I recently tried out Weebly. It’s a site that offers drag and drop web page creation, along with free hosting of the pages you create. You can publish the pages you create on a domain of your own choosing.
They offer a blog among the choices as to what you can make with their interface, but if you add a blog to a site, it must be hosted at Weebly to work.
I was trying it out because I was writing a how-to article about it for eHow. I made a test web site, which reflects my quickly done effort while testing for the eHow article.
It is easy. Very easy. But if you run an HTML validator on the test site I made, you find 48 validation errors on the first page. The blog, where I didn’t go as wild dragging and dropping widgets and elements onto the page only (only?) has HTML 22 errors.
I didn’t make an effort to create anything real that I would use. I just tried out the elements to see if they fulfilled the promise of letting an inexperienced user create and publish their own information in a web page. Weebly does that. However, I don’t think it provides any useful fodder for education in web design. If you are teaching programming and want to look at a smoothly working example of a web 2.0 site, it could be instructive.
Are sites like Weebly going to eliminate the need for instruction and education in web design by making it so simple to get published on the web that even a kid could do it? I don’t think so. They have a place, a niche. For example, if you were getting married and wanted a short-term, fast and easy site to store information about the wedding and its related events, maps, gift registration sites, and such info, Weebly would be a solution. But Weebly is limited. Which means a solid grounding in the web development nuts and bolts is still necessary for most web site creators.
ADDENDUM: July 27, 2010. Weebly made news today with a new drag and drop image editor called Image Perfect. You can read about it at TechCrunch.