What on earth is Breezi? The question arose after receiving an email from Chris Anderson, co-founder, asking us to review his site Breezi.com.
According to the Urban Dictionary a Breezi is “a hyperactive female, likeable”. And if extended to the alternative spelling “Breezy” it is “a girl that is easy to get in bed”. So basically slut.com. How could we refuse?
Our first impressions of the site was a bit disappointing, though. Absolutely no pornographic material at all. Just another website creator platform – or content management platform as we used to call it back when people could understand words of more than three syllables.
When I started my first company I quickly realized that customer satisfaction is the difference between customer expectation and the actual service performed. By such measurements Breezi was off to a bad start. We expected easy girls, and all we got was a website platform. But since we were already on the site, we thought we’d make the best of it and do a short review.
Still, it begged the question: why? Not why did they name the site after girls of easy virtue, that will become apparent as we move on, but why would someone build another website creator platform? I mean, someone must have searched for “build your website”, seen Google turn out 902 million hits and thought “Ah! Here’s a hole in the market!” 902 000 000 competitors? That’s nothing! We will be the market leader by the end of the month. That is self confidence if ever I saw it. We had to find out if it was justified.
We tried the “test drive” button first, thinking it might give us the free 30 days of testing advertised on the home page. But that just led to an utterly confusing page trying to sell meat, so we went back and clicked “sign up” which seemed to work much better.
The process of signing up was easy: Select a basic style, a subdomain, enter name, email and preferred password. We first tried to register www.breezi.com but these guys seemed smart, and had remembered to block that. The exact error message was “Failed Subdomain Subdomain Is Not Allowed”, though. It left room for some clarifications. Anyway, eventually we managed, rather surprisingly, to register smtp.breezi.com. Hopefully we didn’t screw up their mail server.
Having successfully completed the registration, we logged in. At this time we need to include a warning that Breezi has sloppily neglected to include on their own site: If you suffer from photosensitive epilepsy do not enter this site. I crap you not. You will die. Because the whole site blinks as the Christmas decorations of a lottery millionaire on acid. Every time you move your mouse pointer an inch, frames flash, text blinks and little dots pop up everywhere. It takes a bit of getting used to, but unless you are epileptic it is in fact not such a bad idea. The editing system of Breezi is a bit eccentric, but these little flashes and dots makes it very easy to know exactly what you are editing.
We are getting a bit ahead of ourselves, though. First things first. After logging in, Chrome rather surprisingly suggested the page was in Italian and that we translate it to English. And so we did. And it looked exactly the same. Then a video popped up to walk us through all the features of Breezi. Which we closed at once because we are men. And real men don’t read user manuals. And then the video immediately popped up again and we felt our male pride hurt and eventually managed to club it to death by clicking the mouse until our fingers hurt.
Why they ever bothered to include a video in the first place, I cannot say. Because if any site is intuitive, it is Breezi (disregarding the choice of name). It is like including a user manuals with kitchen knives. If you don’t know whether to grip the sharp end or the blunt, you probably shouldn’t be allowed to make your own food.
The whole Breezi concept is WYSIWYG. The only way to tell if someone is visiting a Breezi site or editing a Breezi site, is to wait and see if they get an epileptic seizure. If you are logged in as an admin, things flashes as you move around on the page, if you are not it doesn’t.
We really like this concept. It takes WYSIWYG further than we are used to, even from sites like Weebly. Forget about guessing how your site will look when published, like with Tumblr. It will be exactly like you see it at any time during the edit. Perhaps they managed to spot a hole in the market after all.
Now, obviously there are some drawbacks to a concept like this, even if you are not epileptic. While editing text and changing images work fine, changing detailed parts of the site tends to get a bit fiddly. With the “tabbed widget” for example, which we dragged and dropped on to our site, we could not for the life of us figure out how to change the main tab content. Changing tab header was easy, but we just could not figure out what to click to edit the content of anything but the first tab. Maybe if we had watched the tutorial, but again the whole strength of Breezi is that editing is easy and intuitive. If you have to be taught how to do it, you might as well go and learn HTML. Talking about which, the WYSIWYG concept of Breezi did not seem to allow any manual editing of the HTML – so if a feature isn’t offered by Breezi you can’t work around it by writing your own code.
Still, despite its faults, the very easy and pixel accurate editing interface of Breezi is impressive. But then it has been put together by freshout.us (where Chris is also a partner). And those guys are obviously great IT developers. They are so good at being nerds, in fact, that their gallery of employees have appeared both in Unabridged Jeans Without Personality and the well known bestseller How Not To Get a Date. Only one guy appears borderline sociable and he is clearly so depressed that even when they did the photo shoots for the website they couldn’t get him to put down the alcohol. And only real nerds would name a site after girls of easy virtue. In short, if you are ever shipwrecked on a deserted island with these guys, you seriously need to change cruise agent.
What these guys lack in appearance and social skills, though, they more than make up for in their design and development skills. And since there is a lot to make up for, you can rest assured these guys are good.
And so Breezi is pretty good too. Or will be when it is finished. Because while the words “under construction” never appears on the site, Breezi has the feel of that kit car that my grandfather was always going to finish “next week”. The smell of a brand new car is fine and enjoyable, but when you are cruising down the highway only to find that the brake pedal is laying around somewhere in the trunk together with most of the wheel bolts, it is a bit too much.
Some of the background thumbnails were linked to the wrong background image, when you add a new link to the top menu the font selection seems completely random and definitely unrelated to whatever links are already there – and sometimes we would drop out of editor mode completely without any warnings and had to log in again. But worst of all was the loading speed of the site. At one point it took 30 seconds to load a 400×600 px or so background image.
I like Breezi. In fact I like Breezi better than many of its well-known competitors such as Weebly. Being fairly seasoned in web design and having a particular preference for WordPress for my own projects, I wouldn’t build a full site on Breezi. But I would not hesitate to recommend it to people who are building their first website or even to use it myself for landing pages and mini-sites. It they can only get it to work.
PS! Breezi is free for now.
When out of Beta expect to pay around $ 12 per month.
We received an email from Chris correcting this statement and many others. Apparently a subdomain will be free and you will only need to pay if you want to use your own domain for your Breezi site. See his comments below.