Format – is a specialized portfolio websites builder, which is headquartered in Canada. The system works great for the development of websites for creatives, artists, designers, illustrators, models, photographers, architects, digital artists and all other users, who wish to showcase their talent manifested in professional works.
Portfolios launched with the service may come with blogs, web stores, powerful design customization settings applied to galleries, themes and other types of web pages. You don’t have to possess coding knowledge to build websites with Format. The system is known for its ease-of-use and intuitive nature that eliminated the need to master programming basics or have web design background.
Format is widely used in over 190 countries of the world with around 455,000 websites being built with the system since the date of its foundation. The system positions itself as a progressive portfolio website builder that comes with an integrated visual editor. It’s a great pick for users, who have an intention to present images in the website format in order to promote skills, products and services.
But is Format really worth the investment? Do you have to use this very platform or it is better to look for the alternatives? Is its functionality really decent? Let’s answer these and other questions in our review.
1. Ease of Use
Format uses the same mechanisms of dashboard interaction with interface as other website builders with a visual editor. It’s not quite difficult to use, but you cannot call it too simple as well. There are many settings and options here. It’s difficult to get used to them and memorize their positions because of their amount. This is another side of high end functionality.
The sign up process is easy, quick yet somewhat unusual. Apart from providing your account details, the system will also ask you to answer a couple of questions regarding the type of project you intend to launch, your web design skills, proficiency rate, the need to integrate a web store into your portfolio etc. Right after that, you’ll be offered to pick the template you’d like to start with.
The system will also provide you with the basic 6-step checklist on how to get started with ease. What you’ll have to do before publishing the ready made project is to upload images, explore and choose the required theme (if you don’t like the one selected at the beginning), customize website design, give a title to your project, edit contact page and get in touch with the system experts.
Having learnt the checklist, you’ll be redirected to the dashboard that comprises three major sections, namely Pages, Design and Settings. Each section comes with a number of settings to be customized in order to give your website the required performance and design.
Interface ergonomics is nice, the dashboard elements are positioned logically and they come with understandable titles. There is also a quality well-designed customer support section. The website builder will work for newbies, but get ready to spend a couple of days in the dashboard for its more effective use – Format has more settings than the majority of other similar website builders. You’ll have to look for some dashboard elements at first.
For those users, who have the experience of working with similar products, Format will seem simple, but not primitive at all. It is obvious that the focus is made on the detalization of options, but not on the global simplification of all the elements. However, the interface is pretty user-friendly, although, you cannot call it appealing – it is standard, smooth and detailed. Its design and structure resemble WordPress, which will come up to the needs of the prevailing part of the system’s audience.
2. Features & Flexibility
Format has everything you need to showcase your work and unveil multiple opportunities. The system allows creating trendy portfolios with responsive design and versatile structure. When browsing the system features, you’ll certainly notice that everything is tailored to the effective presentation of images and other graphic materials. It’s high time to have a look at the major highlights of the website builder.
Format makes it possible to integrate a web store into your portfolio website to sell the works/services you offer. To be precise, the engine supports the sales of different types of products (physical, digital or service products). Just like any other web store, it has currency, shipping, payment, stock items, product availability and SEO settings. PayPal is used to accept online payments. You can set up notifications for customers with different scenarios and acceptance of messages about the purchases.
The eCommerce engine initially lets you upload 3 products. Don’t worry, though – you’ll be able to add an unlimited number of products as you upgrade to one of the paid subscriptions. What’s important, product, images and information will automatically match your portfolio style. The engine has a simple and convenient dashboard, which lets you easily manage, edit and update your product list any time of the day. Additionally, you will be able to update your orders, discounts, general website settings and its design.
Format pays much attention to private content. It is possible to create projects for cooperation with certain clients in the Proofing section. What you can do here is sharing private client proofing galleries, reviewing customer feedbacks, enabling file downloads, watermarking your own images etc. It is also possible to adjust client access rights to password protect separate galleries and grant individual access to certain users only. The system additionally allows creating and updating client proofing galleries directly from Adobe Lightroom, which also contributes to safety and confidentiality of the submitted info. Image favoriting option is enabled here as well. This means that you can let clients review and favorite portfolio photos from any device they have at hand.
Client proofing sections are hidden from those users, who don’t have access rights. Thus, you can store galleries, web store show windows for certain groups or even separate clients in your portfolio. This is a convenient working process. You can also set passwords to web pages, hide them from the menu, apply water signs on photos and videos.
By the way, submenus are supported as well. SEO work is also conveniently organized – you will be able to fill out meta tags for all website pages on one screen only. There is an opportunity to connect Google Analytics, add favicon, your own domain and other standard things here.
Integrated blogging engine will let you tell the stories about yourself and your creativity to the broad audience. It is simple and convenient to use. You can enhance the portfolio with a web store to sell any images, videos or, let’s say, T-shirts with prints, cups, handmade clothes or something else.
There is also an integrated blog tailored for photo and video presentation. You can also add standard text, although, posts published in Format look similar to those found in magazines rather than in newspapers. It has strong focus on multimedia stories. This is organized differently than in other systems. By the way, each blog and web store page can be designed individually.
Social Account Integration
To popularize and curate your portfolio and your brand name in general, Format allows integrating social media accounts into your project. Special attention is given to Instagram feed integration that makes it possible to add your Instagram images directly to your portfolio. The process is done automatically to let you showcase your best works to the target audience with maximum efficacy and minimum time/effort investment.
