Companies offering multifaceted web services (hosting, domain name registration, SSL connection, security etc.) frequently introduce website builders under their own brands. Launching related services for a formed target audience is a logical solution.
1&1.com is one of such companies. A website builder is only one of the elements of a long product list. As a rule, there emerge concerns regarding the low quality of such services, when analyzing them. The biased opinion regarding the services tailored to meet all goals at a time is quite popular and it often proves to be correct.
1&1 is positioned as a business website builder. It is based on the WYSIWYG editor. It’s not a secret that the market abounds in similar solutions. Advanced brands like Wix, uKit, Squarespace etc. are the most popular niche competitors.
Can a service created as an addon to the major 1&1 trends, counterpose anything to them? Let’s discover it!
1. Ease of Use
For those users, who are familiar with the specifics of using website builders with visual editors, 1&1 will seem simple and understandable. The interface of the WYSIWYG – editor is standard for services of this type.
There is no desire to praise or criticize it because of its ergonomics as it resembles dozens of similar services. It comes with a common classic structure. The service works great for newbies.
Dashboard ergonomics is mediocre, although, the options’ section structure is quite logical. Let’s describe it in the following way: when using a dashboard, you get a feeling that the elements are not on their places. This does not affect the ease of perception, but it would be nice to change that.
Generally, the dashboard comes with multiple blocks and information, which is useless for a newbie. What’s more, some sections are blank, while others are overloaded.
It’s possible to get used to it in several hours, that’s not a problem. A visual editor does not differ in its style or allure, but it creates pleasant impression due to its functionality and ease of use.
1&1 contributes to nice working condition – you won’t find any embellishment tricks here, everything is strict and practical.
2. Feature Set and Flexibility
1&1 feature set is distributed between a dashboard with its general organizational settings and a working area used to create website pages, that is, a visual editor.
It’s interesting that even before you access the dashboard to register with the system, it will offer you to set up the format, fill out the data and publish a business card for clients. This will be a temporary display window that will be used until you publish the full version of your website.
The options of the editor are on a high level due to the rich set of widgets and useful corresponding tools.
The structure of a stock template can be completely changed – you can add rows and columns to each section, adjusting their positions and sizes as you need. Then you can add any widgets into each block box. This is how a 1&1 user gets almost full control over website structure. And it’s quite easy to do that – you just need to have taste and understanding of the goal you wish to achieve.
Now, let’s talk about widgets. These are elements, which come with small portions of website functionality. They are added to the pages by dragging into the required sections or boxes.
All the widgets are grouped into 7 categories, including a set of the most widespread elements:
- “Popular”, where the following items are displayed by default: text, image, icon, click to call, map, image slider, photo gallery, button, HTML, contact form, large title (H1). The set of widgets may change during the web design process.
- “Basics”, which offers such elements as text, button, divider, spacer, large and small titles (H1, H3), file, list, columns (from 1 to 4), text and image.
- “Media” with the elements like image, image slider, photo gallery, icon, video, SoundCloud, website translator.
- “Business” that encompasses click to call option, map, OpenTable, Email, contact form, PayPal, restaurant menu, Yelp reviews, business hours, multi location, coupon, online scheduling, payment types, testimonials, Newsletter-tool, Google calendar, LiveChat, TripAdvisor, Localendar.
- “Social”, where you can find Share, Twitter feed, Facebook like, Facebook comments, social icons, RSS feed, Disqus comments, Scribd, Polldaddy, Blogger.
- “Advanced” offering HTML, navigation links, glossary, FAQ.
- “Blog” with all posts, recent posts, search posts.
Considering the names of widgets, you can get a distinct understanding of designing website pages with 1&1. For example, it works well for launching restaurant or cafe websites (it comes with a dishes menu), tourist agency websites or those of any other business, which implies the need to book accomodations, make an appointment etc.
Simply stated, the service allows creating versatile types of business websites, which require the options, which are not available in each niche website builder.
The header of a working area comes with a list of website pages a user can switch between during the website editing process, format change icons (desktop or mobile view), access to the support section, website publishing, website code (the full structure of all the web page blocks, designer mode), website preview and useful undo/redo buttons.
The «Pages» section makes it possible to add new pages and pop up windows to the website. Menu inclusion is supported up to the 3rd level. Any page can be duplicated or hidden.
From this section you can also activate a multilanguage functionality of your website. Simply add a new language and you immediately receive translated version of your website. The flag on the top of the site editor shows you which language version is editing now. Very comfortable.
Website access password set up is also supported. SEO settings are standard and include title/description/keywords.
It is also possible to add your own HTML/CSS code to the web page header. You can create popups with different content, including welcome, contact us, promotion or sale, visit us, like us on social network, more info, new store item etc.
It is possible to set up a template for each popup (size, animation, color, font etc.) and the content inside it.
The «Content» section comes with a file storage (images and other file types are stored separately), general business information that can be edited throughout a website (social network profiles, address, telephone etc.), business profile (description of company performance, services etc.). It is also possible to import content from external sources here.
