Web Site Builders, Front-End Modalities of Web Site Builders
Examining a broad range of website builders, ranging from full-scale website builders like Wix into page builders like Carrd to Link in Bio builders like Linktree, one can observe four major user modalities and combinations.
Type Into The Canvas
You select a template and get a preview that looks like the actual site. You go to a position in the preview, click in, and edit the text, or replace the graphic assets, such as images and icons.
Wix is a prominent example of this modality. Popsy, which uses the Notion user metaphor of searching for blocks with commands, is based on typing into the block canvas.
Form Side By Side with Preview
You see a form on the left and a preview of your page on the right as you fill out the form. The preview is immediately modified to reflect the details you fill into the form along the way.
Umso is based on the side-by-side modality
Drag and Drop Elements
There is a canvas showing a preview of a web page, with a few blocks of different types displayed. And to the side, there is a palette of block types. To add a new block, drag it from the palette into the canvas.
Framer use the drag and drop modality.
Automatic Placement of Elements from a Palette
A similar modality based on a palette places elements automatically on the page once selected from the palette.
Carrd works with the automatic placement of selected elements. Afterward, the user can reorder the elements on the page.
The Common Website Modality
But, most websites do not work like this. The dominant modality is a questionnaire or a form.
Want to transfer money from your account? - Fill out a form. You get to see a preview of the transaction and click Confirm.
What to shop for groceries online? - Select a few items, adjust the quantity or weight, and then click Proceed for checkout.
You do not drag and drop; you do not type into a canvas, and you do not see a preview of a filled form as you work through it. You see a form.
People expect to write into a WYSIWYG editor like Word but do not expect to write into their website canvas. The existing website builders' modalities do not come naturally to them.
My Experience Building Websites
Having built several sites for professionals, be it physicians, accountants, or lawyers, I developed a productized service that works in the following way. We have some templates in mind. And some sets of forms and questionnaires that we fill in as we gather requirements. Based on these filled forms and questionnaires, we fill out the template.
So the service can be summed up as follows:
template + questionnaire => website
These experiences caused us to consider whether this service can be generalized into a platform.
A New Modality - Questionnaire and Form Filling
A website builder modality that is more natural for professionals is to fill out a few questionnaires and forms and then have the builder, with a press of the button, flesh out the site for you.
For instance, if we consider the FAQ page, professionals expect to fill a list of questions and answers in a simple form, with a repeated structure of question and answer. They saw the template; they liked it and did not want to bother with the preview changing in front of their eyes.
Professionals are used to filling out forms.
So we suggest basing website builders on the form modality. There is an underlying 80-20 assumption, based on our experience, that a standard template will do for the professionals.
A Websites Platform for Professionals
We are working on a website platform for professionals that is based on the questionnaire and form modality.