Designing a great looking website doesn’t need to be prohibitively expensive or overly complicated. In fact, you don’t need to spend a single nickel and you don’t need to have any specialized coding skills whatsoever to have a clean, responsive web design, complete with built-in SEO tools and fancy features like integrated Google Maps, Soundcloud integration, website passwords and even e-commerce functionality. This is the promise of SITE123 and they say they can do it for free.
The Easiest Website Builder
Positioning itself as “by far the easiest free website builder” around, SITE123 is meant to be as accessible as possible to all users, regardless of technical expertise or experience.
While web design might feel like an incredibly daunting and intimidating proposition for a lot of people, SITE123 makes it easy for anyone to have a professional-looking website up and running literally in a matter of minutes. All you have to do is decide on the type of website you want to have, customize the options to suit your preferences and enter your content.
SITE123 is casting its net wide with its browser-based solution. This is great for entrepreneurs and freelancers, for instance, who want to have a great online presence without the potentially huge expense of hiring a professional designer to come up with a completely unique design. All you have to do is work your way through the easy-to-follow wizard.
Easier Than Drag and Drop
You’ve likely come across some other site builders where the interface is designed to be drag-and-drop. You choose the elements you want to have, you drag them into place, and then you can move them around or resize them, adding the details (like text and color) accordingly. That’s far easier than raw code, of course, but it still adds a layer of complexity that can be confusing or frustrating to use for some people.
SITE123 works differently in that you get to pick between a number of pre-configured designs and layouts through more of a point-and-click kind of interface. The “live” preview of your website or webpage appears on the right as you navigate through the multi-tiered menu on the left. What you see above is an example of a homepage that I worked on for the purposes of this review.
I was able to simply and easily choose the website name, customize the text for the title and slogan, and select from a huge library of royalty-free images to use as the background. In going through the available layouts, I found several that made it easy to integrate a video as part of the design too. While you may not have quite as many options as some other site builders, this also allows for a greater level of simplicity and approachability. The same holds true for the various pages you want to have your website.
A great way to catch a glimpse into how the SITE123 free website builder works are with the three-minute video they posted on YouTube. It offers a quick overview of several of the key features and interface choices for the site builder, so you’ll know what to expect before you decide to build a website of your own.
SITE123 Offers All Kinds of Websites Tools
What’s really fascinating about the SITE123 system is that it can be used to power a wide variety of websites.
Regardless of the kind of website you want to run, you have access to a huge wealth of features, including free hosting, free SSL/HTTPS encryption, unlimited web pages, email accounts, 24/7 website support, and access to a gigantic image, icon and video library that you can use to populate your website as you see fit. This “gallery” tool is incredibly useful and easy to use too.
Based on the type of website that you are interested in building, you’ll be presented with a slightly different set of options and default layouts. The tools that integrate into a photography website, for example, would not be the same as the ones used for promoting and selling tickets for an event, or the kind of website you might want to have to host your CV and portfolio.
I was surprised to see the online store among this list of options, as e-commerce usually comes at a cost with most other providers. With SITE123, you can quickly and easily set up an online store that is always open and ready to accept orders. Simply populate your online store with your products, and you’ll be able to manage orders and handle customer inquiries with ease.
SITE123 Even Has Full Blogging Capabilities
Yes, you can use SITE123 to create a blog too. Remember that you get access to a great library of images and videos, as well as the ability to host unlimited pages on your account, making it a great option for a blog. The site is automatically responsive and search engine optimized too.
The interface for managing your blog posts is kept simple and straightforward. You can see the thumbnail image and title along the left, the publish date and time in the middle (including the ability to schedule posts), and the buttons along the right to edit, delete and change the visibility.
Within each individual blog post, you are similarly offered a simple but very robust WYSIWYG editor. Here, you can assign the title, date and time, as well as post tags. The image can come from the royalty-free gallery or you can upload your own. The short description is the meta description that shows up on your homepage and in search engine results, and the long description is the blog post itself.
