I'm a programmer at a domain registrar and web hosting company. In the past year or so we have branched into custom web design for individuals and small businesses. Currently all our solutions are WordPress-based.
We find that we have a small but vocal group of clients that are not ready for custom web design, and are not prepared to learn WordPress to build themselves a site either. Currently these clients are using our legacy templated website builder solution based on a classic ASP framework that we purchased and customized. While the platform is a complete dead-end, it does have several good features, including sub-page support, galleries, contact forms, product catalogs, and Paypal integration. It is also easier for a non-technical user than Wordpress -- better at holding their hand with wizard interfaces and big buttons, etc.
Some within the company are suggesting what essentially amounts to an updated version of the same solution, based on Plesk's SiteBuilder platform. I believe this will simply lead to another dead-end a few years from now. What I would really love to adopt instead is an open source, template driven website builder UI that produces a working WordPress site. (Note that it can be commercial and paid, as long as we have access to the source to customize/maintain it.) My thinking is that the future of the WordPress platform is bright and stable, and any clients that build small templated sites on it will be able to easily upgrade them as their needs grow in the future. In addition, should they later require custom development, we will be in a position to leverage our WordPress know-how, including any plugins and themes that we have customized, to get their job done faster and cheaper.
I'm surprised that after five minutes of Googling, I haven't found something that matches my description. Maybe I'm using the wrong search terms. I would have thought that such a huge and mature platform as WordPress would already have spawned something like this. Does anyone have any suggestions?
Another way to put it is that we want to offer a service competitive with GoDaddy's WebSite Tonight, but that produces a working WordPress site. We want a completely non-technical user with no knowledge of HTML to be able to build their site without human assistance. In other words, a nice colourful wizard with big buttons and 3 steps:
- Pick a theme.
- Setup page names and paste in your content.
- Optionally install some common free plugins: contact forms, photo/media album, Google Analytics, product catalog, PayPal integration, etc.
It's OK if the wizard can't edit the site once it's generated. At that point it will be better for the user to learn how to edit within Wordpress proper. But the "kickoff" has to be through the super-simple friendly UI. If nothing like this exists, I would love to help build it, but I doubt our management team could allocate the time :-) Maybe as a side project.