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Homestead.com Review

Recently, we’ve been updating our most popular reviews and comparisons. We’ve covered everything from Weebly to Carbonmade, but have yet to mention one of the most trusted names in the market – Homestead. We are going to correct that with a detailed review of this website builder.

Founded in 1996, Homestead Technologies, Inc. soon became a leading service for DIY website creation. Having no competition, the company managed to build up quite a name for itself, offering easy-to-understand features combined with an intuitive interface and affordable pricing. It was its finest hour.

Today, Homestead seems to lose steam. It works, but it doesn’t seem to grow anymore.

The first thing you might notice about Homestead – especially if you’re familiar with other site builders – is that its interface is very outdated. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s bad, but it’s just not as beautiful and modern as those we’ve seen in Squarespace and Wix, for instance.

#1 Ease of Use

Despite its old interface, Homestead makes it incredibly easy to create a website. The only roadblock in your way can be the sign-up process that requires entering your billing information. On one hand, this is an obstacle, on the other hand it’s a wise decision that keeps the system (and the web) clean from malicious, spam and abandoned websites.

Homestead - Editor

Once you have signed up, you’ll have to answer a few simple questions like What is the primary purpose of your website? to help Homestead direct you to the right trial. Based on your answers, they can also recommend various add-ons (SimpleStore or WebListings, for example) that you can either enable immediately or simply skip and get back to them when the need arises.

The control panel of Homestead is well organized – you can easily add new pages, rearrange your sitemap and edit the content.

Homestead - Predesigned Pages

#2 Feature Set and Flexibility

As with most online site builders, Homestead provides a decent feature set offering both business-specific and standard features. The former include:

SimpleStore. Using SimpleStore you can easily sell online up to 100 products, giving your customers an easy checkout experience with multiple payment solutions. If you want to sell additional products, get inventory management and reporting, you need to opt for their Advanced Ecommerce.

WebListings. With this service, your business will get greater exposure to local prospective customers. It will automatically send your business information to Google, Yahoo, Yellowpages.com and 100+ directories. This service saves your time by letting you edit and update information in a single place (we’ve seen something similar in Webs).

Homestead - Ecommerce and WebListings

Other marketing tools include Paid Search Ads, SEO services and Website Statistics.

Homestead also offers a native blogging platform and set of ready-to-use widgets, such as Forms, Polls, Photo Albums, Guestbooks, Maps and more.

#3 Designs

Homestead designs are outdated for my liking. The builder offers a huge selection of these, but it’s really hard to find something decent. The good news is that the design you select is just a starting point. All colors, images, copy and layout can be fully customized later. You can also insert your own HTML code into specific areas (the header, for example).

Homestead - Designs

#4 Customer Support

Homestead offers various types of support. Firstly, there’s a built-in tour that explains the basics of working in the editor. Secondly, there’s Homestead Community where you can view existing conversations, share your expertise and post your queries. Thirdly, they provide live support over phone and chat.

#5 Pricing Policy

Homestead doesn’t offer free, never expiring accounts like most of its competitors do. It offers a 30-day free trial and tiered pricing scheme. After the 30-day trial period, you will automatically be billed $5.99 per month for the Starter package. Your account can be cancelled anytime with just a few clicks – it took me one minute to cancel mine.

Homestead - Account Cancellation

Other plans include Business ($20.99/mo) and Business Plus ($60.99/mo).

Homestead - Pricing

Homestead also offers a full service package that covers website design, ongoing maintenance and search engine optimization ($149.99/mo).

Disadvantages

Homestead doesn’t offer any mobile-friendly solutions. Their templates aren’t responsive. However, their Community leaders say that the company has been making progress in this direction. Homestead doesn’t support user management capabilities. Boring templates.

Homestead Review: Conclusion

Homestead is one of the most trusted names in the industry. It does build solid websites that operate seamlessly. However, these sites don’t look good on mobiles – the company hasn’t come up with a mobile solution yet. Also, their designs require a major overhaul.

Dear Homestead users, I’d love to hear from you! Please share your experience in the comments.

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Homestead.com
Author Rating
3
  • Lime

    Can I get an “educated and informed” opinion about Homestead vs. Wix? I have been with homestead for over 10 years and I am fed up that their services are very limited for the Canadian market. I find them very user friendly however, you mentioned they are the “dinosaur” with regards to today’s technology. So, I have been checking out Wix and I am looking for a provider that I can change all my web services/email over to. Any advise?

  • foxglovefarms

    I’d love an opinion too? I have to say that Homestead has helped me build a great website and I love that it’s totally customizable, the big issue I have with moving to WIX or another provider is being forced to keep my images and text jammed into prefab boxes and really limiting any originality in design from the consumer. I am worried though about the outdated code on Homestead and whether or not my site will suffer from the next look Google takes at my site since Homestead is not mobile friendly? Is this something to be concerned about, will my site drop in the organic listings because of Homestead’s errors??? Is there any way for me to add more updated code or is the problem totally in the “backend” of Homestead???
    http://www.foxglovedesignerpuppies.com

    • Hi,
      Basically, responsive design is the best way to go. It’ll keep both your visitors and Google happy.

