A recent ad campaign for a new web hosting company has got a lot of people in India talking, not just because of their borderline-outrageous humor, but also because they promise that practically anyone can now own and operate a website for as little as Rs 99 per month. Bigrock, the company in question, would probably like to attract clients other than the roadside acting classes to less-than-legal bill collectors who casually explain their business models in these ads, but the message is clear enough: these are people who are good at doing what they do, and shouldn't have to bother with building or maintaining a website, even if they know how much having one will benefit them.
Bigrock has been launched by Directi, the well-known Indian web hosting and domain registry solutions provider. In addition to these, Bigrock now introduces a new range of website design services. The idea is to enable users from entirely non-technical backgrounds to register a domain name, pick a basic template, and get a modern, fully functional website off the ground in less than a day.
The two broad categories available are 'Do-it-Yourself' and 'Build It for Me'. The latter option, while more expensive, will be the most popular with those who don't want to spend any time or effort in building a website. We asked Bigrock to set us up with a trial of the DIY scheme, which turned out to be surprisingly easy to use. DIY plans start from Rs 99 per month (three year commitment for a single page plus 20 email IDs) and go up to Rs 299 per month (one year commitment, 50 pages, and unlimited email IDs).
The registration and domain selection process was quick and painless, but required the creation of an account with Bigrock. Once done, we were faced with a slightly confusing admin control page, which is the only jargon-laden part of the process.
Clicking the Website Builder tool instantly takes you to a fully graphical environment, in which you see your own page and then simply click around to add or edit content. It's easy enough to manage page navigation and create the basic structure of each page (as well as a neat way to repeat boxes on every page), but we were also glad to see tools that allow those with a knowledge of HTML and CSS to fine-tune the designs. Not all templates are customizable, but luckily you can experiment and even build your own template from scratch.
Most importantly, you can add a blog, and integrate your Twitter and Facebook feeds, though again you can't customize some minor aspects of each of these modules' appearance. Setting up email requires you to go back to the admin control panel and simply follow the onscreen instructions.
Overall, Bigrock is powerful and easy enough for everyone to use, just like the ads promise.