One of the reasons people (especially the tech-savvy ones) don’t take online website builders seriously is because most platforms have mediocre feature sets which limit you to creating a website only using their ready, predesigned building blocks. While many are satisfied with that scenario, others need the freedom to go beyond these blocks to be able to design whatever they want.
Just in case it has slipped past your web radar, online site builders have changed dramatically over the last few years, morphing from simple page construction kits into complex systems that can compete with WordPress. One of these is uCoz website builder.
#1 Ease of use
uCoz has been a unique site builder ever since its launch in 2005. Unlike the competition that’s mostly intended for those of us who are HTML-illiterate, uCoz targets both end users and web professionals (designers, developers, and entire agencies), as its feature set includes both the DIY and ‘professional’ editors.
uCoz offers a quite user-friendly control panel. However, compared to Wix and Weebly, it could be simpler. There’s definitely a slight learning curve. uCoz doesn’t offer a pure WYSIWYG/drag-and-drop editing experience, yet this shouldn’t scare you away – millions of users have managed to build their websites using uCoz.
At first glance, it looks complicated, but once you understand its logic, you’ll realize how smart and flexible the platform is.
Building a site with uCoz starts with creating an account, choosing a web address for your site (first, you choose a subdomain and when your site is ready you can connect a custom domain name).
Once you’ve chosen a domain name and clicked ‘Create a website’, your site is immediately available online. But first you need to finish the setup stage. You’ll be redirected to a website creation wizard where you’ll be asked to name your site, choose site language and select a design.
Next step is selecting Modules – the building blocks of your website. You’ll be able to install/uninstall any of them in the future, so just tick whatever seems appropriate at the moment.
That’s it – you can start customizing your website.
#2 Feature set and flexibility
Now we’re getting to the juicy stuff. uCoz opens up some of the technologies that in most site builders are hidden from the user-side of the system. The system provides full control over the HTML and CSS allowing for deeper customization.
On one hand, you get more control over your work, on the other hand you can easily mess up your site.
However, just because uCoz opens up the codes doesn’t necessarily mean you have to use this option. The system has enough ready solutions that you can easily modify to a certain extent. Specifically, there are ready-to-use modules that you can enable and turn off anytime.
For example, if you’re looking to build an online store, you need to enable the Online Shop module. If you feel that your shop lacks a blog and/or a forum, nothing stops you from activating additional modules, like Forum, Chat Box, GuestBook, Polls etc. The only paid module is Online Shop, the rest are free. However, some of them, for example the SEO Module, have a free version and a paid PRO version.
You’ll be surprised at how customizable uCoz modules are. While most site builders often provide something more watered-down, uCoz provides you with dozens of options to fine-tune each single module of your website.
The Blog module, for instance, lets you schedule blog posts (and even automatically share them via connected social media), pin particular posts to the top of the page, allow/close comments, change the page switcher placement, and more.
Other features that you will definitely appreciate are the recently released opportunity to install SSL certificates and the SEO Module. SSL will make your website even more secure and trustworthy, and will particularly come in handy if you are building an online store with uCoz.
The SEO Module is also quite a new addition, allowing to set custom URLs for website pages and modules, specify custom meta tags for each post, enable redirects within the website etc.
There are three options: you can design your own theme, use one of the free themes or purchase a premium one. If you feel that the chosen template isn’t the best option, you can easily switch it midway through the editing process.
Another good news is that uCoz designers are now hard at work creating new free responsive templates. I viewed two uCoz-powered websites on my mobile phone and noticed that Google labels them as Mobile-Friendly. Great job!
#4 uCoz Modules
Previously I mentioned that the system offers a set of ‘modules’ that are responsible for different website functions. These modules work as standalone applications and can be used in different combinations. Each module can be used for various purposes, depending on user’s wishes, and can be installed/uninstalled at any time.
Most of the modules come free of charge, while a few are paid (like Online Shop, for instance), and some have both a free and a paid version (such as SEO Module or Social Media Publisher). Let’s take a look at uCoz Modules in details:
#5 Customer support
The system has 16 full-fledged language localizations. Support is provided in English, Russian, Portuguese, Romanian, Hungarian, and Ukrainian via a ticketing system and through the Community Forum. There are also many video tutorials and step-by-step guides covering all the stages of website building with uCoz.
#6 Pricing policy
uCoz has a free version and 5 paid plans ($2.99/mo – $15.99/mo). The free version doesn’t require entering your credit card data and it never expires (in case you update your website on a regular basis). The free version offers a very rich toolset including the ability to use your own, previously bought domain name.
However, with the free plan you’re forced to display the system copyright and a rather noticeable advertisement. In case you use uCoz to build a non-profit website (a school website or a website for a charity organization) you can remove the ad for free – just contact their support.
If you want to build a blog, a forum, or a business site, the Basic plan ($5.99 a month) will certainly handle it. But in case you’re looking to start a webstore, be ready to pay $9.99/mo. The good news is that all uCoz plans are discounted if you choose to pay for three months/six months/a year in advance.
To learn more pricing details, please visit the official Pricing Page.
#7 uCoz FAQ
There’s a slight learning curve; the banner in the free plan.
Comparison with Competitors
The website building market offers a lot of platforms to choose from. I’ve prepared several comparisons of uCoz versus it’s most popular competitors, such as Wix, Weebly and WordPress.
uCoz is more powerful and feature-rich than Wix and Weebly, while the latter are more user-friendly. WordPress is more flexible than uCoz, but requires more time and skills to build a website. Read the full comparisons for details.
uKit and uID.me
uCoz site builder isn’t the only product developed by the uCoz team. The company also owns a one-page profile builder uID.me and a code-free site builder for business uKit.com. Unlike uCoz that offers full HTML and CSS control, uKit follows a completely different approach. The system provides an intuitive drag-and-drop editor that requires no coding at all.
uCoz Review: Conclusion
uCoz is one of the rare website builders that let you get under the hood. For this very reason I use it to build websites for my clients. It gives me full control over the site I’m working on, so I rest assured that I’ll be able to implement literally any idea my client suggests.
If you find uCoz too complicated or you don’t need the ability to directly change your site’s code, don’t hesitate to check out uKit. This platform lets you concentrate on content rather than the technical side of things. It smartly balances the power with ease-of-use.