Homestead – is a website building software that has been on the market for a while. Founded in 1997, the company was initially launched as a hosting provider. Today, the platform offers a set of solid website building features to create different sites from scratch. The main advantage is that users do not need to know how to code in order to come up with a blog, small business website or an online shop.
The platform delivers enough functionality to start various online projects. Here we have a wide selection of various templates available in Homestead design gallery. Users may benefit from ready-to-use hosting solution not just to build but also go online with their websites. Additional features like SEO services, SimpleStore or Search Ads may come in handy whenever you need to promote your site. This review is to compare and contrast Homestead hits and misses letting users decide if the platform suits their needs or not.
1. Ease of Use
The platform claims to be designed for newbies who do not know how to code. Well, that is 100% true. No technical skills are required to build and deploy the website. The system uses a traditional drag-and-drop editor that makes it pretty simple to rearrange the page structure, edit content or add new blocks. Moreover, Homestead has a 30-day free trial to check how all the functions work. On the other hand, some users might not appreciate indicating their billing info right from the start.
To get started with your free trial, you need to complete two stages:
- Signing in requires your email and password to enter the platform.
- Personal data and billing info. This is where you are supposed to indicate your country, address, and credit card number. They do not charge fees without your approval, while your personal info is safe. However, some may not like the idea.
Now you are free to get started with the website.
WYSIWYG Website Builder
The interface is pretty simple and intuitive although some may think they went back for several years in the past. The control panel is a bit out-of-date. On the other hand, it delivers the old-school effect some users may appreciate.
The system will ask you several questions to identify the website type and adjust built-in features and add-ons to save your time. Then it offers a fully customizable layout that includes not only pre-installed apps but also industry-specific texts that you may edit. In addition, you are free to add elements of your own. The system makes it easy to customize each page, move or rearrange blocks, work with text content, add media files, etc.
The drag-and-drop editor is easy to use while the dashboard contains all necessary elements in the drop menu on your left. Simply choose the block you need and have it on your page. The option includes menus, photo galleries, About Us and Contact Us sections, products, services, and more. In other words, Homestead has all the tools you might need to create a site from scratch.
2. Features & Flexibility
We can’t say, Homestead is extremely rich with features although here you have all the essential tools not only to build a website but also to make it more user-friendly. From rich photo galleries with free images to a wide selection of templates, SEO and eCommerce features. Let’s have a look at what it offers.
- Add-ons and Apps – users may choose from a rich collection of widgets. They include not just typical polls and maps, but also free image galleries with thousands of professional images in addition to forums, contact forms, guest books, integrated YouTube videos and Facebook pages.
- Wide Selection of Templates – the platform currently offers hundreds of website templates. You may choose any layout to create an event planning site, small digital store, professional blog or company website. All templates come with a set of built-in apps and relevant industry-specific content. However, they are not mobile-responsive at the moment.
- SimpleStore – using SimpleStore you can easily sell online up to 100 products and give your customers an easy checkout experience with multiple payment solutions. If you want to sell additional products, get inventory management and reporting, you need to opt for their Advanced Ecommerce.
- WebListings – with this service, your business will get greater exposure to local prospective customers. It will automatically send your business information to Google, Yahoo, Yellowpages and 100+ directories. This service saves your time by letting you edit and update information in a single place (we’ve seen something similar in Webs).
- SEO Services – Homestead does not use automatic SEO strategy generators. It has a pool of local SEO experts that establish an individual approach when conducting a successful SEO plan to meet users’ specific goals and needs. They use up-to-date tactics and instruments to boost your site rankings and offer detailed reports and analytics.
- Website Statistics – valuable real-time reports are part of each Homestead plan. It lets you identify the most popular pages and determine the most successful traffic channels. You are always aware of where your users come from as well as of their on-site behavior.
- Website Hosting – Homestead is an all-in-one solution, which means you do not have to care about hosting or domain separately. Simply choose a plan with enough bandwidth and storage to manage all your site assets form a single dashboard.
The set of features will depend on the plan you choose while some baseline options like free templates, access to image galleries and the website builder itself come with all packages.
Homestead offers several ways to bring the desired design idea to life. First of all, you may use a ready-made template depending on your website type. Another way is to opt for Homestead local designers who will have the work down for you.
The platform is currently offering several hundred templates that refer to various business niches. They represent custom-made blogs, small business websites, event arrangements, small digital stores, portfolios, etc. All themes are professionally designed although they look a bit typical. On the other hand, it will hardly be a problem, as users get enough customization freedom.
For example, the platform has an enormous image library with over 1 million royalty-free images. The feature is available with each plan letting take you the most from professional pictures and photos.
Homestead Design Studio
If you fail to implement the desired website style and crave for professional assistance, Homestead pros will do the job. The platform has a pool of professional designers available for hire. You will benefit from a unique design crafted individually for you with attention to SEO features and overall usability.
4. Customer Support
Homestead does not offer much in terms of customer support. We mean there are not as many ways to get in touch as you may expect from a website building + hosting software. The system delivers two major ways to resolve various issues. They include:
- Toll-Free Phone for an instant contacting.
- Homestead Help Center claims to be available 24/7. There you may ask for help from Web Advisor or more experienced platform users. The Help Center contains much information that covers various aspects of working with Homestead.
Platform’s YouTube channel offers a wealth of video guides and tutorials. In addition, Homestead has a growing Facebook community with a bit more than 3,000 followers.
5. Pricing Policy
Users may select from three available pricing plans. There is no special discount for annual payment like some other platforms do. The monthly price is fixed although there is a 30-day free trial. The packages are as follows:
- Starter Plan costs $7.99/month. It is good for small business sites blogs or portfolios with not more than 5 pages. With this plan, you get 5GB of bandwidth and 25MB of storage.
- Business Plan costs $22.99/month. It is good for small eCommerce projects with up to 3 sites and not more than 100 pages. The package lets you add SimpleStore add-ons for an additional $14.99 per month.
- Business Plus costs $62.99 letting you build an unlimited number of websites with as many pages as you need. You get 10GB of storage and 500GB of bandwidth with Marketing Tools and Website Stats included in the package. Once again, adding a SimpleStore feature will cost you $14.99 per month.
All three plans have free baseline features that include free templates, full access to image libraries and website builder, and customer support.
6. Pros and Cons
Homestead might be a good idea for small and medium projects unless you are limited by the budget. The plans are pretty pricy while templates could have a more up-to-date look. On the other hand, the platform still has some obvious advantages.
| ✔ Hundreds of free templates and s drag-and-drop editor.|
✔ Various add-ons and apps.
✔ Simple online store setting.
✔ No coding required.
✔ All-in-one solution for newbies.
✔ Huge image library.
✔ The custom pool of SEO and web design pros.
| ✘ Overpriced plans.|
✘ No responsive templates and boring theme design.
Homestead strives to hit the market with its website building solution. It is pretty easy to use and has some great customization means. At the same time, it is still much work to be done. The interface is out-of-date taking us back to the 2000s. Pricy plans will hardly meet the requirements of each and every user. The lack of mobile-responsive templates is certainly a huge miss.
On the other hand, the platform has a set of baseline features in order to launch a solid website. If not considering some of its drawbacks, it lets you deploy SEO-friendly, user-oriented only projects that still might work out.