A company called SynthaSite has just unveiled its new, improved and easier-to-use interface for building Web sites.
SynthaSite’s goal is to provide a graphical drag-and-drop interface that enables un-Web-saavy business owners and even your proverbial grandmother to build their own sites. (No, seriously — one of the samples offered in the press release is a guestbook site created for the user’s 88-year-old mother. It’s called Grammy’s Corner.) To make that happen, usability is crucial, and SynthaSite — founded in South Africa, but now headquartered in San Francisco — has made some real progress.
Changes include a streamlined “one-click” start-up process, a wider area to edit your page and a column that displays metadata about the different elements on your site. I haven’t really used either the old or new interface in a serious way, but quick glance at the two confirms that the new version of SynthaSite is prettier and friendlier.
SynthaSite raised $5 million in venture funding last year. At the time, VentureBeat writer Dan Kaplan was more impressed by the tools offered by competitor Weebly (which, speaking of interfaces, is quite pretty and friendly itself). But chief executive and founder Vinny Lingham says the difference stems, in part, from the two companies’ contrasting approaches. Instead of trying to create every site building tool that a user could need, Lingham wants SynthaSite to tie other useful services together. For example, photo editor Picnik and form creation services Wufoo are both integrated into SynthaSite already.
The Picnik integration also illustrates what stands out about SynthaSite’s business model, Lingham says. Rather than charging for premium services or running its own ads, SynthaSite’s revenue comes from its partnerships with other sites — with Picnik, SynthaSite makes money by showing Picnik’s ads when you use the Picnik tool. I suppose it’s nice that the company isn’t trying to make money from its users directly, but I wonder if it makes a difference to most people. After all, even if you only see ads when you open specific features, that still means you’re seeing ads.