A world without iWeb

Apple is definitely rocking the boat lately. In the great migration from MobileMe to iCloud, there will be more than a few casualties. One loss is the ability to whip up a website with iWeb and host it on MobileMe. For those of us who’ve come to rely on this service, this is pretty scary news. What I’d like to do here is first ask why Apple would toss web hosting to the wayside, and then I’ll offer some alternative services. When Apple introduced iWeb many years ago, it was quite revolutionary. For the first time, non-web developers could drag and drop their way to a custom website. One-click publishing and easy-announcing made it a favorite for folks who needed an online place to share all their content. Well, the internet landscape radically shifted since iWeb’s initial launch. In particular, the rise of FaceBook, Tumblr, Posterous, and Flavors.me quickly made sites built with iWeb appear clunky and frumpy. Additionally, iWeb never quite acclimated newer web technologies, which could have made its sites load much faster. I’m sure Apple, rather than spend its energy on revising and updating its website builder, decided to toss in the towel. And this shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, right? Apple is notorious for ditching fading products and features in favor of cutting edge technology. MacBook Airs without disk drives, trackpads without buttons, and MacBooks without removable batteries are some more recent examples. Going forward, I wouldn’t be shocked if apps like iWeb and iDVD disappeared completely from new Macs. Apple loves pushing its customer base into the future. Take deep breaths Before you start deciding what to do with your iWeb site, ask yourself what you use it for. Is this for personal blogging? Sharing family photos? Your business website? Depending on your answer, you might find yourself content using a different service. But before I get to these alternatives, there’s one more thing I’d like to say, and it might offend some people. Here it is. iWeb sites are slow and quite dated looking. Now before you get defensive, please know that I have always had an iWeb site (including one for my own business) ever since the day it came out. I’m going through this with you! My outlook is that I’m taking this as an opportunity to think outside the box and come up with a dynamic, exciting, and fresh website. I encourage you to do the same. Alternatives Posterous is a free blogging service I’ve fallen in love with. In fact, this blog that you’re currently reading is a Posterous site [Update: actually, it is now a WordPress site]. It is excellent for sharing thoughts, and I’ve found that it also works with sharing photos and videos super easily. Check out my family’s website. I am always publishing photos from my iPhone and iPad, making sure my extended family feels connected to our quirky family adventures. I think Posterous would satisfy 90% of iWeb users. Clover is a web based solution for businesses. It is geared towards businesses who want the look of a professional, modern site, but don’t have the time to learn web-languages and design. It’s not a free service by any means, but it’ll give you pride in knowing your site looks simply gorgeous and functions well. It’s $1,000 to start, and then $20 per month for hosting. SquareSpace is another business solution that builds fantastic looking sites. It’s pricing is less than Clover, but you have to be willing to roll up your sleeves and spend more time tweaking each page. A lot of professional photographers I know use this, as it has some exceptionally nice looking photo sharing templates. Blogs, podcasts, and other pages can all be created on SquareSpace. WordPress is a favorite among techies. The reason is because it is free and has been around for a while, meaning there is a huge community of users and plug-ins. You can sign up and dabble with its themes yourself, but there are also companies who specialize in building custom WordPress sites for you or your business. Hype is a new kid on the block which is brands itself as an easy-to-use HTML5 site creator. What this means is that its animations and transitions will work on any modern web browser, including iPads and iPhones. I’m currently tinkering with it on a few side projects. A final option is actually to just stick with iWeb. If the thought of leaving iWeb makes your forehead sweat blood, then I suppose you could publish to an FTP server instead of MobileMe. There are plenty of services out there which charge a small monthly fee to host your website. You’d then punch in their credentials into iWeb and you’d be set. Type “FTP” into iWeb’s help file to pull up instructions on how to do this. Hosting will cost you anywhere from $5 to $20 per month. If there are any other options that you’ve found, please let me know on Twitter and I’ll be sure to add them to this list! And as usual, if you need help talking about these things in further detail, please feel free to give me a holler via my new WordPress site. ;–)

Rick Stawarz

Minneapolis, MN

I am an Apple Certified Support Professional with over a decade of experience supporting families, schools, and businesses. Tech has always captured my imagination, but it's not my only passion. I'm an ordained Anglican minister;  Aeropress is a daily ritual of mine; I've driven across Mongolia; and I'm the father of three girls. I hope to provide for you a balanced and realistic perspective into the practicality of technology.