SimDif iPhone App Review
Updated: 2015-03-09 09:26:16 (original review: 2013-10-22)
Some Websites Made with SimDif
New from SimDif
A few things have been added since we last reviewed SimDif over a year ago, including the name of the app. The transition looks to be a work in progress as there are still references to SimpleDifferent in places. New features include a quick access menu, password protected pages, many more fonts for Pro Site users, and a change to the way photos work so that all of a site’s images can now zoom on clicking.
Create a free website on an iPhone
SimDif’s iPhone app is really the same as the iPad app plus a few tweaks to help with the smaller screen. You can create free websites using Starter Sites and the only requirement is that you publish your site at least once every 21 days. The Pro Sites upgrade for $39.99 per year brings some additional features, which we look at below.
WYSIWYG on an iPhone!
The WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor is the easiest kind of editor for newcomers to website design to adjust to because of the context and visual feedback you get whilst you’re creating. With SimDif the in-editor view looks exactly as the published website will, and you simply have to tap on text areas, page titles, image placeholders etc. to add and edit content. However, the editor is a bit more challenging to navigate in the iPhone app than in the iPad app. I found I needed to zoom in and out a lot, that some of the buttons were difficult to activate because of their small size on the iPhone screen, and also that some of the visual feedback I enjoyed when using the iPad app was gone, because the pop-up text editor and other windows blocked the view of the content taking shape in the background.
SimDif has partially addressed the problem of the small screen impacting usability by recently adding a shortcuts menu which is always visible in the bottom left of the editor. This provides on location for easy access to many of the features and really improves the ergonomics of the app on the iPhone. This is also one of the few apps to allow switching between portrait and landscape mode for editing, which helps compensate for the small screen.
A bug free app
Although the app feels more adapted to the iPhone than designed for it, I found only minor inconveniences like slightly long loading times, nothing major.
SimDif has produced comprehensive written guides, not just on how to use their editor, but on best practices for making websites. From within the editor and on their website you can find tips on the kind of language to use on web pages, how to add elements that both website visitors and search engines will find and like, and how to set up and organize the navigation and links of the website.
For when you really get stuck SimDif has email support accessible from within the app.
Free and paid Pro Sites with a wealth of easy to use options
Free Starter Sites allow up to 7 pages, with page types including Standard pages, Gallery, a Contact form, Links and Journal. The “blocks” that are used to build up the pages are one of the nicest and easiest to use of SimDif’s features. They allow effortless and varied creation of well laid out web pages.
The “blocks” that are used to build up the pages are one of the nicest and easiest to use of SimDif’s features.
Every element of a page is tap and edit including the page title, text areas, media placeholders and menu tab titles. Navigation menus are always on the left, but there are a variety of styling options either using different themes, or for Pro Sites, you can create your own themes and edit background colors, borders, fonts and text styling independently of the theme choice.
The image handling is very impressive. Just tap an image placeholder, upload an image, or import a Flickr image. The crop tool is surprisingly easy to use for an iPhone, and much easier than you’ll find in other apps. Other than crop and rotate there are no other photo editing features, but this is already more than other website builder apps offer, and there are many image editors for iPhone available on the App store if you need to do more.
Youtube Videos, images from Flickr, and Google maps are as easy to add as are your own photos.
Text editing is easy and the styling options are pretty good and include the easy creation of bullet point lists, something that I didn’t find in other apps. SimDif has made the page titles and block titles into h1 and h2 elements to help with SEO. Font options in Starter sites are basic, but in Pro sites you can style the various text elements with a great selection of fonts.
The contact form is the only example of an actual fillable contact form, complete with spam protection, that I could find among the website builder apps.
Other features include social media share buttons, Google Analytics integration, Paypal and shopping cart features, and password protection for individual pages (the last 3 features are Pro Site only).
Plenty of themes to choose from but all with navigation on the left
SimDif has a variety of pre-designed themes for use in Starter and Pro Sites, and Pro Sites users can create their own themes using the theme designer. Perhaps partly because of the left side only menu, and the fixed width nature of the elements of the themes, many themes don’t look particularly varied or distinctive at first.
Over 60 pre-designed themes and the ThemeDesigner in Pro Sites let’s you create your own
Once you’ve added some images and other elements the themes can look effective, and small businesses and professionals will find just enough flexibility to create distinctive sites. Visual artists perhaps won’t be satisfied by the fixed width formatting.
Themes can be changed easily at any time and with no impact on the layout of text, images, videos etc.
You can create custom headers and footers (by using an image editing App or image editing software on a computer) and this can have branding. For anyone used to image editing this will be very easy and there are several apps available for Android that can do it. A logo image independent of the header background image, and favicons, the little icon which shows up on the tabs of browsers, are some of the elements which are not possible.
Create multi-language sites with ease
SimDif has made this option potentially very easy by offering duplication of entire websites (for Pro Sites) for translation, with the first year of the translated pro site hosted for free.
SimDif has clearly thought very carefully about how the websites their users create will actually perform, both for website visitors and for search engine results. They have included tips in the editor’s Tips Book, and have devoted many pages in their in-depth guides to the subject of site promotion, and the guides can be accessed by tapping on a button within the App.
Page titles, meta description, keywords and site author information can be added very easily, and in a completely non-technical way.
h1 and h2 tags are partially automatic, as page titles and titles added to text in blocks are always enclosed in h1 and h2 tags, but because you can add multiple titles to blocks, you do have some control over the number and location of h2 tags within pages.
SimDif sites look and work well on all devices
SimDif sites are not responsive, but they display very well on all kinds of devices, including on computer browsers, iPads and iPhones, and Android tablets and phones.
The only genuinely multi-platform app
Work on your website on iPhone, iPad, Android tablet and phone.. and desktop. The only completely cross-platform. Outstanding.
Here SimDif truly shines. It is the only website builder, to my knowledge, which can build websites from start to finish, on iPhone, iPad and Android tablets and phones and on computer browsers. Not only this, but each version works exactly the same as all the others and users can therefore work on their websites from any device using the same interface, and can even work on multiple devices at the same time, with the latest updates being saved. This capability can add a huge amount of fun to working with the app.
As I wrote when reviewing SimDif for iPad, when using this app you feel like you’re making a website as you make it. As you create your content and see your website forming in front of your eyes you can click anywhere and edit bits right there, in full context. This makes the process of creation fun and will really increase the chances that you’ll finish the site you’ve started. This is not always true of other apps because of the discrepancy between what you see in the editor and what you see on a published site, or else because of the limited possibilities of some of the apps. For website builders in general the percentage of users who complete a website is very low.
As you create your content and see your website forming in front of your eyes you can click anywhere and edit bits right there, in full context.
A weak spot in SimDif in my view is that the themes require a good eye for design to get them to look their best. I managed to find some beautiful sites that had been created using the app, however, which proves that it’s possible.
SimDif provides a very easy method for complete beginners to make a website. As an iPhone app it doesn’t quite have the same advantage over it’s rivals as the iPad app has. Some of the other apps have been designed just for iPhone and feel like it. SimDif is a lot to squeeze into such a small space. Overall, though the combination of ease of use and the strength of it’s capabilities for creating websites on iPhone, iPad, Adroid, laptop and desktop are unmatched.
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