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Moonfruit - first hand experience

Moonfruit (www.moonfruit.com) is a do-it-yourself website builder, ideal for those who want a professional-looking site, without the expense of paying a professional web designer.

Signing Up

Creating an account was easy via Moonfruit’s website. All I had to do was click “Log In” followed by “Sign Up”, type in a user name, email address and password, and I was ready to get started. The website then automatically sent me an email with my log in details (useful, because I tend to forget them!) and a link to verify my email address. I also received a link to an extremely helpful Beginner’s Guide, with 21 pages of step-by-step instructions on how to create your ideal website, including handy screenshots so you know exactly what you’re looking for. I decided to have a go at using the editor first before having a closer look at the Beginner’s Guide, as I wanted to see how user friendly it would be without instruction. 

I really appreciated the free 14 day trial, as this was my first experience using a website builder site, so I had plenty of time to become familiar with the page’s web editor before I would need to consider purchasing any packages. The fact that I was not required to communicate with anyone in order to set up my site also made me feel less obliged to upgrade to a full package if I decided that Moonfruit wasn’t for me. 

Getting Started

Once I was ready to start, I was able to browse through Moonfruit’s impressive array of templates, which vary widely in layout, colour and style. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, there are also blank templates, allowing you the option of starting from scratch. I was not feeling that brave, so I chose a template called “Barista”, because I liked the clean simple layout.

So, having made my selection, “Click to Build” brought me to a new screen where I was asked to enter the name of your website and a site address (which appear as …@moonfruit.com). From first looking at the website to beginning to build my site only took a matter of minutes – ideal for busy therapists! 

Editing My Website

The layout of the website editor is probably the only thing that lets Moonfruit down. It is not the most intuitive, meaning that to really make the most of its various features I did eventually decide to keep referring back to the Beginner’s Guide until I got the hang of things. For example, when adding a new image to a page, it is not immediately obvious as to how to place an image so it appeared behind existing text. Finding the option to do so took a while! As I am used to using Photoshop, I found that I quickly started to miss functions such as layers (which allow you to isolate items making them easy to move without interfering with other items). The way the various tool bars are spread around the screen was also a little frustrating initially, but once I became accustomed to where everything is, editor mode was pretty quick and easy to use. The step-by-step guide Moonfruit provide is definitely worth reading, and is well thought out to answer any questions users are likely to have when getting started on a site. 

Once I got to grips with the basics of the editor, the click and drag system for moving text and photo boxes allowed me create a professional-looking layout in very little time. Tasks such as repositioning and re-sizing were quick to do (similar to using Word in Microsoft). I also liked the simplicity of uploading and saving images, which can be used immediately or saved for later in the project.  Once I was happy with the positioning of my layout, double clicking on text boxes allowed me to add my own text straight on to the page.  Deleting objects I no longer wanted was also straightforward, by double clicking and hitting the trash can icon.

Another feature I found very useful was the “Page Master” function, which allows you to place and edit all elements that you wish to stay consistent across the entire website (i.e. your name, the type of therapy you provide, your phone number etc. at the top of each page). It automatically ensures that the layout is exactly the same on every page, which gave me more time to focus on the main content of each page.

Moonfruit has also made allowances for the number of people who now use their mobile phones to search the web, with the addition of a Mobile editor. I appreciated being able to see how my website would look on a mobile phone screen, and the ability to make changes accordingly to ensure that everything works the way I want it to. As someone who does most of their web browsing on my iPhone, I thought it was a really useful addition to Moonfruit’s tool bar. 

Useful Additions 

In terms of social media, Moonfruit allows you to insert many additional features that help to give your website a polished, professional finish. This is something I was a little wary about doing, but it really is easy to add links to your LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter pages. You may also add videos from Youtube, although this particular feature wasn’t useful to me, I can see how it could be to some therapists. The editor also gives you the option to insert a contact form, allowing potential clients to send you messages with their name and email addresses. I thought this was really useful for helping to create leads to grow the business.

Although I have never tried blogging before, I thought it would be great to have on the website as additional space for giving additional information, recommending useful apps or articles that may benefit clients etc. Adding the blog was really quick and easy, and once I had saved it, a new link button was automatically added to my home page. 

I thought I would see how difficult it would be to add an online shop to a website. Moonfruit make it quick and easy (should your particular branch of therapy need one. I decided not to keep it in the end).  Moonfruit’s system uses PayPal, meaning that you can rest assured that your transactions with clients are safe and secure. Adding and editing items for sale, prices etc is easily done under the “Shop” section of the page editor.  The number of items you may have on sale depends on the package you buy, so that may need to be a consideration when it comes to finishing your free trial and selecting a price package. However, I think for the majority of therapists, the Standard package is more than sufficient. It’s certainly the one I would choose.

Summary

Overall, I was really impressed with Moonfruit. It’s a very useful website builder that takes the hassle out of hosting your site (they take care of the mechanics for you). The choice of templates was excellent, very customisable, and allowed me to produce a professional-looking page, despite my limited technical knowledge – and no web designer fees! Although the layout of the web editor was confusing initially, Moonfruit makes up for it with their user friendly help centre and comprehensive Beginner’s Guide. The ways in which social media may be integrated into your website are well thought out, and the ability to view your site as it will appear on a mobile phone is a very useful addition that I appreciated very much. For as little as £6.00 a month if you sign up for 12 months, it is undoubtedly good value for money, and I would happily pay for their service. I was very pleased with the end result.

Prices: As of February 2015, they currently offer 3 packages for hosting your website and the use of the domain name:

Standard £8/month; Plus £15/month; Max £25/month.