The Grid hopes the polished post will rekindle website creation


It’s time to get your corner of the Internet back.

So believe those behind The Grid, a startup that launched a service Wednesday designed to generate smooth, easily updated sites from the text and photos customers upload. Customers start by choosing preferred layouts, as well as priorities like social engagement or e-commerce, then The Grid handles things like color schemes, fonts, image and text placement and smart photo cropping for use on small screen devices.

Running your own site may seem like a relic from the early days of the web. At the time, Internet service providers were trying to attract customers by offering to host their homepages, and Yahoo bought the GeoCities homepage service for $ 4.5 billion. But the thrill of early HTML programming has faded; Yahoo closes GeoCities, and more than a billion people have turned to Facebook to express themselves online.

The Grid, which costs $ 96 per year for an introductory period, is for those who need their own internet presence, not a profile page on someone else’s service, has said Dan Tocchini, vice president of business development.

“As soon as you go from a casual to a professional activity, you have to do something other than Facebook,” Tocchini said.

If he’s successful, his business could help keep the web relevant for those who don’t have the budget to hire programmers and designers. The web is barely losing its relevance, but it must compete for attention with the mobile apps that excite programmers and with “walled gardens” like Google+, Twitter and Facebook where people’s content serves the purpose. agenda of another company. It’s a trend that worries web-centric companies like Firefox browser developer Mozilla.

The grid creates a variety of website layouts based on the uploaded images and text.  Here are two examples.
The grid creates a variety of website layouts based on the uploaded images and text. Here are two examples.


“We consider web literacy to be an essential skill along with reading, writing, and math,” Mozilla says of its WebMaker effort to help people build sites. “After all, it’s only when we understand the building blocks of the web that we can help shape its future.”

The automated web

The Grid builds an automated approach that doesn’t require a deeper understanding.

Customers can create and update sites from smartphones, tablets or PCs. They choose the primary and secondary priorities – sales; social follows; music or video games; crowdfunding; and inscriptions, for example, then choose a theme, called “filter”, which governs the style. After that, they upload material and The Grid arranges it.

“It adapts to your content,” Tocchini said. “If you only have one video or one frame, it’ll pop and make it really big. If you add multiple elements, it’ll create rhythms. [like] left-right-left-right. There’s this idea of ​​polyrhythm – that’s what custom designers naturally do. “Customers can also feature specific items that will be featured on the site. The grid also analyzes photo colors and selects backgrounds and text colors that will stand out but also match.

The company has 17 employees, including Brian Ax, the former director of Google’s AdSense department, and Leigh Taylor, the first designer of the online publishing site Medium. Funding comes from Greg Badros, former vice president of products for Facebook, and Nick Roach, founder of the Elegant Themes site which sells packages to beautify WordPress sites.

Intended for enthusiasts

The grid is designed for everyone, the first customers will likely be “the passionate entrepreneur,” Tocchini said.

Once the annual price of $ 96 is over, the cost of The Grid will drop to $ 299 per year. The price includes website hosting.

Tocchini said the company is considering a free tier later, but is not committing to it.

The Grid is not alone, of course. Perhaps its main competitor is WordPress, but The Grid argues that its own approach makes sites easier to set up and continue to use. Others in the DIY website market include SquareSpace, Wix, and Weebly, and there are degrees of customization available through services like TypePad, Yahoo’s Tumblr, and Google’s Blogger. And for those who sell stuff, there are plenty of other options as well, like SmugMug and PhotoShelter for photography, where people can give a personalized look.

Tocchini wants people to leave the walled gardens and build their own sites, but the process has been too expensive or complicated, he says. This has been bad for the web itself.

“The website is in a precarious position,” Tocchini said. “There have been so many solutions, but the current situation is the result of the lack of good solutions.”

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