Homestead – is a veteran in the sphere of website building. It has been helping small businesses get off the ground with clear-looking sites and premium quality marketing tools for over 25 years. Despite the abundance of modern site builders today, Homestead is the perfect choice for already over 95 thousands users worldwide. People choose this platform for setting up all types of enterprises and don’t regret that. To see if you can become one of them or you’d rather seek another service, check out this detailed review.
Ease of Use
Despite being one of the oldest website constructors in the market, Homestead has some amazing features to create personal sites or functional small businesses with no hassle. First of all, this site builder is cloud-based which means you can access your site from any device or browser. It features a straightforward interface so that all users, even inexperienced ones, can create a site from scratch. To add or edit any element on the page you simply need to choose the appropriate area and apply the changes with a couple of clicks. Moving elements around and resizing them to one’s preference on Homestead is a simple task. No coding is required. This refers to personal sites, though. With eCommerce storefronts things are different. Unlike other modern site builders, setting up a store with Homestead might appear tedious and even costly with the additional costs quickly adding up.
The interface of Homestead looks modern and clear with no clutters of features. Hands down, it’s easy to navigate and use, it won’t be any difficulty to spot whatever you need with Elements, Pages, Sections, Design, Blog, Store, Stats, and Manage tools neatly listed on the left menu. You can quickly glance over the pricing and plans.
To the favor of Homestead, we have to admit it dealt with website launching much quicker than most other more popular constructors. After choosing a domain/subdomain and clicking Save, it gets activated literally in minutes. You can almost immediately access your account console.
This website builder has incorporated almost all necessary web-based tools to establish a decent website in quite a short timeframe. Particularly which we shall reveal straight away.
The site builder features efficient reporting tools that enable users to track their website performance in real-time. With this feature, you get a deep insight into such data as the source of site visitors, their navigation path, which pages get the most traffic. To find out how many viewers your site has had, use the Website Manager page. The View Stats button, meanwhile, provides you with more specific details up to the profiles of all visitors. To go further, you can add tracking filters based on your site visitors’ IP addresses. All these metrics are a great benefit to any online business.
If you aim to set up a blog, Homestead will let you do that through its blog manager module. The tools for customizing your blog aren’t impressive though. You can just edit the standard font and image formatting. The site builder also makes it possible to save blog posts via drafts to publish them later. However, it doesn’t allow scheduling and setting a precise date and time for automatic publication. Most other modern site builders feature automatic posting tools. You can as well enrich your blog posts with social follow buttons and a comments widget. To leave comments on your blog, visitors won’t be asked to sign up. All that’s necessary is to enter a CAPTCHA. And if you find any comment insulting or inappropriate, you, as the admin of the site, have the right and possibility to delete it. However, Homestead doesn’t provide users with the right to turn off comments entirely. Neither can you restrict access to your site through a signup membership.
A personalized domain looks more professional and trustworthy. Besides, it helps to spot the website easier. Homestead provides its users with domains and helps to make the right choice if the preferred domain is already taken. Furthermore, the company suggests transferring an already existing domain and redirecting the traffic to the new site. For even a more professional feel of your website, you can pair it with an email branded with your site address.
What’s the point of setting up a website and not expecting a profit from it? For this, you need a complete marketing suite such as the one provided by Homestead. The website constructor suggests raising your website visibility and importance through search sites including Bing Maps, Yahoo, Google Maps, or Local. These tools will help your customers spot you easier. The marketing suite by Homestead allows collecting contact info about the visitors by adding forms to the site. This way you can send them newsletters or promotional emails using third-party email providers. This suite of marketing tools will help you convert your site visitors into customers easier.
This tool is an eCommerce solution that lets you create an internet store with no complexity. It is easy-to-use and affordable software. Using it you can manage and sell as many as up to 100 products straight from your website. Homestead sees no problems if you are planning to sell services on your store instead of physical products. Just make sure you check the right box before adding the products. When you add a new product (they are to be added one by one), you get the chance to state the name, price, description, and the shipping charge of it. Later you’ll have to select an image for it. Here you have the option to choose from the extended library of Homestead stock images or choose an image you have already uploaded.
Accessing the Settings in the Manage Store sections, you will open the available payment providers to choose for your online store. Currently, three options are provided – PayPal, Stripe, and Cash on Delivery.
To expand the possibilities of your online store, Homestead has four advanced features to add – Discounts, Integrated Shipping, Global Variants, and Product Categories. Furthermore, Homestead allows adding a secure shopping cart to the site, as well.
The website builder delivers competent SEO services (with available extensions) to make user-friendly websites. With this feature, you can add meta titles, meta tags, and keywords to boost your website visibility on the net.
Homestead Website Design and Templates
To start a website at Homestead, use the Websites Manager that displays the tooltips that show how you need to use the interface. Starting the process you are given a bland and un-personalized platform with the title Company Name, some placeholders for standard elements such as a photo and a phone number. If you want to change the layout template, go back to the Website Manager and click “Choose a different design”.
Once all the pre-building actions are performed, go to Page Elements to customize every page separately.
Site editing at Homestead is of utmost ease. It’s very clear and enables users to quickly spot the necessary tools. To edit a page, you just click the desired area and make the changes. With this helpful button, you can add, resize and move around various objects such as text boxes, images, etc. Far not all contemporary site builders provide such an option. The Insert button leads to adding images and videos, text, contact forms, maps, stores, and even custom HTML and forms. If you want to add an image from your PC to your site, use the Image Upload button. Mind that the constructor does not allow uploading more images than one at a time. And yet, you can save the uploaded content in your online collection to use them later again if necessary. This will later save you time and effort for content uploading.
