In the age of Facebook, LinkedIn and the public Google profile, is there still room for a personal homepage?
According to Flavors.me, there certainly is and I'm inclined to agree. This simple, visual service aims to make it possible for just about anyone to create their own impressive home on the web, and hook it up to every social feed imaginable. Flavors.me is by no means the only player on the field. Competitor About.me offers a very similar service, right down to the top level domain of .me.
Since I develop websites professionally, I wanted to evaluate how easy-to-use Flavors.me is for a less experienced web developer. So I did the logical thing, and decided to use a guinea pig: my girlfriend. Although she definitely falls into the "skilled user" category, she's not a pro Web developer. I opened an account, kick-started the process with some initial data, and then asked her to design her own website while I sat and watched.
A typical Flavors.me website consists of a large background image, a name and short bio, and social links. With a bit of taste, you can easily turn it into a classy-looking hub for your online existence, allowing easy access to your tweets, public Facebook status updates, the RSS feeds for any blogs you write in, and just about any other service you take part in online. Your tweets (and other information) can be displayed right within the site, so your visitors can browse all of your social activity easily from one place.
Flavors.me works hard to keep things simple, but sometimes goes a tad too far. For example, the entire editing interface is crammed into one floating toolbar, sensibly split into sections called About, Content, Design and Promote. But when you click into one of these sections and start drilling in, things start getting less sensible. The Back link for going up one level is right by the current section's heading, so it doesn't stand out as a Back link at first. And indeed, clicking the heading takes you one level up in the menu, confusing as I said.
Another point of confusion is that although the service is offered both in a free (feature limited) version and a paid version, nowhere on the site could I find a comparison table listing the differences between the two. What's more, the price for the paid version isn't even listed on the Flavors.me front page, there's just a large "Get Started" button which very quickly gets you up and running with the free version. Once you're already in the free version of Flavors.me, you can click the Upgrade link on the top right corner to see the comparison chart and price. I would expect this information to be available without requiring registration.
The free version of Flavors.me lets you use a limited selection of layouts and fonts, and connect only four social services into your homepage. The paid version offers the complete selection of layouts and fonts, along with an unlimited number of social feeds, your own URL (which you still need to buy separately), real time visitor statistics, a contact form and some other goodies.
Using Flavors.me, it took less than an hour to design an impressive personal homepage, and in the final analysis, that's what really counts. Professional web developers may miss the option to edit the CSS directly or to add extra functionality via plugins (à la WordPress), but Flavors.me does get the job done, and can deliver visually stunning results.