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Webstarts Review

New editor is an improvement— some old issues persist.

My work is supported by affiliate commissions (more info). By Steve Benjamins Updated Jul 4 2017

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Review Updates

  • Mar 8 2016 New review published.
  • Oct 12 2016 Review checked for accuracy and updated.
  • Jul 4 2017 Review checked for accuracy.

User Experience

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).

Website editor

Right: Website editor

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.

The paragraph has automatically shifted down, rather than overlapped.

Right: The paragraph has automatically shifted down, rather than overlapped.

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:

Where did the paragraph go? I could’t find it anywhere.

Right: Where did the paragraph go? I could’t find it anywhere.

Webstarts recently redesigned their interface. Unfortunately sometimes feels like they still have one foot in the old interface and one in the new interface:

These parts of the UI are from the older editor.

Right: These parts of the UI are from the older editor.

Mixing both interfaces unnecessarily duplicates functions. For example, there are three different ways to add a text box:

Three different ways

Right: Three different ways

The top menu also includes two different options for formatting text— which makes very little sense since a WYSIWYG text format editor pops up automatically!

What’s the point of a format menu if there’s already a WYSIWYG editor?

Right: What’s the point of a format menu if there’s already a WYSIWYG editor?

Features

  • Blog

    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

  • Ecommerce

    Webstarts includes ecommerce but checkout is not hosted on your website, instead your customers are redirected to checkout on https://secure.website. 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.  

  • Form Builder

    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

  • iOS & Android Apps

    WebStarts has an iOS app called WebStarts Blog that allows you to write blog posts on your iPhone or iPad. There is also another app called WebStarts AI that promises to let you create a website using artificial intelligence.  

  • Retina Ready

    Images appeared sharp on retina screens such as MacBooks and iPhones. 

  • Newsletter

    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.  

  • Membership System

    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

  • Design from Scratch

    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).  

  • Multi-lingual

    No. 

  • Restaurant Menu

    No. 

  • Donations

    No. 

  • Audio Player

    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

  • Podcasts

    No.  

Themes

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:

Example Theme

Right: Example Theme

Here’s another example theme:

Example Theme

Right: Example Theme

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.)

Customization

Right: Customization

Mobile looks nice— your website theme automatically breaks down into a responsive theme. Unfortunately (as I’ve stated earlier in the review) I find it too easy to lose elements between the two versions.

Mobile

Right: Mobile

Not Ideal Billing Practices


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.



Written By Steve Benjamins

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.

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Last update: Jul 4 2017

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.