I wasn’t sure what to make of Sitemasher when I first heard of it. With Sitemasher, you can build a web site, manage the content, get analytics, implement basic SEO, and you get managed hosting to boot.
But at $99/month, I felt the kerpow of sticker shock. I knew that I had to think about Sitemasher differently to fully appreciate its value.
So after a demo with the company, here is what I’ve learned.
Web Developers Rule at Sitemasher
Sitemasher is really meant to be a tool for Web developers to help them provide integrated Web services to clients and either hand over the finished site to the client or continue to easily manage the site for the client. There are two views to Sitemasher:
Dashboard View: This is more for the marketer or business owner who wants to have some admin controls such as viewing site analytics, adding some basic SEO code into the site like easy-to-construct meta tags, and set user levels. Depending on a person’s role on the Web site development and maintenance process, their user access can be set up with limitations. The user roles tool allows admin to specify exactly what each person is allowed to do on the site – from edit to approve to publish. Tasks can be created and assigned.
Basically, Sitemasher lets the site admin turn features on and off based on the client’s needs and the workflow everyone wants.
Studio View: This is the heart of the Web developer’s domain. In Studio view, the developer can build the site from the ground up and tweak their development environment to their preferences. There is also a Style Sheet manager and a Database creator. So when a developer creates a form, for example, Sitemasher’s system automatically ties it to a contact database to manage the contact information.
Not being a Web designer myself, I didn’t grasp all the designer speak, however, I got the impression that even someone with my 1990s HTML and Web design skills would be right at home with the easy-to-use site building tools.
Back to the Price
After seeing how robust and feature rich Sitemasher was, I began to think again about the price. Would I, as a site developer, have to pay $99/month to build a site for my client?
The answer is NO. Web developers can use Sitemasher for free as their development tool for multiple clients. Each client gets private access into their site during all stages of development. Then, when the site is ready for debut, the developer triggers the site to publish it live.
At that point, the $99/month kicks in and this is a cost that the developer can pass on to the client. They could then choose to be done with the project as the CMS, analytics and SEO tools are easy enough for a non-programmer to use so a client could handle the site from then on. Or they can remain on hand – if the client has a capacity issue – and use Sitemasher to manage the site for the client. The client still pays $99/month for their site and all the features while the developer can charge for their time as webmaster.
Breaking down $99/month, I needed to remember that we’re talking about:
- a really powerful site builder (ex: Dreamweaver $399US);
- a detailed analytics tool (ex: Google Analytics which is FREE but something like WebTrends isn’t free);
- basic SEO (this could entail hiring an SEO expert for hundreds of dollars);
- simple CMS (this could be pricey – $1200/year); and
- managed hosting (this could range from $25/month to hundreds of dollars per month).
Frankly, just the CMS alone could make Sitemasher worthwhile to the business owner who doesn’t want to mess with code and also wants a good degree of autonomy from their Web developer.
$99/month is the Basic level where only 2 people can be users (Web developer and customer and then later could be switched to two customer staff members). The next levels, $249/month allows 5 users (with the ability to add), approvals, different user roles, and versioning while the $699/month gives you unlimited users on top of all the features.
NOTE: On October 8, Sitemasher announced the Sitemasher Website Design Contest which runs through March 1, 2009. Find out more about how you can enter. First Prize: $1,000; Second Prize: $500; Third Prize: $250 as well as a one-year subscription to Sitemasher Basic and a few other bennies.
Have you tried Sitemasher yet? What do you think of it? What other multi-featured Web development tool are you using and do you pay for it?