As you can see, you have access to full formatting tools like bold, italics, bullet points, blockquotes and so forth. You can also easily insert images and videos, adding links and changing other properties as you see fit. One feature that I found helpful was that when you click in an empty paragraph space in the editor, a small “plus” symbol appears on the left for “quick insert.” Clicking on this reveals a floating toolbar to insert images, videos, tables, unordered lists, ordered lists and horizontal lines. Handy!
Is It Really Free?
The site builder itself is completely free and it really does come with free hosting too. The catch is that your website can only live on a SITE123 subdomain and you are limited to 500 MB of storage and 1 GB of monthly bandwidth. You can have theoretically unlimited pages, but they need to fit within the confines of your account.
If you wish to map your website to your own custom domain, you will then need to invest in at least the $9.80/month premium plan. This removes the SITE123 floating tag and upgrades you to 10 GB of storage and 5 GB of bandwidth, as well as providing you with a free domain for a year and access to e-commerce tools.
Beyond the free and premium plans featured on the pricing page, there are also options for even higher plans too. These generally increase the amount of storage and bandwidth you have, but there are some other notable upgrades too. For example, while the $9.80/month plan gives you e-commerce, you are limited to 10 orders per month. Each successively larger plan increases that number. You can also add more mailboxes, unlock additional languages, remove the SITE123 footer tag, and leverage more advanced e-commerce features.
Go ahead and take SITE123 for a free test drive first. It costs you nothing to get started and you can have an account in a matter of seconds. This really is the easiest and most robust free website builder around.
Ask Lorem to Tackle Your Web Design and Development Projects
I believe it may have been Tim Ferriss of Four-Hour Workweek fame who said that you should focus on your strengths and outsource the rest. While working only four hours each week may or may not be truly attainable for most people, it is absolutely true that most small business owners find themselves strapped for time. They’ve got all these things they want to accomplish and not nearly enough time to address them all on their own.
And even should they decide that they cannot tackle all these projects on their own and they want to outsource some of them, the process of finding and vetting the right professionals to handle the job can also be remarkably stressful and surprisingly time-consuming. It needs to be easier and that’s where Lorem can come to the rescue.
Fast, Affordable Results
Whether your actual business is of the brick-and-mortar variety or it resides exclusively on the Internet, there is a good chance that you depend on your website as a critical component of your overall business. And there’s always more you want to achieve with it.
Even if you have some technical expertise and you could feasibly take on some of these web development and design projects on your own, you can oftentimes find yourself time-starved. As such, it makes a lot more sense to outsource these types of projects so you can focus on growing your business and handling the tasks that cannot or should not be outsourced.
The big appeal of a service like Lorem is that you don’t have to go through the complicated and sometimes challenging process of finding the right developer or designer to help with your one-time projects. There are marketplaces out there, but you can never be sure of their quality or expertise until you take the time to get to know the individual workers better… and that’s time you simply do not have.
Instead of sifting through dozens or even hundreds of proposals and pitches from innumerable freelancers and unknown entities, you can tap into a huge team of eager professionals at Lorem.
Before someone can join the team of Lorem experts, they must first pass through a “rigorous vetting process that tests their technical background, communication skills, and professionalism.” The net result is that only the top 3 percent of candidates are ever accepted, so you can have the confidence that you’re only working with the best. These are perfectionists who “bring years of experience to the table.”
In this way, you save a tremendous of time that would otherwise be wasted browsing and reviewing the profiles of so many potential freelancers for your one-time project. Wouldn’t you rather just hire someone you know can do the job and get it done? And get it done quickly and affordably too?
What Can They Do?
Just about anything related to your website and your online business, really. There is no monthly fee and you simply pay for your projects on an as-needed basis.
Because there are so many Lorem experts available at just about any hour of the day, you’ll get paired with someone whose experience and expertise best aligns with your specific project needs. Some potential projects include:
- Improve Google search rankings
- Set up a WooCommerce store
- Make a website design more mobile-friendly
- Update several plugins on a WordPress site
- Set up online payments through Stripe
- Add an online store to a Squarespace site
- Redesign the layout of a MailChimp email newsletter
- Configure Google Analytics for site tracking
- … and so much more
Whether you already have a specific project in mind or you have more of a general objective and you’re not really sure how to achieve it, a Lorem expert can help get you set up and on your way. If it has to do with your website or any other aspect of your online presence, someone at Lorem is there for you.
