Sandvox: Create Web sites easily

If you're looking to move beyond the online blogging sites, but don't want to deal with coding, this affordable WYSIWYG Web design app is a great option.

Sandvox (Credit: CNET Networks)

There are many online sites for creating blogs with ready-made templates, hosting services, and even opportunities to display ads to make a little money. Blogger, Wordpress, and LiveJournal all offer easy ways to get set up and writing your thoughts right away. If you're a first-time blogger, these sites are a great option.

There comes a time in a lot of bloggers' lives, however, when the limitations of blogging sites make them believe it's time to move on. Maybe the site's specific templates aren't up to snuff, or the process of updating your blog is too complicated, or you feel like your site looks like everyone else's. Whatever the reason may be, I came across an app recently which offers tons of flexibility and enough original templates and options to make your site both unique and easy to update.

Sandvox

Use the Media browser to gain access to your iPhoto library

(Credit: CNET Networks)

Sandvox is a WYSIWYG design app which can help you get the look you want while making it easy to change elements quickly and to your specifications. The main window is where all the action of updating your site takes place. The top of the interface lets you add pages, create links, add media and other options. Navigate your site by using the site outline on the left side of the interface to get to the pages you want to update quickly. The main panel shows what your site looks like, just as it would if you were viewing it online. To make edits, simply click on the area you want to change and start typing. To link to other pages, just highlight the text you want to link and hit the create link button at the top to drop in a URL. What's great about Sandvox is you don't need to know how to code to make a great Web site--it does it all in the background for you. When you're done, the integrated FTP client lets you publish directly from within the app to any Web host.

Sandvox

Choose from several different page templates to get the style you want

(Credit: CNET Networks)

Sandvox also offers several great features for adding small media elements to any page of your site. You can add photos, movies, RSS feeds, and much more using the Pagelets pull-down menu. An integrated media browser lets you quickly browse iPhoto for the images you want on your site. Simply drag and drop a group of photos into the Photos section of your site outline and Sandvox creates a page for each photo along with a separate page for the index with thumbnails. It's these time-saving features that make Sandvox so easy to use.

Sandvox

Set up your hosting service from within the program so you can publish with one click

(Credit: CNET Networks)
If you're looking to take a step beyond the online Web creation tools or if you're a beginner wanting to do things your own way, check out the Sandvox trial. If you're ready to take the leap the standard version is only $49. A pro version is also available for $79 if you want more advanced features like Raw HTML pages and Pagelets, HTML source views, and custom page headers. Whatever flavor you decide on, I think you'll find this app is a great step up from online offerings, giving you more flexibility while leaving out time-consuming processes so you can get to writing immediately.
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