Founded in 2001, Webs.com is one of the oldest DIY site building platforms (formerly Freewebs and not to be confused with different company web.com). The Webs headquarters is located in Silver Spring, Maryland and all servers are located within the United States. As of December 2011, Webs became a subsidiary of VistaPrint. According to recent statistics, over 55 million websites have been built with the Webs platform, although we don’t know how many are still active. Over 20,000 new websites are created daily.
In the world of site building platforms, one of the things that Webs excels at is the simplicity and intuitive nature of it’s drop and drag interface. Users have access to 100’s of templates that can be used to develop professional and highly functional websites. In addition to creating basic websites, users can build online stores and membership websites. New visitors considering Webs are presented with a video with a quick overview of how to use the site builder, even before making a purchase.
- Features 75%
- User Friendly 86%
- Support 80%
- Value for Money 85%
- Overall 81%
Video & Photo Gallery
When you want to add single images, create a photo gallery or display video on your website, this is easily done from the dock at the bottom of the dashboard. You simply select the module and drag it where you want it. From there, double click and select the customization options. As far as picture editing, the options within the site builder are limited to scaling and re-sizing. Single images can be displayed by themselves in their own box or with text wrapping. Users have access to Flickr’s Creative Commons for free stock images.
For photo galleries using the dashboard application, once you upload images, you can rearrange them easily by selecting and dragging the photos to the order you want them to appear. Within gallery settings you can choose how many images to display per row, set padding, choose hover options and provide a Lightbox which will display your images as a slide show. If you want a more advanced photo gallery, Webs offers an app which provides the ability to create albums, add text and descriptions as well as a few more editing options. You can also add music for a slideshow and a sidebar feature to display your most recent photos.
When you the built-in video function, you can choose to either embed a Youtube video or upload your own video (keep in mind that this option affects both storage and bandwidth). The Webs video player let’s you select from several different frame types. If you have several videos you want to share in a “gallery” or channel format, Webs offers an advanced video application. If you are running a membership type of site, you can also use this application to enable members to upload videos to your channel.
Unlike many other site builders which require external apps, Webs puts access to social media integration right into the dashboard.
Webs.com makes it easy to add links to major social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Tumblr, Blogger, Flickr, Pinterest, Instagram, Last.fm, Vimeo and RSS feeds.
You can also easily add your Twitter feed, a Facebook Like box, Facebook comments and sharing buttons of many social channels, directly to your website.
Email, Newsletters & Communications
If are either Enhanced or Pro user, your site will come with the ability to create custom emails that match your website domain (3 for Enhanced and 25 for Pro). Many other site builders charge a separate fee for this.
When you use the Members app, you can email your membership all at once, or you can select the type of members to receive the email. If you’re using at third party contact manager such as iContact or Constant Contact, you will need to use the “insert custom html” module located to insert the code that you have from that company because as of this writing, Webs.com doesn’t offer plug-in apps for them.
Webs offers a third-party app called ContactMe which lets you create an eye-catching button that opens a contact form – and will send you a text when users submit their information so you can respond promptly. ContactMe is also a contact management system that let’s you take notes, manage tasks and set appointments. Existing contacts can be imported in to the system.
If you don’t have a lot of products to sell and don’t want to pay for one of the higher packages, users with the free version or the Starter Package can add Pay Pal “buy now” buttons or Pay Pal donate buttons to their website (rather than setting up an actual store). Which means you can use images and descriptive text followed by a Pay Pal button to display and sell your products.
If you have an Etsy account, Webs offers the Etsystore app to showcase your items on your website. It’s important to note that at the time of this writing, the Etsy Store wasn’t displayed on the main Apps Store menu. We had to get to it from the FAQ and Webs.com blog pages.
In order to sell items through an integrated online store (with shopping cart features), you need either the Enhanced or Pro Package. With the Enhanced package there’s a limit of 20 items, with up to 3 images each. When you go Pro, there’s no product limit and you can have up to 5 images for each. The Pro package also provides the option to offer coupons and sales.
In order to build an online store, you need to install the Webs Store app. Once installed, you can customize and build an attractive storefront that matches your website template. Payments can be accepted globally through either Pay Pal or Stripe.
The Webs Store let’s you organize products by category to make item sorting and display easier for your customers, and Webs offers store search functionality. Items can be set up so that shoppers can choose secondary options such as size and color, and you can add a “special instructions” box. From the management side, Webs.com offers controls for inventory, tax options, shipment options and product status.