The «Personalize» section has impressed me with a rare opportunity to create rules to match different scenarios. You can also make use of readymade rule templates, such as the first or repeated user visit, special offers, events and holidays, announcements, notifications etc.
For example, you can activate snow falling on your website on New Year Eve, automatic greeting of newbies or redirecting them to a special page on a certain occasion.
Each rule template comes with a preview option.
You can also add the unlimited number of your own rules, forming them out of the combination of several triggers like device, location, time, visits, campaign URL.
In the «Blog» section, you can set up the news feed display at the website. Add new posts, import them via RSS, set up SEO and display format for each material.
A blog has decent look, although, its functionality is somewhat limited and does not come up to the level of specialized platforms: there is no scheduled article publication feature or a search filter option here (all of them are displayed in the Blog Manager in the order of submission to the website).
However, you can set up the detailed design of the blog feed by choosing one of 3 templates, colours, background etc.
Generally, the 1&1 blog works well for managing your own diary or as an addon for your business website – news, lifehacks, description of product nuances erc.It will be inconvenient to manage a large niche blog.
The «Settings» section conceals lots of versatile parameters that have basic meaning, such as general items like icons (social networks, favicons), website language, information about the domain name and lots of SEO-related aspects, including redirects, HTML code available in the header and meta tags for the entire website.
This is also the place, where you can find backup storage filtered by the date, privacy settings (warning about cookie usage and privacy page) and 404 page customization. The backup\restore feature will be of a great help during thematic promo-campaigns (for example Christmas Eve or Black Friday Sale), when you need to make a thematic design changes. Just backup your website before campaign and restore it after the date. It’s really saves your time.
Working with Website Editor
Let’s describe general principles of using the working area of the WYSIWYG editor now. To start with, it really deserves the attention due to its abundant options.
Any web page comprises sections filled with widgets – this is how website design and structure are formed here.
1. By clicking the «+» button between the neighboring sections, you can add a block with a completed design of various profiles, including intro, features, about, logos, text blocks, team, restaurant, testimonials, contact us, promotion, plans, social, full page, footer.
2. Each category of new sections contains 5-10 variants of content presentation. Their design quality is on the top notch level and there is no need to customize anything on your own.
3. You just have to fill out website pages with these sections in the required order, replacing the demo content with that of your own to get a well-designed modern website.
4. The same concerns ready made templates. You can change any element in them if needed, but it is also possible to publish an appealing website with a template design in one evening, thus saving much time.
5. When clicking any element or block, you will see a layout and available settings. In the left corner, there is always the «ROW» icon, which grants access to the section’s settings:
- add new rows/columns,
- change website design (colour, background, video, dimensions, shades and spacing),
- display animations (8 variants),
- hide on device (mobile, tablet, desktop),
- HTML code editing,
- set as anchor,
- copy or even delete a block.
6. When highlighting images or text, you will see an image selection menu or quite a convenient text editor.
7. There is also detailed statistics, links to useful services and resources. What’s more, you can download an application allowing to manage your website from any mobile device (iOS/Android).
Generally, 1&1 feature set is powerful and exceeds that of the majority of medium website builders used to create business websites.
By the way, an editor allows adding products and accepting payments, but there is no sense in analyzing the platform as a service to build an online store – eCommerce options are mediocre here and they are even below the average level. The system has a decent blogging engine.
When it comes to working with landing pages, through, the service somewhat lacks several major widgets and an opportunity to manage detailed conversion statistics from the dashboard. 1&1 excels at its main specialization – business websites. There are no obvious drawbacks in this scenario.
You get around 350 templates subdivided into 9 categories out-of-the-box. It is also possible to choose a blank template to create a theme from scratch.
As far as all designs consist of ready made sections and editor widgets with demo content, it makes sense to create a template on your own granted that you have a distinct understanding of your final goal. This is a surefire way to get individual design.
Template quality is defined by the design of editor elements and the set of colours/images/fonts. It is on a decent level – a website builder is focused on the achievement of an appealing result.
Each template can be viewed in the preview mode. Whatever website you will launch with 1&1, it will be responsive. Design customization is powerful here as well – apart from the ways to work with web page structure described above, there is a separate section for global website design settings.
1&1 developers pursued design unification approach. This allows avoiding the dissonance between the design of identical web page elements.
You can set up the parameters of text, buttons, rows and backgrounds for the entire website by setting general management rules for each new element.
Apart from that, there is a layout choice option for each website format – desktop, tablet and mobile. Differences between them are initially in the menu position and header design.
All these editor settings are available in the «Design» section. If you plan to create your own template style, you have to start working with this very section. This is how you will be able to avoid further problems with manual setup of text blocks and titles, separate images, column parameters and backgrounds.
Everything will be displayed based on these global settings by default. For example, you can choose a font, colour and format for all H1-H6 titles and text of paragraphs at the website. You can also set up styles for all buttons at the website (background, size, corner round ups, dimensions etc.).
