Price: £5 per month or £50 per year for one site; discounts for additional sites
Pros: Attractive templates; interface fairly intuitive; good online help.
Cons: Template creation is fiddly; not as flexible as Dreamweaver.
BaseKit is a website creation service that includes free templates and design tools, and hosting packages from £5-15 a month, for up to five sites. The most remarkable thing about BaseKit is that everything works inside a web browser; nothing else is required. For those who haven’t invested in the latest version of Dreamweaver – but want a site with modern, Web 2.0 features – this alone makes BaseKit worth checking out.
Design is centred around Photoshop files built in a very specific way. Numerous attractive templates are provided, all tailored to particular users: artists, traders, hotels, clubs, photographers, and so on. Combined with the online videos, it doesn’t take long to import photos, paste in text, and add all the trimmings, links and navigation bars that make up a working website. Features can then be added via drag-and-drop widgets, including Google maps, videos, search tools, forms, and social bookmarking buttons.
The template creation side of things is interesting. Templates are layered images that contain in each layer the information BaseKit needs to determine and decorate the regions that make up the finished page. Creating such templates isn’t hard and the online help and videos are very good; that said, creating templates this way is fiddly. BaseKit’s attractiveness to professional designers will depend on how much they prefer Photoshop to traditional web design packages like Dreamweaver.
Pricing, as mentioned, is £5-15 per month, depending on the number of sites, with discounts for annual payment. That compares favourably with MobileMe (£59 per year), for example, even putting aside the cost of something like iLife (£45), which is needed to produce the HTML uploaded to the MobileMe server.
If you are using a service like MobileMe, it’s a no-brainer to give BaseKit a shot: it’s more flexible and yet still fairly easy to use. If you’re a pro designer, BaseKit’s appeal will very much depend on how much you prefer working in Photoshop to using established web design packages.