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Coffeecup Site Designer Review
Simple to use
Comes with hosting included
Pay for add-ons
Site Designer from Coffeecup is one of a number of mid-range web design software programs that allow you to create a decent website from scratch, with no prior web design experience. Coffeecup Site Designer is straightforward to use but doesn’t offer too many extra features – great for basic sites and for those that want a website created quickly.
We checked out the Coffeecup Site Designer program to see how it compares to its web design competition. The Coffeecup philosophy is that designing a website should be fun. If you’ve got no web design experience you won’t have many problems creating with this software as you don’t need to use a line of code. If you’ve used a photo editing package or a desk top editing program you’ll see the software looks familiar.
There’s a download for a free trial version of the design software, then you can install the paid version. Or start with the paid version – each sets up quickly with the minimum of fuss. Click through a couple of boxes and you’re ready to get designing with Coffeecup Site Designer.
The Coffeecup Site Designer is entirely WYSIWYG, and you don’t need to add or deal with any HTML code. The whole process of creating a web site with the software is simple and straightforward.
Choose one of the 10 Site Designer themes and work from there. If there’s nothing you like you can download several more for a small fee online. Once you’ve got your theme you move elements of the page around to position them as you want them. For example, add text and images and move the boxes into place. Once you have your layout it’s easy to add extra effects like shaded backgrounds, shadows and glow. The grid on the page makes it easy to position elements without having to guess at their position on screen, and you can arrange your objects and choose which one is on top of another. We like the colour tools which allow you to quickly change any colour on the page.
Once you’ve finished creating and editing, you can save your files with the title and destination so you can keep track of them in order to add links. There’s no planning view with this software, which means it is a bit harder to set up your navigation without downloading a Site Map program separately. You can add duplicate pages but there are no master pages to base your pages on.
While the WYSIWYG aspect of the software is great for beginners, you may want to use HTML to get a little extra into your site. Site Designer has an enhanced text editor that allows you to do just that – use the code snippets and tags to get interactive elements into your website.
In order to insert Flash objects you need to build them first in another Coffeecup program. Many of the features in the Coffeecup Site Designer setup require another app installed in order for them to work. There is a small collection of graphic files from which you can pull icons, tabs and buttons.
There’s no particularly easy way to add certain features like RSS feeds, Google maps, videos or photo galleries. Coffeecup doesn’t make it as easy as other software does to jazz up your site. If you want to use code, we found it simple to add code to embed HTML widgets to enhance the site.
Search engine optimisation
Coffeecup allows you to edit the header and put in meta tag and site analytics code, which will help enhance your website’s online presence.
There are no ecommerce features offered within this web design software. However, if you buy one of the advanced S-Drive hosting packages you can add shopping cart facilities.
The Coffeecup Site Designer features a link with its own S-Drive hosting package. There are a few different S-Drive accounts that include various levels of features including web addresses, storage and stats packages. If you sign up to six months of S-Drive hosting you get the Site Designer free.
There’s not much in the way of reporting integrated into the Coffeecup Site Designer, but you can download separately any apps you need to get statistics for your site.
Ease of use
The Coffeecup Site Designer program is reasonably simple to use, and certainly not as complicated as some other web design software packages. The interface is split into sections and the large buttons clearly mark the different functions you need to create the web page.
Help & support
For assistance, browse the Knowledge Base articles or post questions on the community forums. There are also tutorials and FAQs to answer your queries. We notice you can also email the support team or call during office hours.
We think the Coffeecup Site Designer is good for family websites, for organisations, schools, hobbies and other uses. If you have a commercial business you may find the software lacks the features you need to create fully interactive sites, but the software is great for beginners and people who want to get a website out there quickly.
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