Blocs (current version 3.4.2) – is a software used to create websites in Mac OS (10.10 Yosemite and higher). This is a unique niche product, the major goal of which is to provide Mac users with a premium web building tool. There is no separate product version for Windows. The target audience is Mac users only.
Blocs is a downloadable software used to create promo websites, landing pages and portfolios. Apple ideology is in the basis of the product: according to the major idea, a user has to get aesthetic pleasure from working with the application. Quality and extensive functionality of the program contributes to this objective.
When it comes to Blocs positionaing, user impressions and experience come first. The majority of users understand that if web designers have notably invested into the development of interface design, then the rest of the features will be also provided on a decent level. Can this statement be applied to Blocs? That’s not quite clear yet. So, let’s make the detailed analysis now to find that out.
1. Ease of Use
The software has evolved since its launch. The Blocs 3 version has become even more user-friendly and intuitive in terms of usage. Of course, newbies will still need some time to understand how the system works, while access to CSS attributes editing will require some technical knowledge.
On the other hand, the building process has become much easier if compared to previous software versions. An average user might need about several days to create a ready-to-go website with all necessary features included. Blocs combines ready-made elements and block libraries to be adjusted to an empty website canvas.
Users will have access to a collection of page elements that include headers, forms, images and more in addition to custom structure blocks that include empty columns, on-page spaces for images and text content, etc. Moreover, the new version comes with support for HTML5 reserving much space for professional coders and web designers to create unique site layouts.
While Blocs is the website building app, it comes as downloadable software. To get access to its features you need either buy a full license or opt for a free trial version. In both cases, the system asks to provide some personal info. When the signing in process is completed, you will be able to download and install a chosen software version.
Website Editing Process
As we have mentioned earlier, the software offers its ready-made canvases that are easy to modify and change. Users may add empty columns as well as spaces for images and texts. Another way is to use blocks and elements libraries. Here you will find collections of page elements and sections to be added with a click. Blocs 3 features drag-and-drop functionality making it easy to change the elements positioning.
The great news about the new software version is that now you have the entire website hierarchy indicated in the left sidebar. You may reach any section or element with easy instead of switching between different screens as it was in the previous version. The same is with dropping new bricks to the page. Simply pick the one and drag it to the space needed. Here we have tabbed content boxes, image galleries, audio players, headers, contact forms, social media buttons, etc.
The platform comes with the CSS class editor. Users are free to modify blocks and elements styling ensuring they look and run great on different devices despite the screen size. In addition, the system delivers total control over page source code in addition to support for HTML5. Experienced coders will appreciate programming flexibility while newbies can benefit from features like ScrollFX controls. We will discuss both a bit further in our review.
Blocs 3 app was developed as the website and page builder. It does not provide hosting facilities. You will need to take care of it yourself. The good news is that the new version is supported by some simple and yet popular CMS platforms. They include Cushy, Pulse, October, and some others. It ensures seamless integration of the website files with the content management system as well as its database.
2. Features & Flexibility
The Blocs app might be a good pack for both newbies who only start figuring out how the system works as well as professional coders looking for a chance to create their unique layouts. The software features may also be divided into two major groups. The first group is for users who do not want to dive deep into the editing process. The second one is for more creative-minded people.
Built on Bootstrap 4
Programmers and coders would be happy to learn that the new Blocs version was developed on Bootstrap 4. The framework comes with support for different devices including smartphones and tablets. Users are free to implement various dimensions to each element or section making it look good on different types of devices despite the display sizes, carriers, etc. All your website pages will run well in spite of the breakpoints.
Support for HTML5
We have already said a few words about this feature. It was designed for beginners who want to make their websites look a bit cooler. The idea is to add different effects to some of the website elements when scrolling the page down. They may include fading-in or animation effects. The control panel lets you implement each of them with ease. Simply pick the element you need and choose the way it will look like when scrolling down.
This particular brick helps advanced users to input the piece of the HTML code. From now, Blocs 3 users will have a chance to change the way the checkbox looks like. Apart from a traditional version, there is also a mobile mode that results in a modern look. In addition, you may set either vertical or horizontal checkbox stacking.
Local Network Preview
A great feature for all Mac users who benefit from a local network connection. It lets you preview the way your site looks like in different devices connected to the same network as your laptop powered by Mac. Not only you will be able to preview all pages, but also edit some of their elements right in the browser.
Users get full control over the icons with a chance to change them thanks to a newly developed Icon brick. First of all, you need to choose from a selection of ready-made icon blocks. Then you may replace the pre-set icon with your own as well as adjust 5 of the available fonts to make it look more catchy.
Layer Tree Options
As we have mentioned earlier, Blocs 3 depicts the page hierarchy with all the elements and sections in the same window with no need to switch between modes. At the same time, a layer tree ensures a fast overview of all elements you have on the selected page. From now, you may also access different options to process layers. They include deleting, collapsing, duplicating, and other operations assign color keys and other points to arrange all layers in the most effective way.
