iWeb: A First Look

by James R. Stoup Jan 17, 2006

A few days ago I purchased the new iLife Suite. It arrived and I have spent the weekend exploring some of the new features in this year’s edition. I was most interested in the new application, iWeb. The old applications have been upgraded, but not modified enough so that a user of a past version would experience any trouble. So, this is strictly a review of iWeb so that you can decide for yourself if this new package is worth your money.

What iWeb is
It is very important that any potential buyers know exactly what iWeb is. It is an application for creating personal websites. Now, this personal website can easily include pictures, slide shows of pictures, movies, podcast and of course, any documentation you feel like publishing. Furthermore, if you have a .Mac subscription, you will be able to get much more out of this software than if you don’t subscribe. It is heavily tied into Apple’s online service. So, if you already have a .Mac subscription then this application should be much more appealing to you. If you don’t, then you need to seriously examine whether or not this applications limited feature set is worth the money.

What iWeb isn’t
IWeb is NOT a general purpose website creation application. Do not make the mistake of thinking it is a scaled down version of Dreamweaver, as it most definitely is not. This application is designed to publish personal websites either to .Mac or to a folder to be used via another hosting service. It does nothing else.

The iWeb experience
When opening iWeb you will notice that it doesn’t give you the option to create a blank webpage, instead you given a choice of 12 templates to use. Yet, even within these templates you do not have complete control. You can move, insert and rearrange things like pictures, text and special links. However you are prohibited from changing the links that connect the pre-generated pages. So, if you created a site with four pages (a homepage, a music page, a pictures page and a info page for example) you could add all of the pictures you wanted. You could create a slide show of those pictures. You could type in as much text as you wanted. You could add background music, links to a file, links to another website or even have a page full of Quicktime movies.

What you can’t do, though, is change any of the main links at the top of the page. You see, every time you add a new page (from one of six template pages), a link to that page is inserted at the top of every page in your website. You have no control of this process. So, you had just better like the fact that the homepage’s link will always be in a preset font with a preset color. This lack of control over your website can prove frustrating to those of us wanting more customization.

Pros - Why you should buy this software
This new application is ideal for anyone who meets the following criteria:

  1. has little to no experience designing webpages
  2. doesn’t mind spending $100 a year for a .Mac subscription
  3. won’t mind giving up lots of creative control in exchange for the ability to easily and rapidly create a slick looking site

If you fall into this category (and a lot of users will) then iWeb might be for you. I must admit, it does look very good. And it is remarkably easy to operate. You can open this program for the first time (and assuming you already have all of your picture. music and movies ready to go plus you already have .Mac) and in 30 minutes or less have a brand new website. This is one of the simplest Apple programs I have ever used.

Cons - Why other packages might serve you better
If you were hoping for an easy to use, general purpose, website creation app . . . keep hoping. Anyone wanting more power, more flexibility and more control is better served with another application. Maybe iWeb Version 2.0 will offer more features and thus appeal to a larger crowd. But for now, any one above the novice level of website design will be left feeling frustrated at the lack of options iWeb provides.

Overall recommendation
Even though it is remarkably easy to use, iWeb is so heavily structured that only the most basic of users will find it adequate. Everyone else will chafe under its restrictive templates. And while its extreme tie-in with .Mac is useful, those unwilling to subscribe will find that they are missing out on a big part of iWeb’s capabilities. So, the real cost is $79 +$100 a year for as long as you decide to keep .Mac around. Thus overall I can’t recommend iWeb as a compelling enough reason, by itself, to buy iLife ‘06. If you are content with an older version of iLife then spend your money on Dreamweaver or some other, similar application. Maybe one day iWeb will grow up into a real application, but until then save your money.


  • Although I have had little time to play with this program, I have to disagree with you on one point. You seem to focus on the links of all the pages being included at the top of every page. This is not necessarily true. From any page you are working on, you can turn that off in the “Page Inspector” (open the inspector and click on the second icon). From there you can change the name of the page (which changes the link name) and/or uncheck the box about including that page in the navigation menu. How do you get to this page now? You can drag and drop the page from the organizer onto another page to include a link to it. While I agree that this is no “dreamweaver”, it does bring the realm of web design to mere mortals.

    Erik the Red had this to say on Jan 17, 2006 Posts: 1
  • Anyone compare it to Rapidweaver yet?

    Bad Beaver had this to say on Jan 17, 2006 Posts: 371
  • I’ve only played with this a short time so I don’t know all the ins and outs yet.  I feel about the same way you do J but in the end I come out a little more to the positive. I agree that there will be folks that will want more customization but given a drag and drop app like this, I believe most will be satisfied. I think it might inspire others in that same group, after a little taste of success, to invest the time to learn a dreamweaver. It is just personal webpages. The whole thing really does push you toward .Mac though. Did you get a chance to make a podcast? Super simple I thought.

    Wundryn had this to say on Jan 17, 2006 Posts: 10
  • Just bought from the Apple store (online) and delivered - at home waiting for me.

