Practical Ecommerce

Four Apps to Create Facebook ‘Welcome’ Pages

Thousands of ecommerce businesses have Facebook Fan pages. But making those pages stand out from competitors’ pages is a challenge. One of the ways to distinguish yours is through the use of a custom landing page, also known as a Welcome tab.

In the past, to create a landing page you would need to know Facebook markup language, HTML, and staticFBML. Now, there are several apps that make page creation easier to do. In this article, we review four of them.

TabSite

TabSite uses a simple visual editor to create landing pages. If you are familiar with Microsoft Word or blog software such as WordPress, you will be comfortable in this editing environment.

Practical eCommerce's 'Welcome' message on TabSite.

Practical eCommerce’s ‘Welcome’ message on TabSite.

You simply give the page a title, such as “Welcome,” put on your thinking cap and design a page that includes text, images and video. In fact, you can use TabSite to create an entire range of pages. The application connects the pages through its own dynamically-generated navigational menu that enables users to tab through each.

Once a page has been built, you can preview it, save it, or publish it. You can also create multiple accounts and manage each through a single administrative dashboard.

TabSite costs from $5 to $15 per month, depending on the options. For instance, at the $15 level, among other things users can access the HTML code, incorporate YouTube and Twitter feeds, and upload documents.

Even though I found the editor not always willing to make subtle changes within the visual editing environment, I give TabSite 4 out of 5 stars for its flexibility, variety of features, ease of use and low-cost. (As a disclaimer, we use TabSite for our Practical Ecommerce and Ecommerce Developer Fan pages.)

If you want to avoid design, then a template-based system might be the better option. Here are three to consider.

Fanpage Engine

Fanpage Engine offers an array of templates for businesses, personal use and, interestingly, multi-level marketers.

Fanpage Engine offers an array of templates for business, personal use and multi-level marketers.

Fanpage Engine offers an array of templates for business, personal use and multi-level marketers.

In theory, Fanpage Engine is simple to use. It involves a three-step process: (1) Users choose a template, (2) complete a form that includes options for page name, colors, page content, and images, and (3) copy and paste the resulting HTML code into their Fan pages using staticFBML.

In actual practice, quite a bit of work goes into page creation before the form is ever completed. That is not to say the effort is wasted, just know what you are getting into. Even Fanpage Engine acknowledges that it can be a detailed process and encourages users to take “one field at a time and don’t rush it.”

Fanpage Engine page color options.

Fanpage Engine page color options.

The application requires that you have a good idea of which colors to use. It assumes you have a working knowledge of hexadecimal codes, which is the alpha-numeric coding system used by browsers to determine color.

To assist in this process, a window containing a color palette appears whenever you hover over a color-related form field. However, due to the large number of color options, which include everything from page background colors to link-hover colors, the task can be arduous and time-consuming. Also, you will need to create any graphics beforehand, and you’ll need to write content, too.

Once the form is completed, users click the Save Settings button and the system generates the necessary HTML code to be embedded on the Fan page. The application saves the templates for subsequent editing, if needed.

Fanpage Engine offers a basic package for $37, which gives users access to two templates. Fanpage Engine offers an unlimited package for $67 that provides access to all of the templates. These are one-time costs.

I give Fanpage Engine 3.5 out of 5 stars. While the concept is simple and straightforward, the number of options contained in the extensive one-page form can present obstacles that may prevent some from using it.

FaceItPages

FaceItPages takes a similar approach to Fanpage Engine in that it uses both forms and templates. But it provides a slightly more sophisticated experience.

Form to create Fan page on FaceItPages.

Form to create Fan page on FaceItPages.

For example, like Fanpage Engine, page creation is done in three steps: (1) A form is completed, (2) images are uploaded, and (3) a theme is chosen. Rather than a protracted form, however, this one contains only a few fields. Once completed, you move to the next step, which is image upload. FaceItPages provides you with the option of uploading as many as 24 images. The first is used as the page header while other images appear in the page’s photo gallery section.

FaceItPages provides the option to upload as many as 24 images.

FaceItPages provides the option to upload as many as 24 images.

Once images are uploaded, the next step is choosing a template from a portfolio of 15 examples. Unlike Fanpage Engine, these templates are defined as to color as well as layout, and they give you a better idea of what your page could look like.

FaceItPages Fan page template options.

FaceItPages Fan page template options.

After the template has been chosen, you can preview your creation and move on to the payment step. Each FaceItPages page costs a one-time fee of $39.99 plus an optional $9.99 fee to remove any FaceItPages branding.

Compared to Fanpage Engine, I found the process of page creation with FaceItPages much simpler and quicker. For that reason I give FaceItPages 4 out of 5 stars.

Pagemodo

Pagemodo’s Pagebuilder is a free service to design Facebook pages.

Once you log in (which can be done using Facebook Connect as well as a log-in form on the site), you are taken to the Pagebuilder interface, where you are given the option to create a new page.

The first step involves choosing a layout from one of the templates shown. Unlike either Fanpage Engine or FaceItPages, Pagemodo offers only a shortlist of templates, albeit well-designed.

Fan page templates on Pagemodo.

Fan page templates on Pagemodo.

After choosing a template, you are taken to the heart of the system, where you upload photo images and create written content. The interface is elegant and provides choices for font type, color, size and alignment. Once you complete those two tasks, you choose a subscription option ranging in price from free (for personal use) to $59 per month (for agencies). You then click a button to install the page on Facebook.

Fan page preview on Pagemodo.

Fan page preview on Pagemodo.

Due to the template quality, Pagemodo provides the most professional looking pages of the four. Certainly, the process of page creation is superior. For that reason, I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

Conclusion

With a customized landing page, ecommerce-related apps and a Facebook-enabled shopping cart, you can create a Fan page for very little cost that separates yours your competitor’s. To learn more about special ecommerce apps for Facebook, read “Six Facebook Application to Sell Your Products,” a previous Practical eCommerce article. To see our take on Facebook-enabled shopping carts, see “Social Commerce: Shopping Carts Extend Reach Into Facebook, Other Social Sites.

Paul Chaney

Paul Chaney

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  1. MikeGingerich August 31, 2010 Reply

    Paul – thanks for the write-up on TabSite. With the ability to have multiple sub-pages and flexibility to include video, RSS, and Twitter feeds, we feel like TabSite is a versatile tool. Stay tuned for templates and some other new features including the ability to add the Facebook Social "Like" button within your TabSite.

  2. Paul Chaney September 1, 2010 Reply

    Mike, it’s a good tool no doubt. But, so are the others. I expect this space will continue to get more competitive, so it’s good that you’re thinking ahead and adding new features. Templates are a good addition for those of us who have little or no design skills.

    The only request I would have of you or any of the others listed in the article is that you keep prices affordable for the smaller merchant.

  3. Steve @Erraticblog September 2, 2010 Reply

    Interesting apps Paul, I wasn’t even aware of them. I agree with your last comment, keeping prices affordable for smaller merchants will be the key to their success. For example TabSite. Looks great, but $5 to $15 a month? That kills it for me. I prefer a one time fee. Smaller merchants like myself aren’t looking to add another monthly cost unless it’s really needed… and a FB welcome page is not a necessity that is exactly proven to improve the bottom line.