Generally, Blocs functionality is on the medium level. Its major advantages are interesting design and original presentation of standard features. They are enough to design appealing business websites, even those that don’t accept online payments. The app requires hosting and sometimes CMS that will be compatible with it. Blocs itself is not an individual working unit. The key downside is that the software is available only for Mac users.
3. Design & Templates
The system does not offer ready-made templates on default. However, users may opt for paid templates delivered by Blocs. There are 36 layouts currently available in the templates section on the official website. They are sold as packages. The price will depend on the number of websites you want to create. Each theme has a preview mode and detailed description that contains the build date, framework used (currently Bootstrap 4), requirements, latest updates, version, etc.
Experienced coders will appreciate the ability to create a site from the blank using a set of dedicated programming tools we have discussed earlier. The dashboard has a preview mode to check how the site looks on desktop, mobile or tablets.
Moreover, the system has CSS styling options to change elements dimensions and let them meet mobile users’ demands. The class editor is able to adjust the same palette colors across different elements to make them look well on different devices as well. The navigation bar will be automatically generated in accordance with the screen dimensions.
4. Customer Support
Blocs provides users with a sufficient number of customer support options, including forum, Vimeo channel and Knowledge Center. All of them feature decent quality, especially FAQ and video tutorials. You can contact the developers via the online support desk, while the recent news are available in the official blog or Twitter channel.
All the tutorials allow using the search filter option. They are detailed and structured into categories. The quality of tech support is ok. To get in touch with it, you should be a registered Blocs user. By the way, there is no live chat and email communication option here. There is only the ticket system you can make use of.
5. Plans & Pricing
As it was said in the first paragraph of the review, the software is available as a free trial version. All you need is to indicate traditional personal info and access the download page with the free license. The second way is to purchase the official version that currently costs $99.99. The price may apply to VAT. So, do not be surprised if the final cost is a bit higher. Users, who already have the previous Blocs 2 version, may upgrade to a newer one with a 30% discount.
Apart from the license, do not forget that you might also need to pay for the software templates. They are available on subscription basis. Users may choose from 3 major options:
- One Template costs $49 including 1-year updates and support.
- All Templates are available at $199 including future themes to be rolled out.
- All Templates + Tutorials cost $299 and include all Blocs themes and tutorials in a single package.
6. Pros and Cons
The major Blocs advantage is unique design and presentation of the visual editor. Distinct definition of the target audience – Mac users – contributes to the benefits of the service. It is clear that the app was created from scratch, without any copying of external services. Obviously, the basic structural principles and means of interaction with a WYSIWYG editor are preserved. We will highlight the following advantages of using Blocs:
- An opportunity to create the unlimited number of website templates;
- Compatibility of templates with several CMS;
- An opportunity to save the themes of separate web pages;
- An option of editing the features of element classes in the graphic interface (Class Manager panel);
- Responsive template design;
- Comparative simplicity of editor use;
- Stylish interface;
- Quality FAQ.
There are other advantages, which are less significant or more obvious. For example, the mechanism of one-click brics positioning has appeared – this is not even dragging, but one click only. What we also liked is a set of effects and convenience of using them. There are many positive features here. However, Blocs disadvantages are also apparent. These include:
- High cost of a published website;
- Complicated website publication scheme for newbies;
- Absence of the integrated FTP manager;
- Almost complete inefficacy of using the program without CMS.
Simplicity of use is also questionable as there are no ready made templates provided by default. You have to purchase them or create on your own. Regardless of the technical simplicity of the editor, many newbies won’t be able to launch an appealing website with individual design here. Skills are required to do that. That’s why, the use of Blocs will trigger extra financial investments into templates and CMS.
Blocs is a good niche product. It works well for launching business websites with a small number of pages, such as promo websites, portfolios and landing pages. If you approach the web development process wisely, the websites will be appealing and functional. Regardless of the pleasant interface and general positive impressions from the working process, this application is not the best choice for an average user.
Blocs can be considered a stylish HTML web page editor, which requires extra tools to publish a website. It is inconvenient to use it independently. When working with CMS, the situation changes for the better, even though, it’s not possible to call this scheme convenient and cheap. You will have to master the FTP manager, hosting set up and CMS itself. This is quite overwhelming for a person willing to create the first website, isn’t it?
Here arises the question: why use Blocs, if this is so complicated? Maybe, it makes sense to choose a more suitable website builder and stop making simple things difficult? Anyway, it is much simpler and more affordable to use a quality cloud website builder with a WYSIWYG editor. You will get hosting, templates, bonuses (like a free domain name or something like that) and, what really matters, a single interface for the entire web building process. It’s also more convenient to make the payments here – everything is found in the same interface.
Just like any other desktop web building application, Blocs cannot compete with renowned cloud website builders. It is not about the quality of the product. It’s about its type: the app requires more technical skills to be used to the advantage as compared to website builders and it also ensures similar result. So, why make things complicated? Unfortunately, Blocs is initially a lost case for the prevailing amount of users.