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Easy WebContent

The Easy WebContent editing service lives up to its name.
February 4, 2008
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/191204

Pros

Simple, powerful editing tools
No server-side configuration to use
Cons
Can edit only HTML files
User must have FTP access to site

It is a rare but unalloyed pleasure to try a product or service for which you have only modest expectations, and find yourself blown out of the water. Easy WebContent, an online service designed to take the fuss out of editing Web pages, is that good. In fact, this $9.95-per-month service is better than most stand-alone Web design applications I've used during my 13 years of building sites.

Easy WebContent isn't designed to compete with an Adobe Dreamweaver-scale product; it's meant to help average mortals create and update Web pages. And in that market, it has no rival. Online services such as Homestead.com use template approaches that restrict what you can do with your site; Easy WebContent comes much closer than its template-oriented competitors to being a Web design application.

Easy WebContent's target market is people who don't want to learn underlying HTML; many "simple" Web page applications don't require you to use HMTL either, but they tend to rely on piles of custom JavaScript and Cascading Style Sheets that make pages uneditable--except in that software, so you can't reuse them you if you decide to switch to another application.

To upload new and revised files for your Web site with Easy WebContent, you just enter the FTP (File Transfer Protocol) settings that most Web hosts provide. The service doesn't help you create a site--it's really for editing existing pages you've already designed or had a designer create. Nor does it include any e-commerce tools.

To get started, you set up an account with Easy WebContent and enter the FTP log-in information for one or more Web sites that you want to manage through the service. The service retrieves an index of all the files in each hosted site, broken down into separate File Manager lists for each site.

Easy WebContent lets you edit Web pages without changing the Web server's configuration. Most users, especially those using basic hosting services, have no access to Web server settings that more-elaborate products require, including installing special scripts.

The File Manager has just three links per HTML file: Edit, Preview, and Delete. As in an operating system file list, the file type, size, and last modified date are all shown. Click Edit, and a WYSIWYG on-screen editor appears. I found it easy to revise existing copy; add tables; resize, flip and crop images; and even add forms. (The forms produce simple e-mail results, but that's fine for most purposes.)

Though you can't create or edit CSS files--which define the appearance and formatting of type and layout throughout your site--the styles I had previously defined for a site appeared in the popup menu, making it easy to apply those preexisting styles to new elements. As a result, the software is appropriate for a site in which a designer constructs a complicated format but less-tech-savvy people are responsible for updating the pages: The designer need only provide instructions to editors on which styles to use where.

The site supports several browsers. In my testing, the only glitch I saw was in how the software previewed a page in Firefox. The live graphical editing displayed fine, but the preview of the finished page was compressed into a thin horizontal frame in the middle.

The average human being who has no Web design experience but who can use Microsoft Word will find working with Easy WebContent a breeze. It's well worth the price to avoid the learning curve of expensive products that offer more than you need.