Let's face it. Most of us don't know how to code a website. Sure, it'd be great if everyone could code. But we're not they're yet, and frankly just because you can code, doesn't make you a good web designer. So what happens when you hire a web designer to create a website for you? Working with a web designer can be frustrating, especially for artists, because we usually have a very specific idea of what we're looking for in a website. But describing that idea can be challenging, especially when you and the web designer are speaking different languages. Easel.io is a nifty web design tool that operates in your browser, allowing you to create sleek looking, highly customizable, sample web pages that you can then pass along to your web designer. This gives your designer a really clear understanding of what you're looking for, all while speaking the same language with each other.
There are two features of Easel.io that are particularly powerful: Bootstrap and the Chrome Extension
- Bootstrap is a sleek and intuitive front-end web development framework created by two developers who helped start Twitter. That's a lot of tech-speak for what's essentially a set of proven web elements (buttons, navigation bars, layouts, etc.) that you can pick and choose from, like building a house in Sims. Normally, the way you would use bootstrap would be in conjunction with html code, essentially you would use bootstrap like coding shorthand to very quickly create aspects of the page you're designing.But now with Easel, you don't need to touch a line of code. Just drag and drop buttons, navigation bars, images, text, containers etc. right onto your page. You can share your sample web page with collaborators to get feedback. And finally, you can export all of the code for your page with the click of a single button.
- Easel's Chrome Extension is one of the most popular features of the application that essentially allows you to find web elements from anywhere on the internet, and import them into your document. This is great for quickly importing features from a website you currently manage or want to emulate. For example, I've been working with some co-workers on redesigning Fractured Atlas's donation pages. Instead of taking hours to painstakingly reproduce Fractured Atlas's webpage in Easel, I can just copy and paste the website's navigation bar and footer in less than 5 clicks of my mouse. In fact, take a look at the web document I was able to make in Easel. This is a great solution for arts administrators who have to work with IT departments managing an organization's website. Showing what you want instead of trying to describe it, is a lot more effective and efficient.
Easel has a number of pricing options. A free trial gets you access to 3 web documents, but for the meat of the app you'll want to sign up for either the $15/mo Personal plan or the $30 Freelancer plan. There are more options for larger teams here, but at the very least check out the free demo here.