An option allowing to design separate website versions for PC and mobile view (like setting up separate backgrounds, for example) should be mentioned here as well. 1&1 generally comes with convenient and very flexible design customization settings.
It’s important for a user to be able to set up the same standards of the key elements for the whole website – this is a powerful centralized customization, which is one of the most convenient and effective in the contemporary niche.
4. Customer Support
The dashboard contains links to «Help Center» and «Contact Us» pages in the footer. The editor also offers a link to the knowledge base, where you can find out the tips on working with it.
You can contact the tech support team via the online chat or telephone – this is clear and distinct. The quality of the tutorials is one a decent level – there is the subdivision into categories, an opportunity to look for the answers by the keywords, detailed descriptions with screenshots. Generally, the customer support level is high.
5. Pricing Policy
1&1 is a commercial platform, which doesn’t have a trial. To start using the platform, you need to choose one of the 4 paid plans and subscribe to it. Mind that the first 12 months of any license are much cheaper.
It makes sense to consider the initial cost and the prolongation price of the contract separately. By the way, the system offers moneyback guarantee, which is a kind of an anti-disappointment insurance.
The cost of the paid plans is as follows (including a 12-months subscription and separate prolongation of a chosen plan):
- Personal ($2.99/month, then $6.99/month) – drag & drop editor, online business card;
- Basic ($0.99/month, then $9.99/month) – domain and email address, SSL, access to professional images (5 of them for free), multi-language function, business web apps;
- Plus ($9.99/month, then $19.99/month) – online marketing tools (personalization of site content, SEO analysis, newsletter tool);
- Plus + Rankingcoach Pro ($19.99/month, then $29.99/month) – provides all the above mentioned options plus multiple SEO tutorials, AdWords campaign monitoring, task management.
As you see, the plans imply distinct fragmentation of the feature set, especially in terms of SEO and marketing tools. The «Basic» plan seems to be the most interesting as its options will be enough to create a decent business website.
When selecting more expensive plans, you will pay for an advanced SEO course offered by the system developers. Generally, you can launch an interesting business website with 1&1 and watch its efficacy for $12/year only.
It’s up to you to decide on the further prolongation or cancellation of the subscription chosen.
6. Pros and Cons
1&1 is a great platform to build business websites. Blogging and eCommerce elements are offered as a bonus to the major goal – business presentation and client generation.
You can also use the system to launch portfolios of creatives – artists, designers, photographers, models, but this will be less effective just because the system has quite a different format.
1&1 website design may be quite appealing and modern, but it will hardly be creative. Regardless of multiple customization settings, design of the major elements seems to be more serious and practical rather than bright and extraordinary.
It ideally works for any business website, but it won’t be able to reveal creative feeling. Galleries look neat and nice, for example, but they are quite standard. There is no place for shock value here.
Generally, 1&1 is a luxurious specialized niche product, which comes with a list of distinct advantages:
- Decent collection of widgets
- Automatization of events by rules introduction and management
- Rich (although, not that ergonomical) dashboard
- Great visual editor
- Centralized settings of website design elements
- Blog integration and online payment acception options
- Opportunity to create websites of restaurants and tourist agencies with their specific functionality
- Opportunity to launch multilingual business websites
- Freedom in editing codes of any sections or even web pages
- Centralized management of business information available at the website, quick replacement of outdated info
- Separate editing of PC/mobile layouts
- Convenient and compelling work with backups
- Nice SEO block
- Quality tech support section
When it comes to functionality during the web building process, 1&1 is packed with advantages. The system, however, also has the demerits:
- Poor and inconvenient eCommerce engine, which may not be taken seriously at all
- A blog, which is not suitable for regular updates with multiple posts and their management
- The structure of sections comes up to the format of landing pages, but it’s difficult to create them because of the lack of readymade templates and specialized widgets
- Complicated dashboard, which looks chaotically because of the abundance of tabs, links and data
- Full access to all SEO options of the service is available on high paid plans only
- Website menu inclusion is limited by 3 levels
We haven’t defined any notable demerits that prevent the realization of the major system goal. It is all about the niche specialization of the product – all additional directions lack functionality. 1&1 looks almost ideally, when you don’t mind these aspects.
1&1 is a great service to build business websites. It doesn’t work well for portfolios, online stores, landing pages or blogs.
Instead, it is a perfect solution for company websites or niche specialists – lawyers, clinics, tourist agencies, automobile salons, restaurants etc., that is, for those activity areas, which are more practical rather than creative.
You will get stunning modern design with multiple delicate settings, user/client interaction means and enough tools to promote your website on the web.
1&1 is a commercial website builder with one of the best WYSIWYG editors in the niche. It is definitely the best value for the money invested at least at the “trial” annual plan.
If your web creation task comes up to the above mentioned specialization, we recommend using this product. If there are any niche deviations (if you are an artist, for example, or you just need a medium online store), then it makes sense to go for another website builder.