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Moonfruit was one of the first of a growing number of Website design and hosting tools that specifically support you in easily creating a Flash based Website. Sitting on a record of over 4 million sites created to date, Moonfruit are certainly established in the market and, although at some point they may have let things slip, they have recently updated and upgraded their service to keep up with the market. They offer users 5 different competitive pricing plans which should cover most preferences in website sophistication and complexity. The Free trial is a great place to start as you not only get the opportunity to road test Moonfruit’s content and features but you can also publish anything you design for free. If, however, you are looking for something more professional, at some point you will need to consider upgrading to a premium plan. Which one, if any, will depend on your individual needs and how well you get along with Moonfruit as a website builder.
It cannot be denied that Moonfruit’s editing software is both intuitive and effective. However, we must point out that there are a few “fiddly bits” that can be frustrating at times. One such example is the image library that, with no clear categorization or labeling system, can be tiresome to navigate. Also, experienced designers will find Moonfruit’s limited HTML and CSS editing capacity frustrating; although there is an “advanced view”, we found it to be of little use. Overall, however, we were pleased with its performance; with a drag and drop, WYSIWYG interface, creating a Flash based website is relatively easy. We were especially impressed with the layout and design of Moonfruit SiteMaker which is extremely stylish and resembles the Mac OS X interface, making it, in fact, a pleasure to use. Practically, what makes MoonFruit stand out is its uploading features which are smooth and allow multiple uploads, and its text and graphics editor which even allows animation. Those with perhaps the most to gain from Moonfruit will be musicians, DJs and promoters as Moonfruit is one of the best design tools with which to upload and customize your site’s music.
It must be noted that, although Flash does enable you to produce websites based on the same architecture as top of the range, professional sites, it does have some limitations. Namely, search engine optimizing your Flash website is far more difficult than on regular websites. Moonfruit do provide you with some ways around this, but their help is severely limited in this respect. Furthermore, you have to submit your site to all major search engines (except for Google) yourself. In fact, although improved upon recently, Moonfruit still lag behind their competitors in terms of general customer support. An FAQ section, user forums and an Email ticketing system are certainly welcome, but Moonfruit still have some way to go in terms of quality of delivery.
In conclusion, as with other Flash sites, by designing with Moonfruit you will be sacrificing a certain amount of practicality for the aesthetic appeal of Flash. Although there are solutions to get round this, they are quite technical and Moonfruit do not even begin to approach them. For this reason, we would not recommend Moonfruit to those looking to set up a commercial or practical page. Especially since better eCommerce tools can be found elsewhere. As mentioned earlier, musicians will enjoy Moonfruit's designs and media features and, likewise, artists and photographers will really benefit from the “wow” factor that only Flash websites can deliver.
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