      Just because Homestead doesn’t offer any mobile solutions at the moment, doesn’t mean you should transfer your website elsewhere. To stay competitive, Homestead will certainly find a solution. Presumably, they’ll release responsive templates soon – that would be the ideal scenario.

      • Investigator

        I certainly hope that they do release responsive templates soon. It is now April of 2015, and still- the only option they have given us, is Dudamobile.

      • hamishdad

        Homestead’s mobile solution is Dudamobile. As far as Homestead is concerned, problem solved.

        • Hi! Glad to hear it. Are you a Homestead user?

          • hamishdad

            I’ve been a Homestead (downloadable desktop version) user for over ten years. Despite the fact that Homestead has done little to improve it during that time, I’ve remained with them because it’s easy to use and dependable (the site rarely goes down). There are much better ways to build a website today, but Homestead’s users have managed to find ways to overcome some of Homestead’s shortcomings.

          • hamishdad

            Well, Homestead just banned me from their Community Forum for mentioning that there are free e-commerce solutions that work with their Sitebuilder program. Unbelievable!!!

  • HomesteadSucks

    DO NOT USE THESE FOLKS! Their customers of which I am one have been unable to update our websites for weeks during,the busy holiday season! They decided to do an unannounced data migration during the busiest time of the year for small businesses. We are losing thousands! Last Fall, we didn’t have email service for over three weeks. They do not care a single bit about their clients.

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  • Ken

    homestead is horrible. Been using them for 10 years on many sites, but just really bad customer service. I have not been able to reach customer service for over 2 years now. We had to take our email away and now use google, much better. They use to have great service, good tech help, but that all went away with Intuit and has not come back. STAY AWAY< STAY AWAY

  • Betty Belanus

    It is super easy for web site design dummies like me to use, and great for small businesses just wanting to get a quick site out there, but I am a writer and it is not really well suited for my work. The blogging feature sucks. Maybe I am just not figuring this out, but adding photos is almost impossible. I am currently searching for something that will still be easy to use, but also has more features that will make my blog pop… something that supports WordPress would be nice. This takes a lot of research, though, which is why I was reading this site. But if you want to see what I have in my own backwards way done with my site on Homestead, feel free to go to my site: http://www.roundbarnpress.com

    • Hi Betty,
      Thanks a lot for sharing your website, and your valuable comment!

    • Yes, I forgot to mention their blog….really worthless. I created my blog on WordPress and link from my homestead site to my wordpress site. Awkward way to do it, but it works.

  • Laura

    I have been a customer of Homestead for over 9 years. I do web design for others with them. NO MORE! The migration last fall and into the new year (2015) was the worst experience I have ever had with a company. The “support” was chat only and all they could do was apologize and make excuses….and tell lies. They told me they’d give me 2 (measly) months free for my trouble (I have it on a chat transcript). They only gave me one but say they gave me 2. DUH! Look on my billing in my account. They have been recently bought out by another company. All the chat support names are foreign. It is the worst!

    I have joined WIX! WoW! What a beautiful system. Their set-up is waaaaaaay, WAY better than Homestead…absolutely no comparison for beauteous, modern websites and elements. I got in on a special (through Valentine’s Day 2015) and paid only $97 for the whole year! Includes domain, ecommerce, $50 in free facebook ads and more! I am switching 4 of my web design/marketing clients to them tonight!

    Here is a link to my current Homestead site: http://www.zynergypotions.com
    Anything that is “fancy” I have to create in a separate graphics program, make it an image, then upload the image into Homestead sitebuilder, even to just put a nice shadow on text.
    I have to invent ecommerce, ugh, it’s just horrible! You can see it if you scroll to the middle of the page on the product “detail”. I tried Homestead’s ecommerce affiliate, so much work setting it up, I gave up (and I tend to know what I am doing).

    Here is my new WIX site (still working on, I just joined them on Tuesday, 2/10/15): http://lauraregine0.wix.com/z119
    Be sure to click on the “shop” text link at the top right, what a huge difference! So easy, so pretty….

    Good luck everyone.

  • James Vech

    I appreciate your honest review of Homestead. I think it is spot on. I have been with Homestead since almost the beginning. It was perfect for me. I have been hearing a lot of grumbling lately about the so-called “migration” which did not affect any of my half dozen sites. I started with two different hosts recently and it was an horrendous experience. Homestead made it so easy to build a website I wasn’t aware of the complexity of other hosts. Homestead does not have that WordPress look, and the blog is terrible. I will remain with them, but I wonder at what point they will have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the modern age. They seem to be reluctant to do so. I sometimes fear they will just close shop.

