Back in August 2012, Strikingly co-founder David Chen had one goal: launch the simplest, fastest web builder around. His team succeeded in its first iteration, creating a service that used customers' Facebook profiles to auto-fill a basic website in one click. But competitors such as Sitefly work that way as well. So to distinguish Strikingly from the Facebook pack and enable it to build more robust websites in one step, Chen in January switched his platform so that it pulls from LinkedIn instead. "Facebook doesn't have enough information for us to use and create a functional website, while LinkedIn has just the right amount," he says. "It simply adds more value."
Here's how it works: Users log in with their LinkedIn account, and Strikingly uses that information to create a site optimized for both the web and mobile devices in less than 10 seconds. Strikingly even enables sites to be built from a tablet or smartphone, allowing users who don't have a computer to claim a URL on the web. The free plan covers one site with minimal functionality; premium features such as a custom domain name and analytics data run $8 to $20 per month.
Chen says Strikingly broke even two months after launch, and its user base has grown at a 30 to 40 percent monthly rate ever since.
Jonathan Leake, co-founder of JB Chicago, which works with businesses on brand strategy and integrated marketing programs, kicked the digital application's tires and deems it the "best user experience I've seen so far." He appreciates the built-in SEO features that allow users to name images and pages, something most free web builders leave to third-party products and plug-ins.
Kevin Rustagi has also used the service. When he needed a website for his design studio, Hustle and Play, which makes a line of metal business cards, he could have tapped co-founder Mark Ellis, a skilled web designer. Instead, he went to Strikingly and spent roughly 15 minutes to set up and customize a website for the Austin-based business, including social media plug-ins and analytics. "It's actually fun to use," Rustagi says. "And we thought Mark's time would be better spent working on the business than on the website."