    I doubt I’ll be that interested but my 10 year-old who has shown an interest in his own website/blog I am sure will love it.

    Interesting review, proves Apple are not really stepping on the toes of RapidWeaver after all.

    Marc Jones had this to say on Jan 17, 2006 Posts: 14
  • My initial review for MacSlash basically called it “Jack of all trades, master of none,” and I still hold by that assessment.  If you’re looking for an easy way to lay out a trivial site/page, it’s good.  If you actually want to blog (ie. send family information about the child), publish collections of multimedia (ie. large-ish vacation photo albums), or movies (ie. again, the child thing), iWeb is too weak to be useful.

    Get iBlog, and one of the myriad export tools for iPhoto instead.  And use .Mac to host your movies, which you can publish directly from Quicktime Player via “Share…”.

    booga had this to say on Jan 17, 2006 Posts: 19
  • Jimbo, you are WAY to harsh. Step back and look at the big picture. iWeb is aimed at the 99.9999% of computer users who don’t have both a computer engineering degree and a fine arts degree. A “blank page” is no good unless you have an artistic eye for what makes a pleasing layout. The beautiful layout is no good unless you can work your way thru a very complicated web creation program.

    iWeb takes away both burdens to web creation. It lets users focus on the content of the page. The templates allow for a lot of control in how the pictures and text are laid out - maybe not “complete control”, but way more than enough for the average person.

    And as someone has noted, one of your biggest objections (about the links from the pregenerated pages being limited to the top) is wrong.

    I predict this piece of iLife will be a HUGE success, because it does what it does so well.

    travisb had this to say on Jan 17, 2006 Posts: 1
  • I love iWeb.  Best new thing Apple’s done in a while.  I also figured out that you don’t need to have the links to all pages at the top, and that you can create links to other pages yourself using the hyperlink insert.

    I created a website this weekend and already made my first blog entry.

    The integration of the other iLife apps with iWeb is astounding.  Create a photo album in iPhoto, send it to iWeb with one command.  Create a podcast in Garageband - same thing.

    cesjr had this to say on Jan 17, 2006 Posts: 2
  • This reviewer brings up some good points but is much too harsh. To see another view, from one who is also using RapdWeaver, check out


    davidwb had this to say on Jan 17, 2006 Posts: 32
  • I thought you had some valid points, but I don’t totally agree with what you are saying, especially about how crucial .Mac is to using iWeb. From what I saw, .Mac doesn’t offer any additional functionality to iWeb sites. Everything you can do when publishing to .Mac you can also do when publishing to a folder, and uploading to your own host (including RSS feeds). If you are going to count the $100 price tag of .Mac in the overall price, then you also need to include the price of a another host if you choose not to use .Mac. .Mac simply offers you a no-set-up-required hosting solution, nothing else.

    I’ve also written a complete review of iWeb on my site… http://www.onedigitallife.com/?p=907

    leisuremonkey had this to say on Jan 17, 2006 Posts: 1
  • I agree with davidwb about one thing - this is a very similar app to rapidweaver. Rapidweaver is more customisable and just as easy to use - and cheaper, if you don’t need the other iApps.

    minty95 had this to say on Jan 17, 2006 Posts: 1
  • I just finished experimenting with iweb and agree wholeheartedly with your review. I do think, however, that the alternative to iweb may not be Dreamweaver, but rather Shutterbug or Rapidweaver. Shutterbug, in particular, seems to offer the best of both worlds: drag and drop into templates but also the ability to alter the pages. They’re only up to 2.0 but it’s a great start. I like Rapidweaver as well, although with Rapidweaver altering templates seems to require some knowledge of coding. I’ve also been playing around with Freeway Express. This program too might be a nice alternative to iweb for those who don’t want to play with html.

    jeff kisseloff had this to say on Jan 17, 2006 Posts: 1
  • I wrote up my thoughts on iWeb here.  I think iWeb is a great tool.  It does what it does well.  The majority of home users are going to love it!

    sabshire had this to say on Jan 17, 2006 Posts: 5
  • Has anyone tried the Sandvox beta?

    mallen had this to say on Jan 17, 2006 Posts: 1
  • Can anyone link me to an iWeb created site? I would very much like to be able to take a look at how it’s coded.

    Luke Mildenhall-Ward had this to say on Jan 18, 2006 Posts: 299
  • I’ve compared it to Rapidweaver, and Rapidwaever comes out way ahead.  RW makes it easy to create a clean looking website, and is open enough so the advanced user can change anything they want.  You can add HTML in RW and you can go in and modify the page themes!  I use Rapidweaver for my site, and the only limitations I ccan see are on my side, my lack of knowledge.

    I interviewed the Rapidweaver guys when I was at Macworld!  If you want to see the interview, go to: 


    Jim Caruthers had this to say on Jan 18, 2006 Posts: 13
  • Page 1 of 2 pages  1 2 >
You need log in, or register, in order to comment