out more about you, you’ll want to have your own website. That’s not too much to ask for, especially in 2012, but if time’s at a premium and you’re not a design and coding expert, making a high quality website can still be a daunting task. There’s a number of ways you could make a blog online, using a pre-made theme, but if you’re wanting something more customized, you’ll have to look further.
That’s where Striking.ly comes in. It’s a great web app which lets you create attractive web pages in a few easy steps, and the final results are much nicer than you might expect. Let’s take a look.
The major appeal of Striking.ly is the fast and easy way you can build a great looking web page in minutes. These are called One-Pagers, seeing that all content are in one page. A free account gives you up to two web pages with a limit of 500 visitors per month. Paid plans start at $8 a month for five web pages and 5,000 monthly visitors.
Upon registration, you are taken to the Create A Page screen where you can choose from three template types. Each template type has at least two layouts to choose from. I chose Personal Branding for my test page. It shows two designs and mousing over one brings up the Start Editing button. Before taking you to editing mode, a pop up offers to either view or skip a short tutorial.
The editing screen has two parts: most of it is the sample page with the default content, and an editing dashboard on the left panel. The web page elements such as the background, text, fonts and icons are all editable from the page itself. Clicking on the content’s area brings up a dialog box or a WYSIWYG editor where you can type in your own text or change the images.
Changing the background is done by clicking on the Background button found on the top right corner of the page. You can choose from other built-in images or upload your own file. Images can be imported from your computer and other photo hosting sites like Dropbox, Instagram and Facebook. You can also apply effects to the image such as photo filters and stickers.
The editing panel has four buttons for main controls: Save, Settings, Publish and Dashboard. Further down are the Sections lists which shows each part of the web page. Each section can be deleted, renamed or rearranged from the list. You can also add a section by clicking on Add New Section. New sections are not limited only to what you already have on the current template. The list for adding sections allows you to add other content types such as videos, portraits and a contact page. The paid plan also allows embedding custom HTML to the page.
When you’re done with editing your page, you can click on Save and Publish. You are then taken to your new Striking.ly One-Pager. Striking.ly hosts all web pages through cloud hosting, so the URL is http://striking.ly/yourname by default. Integration with a custom domain is offered in the paid plans.
The Settings function provides a myriad of added page customizations. You can change the page URL and title from the General tab, add SEO keywords from the SEO tab or change the template from the Template tab. Note that changing templates will discard all work done on the current template.
You can also change the thumbnail image used when posting the page in Facebook. Go to the SEO tab under Settings and click Upload New Image under Facebook Share Image.
Paid features such as assigning a custom domain name and setting a password for your page can be done here under the General tab. If you’re on a free plan, an upgrade button links you to the upgrade page where you can choose from Starter or Pro paid plans. Pricing can be on a monthly or yearly billing cycle. Pro users are given the option to remove the Striking.ly logo on the bottom of the page and use a custom Favicon. You can also access pricing details by going to the main dashboard and clicking on Upgrade.
The Dashboard takes you out of editing mode and into the My Pages section of the app, so be sure to save your work before leaving the current page. Here, you can add, edit and delete One-Pagers. For paid users, you can view your web page’s traffic stats by clicking on View Analytics.
Striking.ly also provides real time assistance with its built-in chat support even for a free account. To start a chat, click on the question mark icon on the lower right corner of the page. Response time is acceptable, but can be improved. However, it was from this chat that I learned there is no proper way to preview a page before publishing it other than minimizing the editing panel.
Some features are locked in a free plan such as Analytics, but you can invite two friends and unlock this feature (and more) when they sign up for Striking.ly. To do this, you can head to the Dashboard and click on Invitations. From here, you can share an invitation link to Facebook or send it through email.
Striking.ly is an excellent way to promote in the web without the cost of developing a full-fledged website. With its user-friendly interface, it helps those who are not too tech savvy with web development. At the same time, it also provides added funtcionality for more advanced users. The end result is a clean, simple web page that communicates effectively by focusing on the site’s content rather than a complicated design. It’s much nicer than most of its older competitors, and integrates with popular new web services like Instagram, so if you’re in the market for an easy, code-free way to make a new website, it’s the service you should be sure to check out!