Announcements are often timed for the beginning of conferences, and Drupalcon Chicago 2011 is no exception. In addition to the official launch of Acquia's Drupal SaaS offering, Drupal Gardens, Buzzr (news, site) has also announced that their SaaS Web CMS -- a Drupal derivative -- has officially exited from beta into full production release. Let's take a look.
Like Drupal Gardens, Buzzr is a SaaS version of the Drupal Web Content Management System that's similar in nature to WordPress.com. While Drupal Gardens is a more general-purpose platform, the folks at Buzzr have tightly focused their efforts toward small businesses, professionals, smaller non-profits, and small retail outfits. To that end, they've worked with a variety of people in these verticals to create a collection of what they call Quick Starts, which are pre-configured templates and configurations focused on different professions.
Take art galleries, for example. The default setup for a gallery has a slide show, a section for listing artists, and other options that gallery owners typically want. From there, or from a more general selection, you can customize every aspect of the site's appearance to whatever level of detail you choose using the visual theme editor. This feature comes courtesy of the Sweaver module, which the team at Buzzr integrated with the help of the module's authors. Because the theme editor is already out there and open source, those who choose to export their Buzzr site to install on their own Drupal instance get the theme editor as part of their export. If you're not familiar with this platform, check out this introductory video:
As another assist to their non-technical target market, they've also registered as an official application with Twitter, enabling their users to easily set up Twitter auto-posting rather than having to deal with getting their own Twitter API keys. There are instructions for users wanting to add Facebook integration, with more sophisticated tools on the way. The goal is to help these small outfits to get into real-time publishing and real-time conversations without needing to also become site administrators or Drupal experts.
Pricing and Plans
There's no free option for Buzzr, but you can do a 14-day trial. There are four levels of pricing, ranging from US$ 8/month to $49.95/month, with the usual tiers for storage, bandwidth, members, and add-ons. Those who don't want to create their own look can work with designers at various package rates, from $395 for the Starter to $1985 for the Professional. For those who want help dealing with social media, SEO, and premium support or coaching, there are extra packages there as well.
Along with providing sites to small businesses, the folks at Buzzr also offer a white label version for companies that want to resell their own branded services on top of Buzzr. White label clients get a dedicated server within Buzzr's hosted environment, with the Buzzr team taking care of updates and security, and support available for making a library of Quick Starts for their particular target markets.