Making websites should be easier
Update: I’ve moved to Jekyll + Twitter Bootstrap and I’m really happy with it so far. Many of my ideas in this post still apply, but I should do an updated verison of this post.
I can whip up a GUI application in C# or Java in seconds, and more importantly, when something doesn’t look or work the way I want, I know exactly where to look in the code. I have yet to find a tool for building websites that has the same ease of development as a native application. There should be a tool that lets you drag around widgets (like a native app GUI editor) and the glue it together with OnClick handlers.
This is sort of what squarespace.com aims to accomplish (at least the drag-and-drop part). I decided to try it out when I was rebuilding this website. For a while I was really impressed. I was able to make a really slick looking website in 5 minutes, but it breaks down at two points. First, it’s all a web app so there are the predictable problems with hotkeys and not being able to right-click. Secondly, and this is a problem with pretty much every “make me a website quickly” short cut, I eventually ran into something the interface didn’t let me change or delete easily. I wanted to disable comments on a page, but when I did it left the comment box only it was blank. I also wanted to global disable all the social media stuff (likes, tweets, comments) but I couldn’t make it go away even after unchecking everything I could find.
I ended up going back to WordPress because the slight increase in customizability Squarespace offered wasn’t worth $8 per month to me, but I think they’re onto something big. As important as the web is to everyone (business, politics, entertainment, etc) there should be better tools.