To boost the page loading time, Homestead suggests reducing the size of large images. However, if you don’t have an appropriate photo at hand but find the website needs one for a beautiful look, make use of Homestead’s immense collection of stock images (as large as 1.1million images). Most certainly, you will find a perfectly suiting picture there. The Homestead Gallery is a grid of separate image files which can be enlarged by simply clicking on them. To enhance the speed of website designing, choose several elements from the side panel at once. From here you can also add a caption, resize the thumbnails. However, you get only one gallery style per site. Homestead also has such a useful tool as Image Scroller which helps you create a moving marquee of those images that you add while linking each of them to another page or URL.
After uploading the necessary image, drag it around the page to find a perfect spot for it, use the photo-editing tools provided to adjust the brightness, size, frames, and effects.
If you’d like to add flash, as well as an audio or video player to your site, Homestead makes that possible through QuickTime. This is a unique feature not peculiar to most site builders.
Homestead enables its users to make a bigger impact on their customers with a smaller space, i.e. mobile devices. When setting up a mobile site, make certain all the crucial information about it (your company name and logo, CTA, contact, a small navigation menu, and an attractive but appropriate image) is right in the first section. Once you are inside your Homestead website builder, click on the small mobile phone icon right on the top bar. This is the access to the mobile editor of the constructor. The default mobile version of your site will look as close to the desktop version as possible in the default. And yet, you can customize it. If, for instance, you want to move or remove any element, you can do it easily with the drag-and-drop feature. Access the textbox element to add text content. Then go to “Custom Style” to adjust the font, size, alignment, and color of the text. By changing images to the layout “Fit” they will be displayed on the space provided on the mobile version as neatly as possible without you having to resize, crop, or edit them.
However, mind that all elements of the mobile site version are stuck in the appropriate sections. You can move them around in the same section or even hide them, but you won’t be able to move anything, let’s say, from the bottom of the page right to its top.
Homestead offers a wide selection of templates separated into multiple categories to spot the required one quickly such as entertainment, agriculture, legal, and even optometrist. Whatever niche your company is, you are sure to find an appropriate template here. However, most of the offers have an outdated look and feel. If you aim at establishing a contemporary site, perhaps you should consider a more advanced modern site builder.
Fortunately, Homestead allows customization of all templates. So you can change the colors, layout, images, etc. All the templates are responsive – they look amazing on any device whether it’s a PC or a mobile phone/tablet. This feature makes Homestead a solid choice for numerous niches.
In comparison to many newer site builders, Homestead provides its clients with quick and reliable customer support. The company suggests connecting with the tech support right on the website through the live chat option (for registered users). Homestead doesn’t offer email contact means, yet there are two telephone numbers provided – one for sales (1-800-986-0958) and the other for support (1-800-710-1998). All help forms are located on the right upper drop-down Help menu.
Normally, from the Support area of a website builder, you can reach the knowledge base for video tutorials and useful articles. With Homestead, things are different. You can still access the knowledge base but won’t find it packed with much stuff. Instead, the company has a dedicated Homestead Community where users can post their problems and get quick responses from the support team. Users of the forum can view the threads created to make use of the information to solve their issues with Homestead.
Some website building companies offer lifetime free accounts that come with strict limitations, while others suggest passing straight to priced tiers. Here at Homestead new users are given a chance to get a feel of the features for free for 30 days. However, to use it, visitors are obliged to pass a complete registration form, choose a pricing tier, and state their credit card number. Once the trial period is over, users are automatically billed per the chosen plan if they don’t cancel it beforehand. With an abundance of website builders offering completely free services (even if with limited features) with no demands to provide the credit card number, Homestead appears repelling. Besides, the free trial is only for testing the platform and not setting the website live. To launch it, you will need to purchase a plan. Homestead offers three of them. Here is what to expect from each:
- Starter – priced at $7.99/month, you get a site with up to 5 pages, 5GB bandwidth per month, one domain, and 25MB of storage.
- Business – priced at $22.99/month, you get a site with up to 100 pages, 5GB of storage, 100GB of bandwidth, 5 email addresses, 3 custom domains.
- Business Plus – priced at $62.99/month, you get a site with an unlimited number of pages, 10GB of storage, 500GB bandwidth, 3 domains, and up to 50 email addresses.
Mind that eCommerce stores will incur additional costs.
Homestead Competitors and Alternatives
The market of website builders is quite rich with a huge plethora of options to choose from. Some might be cheaper yet lack some of the necessary features to construct a decent website while others are super-functional yet outrageously expensive. So which Homestead competitors are sensibly priced and feature-rich at the same time?
Wix is one of the leading names in the site-building industry. Created to launch and manage personal websites, small businesses, commercial sites, the constructor is very easy to use which is a great advantage for new users. In this regard, Wix and Homestead have much in common. The starting price of Wix is cheaper and the eCommerce package is richer. Besides, it offers more integrations than Homestead.
However, if you aim at establishing a more complicated site for a bigger company, no website builder can be compared to WordPress. This plugin comes with premium features to run a full-fledged website yet is offered entirely for free. Perhaps the only downside of WordPress is that it is too complicated for novice users. When Homestead is appropriate for both experienced and new users, WordPress is for seasoned webmasters only.
Homestead doesn’t provide users with modern templates and advanced customization tools which results in somewhat old-looking sites. In many all-inclusive constructors, including Homestead as well, there comes a point of a tradeoff between control and convenience, particularly when there is a price factor. The website builder can’t be described as affordable, either. Except for the Basic tier, Homestead plans are quite expensive and don’t provide respective services for the demanded price.