Simpl iPad App Review
Updated: 2015-03-09 09:29:33 (original review: 2013-06-10)
Some Websites Made with Simpl
New from Simpl
Simpl have made several improvements since our 2013 review. The most important being the addition of an iPhone app, new responsive themes, shop pages with paypal, YouTube videos, and cloud backup, which allows for the editing of a site from multiple devices (not previously possible). There’s also a new support website and a guide to creating successful websites. All of which explains why there’s now a smile on our “Give Up<--->Get a Result” meter.
Free trial with $4.99 per month hosting
It’s free to install Simpl app, free to create your website, and you can even publish it to see how it looks for 15 days before having to pay for the hosting. Hosting is $4.99 per month. SimDif and GoDaddy GoMobile offer many more features, though, and they’re free.
Simpl is very easy to use
The interface is uncluttered and effortless to learn. The editor is not WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) but it’s intuitive and the app is fun to play with.
A bug free app
I didn’t find any bugs whilst using Simpl, but felt that there were situations which would have suited an autosave function and didn’t have it. Also, it’s a little too easy to delete pages.
Improved guides and support
In my previous review I was critical of the lack of support and guidance from Simpl, so it’s nice to be able to say that several improvements have been made here. Simpl has added a guide to website success with brief and easy to follow advice on what makes a good website and how to appear in search engine results. They also have a new support website which answers most of the questions you might think of. I find it a little strange, however, that there is no link to either of these sites from within the app, and no way to email or contact Simpl from within the app.
Limited features offer a very basic web presence.
Simpl websites allow up to 8 pages and choice of 6 page types, including Text, Quote, Photos, Contact, News and Shop. Most pages have fairly small content capabilities, but news pages allow up to 200 posts to be added, of which the 20 most recent will show. Photo pages have an 18 photo upper limit. There are no in page content layout options, only the set layouts provided and there are no block type, alignment or other layout options. The addition of Shop pages with Paypal integration, cloud backup, an easy way to insert YouTube videos and 4 new responsive themes which shape themselves to fit phone and tablet screens helps, but not enough to change my overall feeling about the strength of features of the app.
Menus are created automatically from the pages you add, and the menu names are created from the page titles.
The image handling is very basic, with no crop/re-size or other editing options. It’s easy to add photos, though, and they are automatically re-sized to a maximum 550px width. The lack of other image editing features is not such a problem as there are a number of image editors for iPad available on the App store.
Text formatting and styling is similarly limited. You can make text bold or italic, but there are no layout options beyond entering returns and spaces, and no control of how text aligns with images.
You can add buttons that link to your Facebook and Twitter pages, but no share buttons. There are really no other features to report, so the list that follows is a list of what is missing: no Google Maps, no contact form, no integration with service providers such as Dropbox, Google Drive or flickr, no website statistics, no email addresses or mailing list features, no theme styling options…
Well designed themes but no customization
Several pre-designed templates are offered – some of the themes are responsive (they will display according to the screen size of the device from which they are viewed), and some are fixed width. These are very nicely styled, with well designed color palettes, and offer some variation in menu bar styling and fonts etc. No customization is possible.
No custom backgrounds, headers, logo or favicon. The lack of personalization and branding potential is bit of a problem.
Themes can be changed at any time without impacting the content you’ve created.
You cannot add a custom background, header, logo or favicon. These are severe limitations for potential small business and other users. Simpl have said they will add a logo upload option soon, but until then the lack of personalization and branding potential will be enough to put off many small businesses or professionals.
No multi-language support
You could of course make a second language version of your site yourself, and host it at a different .simpl url.
Basic Search Engine Optimization features but much improved guidance
Simpl websites have site-wide meta description, keywords and site author information, which you can edit, but you can’t set these features independently for individual pages.
Page titles are automatically wrapped in h1 tags. You can’t add h2 tags anywhere, except on news pages, where post titles automatically have enclosing h2 tags. h1 and h2 tags are usually associated with items like page titles and sub-headings, and display in a larger or different font, but they’re also picked up by search engines as important information.
Simpl have created a guide to creating content called Website Success. Although the SEO features of Simpl are still basic, the guide can certainly help users create content that will have a better chance of getting noticed by search engines. Simpl has also provided links to pages created by Google and others on best practices. However, many of options they discuss will not be available to Simpl users because of the limitations of the app.
Now available for iPhone and iPad
Previously Simpl was an iPad only app but it is now available for iPhone. It’s very well suited to iPhone because of it’s minimal design and ease of use. The websites produced look like mobile websites, and using the new themes, can also be responsive. Simpl websites look their best on mobile devices, but they also look pretty good on computer browsers, if a little narrow.
Providing that your project needs only basic features, satisfying results are definitely possible. And the app is fun to use.
Simpl is a useful tool for creating a basic presence on the web, but it’s lack of flexibility rules out most business or professional use.
Simpl’s lack of flexibility will put off the business minded, or those looking to be more creative, but it’s a useful tool for creating a basic web presence. And anyone who can accept the limited feature set could happily complete a website.
It’s easy to find and use all the features, and the recent developments mentioned above help. If, however, you have some experience of computer based website builders and you’re looking for more of the features commonly offered, you’ll probably want to look at other apps.
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Cool designs, poor flexibility, average usefulness when you see the price ... But if you don’t mind spending a few quick dollars, the obvious efforts of the people behind Simpl to improve their service reveal it to be, in the end, a very respectable way to build a simple web presence.