Remixer is Dreamhost’s website builder service. It gets full marks to start with since Dreamhost allows you to check it out free for 14 days. All you need to give them is your name and email address. Create a password and you’re all set.
Prior to registering, Dreamhost asks you to choose between 3 themes, your site’s default colour palette, image style and font pairing. It’s a nice way for potential new customers to see what’s available in this service, but it’s a little odd because once registered you’re presented with more layout options to choose from.
Perhaps the ‘Small Business’, ‘Professional’ and ‘Creative’ layouts are the most popular, but Dreamhost don’t have that many layouts (twelve in total), so why not include them all in the intro?
The whole service is aimed towards simplicity. As such, you create your page in sections, which Dreamhost calls components: a navigation menu, text blocks, an image section, a video segment, you get the idea.
Your options are somewhat limited. It isn’t possible to drag and drop new items onto a page. Instead you must click on the “new” icon to add additional components above or below the current one You use the ‘simple’ component to add text. The ‘video’ component lets you embed a film onto your page - either one you’ve imported into your Content Manager, or a link from YouTube for instance. Some components allow you to add an image and a text block in the same section, but that image’s dimensions are restricted by that component’s format, and you can’t move the text or the image around: the default setup is what you have to work with.
This restricted format is present throughout the interface. You can’t add shadows, background images, or animations. The same applies to photo components: you can’t resize or reorder them, making it clear that this service is aimed at the novice user. This is reinforced by the rudimentary image manipulation options: you can apply basic filters to your photos but you can’t colour correct them.
What flexibility you have is very sparse: can, for instance, change the background colour of your text, and of course choose different font styles and sizes. You can also create multiple text boxes within a single component, enabling you to create titles, or pull-out quotes with different fonts, colours and justification.
Your page layout is flexible enough that you can reorder your components within it - it’s just a matter of dragging one of them from the list in the sidebar above or below another.
There isn’t as such a preview button so you can see the current state of your page as a visitor would see it. However, the WYSIWYG interface makes that a little superfluous, so it isn’t much of a concern.
That’s pretty much the extent of the service’s capabilities. You can’t add buttons or embed your own html code, or even cut and paste code from other sites, which is the way you would add a PayPal donate button, for instance. There are also no third party extensions.
Your Content Manager is where you store your media, be it photos, videos, or audio files. It’s a great way to gather up all the files you need for your webpages. You can upload files from your computer, from social media, another website, or from Pixabay, a royalty free image library.
When it comes to those royalty free images though, there’s an unnecessarily frustrating implementation: when you select a placeholder image you’d like to replace, the sidebar changes to let you see your available photos. Pixabay is available right from that sidebar, but choosing a shot from that library doesn’t replace the placeholder image. Instead, it adds your choice to your Content Manager. You then have to select your Library and choose the image from there.
It’s clear that any image you display on your webpages has to be stored in the Content Manager, but there’s no obvious reason why a selected Pixabay image couldn’t be added to it and replace the chosen placeholder at the same time. Right now, when you select an image from Pixabay in that way, it looks like nothing happens, which would certainly confuse the novice web builders this service is aiming to attract.
Adding all this media to your Content Manager could become unwieldily over time, however you can organise your collection through tabs, making it easy to sort your files and find the one you want as your collection grows.
You can create multiple pages within a single website, and your account supports unlimited websites, web space and bandwidth to boot. All this is available for $4.95 a month after your free trial has expired.
If you need one or more email accounts or email forwarding features, the monthly cost would raise to $7.95. But if you already have an email address and don’t feel the need to get a new one connected to your webpage’s URL, then you can stick to the cheaper plan.
There is one serious downside to this service though: you have no blogging option. As the easiest way to get an online presence is via a blog, it’s a real disappointment that this isn’t available, not even as an add-on.
If this service is trying to aim itself at the budding small business instead, then a complete lack of e-commerce capabilities is also a critical omission.
Dreamhost Remixer offers a good number of options for the novice web builder, enabling them to get started in a very short amount of time. However, a lack of features, an awkward interface and a restrictive layout rules out more experienced users.
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