How Does It Work?
To get started with Lorem, you’ll need to first install the Chrome extension. This ties into the whole ecosystem and it’s how you will interact with Lorem experts, including dealing with payment.
Once you’ve got the Chrome extension installed, the way that Lorem works is actually really simple, really fast, and really easy to understand. You’ll start by launching a chat session where you describe the project you have. Usually within five minutes, you’ll be paired with a Lorem expert who will then chat with you in real-time to discuss any further details.
Lorem boasts that they have “a few hundred experts online at any moment,” so you don’t have to wait around for applications or pitches. Your time is invaluable and you want to get started right now, and that’s a big reason why Lorem is so appealing. After the details have been determined, the expert will provide a price quote outlining what is involved. The actual chat itself costs nothing.
Most jobs are in the $25 to $250 range, but obviously there will be some individual variation there. No additional fees or charges are added. The rate quote you receive is what you will pay, and you only pay when you are satisfied with the results. The expert gets to work, asks for feedback along the way, and then you approve and pay for the work when it’s all done. Super easy!
Put Your Mind at Ease
Running a successful small business is hard enough. You don’t need the added stress of finding the right people to handle your one-time design and developer projects. Lorem experts can do everything from customizing Shopify stores to backing up WordPress sites, integrating MailChimp with websites to adjusting page layouts to match a PDF.
Most projects can be completed for $25 to $250, making Lorem a fast, convenient and affordable way to get the job done. Sign up and mention Zac10 to get 10% off your first project on AskLorem.com!
Get started today and you’ll see results sooner than you might think.
Posts Table Pro Makes Dynamic WordPress Tables Easy
Many of us use WordPress to power our various websites, particularly our blogs. It’s easily one of the most robust, flexible and customizable content management systems available on the Internet today. Perhaps you use it to run your online store, packed with plenty of great products. Maybe you have a resource website. Or maybe you’ve got a blog with hundreds or even thousands of blog posts.
That’s all great, but it can sometimes be difficult for your website visitors to actually find what they’re looking for. A much more powerful yet remarkably easy-to-use solution to this common conundrum is the Posts Table Pro WordPress plugin by Barn2 Media. You’ll never use the default archives again.
What Is Posts Table Pro?
With the Posts Table Pro plugin for WordPress, you’ll be able to generate dynamic tables inside your WordPress posts and pages with nothing more than a simple shortcode. As a blogger, the most obvious application here is to make it as easy as possible for your readers to find exactly the blog content that they’d like to read.
By default, WordPress lets you organize your content with categories and tags, but the default experience of the end user leaves a lot to be desired. Have you ever gone to a blog and just looked at the default category page? All you get is a list of posts in that category arranged in reverse chronological order and that’s it. There’s no way to filter them by tag or to search for keywords only within that category.
The way that the Posts Table Pro plugin works is almost like providing readers with a similar kind of posts table as you see within your WordPress dashboard. Depending on how you choose to configure this table, they can see the categories, tags, date, excerpt and more associated with any given post, filtering by tags and categories, choosing the number of entries shown, searching for keywords and more.
Outside of blogging, this plugin is just as suitable for document libraries, directories, online stores, books and music, event listings and more. All sorts of different websites can find this plugin beneficial.
Setting It Up
The initial installation and activation of Posts Table Pro works exactly the same way as with any other WordPress plugin. Download the zip file, go into your WordPress control panel, choose to upload a plugin from the Plugins page, select the zip file, and activate the plugin. Then, navigating to the corresponding settings page, you can enter your license key.
Don’t worry about being confused over some fancy control panel. The settings page for this plugin looks like the rest of your WordPress admin dashboard. Just work your way down this single page of settings and configure the plugin to how you’d like it.
I wouldn’t say there is necessarily a learning curve to this plugin, per se, but it will take some time to familiarize yourself with all the different options and features you can use. Thankfully, the extensive knowledge base really does cover all the bases, and the settings page is filled with contextual “learn more” links throughout to guide you through the process.
