Alaina Cauchie is the platform integration lead at Webkite, which is a fancy way of saying she helps to make your Kite dreams possible. She has created all the WebKite support documents and has helped many of our users keep their Kite flying high in the air after their initial launch.
One of the key features of WebKite is how it makes data easy to sort through. From a single spreadsheet you can create a site for just about anything – pizza spots, e-commerce solutions, or innovative companies in Pittsburgh. I sat down with Alaina to ask her some questions about the process of turning data into a website.
Dan: How does WebKite turn spreadsheets into a site? Why such a reliance on spreadsheets?
Alaina: The quick answer is ‘magic’. It’s also a lie. When you upload your spreadsheet to our Kite Creator, it does a bunch of behind-the-scenes work that would take a very long time to do manually. It creates individual items for you, allows you to sort them, and creates comparison pages automatically. We rely on spreadsheets because they are the most straightforward representations of data and the most likely to give you a great Kite.
Dan: Is it possible to get started without a spreadsheet?
Alaina: Sure! The spreadsheet just needs to be the final product. You can get your data into a spreadsheet in a variety of ways – collecting by hand, using a web scraping service, or exporting a spreadsheet from an API. If you are crowdsourcing data, using a tool like Google Forms can be a great way to convert information to a useable spreadsheet.
Dan: Is there any specific way the data needs to be structured? Rows? Columns? Numbers? Images?
Alaina: The absolute only thing you need in your data is the name of each item. In my hypothetical Kite of my cats, I would put the name of one of my cats in the first row, then the next cat’s name in the second row.. I don’t need anything besides that. It would create a very boring Kite, but it’s a place to start if you literally have no other data.
Once I have the names of my items, I can flesh it out a bit horizontally on the page. In Column B I could add a heading like “age” and go down the spreadsheet inputting the ages of my cats. I could put a heading on Column C that reads “fur color” and enter that data accordingly.
All I need to do for images is have a link and title my column “Images.” You are able to upload images from your computer once they are on your Kite.
One thing to keep in mind when creating your spreadsheet is “What do I want to be able to do with this Kite?” Once you have an idea of you would want to filter, sort, or order your items, that makes it easy to identify the kind of data you should include.
Dan: Talk to me about sorting – what am I limited by?
Alaina: Sorting is a very powerful tool that we offer in your Kite. It allows you to arrange your items by any individual or combined fact. For example, I could sort my cats from oldest to youngest, or vice versa. Including a fact like ‘weight’ would allow me to sort my cats from lightest to heaviest (and vice versa). From there, I could put the two together to find out a list of the heaviest, oldest cats. That’s a sad list.
Dan: How do filters get created?
Alaina: Filters are created when you narrow down your options. Saying that I only want to see the cats with black fur, for example, would remove any cats that did not have black fur. If I limit my results so that weight can only be up to 10 pounds, I will only see cats that weigh less than 10 pounds. Putting these two lists together would show me all of my sub-10 pound black cats.
Dan: From spreadsheet to Kite – how long are we talking?
Alaina: That is the beauty of our Kite creator – you can go from spreadsheet to editing your Kite in under five minutes. After that, you are in control of how detailed your Kite can become.
Dan: So, what have people built with this? From a regular spreadsheet?
Alaina: We’ve had an impressive variety of uses! Some of our recent Kites have included engagement rings, medical marijuana, e-commerce site reviews, longboards, entertainment options in Branson, Missouri… if you can give us data about it, we can make a Kite from it. All from a regular spreadsheet.
Thanks for reading – check out our examples page for more information about WebKite.