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iWeb Review

IWeb

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iWeb is on my Mac and is part of Apple’s iLife family of programs. I have opened iWeb up a couple of times before, but I didn’t really know how to use it and didn’t take any time learn how to use it. While I am trying out MobileMe, I figured that I would attempt to setup a website/blog and experiment with iWeb to see how it works and if I liked it or not. This is my reaction to using iWeb and whether or not I would use it in my special education classrooms.

Being a blogger, I wanted to try to setup a blog using MobileMe and iWeb to see how they worked. So I resurrected my old “My Thoughts” blog and attempted to blog using those tools.

Product Name: iWeb
Company Name: Apple
Type: Desktop Application

Website: “Web design for the rest of us – Designing a website may seem difficult, but with iWeb, it’s easily within your reach. Create your site using themes. Customize it with photos, movies, text, and widgets. Then publish to MobileMe or any other hosting service. iWeb even notifies Facebook when your site changes and adds a link to your profile so your friends stay up to date”. Taken from iLife ’11 Apple website

Below is a screenshot of iWeb
Screen shot 2011 03 13 at 4 53 31 PM

How much does it cost? It is included as part of the iLife ’09 Apple program that comes with your Mac computer, but it does not appear in the Mac Store’s version of iLife ’11 or you can purchase iLife ’09 through various retailers. I could not find iWeb in the Mac App Store.
Is iWeb easy to use or is there a learning curve? iWeb does have a learning curve. Setting up the blog/website was not intuitive, because you have to create your site and then re-direct it back to MobileMe, which requires extra steps in the site creation process. Also you have to ensure that you re-direct the site before attempting to change it over to MobileMe for hosting otherwise it become a more difficult task.
The actual use of iWeb to choose a theme for the website was straightforward, but the customization/personalization process was not intuitive for me. Creating a blog was easy, but setting up the sidebars, so they appear the same on all of your blog related pages – I still haven’t figured out. I also still have to learn how to make your post template, so that when you create a new page it looks the same as what you have published previously. There is a learning curve that would frustrate many of my students if they had to use it to prepare their posts for a blog. If you are familiar with Pages, iWeb should be easy to use.
What I like: iWeb integrates easily and quickly with other Apple products like iPhoto, GarageBand, iMovie and other Apple products in a synergistic manner.
If you like how Pages works you will like how iWeb works, they are very similar.
Screen shot 2011 03 13 at 5 20 46 PM
Now that I am more used to the Inspector and how Apple’s user interface is setup, I can zip around in most Apple products pretty quickly.
When I finally figured out which theme and my blog’s setup, that it looks clean and uncluttered.
What I don’t like:
The hoops you have to go through in order to setup a website.
That I can’t figure out how to create a static template for when I add a post.
How do I ensure not to publish a post to the Internet that I don’t want to. As most bloggers will agree, some of the best posts that we write are the ones that will never be posted and shouldn’t be – for whatever the reason. iWeb does not have a draft mode that will not be published when you update the entire site.
How would I import old blog posts to my new Apple hosted blog other than to cut and paste them in?
The limited number of themes available.
Screen shot 2011 03 13 at 4 54 02 PM
This might seem a large number of themes, but there are only three, maybe four that I would personally use and then I would go in and personalize its appearance to meet my preferences.
If you do want to play with the code on your theme, I didn’t see where that was an option.
The limited widget options.
That while iWeb can publish to non MobileMe hosted blogs that the process is not as easy as clicking a button to publish to a different blog.
Do my students have easy access the product? iWeb is installed as part of the iLife program on all MLTI laptops. So all the students that have a MLTI laptop available to them have iWeb.
Do I currently use iWeb in my classroom? No, I only tried it out for myself last week and I believe that initially my students would quickly reach a frustration level with iWeb, until they got used to how to use it.
How does iWeb apply to Special Education? Much like my previous post where I reviewed Blogger, iWeb would allow Special Education teachers to provide multimedia lessons to students very quickly and easily. It is an alternative to a Learning Management System such as Moodle.
iWeb would provide a way to provide authentic feedback to students on how they are doing and can help teach civility in commenting or disagreeing appropriately with someone else when commenting or reviewing comments on a blog. There are many different things that blogging can teach a student and any medium that helps students to read or write more is worth attempting with students.
Special Educators are finding that there are a number of other Special Education teachers who blog and that many of them share the same frustrations. After reading these blogs and participating in the Twitter #chats (#spedchat) many what to add their experiences and insights about special education to the conversation and might find that an MobileMe hosted blog through iWeb is one of the ways for them to add their thoughts to this community of educators.
The reality is that iWeb was not that easy for me to just start using and publish to a blog. I really think I could get used to iWeb’s idiosyncrasies, if I could figure out how create a static sidebar that appears the same across all my blog’s pages and if I didn’t have to reformat my new blog posts to have the same formatting as I customized previous ones to look like.
These may seem like minor issues, but they are not if you are attempting to provide a consistent look and feel throughout your whole blog. I do like the final result of how my blog’s home page turned out and how clean it looked. That is the look that I would like for my primary blog eventually. I hope that Apple is updating iWeb to enable it to work more easily with other blogs and make it easier to create a website instead of the present multiple-step process
Recommendation: The present combination of iWeb and MobileMe works, but it is not as intuitive as my present combination of MarsEdit and Blogger. I don’t believe that I will change my primary blog to be based in iWeb at this time. iWeb to me is a great concept, but compared to other blogging or website creation tools it is not as intuitive or easy to use. I am looking forward to the next version to see the improvement that Apple will make to iWeb.
FTC Disclaimer: No one has paid me or provided me with services or products to write this blog post. I have written this post based upon my experience with using this product and they are simply my thoughts about it.
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