Y Combinator Challenge #29 – Easy Site Builders for Specific Markets

For more information about the Y Combinator Challenge, check out this post first.  

29. Easy site builders for specific markets. Weebly is a good, general-purpose site builder. But there are a lot of markets that could use more specialized tools. What’s the best way to make a web site if you’re a real estate agent, or a restaurant, or a lawyer? There still don’t seem to be canonical answers.

Obviously the way to build this is to write a flexible site builder, then write layers on top to produce different variants. Hint: The key to making a site builder for end-users is to make software that lets people with no design ability produce things that look good—or at least professional.

My Idea – MixNMatch Site Builder

This idea is one that I’ve had for a while, but it fits so well into this category (and I can’t think of anything else and it’s getting way late) that I’m going to go ahead and post it.  It’s pretty simple, really.  This site is a basic site builder that allows you to mix and match the best features of your favorite sites from across the web and insert them into your site.  For example, I love the light-blue-and-black color scheme from Vimeo.  The login bar that fades in along the top nav bar of Digg is epic. I really like the 2-column, soft shadow outlines of the body copy from the Jaiku home page.  I want to use the same fonts as Facebook, the footer from Plaxo, the terms of use from Pownce, and the tabs from Innovate On (come on, gotta throw in a plug every once in a while!). 

Anyway, I think you get the idea.  As far as execution goes, the user would start with a blank homepage at the bottom of the screen, and a wizard-like series of steps across the top.  Users would go through the various steps (e.x. Choose the number of columns, choose the color scheme, choose the font, etc..) and as they went along, the blank homepage would begin to get populated.  After the shell of the site was created, users could drag-and-drop in basic html elements like text blocks, images, bulleted lists, etc..  You could also create links to other pages, which would inherit the basics of the home page, but could be tweaked as needed. 

One of the key features I’d like to see is the ability for users to take the entire site they’ve created and download the source code (html + css + javascript) to their local machines.  That way, developers could use this site as a way to quickly mock up some ideas that they have around the interface, and then wire it up to their backend code in the language of their choice.  Non-tech savvy users could have the option to host their pages directly on the MixNMatch servers, and purchase custom domain names for their new sites.

What do you guys think about this one?  Only one more idea left – stay tuned for tomorrow’s grand finale…along with a special surprise…  🙂

3 responses to “Y Combinator Challenge #29 – Easy Site Builders for Specific Markets

  1. OK yeah this is a good one. Definitely one of the more immediate/practical/money making ideas, to my eye, but then again I may not be a great judge.

  2. Thanks, Miles! I kinda like this one myself.

  3. Its a good idea. I like the addition of being able to download the source code and wire it up to your backend code of choice – might make it a useful productivity tool for developers.

    One suggestion by me – you said it would use a wizard with a series of steps. It might be useful to have the ability to do some of the steps – at least those that don’t have dependencies with/on other steps – at random, and also to be able redo any such step any number of times – e.g. change the color scheme, choose the number of columns, change the color scheme again, choose the font, change the color scheme again, etc. The reason, of course, being that you might not like your earlier choice and want to change it. Of course this feature would add some complexity to the code of the site builder …

    – Vasudev

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