For instance, it is from the settings page that you will define what columns will be shown in your table. I misinterpreted this settings field at first and put “5” for five columns. Clicking the “read more” link next to the field, though, is how I learned the names of the available columns, which I then entered as a comma-separated list. Simple and straightforward.
Many of the settings can be left at their defaults if you’d like or you can dig in and start changing everything. This includes everything from excerpt length to whether you’d like to enable “lazy load,” from setting the post limit (how many posts are included in the table) to how the table contents are sorted. You can choose the position of the search box (or choose to hide it), and you can set whether you’d like to cache table contents and how frequently the cache should be refreshed. It’s a lot, but it’s all very easy to understand.
Table in Action
The best way to understand just how intuitive and practical this plugin can be is to see it in action. I created a new page on my blog to test it out, but you could just as easily insert the table shortcode into any existing post or page too. In this way, you could add images and text, just as you would with any other WordPress content. For the purposes of this demo, I only put the shortcode for the table.
In this first shot, I left the default settings for filters, number of entries shown, position of the search bar (top), position of the total entry count (bottom), and position of the page numbers (bottom). For the columns, I opted for the image (which pulls the corresponding featured image), the post title, the category, the content (the first 15 words of the post; the length can be adjusted), and the publication date.
You’ll notice the up and down arrows next to every column except image. This allows site visitors to decide on ascending or descending order for those columns, an option you can take away from them in the settings if you prefer. For this default demonstration, I allowed the table to list all of my blog posts.
What’s really great about this plugin is just how easy you can customize it. The basic shortcode is how I got that first table, but I can add in parameters such that the table only includes specific categories, tags, IDs, post types, statuses, dates, authors, or custom field values. In this example above, I defined that the table should only include posts that had the “vlog” tag associated with them.
As a result, the table only shows the blog posts where I talk about my weekly vlog. But the customization can go much further than that.
Here, I combined the “vlog” tag parameter with the parameter to only include posts in the “Destinations” category, which I use for travel content on my blog. When I did this, only posts that met both criteria were included in the table. In defining these parameters, you can use the associated slug for the category or tag, or you can enter the specific corresponding ID, which you can find through your WordPress dashboard.
For both tags and categories, you can list multiple entries in the shortcode too. If you separate multiple entries with commas, then those commas act like “or” whereas using a + symbol acts like an “and.” You can use commas or plus symbols, but not both.
If you would like to stylize the look of the table, you can do that with your own custom CSS, but that’s not a function that’s baked into the plugin itself.
How Much Does It Cost?
The Posts Table Pro premium WordPress plugin by Barn2 Media is available in three different licenses: the $79 personal license is good for one site, the $129 business license is good for 5 sites, and the $279 agency license is good for up to 20 sites. That’s for an annual subscription, which includes new features, security updates and customer support.
It should be noted, though, that once you’ve downloaded and activated the plugin, it is yours to keep. However, you will need to maintain an active subscription if you want to receive updates and support, which they highly recommend you do.
Designhill Logo Maker Leverages Artificial Intelligence
Getting a custom logo design doesn’t need to be a confusing or expensive process. When you take the more traditional route of hiring a freelance designer or a design firm, you may end up with a logo that isn’t quite right and you’re still stuck with footing the bill. But just as technology companies are quickly ramping up their efforts in machine learning to improve our everyday lives, Designhill has an online logo maker that utilizes artificial intelligence to create just the right logo for you in mere seconds.
The Smarter Logo Creator
With over 6,000 customer ratings and counting, the Designhill logo maker is remarkably popular and hugely successful, earning a near-perfect average rating from all these satisfied customers.
What’s really convenient with this logo maker is that you can go through the entire process yourself, all without any specific design knowledge or expertise. It’s a step-by-step wizard that will walk you through every step of the way, gauging your design preferences and generating several “beautiful and unique logos within seconds using [this] AI-powered logo maker.”
Logos are incredibly important as they say a lot about your brand. When you’ve got a logo that really captures the essence of your brand, you start off on the right foot with any prospects and ensure that you start that conversation off on the right foot. You want the right combination of colors, iconography, frames and layout to convey just the right message.
