Your current implementation...I'm not so sure it can reach nontechnical people yet. I think it sits at this middle point that makes it easy for technical people to hand off content management to nontechnical people. That's probably a good / smart way to start...but it will limit your potential audience.
Looking at the site, I don't think targeting a technology is the best approach. People aren't going to be Googling "alternatives to cpanel" to try and find you. You should be targeting people / use cases. Designers, creative agencies, IT people dealing with the marketing team, etc.
The zip a folder and upload is a great interface (A+ on giving me a sample project to try), but what I'm most interested in is how the CMS / form stuff is going to work. Unfortunately, it wasn't ready yet. I will say that adding classname is a good start, but remember try to build features in a way that it doesn't require people to edit code. Find some way to allow people to click to specify what'll be dynamic. It could use the same mechanism, just make adding the classname a thing that's done with a click and not a cursor.
The CMS / Form stuff is what's really going to sell this into organizations. Then you're going after a very large space. I think something like 45% of the Internet is powered by a CMS. 25% of that by Wordpress, something initially made for some other task. If someone gets it right, there's a lot of money to be made.
Thanks for sharing and I'll be on the look out for your fellowship application!
Agreed that focusing on technical people is a smaller market; that's just phase 1 for us. Thanks a bunch!
You might want to take a look at Eager (https://eager.io)
We are working on an editing interface for static websites that can compete with the ease of use and flexibility of wordpress. Our alpha users love it and this is an open source project.
We've been working in this space for quite a while, and are extremely excited about the potential for static web-tech.
We started out with simple drag and drop deploys at BitBalloon (you don't even need to zip your site first, just drag a folder unto BitBalloon.com).
Later we launched our premium solution called netlify that's by far the most feature rich on the market (continuous deployment, form processing, API proxying, redirects, rewrite rules, SSL, etc, etc) and offers the best performance you'll get today.
It's spot on that the really big deal will be solving the CMS need, without making developers give up on all the advantages of static site generators.
Some of our larger clients are using netlify + roots/middleman/metalsmith/etc + Contentful/Prismic/etc to build large CMS drives sites that are built up front and hosted directly on our CDN, but this is still a bit too advances a setup for the millions and millions of normal CMS driven sites out there.
Our solution is building a completely open-source CMS that works with all common static site generators. It's in private beta right now, but getting real close to opening up the repo to the public. It’s completely free of any lock-in, and you can take it and host it anywhere with ease.
Happy to send an invite to anyone here. Just ping me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Some feedback to the product of this thread:
Love the initiative.
Drag and drop uploads are nice, but unless you handle CDN configuration and cache invalidation, it doesn't seem like a big step up from just FTPing files to an S3 bucket.
Otherwise you might risk mainly appealing to beginners or people looking for a cheap way to publish a personal website, and those can't pay much. With a monthly price of $1/site, the life-time value of a client will be very low, so you will barely be able to spend anything on customer acquisition. One.com, GoDaddy or S3 can offer extremely low prices because they have huge scale, but as a tiny startup, you have no way of reaching the amount of users you would need to get on board with a model like that. Especially since this is way more technical than Wix/Weebly/SquareSpace,etc, while not really offering real value to professional developers or agencies.
If you want to build in the static hosting space, you should start by figuring out if there's something you could offer beyond what the existing players like netlify, BitBalloon, CloudCannon, Divshot, etc, already have, and make sure you're not just trying to compete on price.
My 5 cents written in 5 minutes :) Good Luck!
You can try our general mail, email@example.com
We all build simple sites every now and then. You know...your bother's band, your friend's restaurant, etc. They're a pain to set up and manage.
This is just a demo, but we would love your feedback!
*YC people - put in a good word for us for the fellowship program ;)
Note that the goal of this question is to help you explain what makes you unique, not to as a gotcha. I'd like to get an idea of when your offering is the appropriate choice since I'm looking at needing a static webhost in the next few months.
Edit: Another thing: What about email? The beauty of cPanel and whatnot is that it comes with email to my domain and is usually easy to set up as well.
For e-commerce (coming soon?), contact forms, and content editing. They charge extra to use their barebones CMS. That's where the real profit will be coming from.
$11/yr for a contact form is another $1/month for a very basic service. Content-Editable is another $3~/mo that people would take advantage of (ie: tech user hosting the static site here and handing it off to a non-tech user, rather than having to edit the HTML for any future content edits).
Did you try the demo? Would you use this kind of thing? Do you find yourself building stupidly simple sites for everyone you know (like I do)?
What happens when a site uses too much bandwidth for this to hold? The first thing I looked for was information about storage and bandwidth limits, but I don't see that anywhere.
Heliohost, as an example, only restricts sites based on CPU Usage. Free hosting of up to 500MB, unlimited bandwidth. But metered CPU Usage. Even then that's hard to hit.
Storage is easy to set limits on in advance, but you're going to want some sensible limits on bandwidth usage too. With some care, you could do so via throttling (fixed average bandwidth with bursting) so that you never need to cut a site off entirely.
I get that the drag and drop upload is good for non-technical folks, but as a coder, some sort of little command line interface ala Heroku would be nice so that I could use it alongside git in my workflow and automate deploys. The drag and drop process would be tedious when doing frequent deploys.
Have you looked at Middleman at all? That's been my static site generator of choice for awhile now and I've found it much smoother to work with than Jekyll.
Blogging will be difficult, right now we're just starting with editing existing content and we'll expand from there.
$39 / year for a simple "cms" (others call it a simple edit form)
$11 / year for form handling
$62 / year, good luck! Include the simple cms would be a great benefit.
Sure WordPress is overbloatet, but WordPress has zillions of Designs.
It vaguely reminds me of Site44 - which does with DropBox what you are doing with your zip upload. Your pricing is better. And they don't have forms. This one simple thing adds the only back-end functionality needed by well over 1/3 of the web sites out there today.
I've since then been able to use DropBox to syndicate oil&gas drilling waste processing equipment configurations from a small set of folders on my desktop. And I've been able to hook up a national chain's franchise's digital in-store displays to a content manager's workstation at an ad agency in New York. You can do quite a few nifty things with it.
And I've taken us off the topic of your demonstration. Sorry! :-)
"Set up" not "Setup". Just one of my pet peeves. Had to say it.
Nice job filling that small niche of "barebones CMS".
But it's great to have simple tools for simple needs.