The 3-minute Web site

These days, everyone wants a Web site, but not everyone wants to take the time to learn the graphics tools you need to create one. ZY.com, unveiled at Internet World in New York this week, offers free applications that make it easy to create graphical Web pages and store files online.

The British company added two new applications, ZyMail and ZyXpress, to its line of Web services. Available in mid-November for free, ZyMail is a Web-based e-mail program, and ZyXpress is a new version of the company's Web-authoring tool that lets you create a Web page in as little as three minutes.

To use the tools, you register at the Zy.com site and receive a ZyFileStore, a Web site where you can store up to 10MB of files for free.

While other sites offer storage for photos and/or compressed-audio files, ZyFileStore offers "general purpose Web-based storage", says Charles Moir, CEO of Zy.com.

Once you have a ZyFileStore, you can create Web sites using the ZyXpress or ZyWeb Page Builder, the company's more full-featured Web page creation tool.

To create your page with ZyXpress, you need only to answer questions such as the title of the page, your background and interests. You can include links to other sites, and choose from a range of themes, or templates, for the look of your page.

It's really a one-hit, build-a-Web-page tool, Moir says. "Other (easy-to-use Web page-building tools) create text-only pages; we're trying to create graphically interesting pages based on the person."

Once you submit your information, ZyXpress quickly builds and publishes your page, adding the page to your ZyFileStore. Zy.com does all the site hosting.

"It really is a one-stop shop," says Moir. Zy.com also plans to offer its services through partnerships with portals and Internet service providers.

Build and customise for free

ZyWeb Page Builder, Zy's full-function authoring tool, combines graphics tools with Web page templates to let you control more of the elements. You can choose from a wide variety of templates, styles and themes. Its tools let you change the colour of titles, add drop shadows, change the link buttons, and even insert and delete any item from the style templates. Businesses can add custom images such as logos and banner ads.

"The Web is a graphical place," Moir says of ZyWeb Page Builder's emphasis on graphics functions in the Web design application.

Zy.com's other Web applications include ZyBanner, for simple banner-ad creation; ZyPhotoLab, for online photo editing; ZyFTP, for transferring and managing files on your Web space; and ZyGraphics, for creating personalised Web graphics.

All of Zy.com's applications are free. The company includes a banner ad on any hosted page, and charges for premium services such as if you want to remove the banner ad or get more Web space or an e-mail account with greater capacity. Moir estimates that ZyMail's premium packages will start at $US79 and go to $US299, depending on functions.

All of Zy.com's applications sit on a Web server. Editing and publishing are quick and easy, as you don't have to move from an authoring environment to the Web.

Web-based authoring, storage, and e-mail has drawn attention in recent months; Zy.com officials say they're confident the company is at the head of the trend to server-side solutions.

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