Easily Create a Website with Moonfruit

Many tools and packages exist online to help people create websites with minimal effort and involvement. Of course, each one has their own strengths and weaknesses. Some are more aimed at creating blogs, while others are better for single-page info sites.

Moonfruit is another competitor in this market. It looks stylish, promises to be simple, and … you do want to create a new site, right? So what does it have to offer, and what are it’s pros and cons? Lets take a look…

Making Creativity Easy

Moonfruit is designed for people with absolutely no web design experience. It attempts to give small business owners and individuals easy access to web management and creative tools. So without further ado, lets take a look at the site itself.

Choosing a template to work with.

The first step in creating a site is choosing one of hundreds of themes as a starting point. From there it’s a case of altering and tweaking pretty much everything you see into a website that you would use to represent yourself.

The tools in the editor are very simple and easy to use, which is great because that’s exactly what people need. The elements, contents and formatting can be added and removed in a way that resembles Word or Publisher, so most people will feel comfortable using it. Moonfruit effectively turns a website into a page-by-page online document, where everything you see is configurable and can be adjusted as required.

The Editor window - More tools are made visible by selecting the categories at the top.

The content of the site has been intelligently and automatically mobile optimized.

A very useful feature Moonfruit has is automatic optimization of your site for mobile viewers. You don’t even have to configure or enable this, it’s there from the word go, no plugins, or code to meddle with. It didn’t show the Gallery image you can in these screenshots, however I am sure that this is solvable. Mobile-Optimization is important these days, as with the growth of smartphone and tablet computer popularity, more and more views may come from such devices.

Another factor that would definitely make Moonfruit appealing to people who want a hassle-free experience is that the hosting and domain settings are handled for you. No FTP client is required, and there are no HTML or CSS files to manage. The web interface handles it all. On the subject of domains, you can link one you own to Moonfruit in a matter of minutes. They guide you through the process of changing address records with the company you purchased the domain from and so forth. You can also use Moonfruit to register a new domain if you so wished.

The social aspect of a websites? They are included too, with Twitter integration, RSS feeds, Comment boxes, Forum backends, and chat widgets.

Costs?

Free website? Why thank you, yes.

They start you out on a 15 Day Free trial with 20MB of storage space. For any more space than this you have to crack open your wallet.

I chose the trial at first, and was expecting to have a really restricted interface and being prompted to pay for extra features. However when I signed in a popup box asked if I wanted to continue my 15 day trial, or keep a site for free. I clicked free, and the only condition is that I have to sign in every six months to keep the site ‘active’. Seemed like a good deal to me.

Obviously if you want a site for small businesses and enterprises you are going to have to break the 20MB limit, but for individuals or small groups it seems you can have a website on Moonfruit for nothing.

Bolt-Ons

There are several pieces of functionality you can add into your website if so required, such as a blog, or even a shop.

Blogs

The blog interface is very simplistic, offering only minimal functionality. What you see in this screenshot is all that you get. However for those of you familiar with feature-rich WordPress, remember that this entire service is geared towards people looking for straightforward and simplicity. Whilst it may look pretty bare, this is all that a blogger really needs. Three design modes are offered, Text, Image, and Article, so┬áit definitely won’t be replacing WordPress any time soon.

The Blog publishing window

Shops

Granted this feature is in Beta, but it’s still incredibly minimalistic if you wanted to create a shop within Moonfruit. Perhaps they still haven’t gotten the full service opened up to their customers yet. However if you signed into Facebook through Moonfruit, they give you a neat interface for managing a Facebook shop. Since social media is everything when it comes to businesses these days, this may be for the best.

People

The ‘People’ feature is where the Moonfruit Bolt-Ons regain a lot of pride. This membership management system lets you analyse and control your sites ‘Members’, that is if you chose to enable a sign up system. Within this tool you can send messages, alter group permissions and access to pages, or ban them if they’ve been misbehaving.

The ‘Send Message’ pane of People is a great social network broadcaster. If you sign into Facebook and authorise Twitter you’ve got a great distribution method for news and updates. Equally impressive is that you can email all the people who ‘signed up’ to your site at the click of a button.

Services

A useful feature Moonfruit slips in is the ‘Services’ page. This page has links to Google Analytics setup, Adsense, and Webmaster tools. Underneath are some promotional services for small businesses. Bookingbug for enquiry and reservation, MOO Printing for logo’s and images printed on pretty much anything, then Widgetbox to add some customization and interactivity to your website.

All of these tools would be invaluable to a small business.

Final Thoughts

Moonfruit seems to be a good tool to use when creating a simple website, especially for individuals or small businesses. It’s packed with abilities that you can jumble together to make a fully functional community, business, or personal website.

For a rating I’m giving Moonfruit 8/10. One mark is lost for the extreme simplicity of some of the interfaces, since they left me wanting a little more. The other mark is lost for the lack of more features. I think a lot more could be done in them way of social network integration. File transfers and hosting through FTP would be welcome too. Otherwise, if you fancy complete creative control and easy management of a website, Moonfruit may be for you.


Summary

A great web tool that allows you to quickly and easily create entire websites.

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