Over the course of the last year, two startups, The Grid and PageCloud, have announced platforms that could potentially change the realm of web design forever. PageCloud, recent finalist in the 2015 TechCrunch Disrupt conference in New York, unveiled some remarkable features of its platform that give even amateur web designers the tools to make top notch sites. The Grid takes an even more transformational approach by using an artificial intelligence system to design websites from content the user has supplied it. Both startups look to be game changers, but which one will wind up on top?
This Canadian startup takes the next step in web design evolution by creating a drag-and-drop platform that provides users a WYSIWYG environment for creating and modifying their websites. Although this type of platform can be found at more established companies like Wix and Squarespace, PageCloud has one particular ace up its sleeve to put it ahead. As part of his TechCrunch Disrupt presentation, CEO and founder Craig Fitzpatrick demonstrated his platform’s ability to take an existing website, analyze its components and build a copy on its system for the user to modify. In other words, the user would navigate to a site that they liked, click a button on the PageCloud toolbar and use the copy generated from it as the starting point for their own website. This feature eliminates what would ordinarily be a long and arduous process of building a website from scratch or using a template.
PageCloud is offering an incentive for early adopters with a promotional rate of just $99/year, billed annually, locked in for life as long as your subscription is maintained. Post launch, prices are reported to increase to at least $25/month per site. The subscription cost includes hosting for one site, domain support and use of the PageCloud platform.
Based in San Francisco, The Grid made a big splash last year when news about its revolutionary approach to web design started making its way around Silicon Valley. According to their CEO and Founder, Dan Tocchini, users won’t need to fiddle with their site designs ever again thanks to the algorithms he and his team have programmed into the system. All you have to do is provide The Grid with your content and select a layout/purpose for the site. The platform will arrange the content according to its “artificial intelligence” engine and coordinate palates, menus, layouts, etc. As content is accumulated, the appearance of the site evolves to accommodate new content. For example, when your blog has 5 articles, the site will look purpose built to have exactly that many. Each new article will cause the blog layout to shift so that everything is displayed in an aesthetically appealing manner. In other words, no more blank spaces or half empty rows! Users will also be able to switch to new layouts depending on their current objective and the site will adapt to the new purpose. According to their FAQ, layout filters will be the only method for customization, at least initially. This kind of restriction might be a mixed blessing though. While it may make building a website simpler for some, it could prevent others from being able to stand out in a crowd of Grid designed sites.
Pricing is about the only similarity The Grid shares with PageCloud. As with PageCloud, early adopters of The Grid will get locked into an annual subscription fee of $96, which includes hosting. However, this fee includes up to 7 sites compared to just 1 with PageCloud. Late comers will similarly face higher costs of $25/month and up.
While both PageCloud and The Grid aim to revolutionize the way we go about designing and building websites, they have drastically different approaches. PageCloud appears to be the more flexible solution, at least initially. However, The Grid is definitely more appealing to the masses who have been waiting for a way to create their own sites without the hassle of designing and building one. Both have received substantial pre-launch funding and are scheduled to launch near the end of this year, so we will soon see whether flexibility or simplicity will wind up on top.