A steep learning curve keeps Basekit out of reach for most users.
Before we get into the review, let me explain the two steps for a web designer building a website. Bear with me, it’ll be relevant.
Step One – Design a mockup of the website in Photoshop.
Step Two – Convert the mockup into HTML code.
Make sense? Well, wouldn’t it be great if web designers could turn that into a one-step process? Wouldn’t it be great if web designers didn’t need to translate the mockup into HTML code?
Well, in 2010, Basekit aimed to do just that. They built a product that targeted website designers needing help creating HTML & CSS code from Photoshop mockups.
Basekit in 2012
Today, Basekit is a long way from Photoshop mockups. In fact, their homepage doesn’t mention Photoshop. Today Basekit describes themselves as being the “top choice for anyone that needs a website.”
That’s a big change in audience in only two years: going from technical web designers to everyone. I’ve talked to Basekit and they feel they’ve made significant changes to accomodate their new audience. Unfortunately, I’m not so sure. Basekit feels like a technical product rather than an easy, accessible website builder for non-technical users.
Ease of Use
Basekit is not easy to use. Many of the options require an understanding of website design. The interface often requires technical understanding. Too many options and the use of abstract language that only professional web designers would use make this website editor still out of reach for the general user.
For example, templates are based off of a row and column editor. The row and column editor seems like a powerful tool for creating advanced websites but it’s something that’s difficult to use and easy to mess up. It’s just not intuitive.
Ultimately, too many layers of abstraction in their editor makes for a steep learning curve.
Most users looking for a website builder aren’t interested in building their own template from scratch. They’re looking for easily customizable, pre-built web templates. Any website builder can offer beautiful pre-built web templates— the challenge is in allowing the user to customize these templates.
It is difficult and unintuitive to customize Basekit’s templates. For example, each time you build a “new” page you have to rebuild the entire page. You need to re-add your navigation, re-add your logo and re-add your footer. Strangely nothing carries over.
So when you create a new page you will just get a blank canvas (see below). Ugh. Frustrating.
Basekit does have some nice looking templates, but don’t let them lure you in. If you were hoping to use one of their templates, you’re going to have a lot of trouble customize it. It’s hardly straightforward. Again, the interface is not intuitive at all.
Basekit is HTML-based rather than Flash-based and they (rightly) advertise this point. This is a bonus, there is still many website builders out there that are built in Flash (which should be an instant red flag).
I even noticed some HTML5 in their markup so that’s good!
Not too bad. Kind of annoying, user-interface cluttering pop-up telling you how many days you have left on free trial. Unnecessary. We already know. Plus I have to dismiss it every few minutes. Yuck.
Basekit describes themselves as the “top choice for anyone that needs a website” and it’s just doesn’t feel true. Basekit feels difficult and out of reach for most users.