Webstarts is a blank canvas website editor— which means elements can be dragged anywhere on a page (sort of like how you would edit a Powerpoint presentation).
Blank canvas editors have no inherent structure, instead it’s up to the user to create the structure. Luckily Webstarts includes a few features that help with this: for example there is a snap-to-grid that automatically aligns elements and if you add more content to an element that appears above other content, the bottom content will automatically shift down.
While the blank canvas editor works well for editing the desktop website, I found that it was quite buggy when using the editor for the mobile website: Webstarts allows you to drag elements anywhere on your mobile website, but it never worked quite right. For example sometimes elements would appear on desktop but not mobile. But because I couldn’t add elements in mobile, there was no way to fix the problem:
Webstarts recently redesigned their interface. Unfortunately sometimes feels like they still have one foot in the old interface and one in the new interface:
Mixing both interfaces unnecessarily duplicates functions. For example, there are three different ways to add a text box:
Webstarts recently redesigned their blog editor and it's a strong upgrade. Now you can publish posts in the future, create draft posts and do simple formatting. Plus the editor just feels nice. Show Screenshot
Webstarts includes ecommerce but it’s too basic. I wouldn’t recommend actually building a store with it. Checkout is not hosted on your website, instead your customers are redirected to checkout on webstartsshoppingcart.com. This is a problem. Trust is very important in ecommerce and redirecting customers off of your domain will raise a red flag for many customers. Otherwise there are other missing features: no email customization (other than a header and footer), no digital products and no discounts or gift cards.
The Contact Form element is a strong form builder. It has lots of field options: single line text, paragraphs, numbers, checkboxes, dropdowns, email and more (no file upload field though). Form submissions can be sent to multiple email addresses (though submissions aren’t saved in a database, so make sure to save those emails) and you can customize the success confirmation page. Show Screenshot
No. (Images did not always appear sharp on retina screens such as MacBooks and iPhones.)
The contact form has an option to “Add To Mailing List” which integrates with Webstarts email marketing service (see screenshot). While I would prefer the option to integrate with popular email marketing services such as Mailchimp, this is a workable solution.
You can set pages as set to members only. It’s a bit confusing though, you have to drag and drop the Membership app into a page in order to make it members only (as opposed to setting permissions in the pages editor). But very few website builders have membership site features— so any membership support is nice to see. New members can be manually or automatically approved. Show Screenshot
You can delete everything from your website to re-design it from scratch. You can create custom headers and footers— navigation menus can be moved and styled. You can add content blocks and boxes to build layouts. Global settings can be set in the design section— so for example, you can create a custom heading style that is used across the entire website (giving it a consistent look and feel).
There is a solid audio player with a number of skins and style customizations. You can set it for a single track or a playlist. Show Screenshot
Like most blank canvas editor, once you choose a theme you can’t swap it out for another theme— you’d have to start over. Luckily, Webstarts has a good amount of fresh, modern themes:
Customization options for themes is solid. You can change the default font color and choose from a small library of fonts. (There is also a Colors panel that promises to “Change the color scheme of your site” but it didn’t seem to do anything for me.)
I did not try to pay for Webstarts with my credit card because they only do annual billing— which is not ideal, most website builders do monthly billing.
I founded Site Builder Report in 2012 to help people find the best website builder. My work is supported by earning an affiliate commission when readers choose a website builder based on my reviews. In my spare time I make music (check it out!).
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Keep in mind that Webstarts may have changed since then. If you believe something is out of date in my review, please let me know.