There’s also the option for advance ecommerce analytics which gives you the ability to monitor customer shopping habits, demographics and how visitors are finding your site. This can help you to plan for future promotions and understand what’s working and what’s not.
To add a blog to your website, it’s necessary to install the Webs Blog application. While the blog available through Webs is not as advanced as platforms designed specifically for blogging, it does have some good features that will add dynamic and fresh content to your site. Among the typical blog functions are the ability to assign categories and tags, include images and video, determine the order and appearance of posts and to schedule posts for future dates. You can enable or turn off comments, moderate comments before they appear and select who is able to post comments. In addition, you can set options for who is actually able to see your blog posts.
Some other nice blog features include a search feature, RSS feed subscription, automatic sidebar displays, social media share options and the ability for users to switch between full or summary view.
If you’re running a membership site, you can choose only to have members post comments and you can also enable members to post actual blog entries. In addition, you can select who you want as moderators.
When it comes to site analytics, what you get depends upon the plan you purchase. As part of the basic analytics, all users have access to page view information, but that’s about it. If you don’t require a lot of additional information, keep in mind that you can utilize Google Analytics separately.
For users who require more enhanced statistics, Webs offers Advance Analytics free with either the Enhanced or Pro Packages. With this tool you can access more information about site visitors such as how they are finding your site (sources), what keywords they use, what types of devices they are using and geographic locations – all updated in real time.
Webs.com has come a long way from where it started when it comes to professional looking templates – at last count there were over 450 different choices but this number is always growing. Free users have access to great looking templates but there are many more available to premium subscribers. Templates come with preset color options, but for most you have the ability to make changes. You can also change font styles and colors.
Free users are limited to 5 pages for their site, but all premium plans can have unlimited pages. All sites are optimized for viewing on mobile devices. On the “downside,” Webs doesn’t allow you to modify the HTML or CSS of templates.
Unlike many other site builders, if you change your mind about the template that you are using, you can easily change it without losing any of your content.
As of 2011 the Webs.com site builder includes a mobile site that automatically synchs with the desktop version of your site. Before, the option to build a mobile-optimized version was only available as an app and required separate steps. Now, any time you make changes on your website, those modifications appear on the mobile version as well – a much simpler process.
Premium packages include a mobile landing page which can be customized (available as an add-on for $4.95 a month with the free package).
Having a mobile landing page is beneficial for users that visit your website from smartphones because it provides easy access to a menu of items that are most important for them to see. You have the ability to provide quick access to location, phone as well as direct links to specific pages.
Landing pages can be made to match the design of your website or you can choose different templates that may be easier to view on a mobile phone.
Hosing of your website is included with the Webs site builder, even when you are a free subscriber. Webs.com uses cloud storage and hosting which gives you access to your files and website from any device from anywhere in the world, as long as you have internet access.
Webs provides their own hosting service so you can not use an outside hosting provider
Storage & Bandwidth
When choosing a platform to build and host your website, it’s important to make sure that it offers enough storage space and bandwidth to meet your needs.
Storage refers to the available space for your files. Bandwidth refers to the amount of data that is transferred through your site.
The amount of storage and bandwidth your site uses is available from the Webs.com dashboard.
Finding information about the bandwidth that you receive with Webs is not easily found; we had to do some digging in the FAQs to find the answers.
Free Package – 40 MB of storage space and 500 MB (.5 GB) of bandwidth after a 7 day provisional period of 100 MB bandwidth.
Starter Package – 1 GB of storage space and 5 GB bandwidth.
Enhanced Package – 5 GB of storage space and 25 GB bandwidth.
Pro Package – Unlimited storage space and 100 GB bandwidth.
Important Note: Whenever you exceed your bandwidth allotment your site will be deactivated until the bandwidth resets for the next month. So, if you’re building a site and expect to have a lot of traffic, or one that has items which use a lot of bandwidth, such as a portfolio of high quality photos, you need to monitor usage carefully and/or make sure to choose a package that can handle your needs.
While Webs.com does offer some apps that can be added to your website, the company made a strategic decision to focus on enhancing the functionality of the actual site builder rather than providing a large variety of plug-ins.
Many functions that other site builders provide as external apps, such as social media integration, contact forms, media players, image galleries and maps, are built into the site builder, easily accessible from the dashboard. Adding one is a simple matter of dropping and dragging the module where you want it to appear. At the time of this review, Webs.com offers ten plug-in apps which can add functionality to your site such as a Blog, calendar, forums, guestbooks, social member programs or the Webs Store.
