Website creation nowadays can be a slightly gruelling task, especially given the demands on web designers and creators to produce high-quality, professional-looking and intuitive websites. Often with these kind of sites there is a steep learning curve as CSS, HTML5, and even Flash in some ways play huge roles in modern websites and I’m sure everyone knows that learning these coding scripts isn’t an easy task.
There are plenty of programs that will help you design a site without too much input (or too many hours poring over HTML and CSS for Dummies). Now, you can even design a website without having to leave your browser. One of these apps is called Breezi and it couldn’t be any easier to use.
Let’s delve straight into it.
Breezi is an online WYSIWYG web designer and works off the simple concept of dragging and dropping items into place, giving you much greater control over the finished product. The site is currently free if you sign up before the end of April so at the moment, no actual pricing information is available (be aware that you have to log in every 30 days, otherwise your site will be deactivated).
Breezi offers a “test drive” mode where you can play around with the different features without committing to building a site completely. However, seeing as signing up is completely free, you may as well grab yourself an account and get designing!
Breezi offers a choice of about 15 templates to get you going and if you don’t like what you see, you can request your own design by sending an e-mail to the developers. You’ll be asked to give your site a name (which links up to http://yourname.breezi.com) and your e-mail address and as soon as you’ve signed up, your site is online and ready to go!
Designing Your Site
Designing a website with Breezi couldn’t be easier and the app has plenty of built-in features which help you do this.
Breezi features the standard editing tools, such as the ability to enter text and insert images. You’ve got the choice between about 30 web-safe fonts (meaning they will look the same no matter what platform is being used) and you can edit pretty much every aspect of the typeface, such as the size, colour (you can even choose whether to use more vivid or pastel colours), layout and so on.
Uploading media is simple too and you can upload both pictures (up to a maximum of 1.5 MB) and videos either from your computer or from the web via the image’s (or video’s) URL. That way, if your pictures are larger, you could always save them in a service like Dropbox or CloudApp, and then link to them in your site. When it comes to videos, Breezi supports direct embedding from both YouTube and Vimeo.
You can even do some (basic) editing of your images from within Breezi, though this is pretty limited to simply cropping an image to fit the frame and if you want to do some more advanced image manipulation, then it’s best to use a more advanced image editor.
Breezi has several (albeit simple) apps bundled along with it which can help you extend the entire functionality of your website. You can add widgets such as image galleries, banners, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and more.
With Breezi, there’s no complicated coding when it comes to inserting widgets – simply select the app you wish to use and drag and drop it to where you want it. After you’ve dropped it onto your page, you’re free to customise it how you want (such as where it is on the page and how much space it should take up).
Adding New Pages
A site certainly isn’t a website with just one page, so once you’ve created your first one, why not go ahead and do another one? Breezi has got you covered in this area – simply click on the Pages button at the bottom of the page to add a new one. You can set the title (which appears as http://yourname.breezi.com/new-page) and Breezi will ask which “apps” you want to carry over to the new page.
Apps in Breezi are not just ones you’ve added yourself (like explained above) but all page elements such as text boxes, titles, images and so on. You can, of course, choose a different layout for your new page and start afresh, but if you have some common items that you want to appear across the whole of your site (such as your Twitter feed, for example), then this is quite a useful tool. If you want to flick between the various pages of your website, head down to the Pages button at the bottom.
Previewing and Publishing Your Website
Once you’ve finished building your website, you can click on the little eye symbol in the bottom toolbar to have a look at what your website will look like to the world! All editing controls are turned off and this view allows you to scout out any imperfections, broken links, incorrect images and so on before you publish your site.
Once you click on Publish, your site goes live on Breezi’s servers. You can, of course, take down your site at any time by going to Admin then clicking on Unpublish Site, or you can completely dispose of it by clicking on Reset Site. Beware, though, because once you do this there’s no going back!
If you’re new to web design or you just want to throw together a simple website without too much effort, then Breezi is a really good tool to help you do so, although you certainly wouldn’t want to use it for a long time. You can play around a lot with the layout and entire design of the site, you are quite limited on what exactly you can do and some features that you may want may not be supported by Breezi.
I also found that the web interface, although very simple to use, is quite problematic and slow. I tested it on my 2.4 GHz MacBook (mid-2010 model) with 4 GB of RAM in the latest version of Safari (at the time of writing version 5.1.5) and I encountered the spinning beach ball of death several times and sometimes, the page would freeze up and refuse to work without any prior warning or explanation. I have tested it on a different computer (Windows) and found the same problem (especially when it comes to dragging-and-dropping, which can be quite hit-and-miss sometimes).
However, putting these slight problems aside, Breezi is a nice, simple and web-based way to create a good-looking and intuitive website. Go ahead and make sure you grab it whilst it’s still free, though!