Web-based productivity suite Zoho is launching a new app today which, again, puts it head-to-head against its biggest competitor, Google, while filling a much-needed hole in Zoho’s business tools lineup. The company is debuting Zoho Sites, a drag-and-drop website builder that allows anyone to build a professional website in minutes, without needing to know HTML or CSS.
The product takes on two of Google’s own offerings in one shot, including Google’s simple website builder known as Google Sites, as well as Google’s latest addition, a mobile website conversion tool powered by DudaMobile.
The difference between Zoho’s offering and Google’s is that Google’s products work separately, and are designed for different purposes. One (Google Sites) is a very basic website and wiki building tool, which is more appropriate for personal use or for use in small teams, not as a consumer-facing webpage. Meanwhile, Google’s DIY mobile site tool is more of a way to convert a professionally designed website into a mobile-friendly site that syncs with its desktop counterpart when changes are made.
Zoho Sites, on the other hand, is an all-in-one product. It allows business owners to build desktop-sized websites which are already optimized for mobile devices. Plus, it comes ready with third-party app integrations, including support for Google Analytics, Google AdWords, Google Maps, YouTube, Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Picasa. These elements can be dragged-and-dropped into place on the website.
The site builder is also integrated with other tools in Zoho’s productivity suite. For example, Zoho stores all content in the Zoho Creator database, and when that database is modified, the website automatically updates. Also powered by Zoho Creator, Zoho Sites offers a form builder which lets site owners handle things like support requests, again without writing code. The forms can kick off email notifications and other integrated custom workflows as well.
A number of other features are offered, too, including themes, built-in blogs, domain registration and hosting, integration with Google Apps, and support for multiple authors or site moderators.
Zoho Sites will be available both as a free service (two websites with two forms each, one blog, unlimited pages) and paid. The Professional Edition is $39/year and includes six websites, each with 10 forms, a blog, and unlimited pages). This is the only edition to support AdSense and a full rebranding.