Just like the Fleetwood Mac song, changes can be terrifying - especially when you're so comfortable with the things that you already have and love. Sometimes, I'm definitely guilty of this way of thinking - for example, I've always been a devoted Adobe fan and would never fathom to use any other kind of software when designing visual content. This, evidentially, is because I was so used to the way everything worked on there and had spent most of my life learning the world of Adobe. I used to have to sneak into the library of a prestigious arts university near where my Mum lived in order to use Photoshop and Illustrator, as my secondary school didn't have the facilities.
Web Design is one of Witch And The Wolf's newest assets, with services becoming available to clients in mid 2017. Our approach was simple; to find a platform that allows clients to easily make changes to their online empire, but still allowed Witch And The Wolf to fully customise every asset, nook and cranny during the construction and maintenance periods. Okay, so what I thought was a 'simple approach' took a lot of discoveries, testings and failures. Whilst there seemed some hope within online web builders, simply none of them offered the complete customisation that I was looking for and in several occasions it seemed that the service was telling me what to do, rather than the other way around. That, and the speed and lag of these builders became unbearable - especially when building a page with a sizeable amount of assets.
Then, the lovely lot at Adobe announced something new to their line up of Creative Cloud applications - Adobe Muse. Simply put, a way to create websites without code (and still allowing for code to be implemented when desired). Looking at the software for the first time reminded me a little bit of using InDesign, and whilst Muse didn't offer any templates to begin with, it became a positive design challenge to start from scratch and see where the imagination would lead. Another admirable feature that is seen often across the Adobe family is being able to dynamically use assets between applications. In other words, being able to use objects and designs created in Photoshop directly into Muse without conversion.
Eureka! It seemed that my prayers were finally answered, and as responsive web possibilities were additionally introduced within Muse it seemed that the way forward was clear... or so I thought.
Last year (I think), Adobe announced that it would terminate support of Muse. To say I was gutted about the situation would've been an understatement. Down the line, I dreaded the thought of searching around for another way to continue the Web Design services with my delicate specifications... but I had to do it, and after putting it off for so long, I caffeinated myself and began the search. I had advice from web designers all around me, suggesting that I should use 'this thing' because of 'this reason' and it only costs 'this much'. To my surprise, the search didn't take long at all, and so, I discovered PageCloud.
How did this Canadian based web-designing platform grab my attention? Well, there's a lot of reasons why - not forgetting to mention the beautiful purple theme they have going on throughout their appearance and their use of a full stop in their logo (finally, I am not alone!).
So without doubt, their design style had already drawn me in and I was curious to find out more.
I was privileged to get a conference call with two of the PageCloud family members; Lisa the Director of Channel Development and Greg the CEO to chat all things PageCloud, the Pro service and everything in between. Both of them were lovely to speak with and I found some great discoveries that helped to influence my decision to switch to their service. And here they are:
"A drag and drop website builder? As in, I can drag anything onto the page and it puts it there without yelling bad language words at me?"
Exactly that. Drag and drop, copy and paste, whichever - it made arranging assets onto pages a breeze. No more finding plug-ins or commands to embed links from Vimeo, YouTube, Soundcloud etc... just paste the link in, and it sets it up for you. No questions. No 'ifs' or 'but's'. Not a sausage.
Being able to integrate what I build on my Creative Cloud apps to my other work is essential. So when I heard that I can use my Photoshop files with PageCloud, my mind was pretty much already set on the decision.
Sections was a feature that had not quite made it into the PageCloud-iverse just yet, but I was lucky enough to get a sneak preview of how it worked before it was available. The feature proves how simple ideas can have powerful impacts to your final output.
Say, for example, you build a page that has a section about the world's largest ball of yarn, and another section about the secrets of soy sauce, and a third about the benefits of eating carrots whilst suspended upside-down from your bed. Now, let's say you decide that you want the section about upside-down carrot eating to be the first thing people see on your page because (for whatever weird reason) it's more beneficial to be there. How are you going to rearrange it - by multi selecting all the objects and try to shuffle it around whilst making a mess of your styles and layout? No. No you're not. You go to the 'Sections' section (no pun intended) in the editing panel and you just swap them over. Yeah, it's really that easy!
When I create any communication material for Witch And The Wolf, there are some things that just have to remain coherent throughout - and any designer would agree if it was their brand. One of these things is the Witch And The Wolf font used basically for everything except the logo and slogan. Countless times I had tried to find this font, despite it being available on Google Fonts, on other online-based web builders but to no avail and the very thought of being forced to used Comic Sans as an alternative still haunts my sleeping patterns.
However with PageCloud, that nightmare was a thing of the past when I discovered it's compatibility with Google Fonts and Adobe Typekit. So not only could I retain my font that I'm overly precious about, but the options are plentiful should I ever choose to rebrand Witch And The Wolf. Which actually leads me to my final point...
I totally understand the helpfulness of pre-made themes and they can help inspire users to make decisions about what direction they should approach in terms of future ideas. But if there's one thing I can't stand on the feature, it's not having the ability to customise a theme exactly the way I want it. And when I say 'exactly', I don't mean replacing a couple of pictures or graphics, but getting down into the nitty gritty and being able to change the behaviour of assets working in the background or creating specific effects to events. With PageCloud, I don't have this issue as they were true to their word that everything can be customised. Everything.
There are plenty of other nifty features that I love in the PageCloud-iverse, but there's simply too many to list on this blog without this entry becoming the length of a Tolkien novel. One additional feature I would definitely highlight isn't so much a feature, but the niceness and helpfulness of the staff working behind the scenes. Alongside Lisa and Greg, the people working within the support were awesome to speak to and quickly resolved any issue that had arisen from the 'self destruct' button I seemed to enjoy pushing a little too much. So this thanks definitely goes out to you all! I'm glad I've made the switch to PageCloud and I thoroughly look forward to the future.