Putting iWeb to the Test

by Derrick Story


iWeb, like any new Apple app these days, is generating lots of conversation. I've been following the comments in Giles Turnbull's article, Mac OS X Website Builder Face-Off, and have read things such as, "iWeb=puke" and "iWeb is a joke."

I decided to do my own testing of Apple's consumer web tool. One of my websites was in dire need of a facelift. Why not use iWeb to build a real site, post it on the Web, and let people decide for themselves? So that's what I did. Here are the details.


2006-03-13 07:35:54
The front page isnt too bad, but the photo galleries look terrible. I think you could have produced a much nicer site in RapidWeaver in about the same amount of time.
2006-03-13 07:55:07
....I think the photo galleries are just iPhoto exports - nothing to do with iWeb whatsoever. In fact, iWeb has a very nice AJAX slideshow feature (that requires .Mac unfortunately).

I agree with the conclusions of this article. In fact, if you're arguing that iWeb doesn't support XHTML Strict or it's CSS implementation is flakey or it's no good for RSS Blog feeds - well, you're clearly not in the target market for this product anyway ! It's for Mon & Pop type quick and easy web sites, and for that it's excellent.

I produced a slick stylish page to advertise a car I was selling. With sensible page naming you can even avoid the URL craziness that seems to be the most common complaint.

Scott Bourne
2006-03-13 08:05:33
Derrick I think the new site looks more upscale than the old site. It's easy to navigate and tells your story - no pun intended. Who cares if the code snobs think iWeb is cool enough? It's not designed for them. I think it's a great edition to the iLife suite and like all other iLife apps will just get better with age, like us old photographers:)

Thanks for sharing this info.

2006-03-13 08:21:25
I've no problems with how the site looks. It's basic, but not very, let's say, beautiful. I don't mean there should be "more bling" or anything, but I think a repetitive structure design-wise would help. But on iWeb: It's not only the images it produces that are too big, it's also the code. What you've done with iWeb could be done with _much_ less code. And people seem to forget about a simple truth:

It does *NOT* matter that "most people have broadband now", because faster-loading pages are STILL faster-loading pages, even with 3-8 Mbps! Half the time is half the time, whether it's 1 or 15 seconds. It's okay to have good resolution samples available for a photography site. But put them there as links with hints about their sizes. To put big photographs on the main page is bad attitude.

subalky mendez
2006-03-13 09:50:32
I built my web site using iweb. I'm really happy with the quality of iweb. Remember this is 1.0.1 Apple will improve it soon enough. For now iweb is a nice App. Pros. stick to Dreamweaver. Regular consumers will be happy using iweb to create amazing sites.
Victor Panlilio
2006-03-13 11:08:34
Be warned: iWeb can be a resource hog. If you have 2GB RAM, it's not an issue, but on my iBook G4/800 with 1.12GB RAM, it can peg the CPU at 100%. To reduce the problem of large image files, instead of using iWeb's drag-and-drop image conversion, I crop JPEGs exactly to final size at 72dpi in Photoshop Elements, select all, copy, and paste. I built my first photography website in 1994 using PageMill 1.0, and it had a "blog" before blogs existed. iWeb is a good tool for rapidly prototyping a website, and it's hard to go wrong using the built-in templates if you put some thought into the site structure. Can it be used to build a large-scale site with hundreds of pages? Probably, but then, that's not what it was designed for.
2006-03-13 11:09:07
I believe I'm the one that posted 'iweb=puke'. I'm not a web standards snob. I'm a network engineer, I don't know much about XHTML and CSS and I don't care. What I do know is that sites created with iWeb have horrible load times, including yours. When I created photo pages they would take way too long to load.
mark Dymek
2006-03-13 11:34:00
i totally agree with you iweb is a great little app for designing websites in a hurry. but i think it could definetly have more features such as the ability to make your own templates and have more apple designed templates but im sure apple with make that possible with updates in the future.
2006-03-13 11:42:27
For someone who is a professional photographer it's a pretty lame design. Navigation is very confusing, linked pictures on your old home page are not great work examples. Too many pictures to see. Why do you need to show the bad shots that should be dumped? I do understand that you are not a web developer and that with was pretty good for 3 hours of work, but you are supposed to be creative and show your great visual sense...

