The.com launches a low-code, collaborative website builder that uses customizable ‘blocks,’ not templates

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The.com, a website-building business with an easy-to-remember name, wants to modernize website creation while simultaneously guaranteeing that web producers are appropriately credited for their work. The firm, which is now emerging from stealth with $4.4 million in initial investment, has developed what it refers to as a “low-code, website creation platform” to move away from the template-based approach that has been the norm in the industry. A community-created component, which you can insert into your site and then share with others, is used instead by The.com’s site builder as an alternative. Website designers may even work with one another and communicate directly throughout the site-building process.

The firm has officially closed on $4.4 million in initial investment, led by NFX, and included Sound Ventures, VSC Ventures, Village Global, and Harry Stebbings, among other investors.

Jeff and Clarke McKinnon, co-founders of The.com and brothers, came up with the concept for the website. Previously, the founders ran their web development organization in Boulder from 2012 until 2019, before launching The.com. They have a combined experience of over 20 years in website development and design. During this period, they were able to see firsthand the difficulties associated with conventional web development, according to Clarke.

“We had been waiting for someone else to come up with the right platform that would meet all of our requirements,” says the team. “It simply didn’t happen,” Clarke said in an interview with TechCrunch. To save money, we decided to construct it ourselves.

Initially, their platform was intended to be used internally. Still, it soon drew the attention of their existing clients, who pushed the brothers to make the product more widely accessible and convert it into a company. As a result, the brothers sold their agency firm in May 2019 and began working on what is now known as The.com.

Clarke noted that conventional web development and legacy systems have performance and security challenges, which he believes are related. However, there is a continuing battle with clients who need more profound modifications, which necessitates hard-coding and ongoing effort to stay up with the latest developments. Furthermore, many of the current web-building systems are aimed at persons who are already experienced in web design. However, many individuals who contribute to a website who aren’t designers were something the co-founders were aware of from their own experience.

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According to the company’s CEO, Clarke, we need a website-building platform that places everyone equal.

A new website on The.com may be created by simply clicking on the “create site” button, which subsequently deploys the site infrastructure in real-time. Afterward, users may ask other individuals to join them in the building process as collaborators and then click a button to begin modifying the site. Instead of starting from zero or selecting a template, producers choose the specific bits and components they wish to include in their final product. That means they may use a navigation element from one The.com designer, a footer from another, and other components like hero photos, headers, banners, body elements, and more from various community members. Confetti erupts across the screen as you choose the pieces, indicating that the original component’s author has been acknowledged. However, The.com will eventually include a system for compensating artists monetarily.

As Clarke said, “the idea is to ensure that the folks who are creating the block are receiving the maximum benefit possible from it.” As an advertising firm, we created all of these beautiful websites that were only ever used once and from which we received no more revenue. And there’s a lot of material that never made it to the live sites — stuff that people indicated they didn’t particularly enjoy, or maybe it didn’t make the cut because it didn’t meet the standards. So it would be fantastic to be able to generate money from it, over and over again,” he said, explaining the rationale for creating these reusable construction components.

The site builder itself has an eye-catching appearance, as does the interface. A floating window that appears in front of the currently being developed is what it is. The program has a few additional features than typical WYSIWYG designers, including areas for controlling the sites’ pages, blocks, and sheets, among other things (essentially, freeform databases). As soon as you’ve added the individual website parts, you may further modify them by changing the fonts and colors and photos and text, exactly as you would if you were developing or amending website code from scratch. You may also make modifications by including raw JavaScript or designing whole new parts from the ground up.

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Because the changes you’re making happen live on the screen, you don’t have to wait for a “preview” to see what the final product will look like while you’re working on it. You may also decide whether or not to share the features you’ve personalized with the rest of the community marketplace.

As a result of the marketplace, The.com may take advantage of the creator economy trend, in which individuals are directly compensated for their labor. According to the founders, some of the best designers may go on to become “website influencers,” pushing others to personalize their websites using the company’s tools.

“In the marketplace, individuals will become more and more popular as a result of the high quality, excellent design, and spectacular construction that they provide,” Clarke said. “What we expect to see in the future is that individuals want to be recognized for their efforts.” If the blocks are re-used, The.com will enable the original inventor to get recognition in various places, including the community and on the website, as appropriate.

Currently, The.com claims to have thousands of clients and a few hundred daily active users, with a community of thousands of customers and daily active users.

In addition to the collaborative aspect, The.com’s website builder has several additional noteworthy features. Individual users account for just a tiny percentage of The.com’s clients, mostly advertising agencies or small enterprises. This implies that a group of individuals will work together to update the website. Current functionality allows users to edit the same section of the builder side by side. However, future functionality will enable users to edit sections of the builder simultaneously. A built-in chat tool also allows you to communicate directly with other site participants regarding your development.

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As the firm emerges from private mode, it also announces its first price plans for the first time. The primary goal is free for individuals who only wish to test the waters. The other levels are charged monthly at $36, $190, or $1,499 per month, respectively, according to the feature set, support requirements, and volume. From small companies and startups to large corporations, the.com serves various consumers. The researchers discovered that several higher-end retailers are employing The.com on top of Shopify as a headless alternative, which improves the performance of their websites while also decreasing their bounce rate.

Even though The.com is nominally based in San Francisco, the company has a dispersed staff of 11 full-time workers and a total of 15 people that work on the business. With the recently disclosed initial money, they hope to employ in engineering and community outreach and work on future product development and product enhancement.

When asked how they could get such a sought-after domain name as The.com, the founders replied a trusted friend assisted them with the transaction.

“It’s a discount for friends and family members.” It was fortunate that this individual had been active in the domain field for a long time and had access to a lot of helpful information,” Clarke added, refusing to identify the mentor.

As lead investor James Currier, General Partner at NFX, put it, “Unlike the Web 1.0 and 2.0 website creation platforms, The.com’s platform has network effects and composability.” “It transfers ownership to the innovators and will enable them to reinvent the web using new primitives.” – MIT Technology Review We’ve been waiting a long time for this kind of category innovation. “If you’re still using WordPress to develop websites today, you’ll want to make the transition to The.com,” he said, recommending the service.

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