  • Investigator

    I absolutely love almost everything about Homestead, and have several domains with them. However, in order to be “mobile-friendly”, their only option is for us to sign up with Dudamobile. If we do not want their ads on our websites, we have to pay Dudamobile. I do not need another expense.

    Truly, I wish Homestead would “get with it”. We are in 2015, and they still do not have a free, easy way to make our sites “mobile-friendly”. Dudamobile is not a great option, IMO.

  • Emery_Heuermann

    May 5, 2015: I have been with Homestead a long time. Have several sites. Greatest fear is Homestead may just close up shop. They can’t be making money or they are just hoarding profits . . . nothing is ever noticeably updated.

    I don’t see any mention that they have two design programs. One is web based and named Sitebuilder Plus. The other is the original Desktop Sitebuilder which is downloaded onto your hard drive. The new web based Sitebuilder Plus sucks. They never mention the original sitebuilder program to the newbies. Desktop Sitebuilder hasn’t been updated in at least 6 years ….. one employee posted on the internet there are Java programming problems and it can not be substantively updated. This could easily be reason for the decline in users.

    Each time Homestead is bought they are sold. That tells you something. Customer service is non existent. Nothing modern, no drop down menus, no decent picture apps. The list goes on . . . BUT, what they do have is a working system that is dependable for a basic information only website. I have no experience with their e-commerce systems so can not offer an opinion on that issue.

    Their greatest asset, IMO, is simplicity. Their sites work. Just don’t expect any help in learning their program; however, the help manual is excellent. They have a great community support forum. I am surprised Homestead doesn’t censor it . . . those folks tell it like it is. Homestead should be listening AND above all be honest with their users as to what is happening at Homestead. Instead, they parcel out the usual BS about ” we will forward your suggestion on to management”. Get so tired of reading that.

    In summary, there are a lot of pluses about Homestead to offset some of the negatives. My suggestions, * get a for real CSr department (charge people if you have to for teaching them how to use Sitebuilder), * stop focusing on sales, * offer incentives to long time customers to remain (the abdication rate must be horrendous), * begin a modernization program immediately (lack of drop down menus seems to be the number 1 complaint), restore Desktop Sitebuilder to its former glory if possible (this may not be possible see notes about Java coding issues).

    Bottom line, hire the founder Justin Kitch back and give him a couple of million dollars to make Homestead number one again. and watch all the abdicated users come flocking back. JMO.

    • Hi Emery,
      Thanks for stopping by and writing this valuable comment!

    • I agree….simplicity is their best attribute. I use them because I am not a coder, but if I was I would be using WordPress. The need for a separate mobile website is a major drawback.

  • james ehrlich md

    My wife has homestead and has been paying $34.98 per month for an interior design website since 2010 with virtually no transactions needed. She also was sold bluehost by her website designer. I am sure commissions are made each month.

    If the website is already built (since 2010), wouldn’t she be fine just having hostgator or blue host? What is the $34.98 going towards that she can’t get just self-administering a wordpress site and having a simple hosting company?

  • July, 2015: I have had domains and subdomains at Homestead since 2001. I totally agree with the pluses and minuses in your review… and I have reached the point of thinking this month will be the last year I renew my subscription with them. They are increasingly becoming this strange dinosaur that mostly seems to trade on some very wilted old laurels… and generally acts like they don’t even WANT to be in the web site business.

    The reason I am considering moving my sites (all 22 of them) is the problems caused by the lack of mobile responsiveness… sure they have this “solution” to create mobile friendly sites through Dudamobile, but that’s such a subpar idea. Besides, why would I want to have TWO hosts per domain? I have neither the bandwidth nor inclination to take on that extra load. The reason I am now looking at this as a serious problem is the ever insistent notices I get from Google that non-mobile-responsive will be increasingly downranked in search results. I can’t afford that– what site can?

    So now we have a growing situation in which not only is the hosting company a “strange dinosaur,” but the effect of their failure up update is now trickling down to their user-members… and from where I am sitting, the doomsday bells cannot be far away… so I’m looking at Strikingly for my one pagers (I generally like David Chen’s projects, anyway) and will probably bite the bullet and just WordPress everything else. It’s sad, in a way, as Homestead has both the underlying “bones” and the name/reputation to reinvent itself as a market leader… but the beast seems to be in eternal hibernation.

    • Thanks for your feedback, Peter. I really appreciate it. That’s frustrating to see that Homestead does nothing to help its long-time users.

  • gary

    When I call for tech assistance due to a problem with my site, or wanting information on “how to”, there is a usual 45 minute wait on the phone. A number of times I have hung up after waiting 45 minutes.

    I agree with what most of what people are saying about Homestead being an outdated company. I am looking for a WEB building company that is more efficient. Because I have a 10 page site it has been hard for me to give up and start over. But that time is coming!