Design & UX
Article
By Joe Hewitson

Intuitive Web Design with Wix and Webzai

By Joe Hewitson

Publishing web sites to the internet has traditionally boiled down to a collaboration between two, often very different camps. On the one hand you’ve got the web developers who find their comfort between dizzying style sheets and unnecessarily complicated JavaScript includes. While the other camp, web designers, prefer the creative confines of a Photoshop canvas.

So what happens when web designers find themselves without adequate options to support the back end of their designs? Well, aside from taking a crash course in HTML5 and hoping for the best, there are two platforms that exist for this very reason. They are Wix and Webzai. So how do they compare?

A web forge for the web designer

Both Wix and Webzai set out to remove the need for programming knowledge from website creation and instead allow designers to focus completely on aesthetics. Fortunately, both platforms excel at this task by taking care of the nitty gritty coding details on the fly and behind the scenes. What’s left is a creative canvas that allows web designers to mold websites in a fashion much more friendly to their natural way of thinking.

Wix and Webzai each start you off on the road to web building by choosing from a list of both free and paid templates. These templates, being the necessary evil of codeless web site construction, will provide the elements which you, the designer, will be able to mold into a finished product.

On each platform the templates are broken down into logical categories for their intended use. Things like business, technology, entertainment, etc. Once a template is chosen, a quick click on the “Edit” button will bring you to the bread and butter of these two platforms: the design view. A difference in presentation: although Wix and Webzai use the same formula to usher the user towards a published web site, it’s when you enter the design view that the two platforms begin to diverge. Take a look for yourself:

Wix
Wix design view

Webzai
Webzai Design View

The first thing you’ll likely notice is how much more simple and clean the Wix interface is. The design canvas occupies almost the entire screen save for the top toolbar and quick navigation options on the side.

Webzai on the other hand takes a decidedly different approach by attempting to give you as many design options as possible within quick reach. While this may appear to just add clutter, anyone familiar with the available tools will likely be more productive with this setup.

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Same goal, similar approach

Aside from the distinct interfaces, each platform offers the same basic tools for shoehorning a template into a custom website. A given template will be broken down into logical pages such as home, about, contact, etc.

Each page is composed of any amount of web elements from simple images and text boxes to more complicated widgets like slide shows and chat boxes.

Though the chosen template will define the basic layout of the site, you’re free to drag elements around the canvas, change colors, upload images, and even add or delete pages. All of this, I might add, is being done without the slightest hint of HTML or any other web language for that matter.

Both Wix and Webzai have the added convienence of automatically optimizing your site for responsive web design. In Wix, you can quickly and easily view your mobile page by clicking the iPhone looking icon. From this mobile view you can govern what content should and should not be viewable on a mobile device and adjust the layout accordingly.

On the Webzai side of the fence things get a little more involved. Webzai doesn’t really differentiate between desktop and mobile in the design view. Instead, the design canvas has user customizable screen sizes in the ruler toolbar. By clicking on these “screens”, you can quickly jump between screen sizes showing the effects of your responsive layout and allowing you to move elements around as needed.

The finishing touch

After all the tweaking of layouts and uploading of custom images, each of these platforms provides simple ways to publish your work. By default, each user is assigned a private subdomain from which they can view their web pages in the wild for free (with obligatory Wix and Webzai ads). Websites are hosted on their own servers and can be published in seconds.

Should you desire your own domain, both Wix and Webzai will gladly link your new creation with any domain, though in the case of Wix, a premium account is required. It should also be noted here that a premium account is required on both services to remove ads.

One could think of these two tools as a sort of realtime web design platform. You can essentially create websites from the same perspective you would browse them.

While the absence of any web language prevents true customization, the available tools and widgets are certainly impressive. In the end, users looking for a simple solution to publish their designs on the web without writing a lick of code would be well served by either of these platforms.

After all, the biggest difference might just be purely aesthetic, but I suppose as a designer you’re probably into that kind of thing right?

Both Wix and Webzai can be tried for free by simply navigating to their respective sites.

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