Web Hosting and iWeb
One of the benefits of MobileMe's iDisk was web hosting (files stored in the Sites folder were made available through a MobileMe URL or custom domain name). Web hosting in and of itself isn't particularly exceptional. There are any number of free web hosting services and inexpensive providers that can host a personal or business website for less than the annual cost of a MobileMe membership.
With the exception of being able to simply copy files from the Mac OS X Finder into an iDisk folder instead of using FTP or web-based site administration tools (not a particularly dramatic advantage really), MobileMe's hosting had no advantages over any other web host except for its integration with Apple's iWeb.
iWeb was introduced as a part of Apple's iLife '06 suite and it offered users the ability to create visually stunning websites quickly, easily, and without the need to know any HTML code. iWeb supported formatted text, images, video, and a handful of built-in widgets, and offered support for user blogs and podcasts. A later update included support for comments, custom domain names, and inserting HTML code written by hand or copied from services like Twitter that offered their own widgets for user sites.
iWeb's capabilities were and are fairly impressive, particularly when it comes to user friendliness (particularly for users with little or no web design experience) and integration with the other iLife apps. The connection with iPhoto and GarageBand are particularly powerful because they allow easy creation of visual content (including integration of MobileMe Gallery pages) and extremely easy podcast creation.
While iWeb has offered a lot to users over the years, it has really always been tied to MobileMe for easy publishing, and it includes one of the truest one-click publishing features out therepaired with a MobileMe account, clicking publish was all there was to it. iWeb generated HTML, custom images, and RSS feeds where needed, and transferred the updated content to the Sites folder in a user's iDisk in the background. When Apple added support for easily adding comments (hosted by the MobileMe servers), it created one of the simplest web design and publishing systems out there.
The writing has been on the wall that iWeb would be going away since Apple unveiled iLife '11 last fall without including any changes to iWeb from the iLife '09 release nearly two years earlier. Apple confirmed in Summer 2011 that iWeb publishing and web hosting would be MobileMe services not making it to iCloud.
In truth, there are plenty of alternatives to hosting a site using MobileMe. The vast majority of ISPs still offer some free web hosting, and there are a number of other options out there like Google Sites and free blog-specific hosts like Blogger, Wordpress, and Tumblr. Depending on what you use a site for, social networking sites may even be a better way to share content and information. There are also a lot of good low-cost web hosting companies out there (Go Daddy probably being the most well known).
Re-creating the ease of iWeb may be a bit trickier, though the current version of iWeb does support publishing to non-MobileMe hosts using FTP (you can check with your web host of choice for all the settings details). That allows you to continue using iWeb as a design and publishing tool without MobileMe, but because it won't be updated going forward, you will eventually want to transition to another option, be it a fully web-based editing solution (like Google Sites or most blogs) or a Mac app (I'll be taking a look at iWeb alternatives in a separate article).