It’s easy to see some parallels between ThemeCloud and Envato Sites in terms of goals, but they are vastly different in execution. The basic goals for each is to make making websites easier. Envato has chosen to go with a fully custom, fully hosted option with their endeavor.
Envato Sites is going to be a Ruby based website builder, that runs Envato-author made themes, that use an Envat0-created templating system, on an Envato-hosted platform. It looks like they are creating Squarespace, but within the enormous Envato/ThemeForest ecosystem.
And it could be a game changer, depending on how much they put into it. From the announcement:
Envato Sites aims to help small businesses build and launch a professionally designed website in minutes. You’ll get a complete, modern website and simple tools to update your content. It’s lightning fast, responsive, secure and there’s no lock-in to our platform. All this is backed by beautiful templates, content and advice from Envato’s world-class author community.
Each theme comes with a selection of ready-to-launch demo sites, each designed for a very specific business purpose to help you get going quickly. Themes also include a built-in set of content blocks to help you compose sophisticated web pages without design or development experience.
An exception to a WordPress.com parallel, but aligned with Tumblr or Squarespace setups, is that Envato Sites will have a freelancer ecosystem for custom theming.
Product manager Justin French also made it clear that, “Envato Sites does not change our commitment to WordPress and other web platforms.” WordPress is the meat and potatoes of ThemeForest, Envato’s largest marketplace by far.
Envato Sites has signups for folks interested in early access. There is really nothing to see right now, but I’ve signed up for email updates so I’ll know there is more to see. During a beta phase, everything is free, and they seem quite keen to chat with interested authors, freelancers, and potential site owners.