Webs.com offers some great search engine optimization and traffic generating features. However, in order to fully experience what the company has to offer, it’s necessary to either subscribe to the Pro Package or purchase the features separately as add-ons. For example, if you want to add metatags to your website such as a page title, site description or keywords, you must have one of the premium plans because this option is not available to free users.
SEO Booster – This feature comes free with the Pro Package or as an add-on for $4.95 a month. If you’re not sure whether you need all the Pro features, adding SEO Booster separately gives you a chance to check it out without making the commitment. With Webs SEO Booster, not only can you scan your site for the use of keywords and get a rating, but it will identify problems that need fixing, helping to increase site ranking. The tool optimizes site content, guiding you through the selection of the best key phrases and will even put keywords in their proper places. With SEO Booster you can modify how your site title and description appear and you can preview how your site appears in Google searches. SEO Booster is a great feature for people who don’t know the “in’s and out’s” of search engine optimization – as well as for those who do, but don’t want to take the time to do it, or who want an objective measure of how their site rates.
Within the site dashboard, there’s a Successful Website Checklist which includes links for submitting your website to Google, Yelp! and Google Local. While all of these can be accessed directly through the individual websites, it’s nice to have access to them from the dashboard. In order to submit your listings to other sites such as Yahoo or Bing, you’ll need to do it from those sites manually, unless you purchase the Local Listings tool from Webs.
If you purchase the Pro Package your site will be automatically submitted to some of the top search engines, however it’s not clear which ones are included.
Local Listings – This is a paid option, no matter what package you have. The cost is $9.99 a month, or if you purchase two years in advance, $6.99 a month. While there are many sites which offer free business listings, with this tool you can have your site automatically listed with over 100 different directories including Google, Bing, Yahoo and YP.com (yellow pages online). You can also track your listing status in real time.
When it comes to support, there are two types – direct and indirect.
For direct support, how your questions are answered depends upon the plan you have purchased. For maximum support, Pro users can receive help by email, live chat or phone. Enhanced users have access to email and live chat, while Starter Package subscribers will only receive support by email.
For indirect support, Webs.com offers both an FAQ database, easily accessed from the dashboard, and a Support Center forum, powered by Zendesk. Within the forum, users can view questions from others or submit questions of their own.
One thing that Webs does really well in terms of indirect support is that it provides video demos and tutorials within the Site Builder dashboard. As you add a new feature, most have a quick video showing you how to use it.
For non-customers, such as people who have questions prior to subscribing, the Webs.com website does not provide a phone number or email for assistance that can easily be found.
StarterGreat for Basic Sites
- Custom Domain Name
- Basic Statistics
- Mobile Website
- 1GB Storage
- Email Support
EnhancedPerfect for businesses of all sizes
- Custom Domain Name
- Advanced Statistics
- Mobile Website
- 5GB Storage
- 20 Web Store Items
- Premium Themes
- 3 Custom Email Addresses
- Email + Live Chat Support
ProEverything you need to get your business off the ground
- Custom Domain Name
- Advanced Statistics
- Mobile Website
- Unlimited Storage
- Unlimited Web Store Items
- Premium Themes
- 25 Custom Email Addresses
- SEO Booster
- Email + Live Chat + Phone Support
Ultimately, whether or not Webs.com is the right DIY site builder for you will depend upon your personal needs and the type of site that you are building. For people who are looking to build a website that uses a member’s only format, Webs.com definitely excels in what it offers.
After testing quite a few different site building platforms, the way Webs drop and drag module system works is one of the most user-friendly. If you’re new to the idea of building websites, starting with the free version makes it possible to create the foundation of even an advanced website before you go for one of the premium packages.
Once you have learned the basics, you have a 30 day money back guarantee after you upgrade so you can test those out with not risk or actual commitment.
In addition, if you decide that Webs is the best site builder for you, they offer a friend referral system that not only gives you savings and the ability to earn Webs Credits (that can be used for things such as extra bandwidth) but your friends will also save on their subscription.
Easy & Intuitive Drag & Drop builder
Ability to create membership driven websites
Many useful tutorials & demos
Very limited 3rd party apps and plug-ins
Limited Bandwidth on most packages
Limited support on most packages
Limited Analytics on most packages