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Yola Review

Yola is expensive— and you don’t get much for what you pay for. Pricing aside, Yolo is a simple website builder that’s missing some key features (for example: blogs). You can get much more for cheaper from other website builders.

My work is supported by affiliate commissions. Last Updated Jun 14 2018


User Experience

Yola is expensive— and you don’t get much for what you pay for. If you don’t want Yola branded ads on your website, the cheapest plan is $14.95 / month (see my price calculator to see how this compares). Pricing aside, Yolo is a simple website builder that’s missing some key features (for example: blogs). You can get much more for cheaper from other website builders.

Website Editor

Right: Website Editor

Pages organized into panels. Each panel (often called a section in other website builders) holds individual widgets. Most website builders include pre-built panels that give a pre-built section, unfortunately Yola does not.

Panels

Right: Panels

Editing widgets and sections is done through a lightbox. This is very frustrating. The lightbox covers your website— so you can’t see your changes as they’re being made. Instead you have to guess at the changes you want, save and reload the website.

Right: The lightbox covers your website— so you can’t see your changes as they’re being made.

The editor is unpolished and at times, buggy. For example, the ‘Add Page’ is hidden behind other icons. There are two text widgets you can add: text widget and an old text widget. Yola recommends you not use the old text widget— so get it out of there!

The "Add Page" link is obscured by another UI element.

Right: The "Add Page" link is obscured by another UI element.

Occasionally the UI is out of date and unclear. When managing pages there are inexplicable icons that you have to guess at in order to use: would you guess that the checkmark means to hide the page?

Building columns are another tedious workflow. You can only have two columns. So if you want three (which is common) you need to put columns within columns, eliminate all padding and then try to align them. It's so needlessly tedious— just let users choose a three column!

One last thing: Yola offers some lame upsells. For example, they offer a Yola Gold package which is essentially an SEO package for people who don’t understand SEO. I’d suggest it’s unnecessary!

Features

  • Blog

    Yola discontinued blogs in 2012. Instead they suggest you embed a Tumblr blog— which is not a solution. The Tumblr blog does not integrates with your websites layout and in order to add new posts or comments you have to go to Tumblr.coc. Yikes.  

  • Ecommerce

    Yola uses a Ecwid for their ecommerce. Ecwid is a separate company store lets you embed your store on any website. Because it’s a third party embedding the store on your website, it never integrates perfectly with Yola. Ecwid does offer sophisticated ecommerce features: digital products, tax system, shipping, weight, SKU's, integration with Fedex, UPS and much more. Here’s something strange though: Yola’s ecommerce upgrade is $10 / month— steep considering the Gold plan is already $29.95 a month. So here’s a hack: Ecwid offers a free plan. So sign up for that, and use Yola’s HTML widget to embed the Ecwid store. Then you can try it out for free!  Show Screenshot

  • Form Builder

    There are a variety of fields you can add to a form: text fields, text areas, checkboxes, multiple choice and Captchas. Unfortunately there’s not much else beyond that. You can’t add file upload fields. You can’t set fields as required— a big missing feature. You can’t customize where forms redirect to and forms are not saved in any database, so if you accidentally delete the email you recieve, the email will be lost forever!  Show Screenshot

  • iOS & Android Apps

    No. 

  • Retina Ready

    No. 

  • Newsletter

    There is a Constant Contact widget that you can use to create a newsletter signup (Constant Contact is a popular mailing list provider). Unfortunately there is very little customization options or support for other popular providers such as Mailchimp.  Show Screenshot

  • Membership System

    No. 

  • Design from Scratch

    No. 

  • Multi-lingual

    Technically you can add a Google Translate widget to your site— but that's a poor way of offering multilingual support (most browsers already have this support built-in— real multi-lingual support means you can write out the translation yourself).  

  • Restaurant Menu

    No.  

  • Donations

    While Yola has a full full ecommerce system with checkout, it's not able to handle donations. Instead Yola's donation system is a simple link to Paypal— not enough.  

  • Audio Player

    No.  

  • Podcasts

    No.  

Themes

Yola has a wide selection of clean and modern themes. All themes are responsive— which is great. When I last reviewed Yola there were only 10 responsive themes. I'm glad they've increased.

Right: Theme Example

Here's another example theme:

Yola also includes a style designer that lets you adjust styles for almost everything. It's a great system (it's basically a copy of Squarespace, which is smart). You just click and element to reveal style options for it. Excellent.

Right: Style Editor.

Bad Billing Practices

Something is wrong with Yola's cancellation policy.

They don't let you cancel by a web-based interface (*sigh*). Instead they require you to email them to cancel by emailing cancellations@yola.com.

When I last tested Yola's cancellation policy in 2016 I ran into an issue where I emailed cancellations@yola.com and they replied to ask me why I was cancelling— unfortunately their reply was filtered out by Gmail's spam filter, so I never received the emails. After a few weeks of following up I was able to figure it out.

In June 2018, I've tested the billing practices again. And again I ran into trouble. I emailed cancellations@yola.com on June 7 2018 requesting a cancellation. I did not hear anything for a week. So on June 14 2018, I followed up and demanded they process my cancellation. This time (for whatever reason) they replied to me and sent me a link to cancel.

WHAT!?

I asked them to confirm that they received my email on June 7— and they were able to confirm. Their explanation: "I'm not sure why you did not receive a response the first time around, this may have been due to a technical glitch."

What's really frustrating is that they have a web-based cancellation system. They just choose not to give users immediate access to it. Instead they introduce the extra step of emailing cancellations@yola.com— and having to navigate missed emails and non-replies. This is exploitative.