Start With Inspiration
After providing your company name, the first step that you’ll need to take with this online logo maker is to choose five different logo design styles that speak to you. There are about 30 in this collection in all. Don’t focus too much on the specifics of the design style as much as the general impression that you get from each one. What is the “feel” that you want to achieve?
These design styles will start from a place of inspiration for the AI logo maker, as they will help to capture the essence of what you are trying to achieve. In much the same way, the next step is to start working on your color palette. If you already have a set of brand colors, this next step is especially easy. If you’re starting from scratch or you’re open to new possibilities, the wizard can help there too.
For each of the colors, and you can pick up to three, you will be offered the full range of tones and shades. When you hover over any of the colors, you’ll be given a list of characteristics that are normally associated with that color. You may have come across these kinds of color associations before and you can certainly take some time to research these associations further if you prefer.
For instance, you’ll see here that blue is associated with such qualities as trust, loyalty, wisdom, brilliance, confidence, faith, calmness and tranquility. Do any of these resonate with what your company or brand stands for? By comparison, black is associated with power, reliability, and practicality, whereas green elicits connections to nature, growth, harmony and freshness.
A Symbolic Representation
After designating your slogan (if you’d like to have it included in your logo) and choosing an industry, you are then tasked with searching for and adding up to five symbols. These icons are presented to you in black and white, but they may be adapted to the brand colors you picked in the previous step too.
Likely based on the industry you selected, you’ll be shown a number of suggested search terms for the symbols, as well as a button to “generate more ideas” if you’re looking for more inspiration.
Alternatively, you can search for your own terms or skip this step if you don’t want any symbols in your logo at all. There are more than one million icons to choose from in total, so you shouldn’t have any problem finding at least a few that you like.
The AI Generated Logos
After you’ve gone through the steps described above, which can really be accomplished in a minute or less if you’re reasonably decisive about your choices, you’ll be presented with a huge variety of potential logo designs.
Here are some great hypothetical examples for Blogging Tips. The cyan and white color scheme look really sharp, especially against a black background. It almost has a Tron-like quality to it. You can see here that the logos generated by the AI logo maker take advantage of some great premium fonts, as well as additional imagery to create the best looking logo possible. The one at the top-left has a container too, but you can choose to remove it… or add it to one of the other designs.
You see, you’re not stuck only with what the logo maker is able to generate. You can use any of these as a starting point for further, specific customization. If you click on the “Edit logo” button associated with any logo, you enter another section where you can choose different colors, symbols, containers and so on. More advanced settings allow you to alter the symbol size, symbol distance, text distance and container size.
Another exciting feature is that users will have a virtually limitless supply of logo design ideas and drafts to choose from. Since Designhill’s tool is running off automation and AI, it’s essentially creating new and unique logo designs on the fly. To keep loading new concepts, all you need to do is click on the “Load More” button at the bottom of the page.
If you’re not sure and want to sleep on it, you can save the logo to your account and revisit it later too.
From the many different logo designs that were offered through the site, we really enjoyed the look and feel of the logo above. With some minor customization, tweaks and font/color changes, we could definitely make a logo like this one work for the site. What I really like is how Designhill provided all of the necessary draft work and coming up with the initial concept. Color matching and playing with fonts is something everyone can do in a matter of seconds.
But How Does It Really Look?
A great feature that you’ll find is the ability to “preview” your logo in a number of different applications as well. In same “Edit Logo” section is a “preview” page that shows what the generated logo would look like if it were printed on a t-shirt, used on a business card, printed on merchandise like a tote bag, shown on a street sign, printed on stationery and more.
How Much Does It Really Cost?
The basic package is only $20, but it limits you to a lower-resolution logo file (600 pixels by 600 pixels). A better value is with the premium package for $65, as you get a higher resolution file that is print-ready. Also included is your logo in vector format with a transparent background, complete with the font names and colors if you want to extend that to the rest of your branding. And yes, you get full copyright ownership and the opportunity re-download the files at your convenience too.
Designhill’s AI-powered logo maker is far and away one of the most affordable and fastest ways to get a beautiful, professional-looking logo made in literally a matter of moments.
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