For those without much expertise in designing and hosting web sites, many ISPs offer a range of tools to create pages quickly and simply. Moonfruit SiteMaker is an elegant service that allows users to create their own site from £2.99 - or even for free if supported with adverts.

When creating a site, the first step is to select a template from the large variety on offer, add a default structure (for Contacts, About your site and so on) if required, and then select a sub-domain or full domain depending on the level of service that you are paying for. Once the basic structure is in place, Moonfruit software runs within the browser window.

The overall layout of Moonfruit SiteMaker is extremely stylish, resembling the Mac OS X interface and is thus extremely easy to use. There are two views, basic or advanced. The latter does not really add very much in terms of design elements for experienced users, but does provide easier access to some options such as admin tools and member groups.

A free-floating Design editor in Moonfruit SiteMaker allows you to make changes to the various objects in the page, such as CSS-controlled fonts and colours, images, or the logo for your page. Making changes is as easy as dragging and dropping objects into place, or you can double-click to edit items.

The various elements of the Moonfruit SiteMaker page are uploaded and organised via a File Manager, and images are automatically optimised for the web whilst being uploaded if required. As well as the basic tools, there are useful administrator options such as site statistics, while the People menu allows you to set up groups and add members. These are used to control who will have access to certain areas of your site.

Depending on how much you pay, you can create either one free Moonfruit SiteMaker site with 20MB storage or an unlimited number with 1.5GB (SiteMaker Max), while the standard package includes at least one free domain name and e-commerce tools. As you'd expect, bandwidth also increases with the more expensive packages, up to 60GB per month.

OUR VERDICT

Moonfruit claims that over two million sites have been built using SiteMaker, and it’s easy to see why. The interface is intuitive and very pleasant to use. While expert users will find the range of options rather limited, despite the various widgets that are included in paid packages, this will not bother the vast majority of people who simply need to get a good-looking site online quickly. This is a recommended service for inexperienced designers.