Do-it-Yourself service developed by software development team in Chennai

Zoho Corporation, the acclaimed cloud-based software solution provider, last week unveiled a do-it-yourself website builder, Zoho Sites, which will help people with no knowledge of coding build and run professional-looking websites.

Targeted at small and medium businesses looking to expand their online presence, Zoho Sites makes website creation a simple exercise of dragging and dropping various elements, forms and widgets in an interface no more complex than a word processor.

Design templates

Users can pick a look and feel for their website from a collection of design templates and also integrate elements like YouTube, Google Apps, Google Maps, Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Picasa.

The new service, developed by Zoho's software team at its development facility in Chennai, comes in two iterations: the free edition includes two websites, with each containing two forms, one blog and unlimited pages. The professional edition, priced at $39 a year (roughly Rs. 2,120), includes six websites, with each containing 10 forms, one blog and unlimited pages.

Dynamic content

In an interaction with The Hindu, Hyther Nizam, vice-president, Product Management, Zoho, said Zoho Sites had some key differentiators in the way it leveraged its strengths from a pool of already popular services such as CRM (customer relations manager), Creator (for forms) and Apps. “For us, it [Zoho Sites] completes the missing piece of the jigsaw any business would require,” Mr. Nizam said. “We already offer other important services that any small and medium business would require out of an IT department.”

Websites constructed with Zoho Sites come with a mobile device optimisation (something that Google Sites does not offer), and with options for dynamic content creation through its Zoho Creator database. That essentially rules out the need to make changes to the static webpages.

Zoho is also expected to add a ‘campaigns' plugin soon to Zoho Sites.

While the free websites created with Zoho Sites will be automatically hosted as sub-domain under zoho as username.zohosites.com, there is also the option for users to host the site on their own domain. Zoho also offers users, through a tie-up with GoDaddy, to get their domain address registered.

Zoho, a division of Zoho Corporation (previously AdventNet), has been one of the pioneers of cloud-based collaborative applications. Their office suite has received acclaim from international agencies, some of which have rated it even better than Google Apps.

Zoho Sites has already hit it off. Renowned technology blog TechCrunch has given it a positive review in an article last week titled: “Watch out Google, Zoho just launched a better DIY website builder.”

Zoho has more than five million customers and has offices in California, Austin, New Jersey, Singapore, Tokyo and Beijing, apart from Chennai.

Mr. Nizam said the bulk of Zoho's small and medium business customers were in the U.S. and Europe, and the company hoped to break through further in Indian markets with Zoho Sites. “With Zoho Sites, several Indian small businesses will be able to make their entry into online space. We are counting on that.”

To learn more about Zoho Sites or create a free site, log on to http://www.zoho.com/sites/