WebsiteBuilder.com launched last year (2015) on several different domain names: websitebuilder.com, sitebuilder.com, sitelio.com and sitey.com. While the marketing website for each of these domains looks different, the actual website builder on each domain is the same. (This obviously gets confusing— many readers have emailed me asking about this.)
With WebsiteBuilder.com, your pages are built by stacking Sections. This works really great for designing the spacious, photography heavy websites that are so common today.
What I love is that there are a huge amount of Section Templates to choose from— for example there are 23 contact us section templates. It makes designing pages quick and easy. And because there are so many templates, it never feels cookie cutter. (You can also drag elements around to customize each section as needed.)
Certain elements are really well done. For example, the Google Map element has tons of options: multiple markers, zoom setting, map type and more. This goes beyond what most website builders offer in a map element.
Another feature I like is Save History which lets you to rollback to any pages you've made on a webpage. I haven't seen this on any other website builder but it’s great. (One weird thing about it though: it asks you to upgrade in order to rollback to changes that are 2 days and older. But it asks you to do this for all changes! Even changes less than 2 days old.)
WebsiteBuilder.com is what I call a blank canvas editor. This means that elements can be dragged anywhere on the page. While this sounds great in theory, in practice these types of websites can get messy fast. Fortunately WebsiteBuilder.com has included snap-to-grids, rulers and a handy content shifter that helps keep some of the mess at bay.
Full blog system with some strong stylistic customization (you can choose from a variety of blog templates or drag and drop build your own blog— works well). It’s fully featured, so you can edit the permalink, set tags, create cover images, pin posts, feature posts and more. One of the better blog editors I’ve seen in a website builder. Show Screenshot
WebsiteBuilder.com, like other website builders, uses an integration with Ecwid, a 3rd party store builder. The integration works, but it’s never going to feel like it’s been thoughtfully designed to integrate with WebsiteBuilder.com. For example, no matter how hard I tried I could not make the shopping bag flush with my website design (see the screenshot). I also couldn’t make sure the ecommerce footer was always at the bottom (see the screenshot). This is surprising as everything else in WebsiteBuilder.com is nice and easy to grab and move. I say all this just as a warning— Ecwid is very much a functional store builder with a ton of features— my concern is that it will never integrate perfectly with WebsiteBuilder.com Show Screenshot
There is a Contact Form element which is a very simple form editor. There are only two types of fields: text field and text area— which means you can’t add checkboxes, file uploads, radio buttons, email fields and many more. Luckily, besides the basic selection of form fields there is a good amount of customization for form processing: you can write custom error and success messages and even redirect to URLs on successful submits. Show Screenshot
There are no elements for integrating a Mailchimp or Constant Contact sign up form.
There’s more than enough features here to remove all elements and design your website from scratch.
Yes but … it’s confusing. You can create pages with a restaurant menu section look great but get confusing when you start to use them. The pages are created using a Data List and Data Item database that makes it pretty abstract to create. For example, I found it confusing to have to add new categories to the menu. Show Screenshot
No. (There’s a simple button that can send the donors to Paypal, but no built-in donation integration with a checkout system, custom email notifications etc.)
There are over 600 themes to choose from. Unfortunately you can only search by industry category (ie: construction, lawyer etc) rather than template characteristics (simple, two-column) so sifting through all those templates is a lot of work. Themes feel modern but aren’t especially great. Here’s an example:
There is no style editor, instead each element in the website is styled individually. Fortunately you can set custom global styles (for example Heading 1) that allow you to update the styles for all headings on the website at once for example. (But global styles is a bit tricky to use— I doubt many users take advantage of it.)
Most elements allow for a wide variety of customization. For example, you can change just about anything with a button. You can change the icon, the icon color, the border width, the background color and even add hover animations. There’s even a ton of different icons to choose from:
One of the frustrations of customizing your website was arranging elements. For example, at first I found I was able to drag my logo anywhere in my header— but when I previewed the website, the logo was always stuck on the left. Why? I figured out that it’s because the logo was set to be “docked” to the left side of the page by default (which locks it to that location)…. But it was not immediately obvious to me that the element was docked— and the fact that I could still drag it around in editing mode made it even more confusing (in the editor the docked elements shouldn’t be movable!).
WebsiteBuilder.com has some of the worst billing practices of any website builder I’ve tried. It’s underhanded and nefarious. I’ve had lots of readers write in to complain and after paying with my own credit card and trying to cancel (I do this for all website builders I try) I can confirm it’s bad.
The first sign of trouble was when I upgraded my account. This SiteLock Add-on was added to my cart without my knowledge. I did not add it to my cart. It was simply added in the hope that I wouldn't notice.
The same thing last year when I reviewed WebsiteBuilder.com— except at that time they added a $9.99 SEO book. So it's clear that they are purposefully sneaking extra items into their customers cart— unbelievable!
In order to cancel WebsiteBuilder.com you have to contact them by email. So I sent them this email:
When they replied, they flat-out ignored my request for cancellation and instead added two "free" add-ons (which for the record are just meaningless— you could find better SEO books and Site Directory submitters online for free…).
So I repeated my request for them to cancel:
And they ignored my request again— saying they would add 3 months of free service to account if I stayed:
Once again, I told them to cancel my account IN ALL CAPS SO IT WOULDN’T BE IGNORED:
You’ll never guess what happened next. They ignored my ALL CAPS request for them to cancel my account again!
So I asked them one more time to cancel the account:
And finally they did— although with one last money squeeze. Notice how in the email (below) they say they will cancel in 7-10 working days? That’s because on their cancellation page they say that “accounts can be stopped immediately or set to not renew. If a refund is due for unused time on the account this will be issued to you upon cancellation.” Well by cancelling in 7-10 working days they reduce the amount of the refund I’m expecting. Unbelievable.
I have received emails from many frustrated readers about WebsiteBuilder.com. It’s really too bad. I really recommend you stay away from this website builder.
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