Web Hosting with WYSIWYG Editing

I’m looking for a simple HTML web host that is suitable for non-technical users. Here are my absolute requirements:

  1. Must support custom domains (no www.host.com/~username)
  2. Must have a built-in editor that is sufficiently WYSIWYG for someone with zero HTML skills to use. (Google Sites would meet this requirement, for example.)
  3. Must allow me to import an existing site of static HTML pages with all links intact. (Google sites fails this requirement.)
  4. Must not add any sort of header, footer, JavaScript, sidebar, or other junk to the pages. (Google sites also fails this requirement.)
  5. No lockin. All pages must be served in and easily exportable as plain vanilla HTML.

I don’t need databases, JavaScript, or a lot of other advanced features. #1 is commonly met, but everything I’ve looked at so far fails either #2, #3, or #4.

Is there such a product on the market?

Update: It occurs to me I could live with a local system that runs on a Mac and has a one-click publish button to upload to a plain-vanilla Unix/Apache server. It’s not as nice as one that allows editing right in the browser, but it would suffice for now. Other requirements still apply.

5 Responses to “Web Hosting with WYSIWYG Editing”

  1. Jonathan Tappan Says:

    Any plain-vanilla hosting service (e.g. BlueHost) would support 1, 4 & 5 with no more technical skills required than the ability to use an FTP client.

    As for WYSIWYG HTML editors, there are any number of them available, some of them free and open-source.

    E.g. you could use any editor to build the site on your laptop, then upload it to the host via FTP.

    Moving the old site with links intact might require fooling around with wget. But many hosting providers will do that for you for a small fee.

  2. John Cowan Says:

    Yes, #2 is going to clobber you, because no such editor is going to be best of breed.

  3. Elliotte Rusty Harold Says:

    I can live with a non-best-of-breed editor. I just need something that meets the needs of non-technical users. FTP well exceeds the technical skills of the target audience. Google Sites and WordPress both provide adequate editors and interfaces for this purpose. However neither will import an existing static HTML site.

  4. John Cowan Says:

    This audience can’t drag stuff from one file manager window to another? Because that’s how hard FTP is these days. I think a built-in editor (#2) is incompatible with “import anything” (#3), because the editor will only be able to handle the subset of HTML that it actually generates.

  5. Elliotte Rusty Harold Says:

    The problem is not dragging from one window to another. It’s dragging from the right window to the right window. Remember, we’ve known for 25+ years that hierarchical file systems are a bad metaphor for end users. Users routinely save files in the wrong folders and then lose them. Hierarchical file systems just don’t work for non-technical end users. It’s gotten a little better with tricks like defaulting to the Documents folder, but that’s a very small improvement. The real improvement comes from web systems like Google Drive where by default everything goes in the only folder you have, and you use search to find what you’re looking for. The web works because users don’t have to think about hierarchies, just follow links that are set up for them.

    If on top of the incredibly confusing local hierarchical filesystem, you add a second related but different hierarchical file system on the server, and then a potentially third hierarchy in the form of URLs and links, then ask users to map between these three, you’ve shot way past the complexity barrier for the typical non-techie. That’s what an FTP based system is asking users to do.

    By contrast in Google sites or something like it, all a user has to do is click and search to find pages, and can edit them right where they are in the browser without thinking about the location of pages. Only Google sites can’t import an existing site and puts way too much excess Google-junk on each page.

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