Just not a great reflection of photographers work or visual sense.

I am a designer in atlanta and do a lot of IT consulting for a few photo studios in town...

Small Paul
2006-03-13 12:39:12
I think that's why we're so annoyed. iWeb is indeed very easy and quick, which means that people will use it. Sadly, Apple has chosen to make it churn out code that isn't very meaningful, e.g. using <div class="paragraph"> instead of <p>. So, we get more rubbish code on the web making it more difficult for screen readers, mobile phones and other devices to access and utilise the information that's bound up in that rubbish code.

It's just not very 2006.

Lord Thanatos
2006-03-13 19:46:44
for 3 hours of work this rocks. i am so used to putting together complicated messes of sites that doing something simple like this example eludes me- but guess what i will be using next?

nowhere as much good ol code busting fun as dreamweaver, but then its not supposed to be- stop hating and get to the page making!!!!!

Ronald Leppke
2006-03-14 06:20:03
I do not understand the people who make rude comments about Apple products such as Apperture and iWeb. They must be on some snob or egoist trip where they need to look down their noses at applications that are easy, simple and beautiful. I am not a photgraphy pro and know absolutely nothing about making web pages, but my last three pages on successive weekend shoots (Porsche Club) have generated a total of 957 visits so far. Thank you iWeb !!! Please visit and see for yourself,
2006-03-14 06:26:03
Meh. . .It looks like something autogenerated by an Apple app: Brushed metal web page. I don't know what the Apple fetish is with brushed metal, but it's ugly and doesn't go well with the whole photography thing.
Charles Gaudette
2006-03-14 13:46:12
Yes, Derrick, it looks good. This is an example of how even people that know HTML can benefit from iWeb. They can bring their old HTML sites in to the more modern XHTML and CSS arena. Once iWeb weaves a structure you can go back and make by-hand changes as you get time. iWeb's internal structure -- good or bad -- is consistent, of course, and therefore lends itself to site-wide find-and-replace changes.
2006-03-16 15:06:04
Nice job, Derrick. I'm starting to build a photography business of my own and am using iWeb to build my site. Your site gives me ideas for what I might add. Thanks.
Victor Panlilio
2006-03-17 00:58:52
Well, working as an unpaid volunteer sometimes makes a person do strange things, so I went ahead and built a real website using iWeb 1.01 and one of its built-in templates. Not bad at all. (All people photos on the site were taken by me)
2006-04-11 11:14:21
You have to remember that iWeb is like iMovie. Its a basic program for beginners. It also has cool things that u cant do in Dreamweaver or GoLive, with ease. In the future Apple will release iWeb 2.0 which will add options like FLASH, Shockwave plug-in support, Rollovers, Pulldowns, Fields and Forms. I played around with it and it was real cool. I was able to create a page just like If I was working on a QuarkXpress Document. The layout flexibility is awsome.
2006-05-08 13:28:45
I think your conclusions about iWeb are quite accurate and your site's content really lends itself to this type of tool. For your time investment, I think you have a nice site, and I think you've demonstrated successful integration of Apple products.

I do a lot of interactive design work and while I want to adhere to web standards, I really think a good design is key. When people first starting creating their own sites, there was such a mess out there: over hyperlinking, bold headlines, too bright text, ridiculous wallpaper. A little HTML knowledge was a dangerous thing. While others may not like Apple's simple graphics approach to web development, I think it demonstrates that design and layout are important. I share frustrations with page load (sticking to web fonts does help this a bit so that all your text doesn't end up as png files), the inability to save a template or to duplicate an existing page that you've customized. But what I do appreciate is the simplicity and ease of use (like all Apple products) so that even if you're not HTML savvy, you can get a functioning site built quickly and with a good design.

I am testing iWeb to build out my personal site, and have found a workaround for one of my big annoyances, the fixed navigation (http://www.ctimmins.com). I am designing this site the way I want it to look and evaluating how well (or not) iWeb can support it.

For a designer, being able to design and demonstrate function in one tool is great. I have a great way of demoing a site design for a client but I haven't had to use any of my web programmer's time.

Thanks for your sharing your experience.