Tank: An Easy Way to Build Sites Quickly

tanklogoThere are lots of online site building apps out there. Many of them are ancient, horrible to work with, and produce poor results.

Which is why it’s refreshing to see that Tank is different. It’s easy to use, the basic version is free, and in the right hands, it’s capable of producing some pretty good results. If you need to put together a quick site with some fairly static pages for one of your projects or a client, it’s worth taking a look. Mike Gunderloy briefly covered Tank here on WWD a year ago and liked what he saw. According to Tank co-founder Alan Alston, they’ve come a long way since then, so I thought I’d take it for a test run.

Getting started with Tank is simple. After filling out the registration form, you’re taken to a couple of screens to set up your site. There you’ll need to input some basic information, such as the site name, tag line, etc.:

Setting up the site in Tank

Setting up the site in Tank

You then pick the default structure (“information architecture”) for your site (you can customize this later, but the defaults should cover most types of sites):

Choosing an Information Architecture for our site

Choosing an Information Architecture for our site

Your site is now set up at a custom URL (under the “withtank.com” domain for free users; paid users can select their own domain). Your site looks pretty good out of the box, with a nice, clean design, and comes with a bunch of pages already set up. For a “biz”-type site,  you get Home, What We Do, Where We Are, News And Gallery set up in the main navigation bar. Here’s my site (I selected the red color scheme, though you can customize it very easily):

The dfeualt site provided by Tank

The default site provided by Tank

To add content to one of these pages, you just click on the Sitemap, then the title of the page you want to edit. From there you can add or edit content via an easy-to-use interface.

Adding content is easy

Adding content is easy

You can also add extra pages and change the site’s structure in the Sitemap.

You have the option of adding blog-like content under the News tab. This is one area that I think could probably be improved on.  For example, for some reason, you have to put the title of the post on one page, and then add content on the next. This isn’t very intuitive, especially for someone used to working with a blogging CMS. If your site needs a blog, I would recommend going with one of the established blogging engines instead.

The final tab, Gallery, is used for managing images. Images are organized into albums, in a similar manner to sites like Facebook. If you want to batch upload many images you can put them all into a zip file — not as easy as the fancier uploaders found on sites like Flickr and Facebook. If you don’t want to zip them up, you have to upload them one at a time. Free users will quickly run into the 10MB limit if uploading a more than a few photos. The gallery works well on the site that I created.

The gallery in Tank

Managing the gallery in Tank

For setting up a quick site, that’s pretty much it, and should take no more than an half an hour of your time.  Once your site is configured, you can customize it to your heart’s content, up to and including using your own CSS.

You can start using Tank with the free version, but if you want to use your own domain, or more storage, you’ll need a Basic or Pro plan, starting from $10 per month.

Tank is most suited to small portfolio-type sites, with a few pages with fairly static content. It’s probably not really suitable for a blog or dynamic sites with lots of content to manage.

If you need to put together a quick no-fuss five page site for a project, with decent results out of the box, it’s worth giving Tank a try.

Have you tried Tank?

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