Selecting the right website builder is a real challenge. It’s no overstatement to say that your choice can either propel your business to success or cause an abysmal failure. So let’s roll up our sleeves and get busy testing another DIY website builder – Webs, to help you make an informed decision.
#1 Ease of Use
Webs keeps things pretty simple. Their interface is very easy-to-navigate, joyful and inspiring: most important tabs and links are always at your fingertips.
With Webs you’ll be doing a lot of dragging and dropping, as most features and design elements (paragraphs, images, columns, photo galleries, contact forms, buttons and more) are movable modules. Simply select one in the lower toolbar and drag it to the page. Once you’ve positioned the element, double-click it to configure its deeper properties.
To see the big picture of what’s happening with your project, go to your Webs Dashboard. It includes such tabs as Statistics (based on their internal tracking tool), Webs Premium, Domains & Email, Form Submissions, SEO Booster, Mobile, Settings and even Print Products.
There’s also a handy file manager that lets you effectively organize and manage your files (documents, images, music and more) and the Local Listings feature that helps you automatically submit your business information to over 100 local search directories including Google and Yahoo.
#2 Feature Set and Flexibility
At one time Webs used to be the Swiss-army knife of DIY site building, primarily thanks to their App Store that would offer dozens of third-party extensions (pretty similar to what Wix is doing now). To the surprise of many, the App Store appeared to be a somewhat ineffective initiative.
The problem is that when an app provider goes out of business or changes price tags (completely removes free plans for instance), customers get frustrated and there’s no way for Webs to influence the situation. Therefore, the company decided to focus on developing core features rather than inviting new app providers.
One of such core features is user management. Webs is one of the very few site builders which allow to create membership websites. Similar to uCoz’s authorization system called uID, Webs has its own service – Webs ID that allows you to create an account for joining and accessing any Webs-powered websites.
No matter how functional or beautiful your site is, it needs a proper SEO treatment in order to get found by your target customer. In terms of SEO, Webs allows you to fill out the following properties: site title, site description, keywords and also insert Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools code snippets. However, in order to insert more specific meta tags for different pages, you will need to upgrade your Webs account.
The same is about their SEO Booster – you can purchase it either as an add-on ($4.95/month) or get it free as part of the PRO package. If you’re far from being an Internet marketing guru, this SEO offer will help you get your feet wet in website optimization by guiding you in selecting keywords, placing them in the right places and more. Thanks to the convenient SEO Booster dashboard, you’ll be able to track your progress and see suggested areas for improvement.
Webs has its own blogging tool that gets the job done respectably, with decent customization. In particular, you can add categories for posts, assign contributors, allow/disallow comments, and more.
It was a real challenge for me to pick a template. Frankly speaking, Webs offers an utterly disappointing choice. I think that their template library is definitely something they could improve. C’mon guys, it’s 2015! Templates matter!
If you have a great sense of aesthetics and are very picky, Webs will certainly fall short of your expectations, especially when coupled with inability to make global changes in the site design – their drag-and-drop editor works only in the specific areas of the page and lets you manage content rather than design.
The advantage of the ‘box’ system (as opposed to the ‘absolute positioning’ where you can place elements anywhere on the page, like in Wix) is that thanks to these restrictions you can easily change your website theme – just click on the one your like and your website’s look will be changed instantly without messing up your content. Compare this to the Wix’s or IM Creator’s editor, where you can drag and drop elements anywhere on the canvas, but can’t switch the chosen template.
See what real Webs-powered websites look like: Websites built with Webs.
#4 Customer Support
Webs offers an interactive NanoRep-based chat solution that provides inquiring users with ready answers directly in the admin panel. This is very convenient when you face any problems, since there’s no need to jump between the Knowledge base/FAQ/Support Center and your control panel. Besides, there are many embedded video lessons inside the panel. Live chat support comes as a premium feature.
#5 Pricing Policy
There are three plans: Starter ($5.99/mo), Enhanced ($12.99/mo) and Pro ($22.99/mo). Traditionally, the more you pay, the more you get. What I don’t like about Webs is their salesy tone.
Every time I enter the control panel, there’s a one-day special offer and other ‘buy now’ pop-ups:
Webs doesn’t open up the codes to users. This means that even if you have enough money to hire someone to play with your site’s CSS, you won’t be able to do this. The platform’s unique functionality is being held hostage by mediocre templates and no HTML/CSS control.
When I was creating my test website, I was slowed down several times waiting for the action completion, though I was working with my normal Internet connection. Every time I work in Webs I understand it’s pretty slower than its competitors.
Free Webs sites are quite limited, compared with offerings from competitors like Wix or Weebly. For instance, with a free account, you can only have up to 10 pages. Mobile sites are only for premium users.
Just like with most online site builders, sites build with Webs are not transferrable to other web hosts.
Webs Review: Conclusion
Let’s face it, Webs is a mixed bag. Its ease-of-use and quite decent toolset fall victim to unshapely templates and salesy pop-ups. While it undoubtedly lets you easily build a simple site, it’s fallen behind more modern offerings like Squarespace, uKit and Weebly (though it has been around longer than most of its competition).
Webs user? We’d love to hear your story! Share your experience in the comments.