If you wish to strengthen and promote your brand name, getting a custom G Suite-Powered email address will definitely be a bonus as well. Generally, Format functionality encompasses everything you might need to design a commercial portfolio. There is an opportunity to individually design each gallery, combine them, protect with passwords, create private website sections, embed video galleries, accept online payments for various types of products, manage a blog and share this content in the social networks. The only note is that the interface design could be more attractive as the system is meant for creative people.
As far as most portfolios created with Format are launched with promotion purposes in mind, effective Search Engine Optimization matters a lot. The website builder comes with quite detailed SEO settings that can help boost your project visibility in the search engines.
All SEO settings are divided into Global and Content sections and can be adjusted in separate areas. These include an opportunity to specify SEO website title, homepage title and descriptions for all pages, keywords/ meta tags etc. If you are not sure, whether your website is optimized for the search engines well, you should see the percentage bar that indicates its current SEO completion rate.
There is also the “Improve Your SEO Content” section, where you can find out the tips that will help you boost your project positions in the search engine results. Finally, Format automatically generates the sitemap, which lists your content and web page organization for better indexation of your project in the search engines.
|Number of Themes:||23|
|Professional Templates||✔ YES|
|Responsive Design:||✔ YES|
|Sort by Industry||✘ NO|
|Code Editing:||✔ YES|
All Format themes are based on versatile visual gallery presentation. They are subdivided into 6 types, namely fullscreen, slideshow, tiled, vertical, horizontal and Premium. Each category includes several variations of the chosen layout presentation. All in all, there are 23 different themes here, which are oriented on attractive image presentation. All the templates are responsive, which means that they correctly display content on desktop and mobile screens.
Each theme is offered in several color schemes – light, bright, dark etc. Although, you can manually set up the color scheme of the website in details. A pleasant bonus is an opportunity to adjust the template and design of each page separately. In other words, you will be able to differently design web pages, for example, various photo categories: still lives in one style and portraits in another style, visually highlighting the difference between them.
You can have a look at the full-screen design preview. The quality is on a worthy level. It doesn’t impress you by unbelievable solutions, but it completely comes up to the expectations from the niche portfolio website builder. It’s difficult to add something to the visual set of templates – Format offers out-of-the-box display options for all the existing formats of image presentation.
You can set up website menu (position and height), gallery pages (navigation, full-screen image display, transition animations and their speed, thumbnails), fonts and colours of almost all website elements. It is possible to choose cover image layout/size/spacing, link position and text alignment for collection pages. You will be able to view the result in the standard and mobile website formats, while working on its development.
When setting up your project design, you will also have an opportunity to access the website editor. This is where you will be able to add website logo and title, customize every website color and background image, select fonts and set type sizes and styles, link to your social network profiles, personalize custom website domain name and favicon etc.
Generally, this is just a small part of Format design settings. If you wish, you can adjust the size, design, social network icons color, format of links, titles and standard text, colour of each website element, size etc. Detalization is so extensive that there is a risk of getting lost in possible modifications and get a mediocre design in the result. This is not to mention the benefits manual code editing unveils. When it comes to adjusting portfolio style and structure, Format is definitely a powerful solution.
4. Customer Support
Format tech support is distributed between several countries from different parts of the world, which makes it possible to ensure 24/7 customer support. You can communicate with them via email or live chat window. Managers are user-friendly. They respond quickly and professionally.
The Help Center is well-structured and has various sections with detailed description of each action you should make in the system. There is also keyword search here.
5. Pricing Policy
Format doesn’t have a free plan. A 14-day trial will let you test all the features of the system and adopt the decision regarding the necessity to prolong the services implied by one of the paid plans (the prices are specified for the annual subscription):
- Enthusiast, $6/mo – 100 images, 3 store products, 15 pages;
- Pro, $12/mo – 1000 images, 20 store products, unlimited pages and blog posts, 5000 proofing images, free domain, custom code editing;
- Unlimited, $25/mo – unlimited images, unlimited store products, unlimited pages and blog posts, unlimited proofing images, free domain and premium themes, custom code editing.
Monthly fees will be 30% higher. The payment is accepted via MasterCard, PayPal and Visa. The system has 30-day money back guarantee, starting from the payment day. The system also makes it possible to get a 30-minutes site set up help with a Format Expert for $50.
Generally, Format cost can be compared to other niche website builders. It is impossible to call it expensive or cheap. This service should be chosen not by the cost criterion, but with regard to your needs.
6. Pros and Cons
Format is definitely a nice specialized portfolio website builder. It has everything you may need for attractive image presentation.
| ✔ Availability of an integrated blog and online store;|
✔ Strong focus on privacy and gallery copyright protection;
✔ Flexible gallery settings, opportunity to unite them in collections;
✔ Opportunity of any web page code editing.
| ✘ Dashboard interface design lacks aesthetic appeal;|
✘ Template customization is powerful, but it’s not quite understandable.
Generally, Format is a great niche product. It is comparatively simple in use and it doesn’t have obvious functionality drawbacks. Instead, it comes with extensive user community and perspectives.
Format is a quality service used to create any portfolios. It will be useful for artists, photographers, representatives of modeling business, architects, designers as well as for everyone, who needs to present something through image galleries.
The website builder cannot be called the best in the niche as there are many decent competitors, who can complete the same task for the same cost or even cheaper. Is Format worth using? Yes, it is, if it appeals to you after you explore it on your own. You are likely to be satisfied with its quality, if you like its interface. The functionality of the service won’t let you down.