The Webnode platform was developed by the Czech company Westcom and launched in 2008. Before that, the company’s founder used to develop apps for corporate clients. Two years after the launch the service started to be localized; now it is available in more than two dozen languages, which alone speaks of how huge the project’s activity is.
The official website is user-friendly, but quite mundane. The service is positioned as free, though it’s only partially true as you won’t be able to do much if you don’t upgrade to a premium account.
The developers assure us that anyone can create a beautiful and feature-rich website in minutes. We are not used to believing on the say-so. Let’s explore the platform and look for possible pitfalls. For our test we decided to put up an e-commerce website in order to get access to as many free features as possible. So, all our conclusions below apply mostly to the online store site type offered by Webnode.
Webnode provides more than 200 templates to choose from, though the exact number depends on the selected website type. Even the best designs are rather average in quality, and the rest are even less attractive.
The main disappointment is that most of the templates are not responsive, which means you will need to customize a separate mobile template for your website. Having two templates to work on, instead of one design adapting to all devices, is what most users will hardly enjoy.
The majority of the designs look generic and uninspired, and are far from modern design tendencies. They aren’t ugly, but don’t create any wow effect either. It feels like the developers stopped applying new techniques back in 2008.
Many of the presented examples are actually different variations of one and the same template – same structure and form, just different images and color schemes. All designs are divided by categories but they can only be reached from your account once you’ve already selected your first theme. Why so? No idea.
Choosing a design also isn’t that simple. Design thumbnails are small and there is no live full-screen preview. As a result the design often looks better on the thumbnail than on the actual website. On the plus side, you can change the design at any time, and most likely you will do this more than once.
Some templates are available for free, others – only after upgrading to a premium account. Can’t say it’s a drawback, as if you wish to create a full-featured website with Webnode, you’ll have to pay anyway. But we’ll get back to this a bit later.
Unfortunately the design customization options are almost non-existent. We couldn’t even find how to change the background of a page. However, fonts and text colors are editable, as well as the default pictures. You can also change the page layout, i.e. the structure of the selected template: presence of a side bar and it’s position. Still, not much… Take your time to choose a suitable design for your website, as you won’t be able to customize it to your liking.
The design options differ for personal and business websites. The interface has a more modern look and drag-and-drop tools; website fonts, images and section backgrounds are easily customizable. At the same time, you cannot choose another design for your website once you’ve created it, the only way to go for another template is to create a new website – and lose all the modifications and content you’ve already added.
All in all, Webnode’s grade for everything related to design is a C. We are not impressed.
The website builder can be used to create business websites, personal blogs, and online stores. There is also a forum widget, but you can’t do much with it so we won’t take into into account.
The admin panel has a clearly outdated design, the structure of which looks similar to Microsoft Word. The latter is definitely a great tool, but such comparison isn’t really flattering for a website builder. We couldn’t get rid of a strong desire to remove cobwebs and wipe off the dust. Those feeling nostalgic about the past might like the simple, bare icons and design resembling Windows XP, but we are evaluating the platform with the modern tools in mind.
Webnode’s features are uneven: some things are well-developed, while others are weak. The tools are sometimes grouped illogically, which makes it difficult to master the website builder. Being unlike other platforms is more of a con than a pro when it comes to interfaces.
The editor provides the following options:
- New – create a new page, category or article;
- Go To Page – quick navigation to the site pages from the site menu;
- Publish – website publication;
- Page Layout – select your template’s structure;
- Delete – delete the selected page;
- Properties – change the page name, URL and nesting level, add meta tags, hide/display page on the site menu;
- Security – protect site pages with a password;
- Poll – create a poll on the website;
- Photo Gallery – create a picture gallery;
- Form – create custom forms, newsletter subscriptions, event registration forms;
- Articles – add articles and categories to the site;
- Store – create blocks with special offers, latest and best selling products;
- More – add a YouTube video, Google Maps, embed codes, social plugins from Facebook or Google+, and more;
- Files and Images – upload your files and access them at any time;
- Manage template – change the site’s desktop and mobile templates;
- Texts and Languages – change the language of the website and edit the default texts;
- Settings – edit the basic info in the header and the footer, and add your contact info.
As you can see, the platform’s features are quite moderate and not all of them have relevant grouping, especially the Settings menu from which you would expect something else. Although, eventually one can get used to it.
When you close the editor, you will see the admin panel. Here you can register and manage domains and email accounts, import products from CSV files, upgrade to a premium plan, create backups and view statistics, look for answers in the FAQ or contact support.
All things considered, Webnode’s features don’t make a great impression. They are powerful enough, but at the same time a lot of useful tools are missing. Where is a live chat, a callback request form, design customization flexibility and a user-friendly admin panel? The personal and business website options have even less features than the online store solution, especially if you stick to the free plan. Though they have a more modern interface and visual editing tools. Still, the functionality doesn’t deserve more than the average grade from us.
Once you have created a website, you get a free subdomain like site.webnode.ru. A personal domain can be connected after upgrading to a paid plan.
It can be purchased directly from the admin panel starting at $15.15 for a .com domain.
At first glance, the Webnode’s pricing policy is very complicated. There are 3 plans for each of the available website types – personal, business, and online store. Only the first two website types have the same prices, though the features included into the same plans are slightly different. For example, backups are available in the Standard plan for a personal website, and only in the Profi plan for a business one. Such division is difficult to understand: while the features are the same, the limitations are much more strict. Paying twice as much for a couple of basic features and a new plan name looks more like blackmailing.
Since the personal and business website prices are similar with minor functional difficulties, let’s have a look at the business tariff:
- Mini ($5.95/mo) – 500 MB storage, 3 GB bandwidth, 3 mailboxes, custom domain, premium support;
- Standard ($11.95/mo) – 2 GB storage, 10 GB bandwidth, 20 mailboxes, multilanguage support, backups, footer customization;
- Profi ($19.95/mo) – 5 GB storage, unlimited bandwidth, 100 mailboxes, multilanguage support, backups, footer customization.
Online store pricing is as follows:
- Mini ($7.95/mo) – 300 MB storage, 3 GB bandwidth, 1 mailbox, custom domain, credit card payments, backups, mobile version;
- Standard ($19.95/mo) – 1 GB storage, 20 GB bandwidth, 1000 products, 20 mailboxes, mobile version, product import and export, product variations, statistics, footer customization, product feeds;
- Profi ($39.95/mo) – 4 GB storage, unlimited bandwidth, unlimited products, 100 mailboxes, mobile version, product import and export, product variations, statistics, footer customization, product feeds, password protection, offline site version.
To describe the prices in one word – they are insane. There are lots of artificially created restrictions where you have to pay twice as much for minor extra features. A business website will cost you $300/year, and the annual e-commerce subscription – $600/year.
This amount will cover several years on most other platforms with far greater capabilities. For example, Wix – not the most affordable platform with a much more advanced functionality – will cost three times less! Webnode is absolutely unprofitable.
Webnode doesn’t look attractive from all of the considered viewpoints. For high prices you are offered unimpressive designs with very limited customization options, mediocre functionality and interface. Lack of powerful tools results in unremarkable websites, and the pricing policy makes the platform even less appealing.
We couldn’t discover anything that would allow us to recommend the website builder. Though you can surely test it out of curiosity and for the sake of comparison with other players in the market.