Hibu is a company with many strings to its bow. In this review, we’ll be honing in on its web design service, so you can decide if it’s right for you.
Hibu is a digital marketing agency whose main focus is your online success. It offers help with everything; from social media marketing and SEO, to display ads and digital listings. In this review, we’ll be focusing specifically on its web design service.
At Website Builder Expert, we like to go above and beyond, delivering truly exceptional reviews and informative articles. There are tons of other Hibu reviews out there, but none really explore its website design. We’re here to change that.
To get a good understanding of what Hibu can do for you, we wanted to experience the service first-hand. That’s why we conducted a mystery shop – going undercover to find out how good Hibu really is.
For those unfamiliar with what a mystery shop is, it’s when you tell a company you’ll be acting as a customer in the near-future, but without them knowing exactly who it’ll be, or when. This meant we got to experience Hibu’s service first-hand, and can now tell you all about it.
So, here’s a quick overview of how Hibu stacked up:
Below, we’ll go into detail about what we found: the pros and cons of using Hibu, how the service works, if it was any good, if the website we received was as expected, and how much it all cost. So, without further ado, let’s dig in.
|TOP 3 HIBU PROS|
|#1||Minimal time and effort for you.|
Hibu are experts at what they do. On average, the company turns around websites in 7-10 days. So, once you’ve agreed on the type of website you want, it’s time to kick back and relax. In under 2 weeks, you’ll have your very own site.
|#2||Great communication and an overall service that puts you at ease.|
From the moment you first get in contact with Hibu, you know you’re in safe hands. Its knowledgeable staff and customer-friendly approach put us at ease, with continual support during and after the build of our website
|#3||Modern website features that are in keeping with the latest trends.|
Hibu uses specialist, industry standard software to design all its websites, and comes with modern, up-to-date features.
|TOP 3 HIBU CONS|
|#1||Not suitable for online stores. |
Although Hibu does design ecommerce websites, you can’t sell more than 10 products through them. Hibu also can’t ‘switch on’ your ecommerce functionality, so you’ll have to set up things like the shopping cart in the backend yourself, after you receive the finished website.
|#2||Costly one-off payment and ongoing monthly fees (compared to website builders).|
If you have a little time and basic computer knowledge, using a website builder is far more cost-effective. Sure, you have to design and maintain the website yourself, but you also avoid set-up costs and enjoy cheaper monthly rates.
|#3||Final designs look a tad dated.|
If you’re expecting a totally unique and awe-inspiring design, Hibu may not be for you. Although all the content and branding is your own, the layout may end up looking similar to other sites Hibu has designed.
First off, it’s important to understand what a web design service is. Unlike using a DIY website builder, you tell Hibu what you want, and the company brings your design to life. You simply hand over your specifications to Hibu and, hey presto, your website is created for you.
Hibu is perfect if you’re a small, service-based business owner who wants their own online presence.
Hibu web design could benefit almost any service-based industry, from dry cleaners and car mechanics to accountancy firms and dental practices.
A good website gives you access to an online market you previously had no way of reaching. Alongside making your business look more credible, it’s also a way of interacting with new and existing customers.
The reason we recommend Hibu for small businesses – and not personal sites or startups – is the costs involved. We appreciate you small business owners are often very busy, and don’t have the time to commit to building your own website. That’s where Hibu can really help you.
One thing to be aware of is your website’s upkeep. Once you’ve reviewed the final design and signed it off, you’ll be in charge of maintaining it (for the most part). This is by no means a bad thing, though.
Hibu can, and will, make the changes you need if you’d prefer – just check how many changes per month your plan includes. If you want to make your own changes, the dashboard/editor is super user-friendly, making it easy for you to manage your website once it’s passed over.
The best way to explain how Hibu’s web design service works is to walk through the process with you, step-by-step. There are seven steps in total:
- Phone call with Hibu’s sales team
- Receive a quote and make verbal agreement
- Detail what you need from a design aspect
- Hibu build your website
- Seven-day review period
- Website handover
- Future support and maintenance
Below, we’ll discuss each step in detail, and what to expect at every stage:
Phone call with Hibu’s sales team
This is your first point of contact with Hibu, which is done over the phone. You’ll speak to the sales team, and explain a little bit about the kind of website you want, the features you need, and your site’s intended purpose.
From there, the sales team will have a good idea of what Hibu can offer you. They’ll run through a list of services you could benefit from: for example, we were asked by Hibu if we’d also like a Facebook business page created, or banner ads to help drive site traffic. This felt less sales-y and more like friendly advice, so it was a nice touch.
Receive a quote
After it’s clear what you want from Hibu, you’ll be given two separate quotes. The first relates to an upfront, one-off cost for the initial website design, while the other is a monthly fee for things like maintenance, hosting, and security.
Detail what you need from a design aspect
Once the costs involved are clear, you’re put through to one of Hibu’s digital sales consultants. These guys are responsible for the specifics of your site.
They’ll want to know your design preferences, the type of content you need (you can provide your own copy, images and videos, or Hibu can write it for you), and what you need the site for.
Hibu builds your website
This step is pretty self-explanatory – Hibu builds your website! The average website takes between 7 and 10 days to build, in which time you can put your feet up. The experts are hard at work, so you can rest safe in the knowledge that your very own professional site is on its way.
Seven-day review period
It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for: the big reveal! Once ready, you’ll get seven days to review your website before it’s handed over to you and published online. This gives you a chance to make contact with Hibu and suggest changes, or make some amendments yourself.
If Hibu doesn’t hear from you, it’s presumed you’re happy with the site, so it’ll be put live online. Remember, the clearer you can be in the initial meetings, the less likely it is you’ll have to go back and forth during this week.
Details finalized, queries ironed out, and there you have it: your very own website. You’ll be handed the reins, and introduced to your site’s ‘backend’. This is the dashboard that only you can see, where you manage your website.
Hibu uses similar software to website builders, so the backend is incredibly user-friendly. Making minor adjustments is straightforward – most content can simply be dragged and repositioned in the editor – and Hibu is always on-hand should you have any follow-up questions.
Future support and maintenance
The final stage is similar to living away from your family for the first time; you’re in charge, but not totally alone. Hibu is still there to support you with any issues and make changes. The amount of changes it’ll make each month depends on the price plan you’re on.
Hibu ‘Assist’ is your go-to service, where you can make edits and get support, receive a site refresh every two years, and get up to four new pages added to your site at no additional cost.
The first question we had to ask ourselves was: ‘How do you actually rate the quality of a service?’ Well, we asked our in-house research team… and they came up with the answer.
We put together a diverse bunch of people, and asked them what level of service they’d expect from a web design agency. We then got them to sit in on our sales call with Hibu, and following this, asked them if the service they’d received had met their expectations.
The only issue we found with the service was having to chase Hibu up to see how our website was coming along. We were reassured this doesn’t normally happen, but it’s worth keeping in mind in case you have to check-in with them once in a while.
Overall, results showed Hibu outperformed our service expectations by 17%. The group were particularly impressed at how Hibu’s staff went above and beyond when discussing helpful extras.
Here’s an example of a quote from Hibu, where they recommended we build a business Facebook page:
“A couple of recommendations, obviously outside of a site, would be getting a business Facebook page – just to help create brand awareness in your area. The Facebook page is going to help you get even more local traffic, especially if you want an ecommerce website.”
Of course, you have to take into account that Hibu offers social media marketing, so it’s in its interest to build you a business Facebook page. That said, there was no pressure on us to sign up to its service – it just came across as friendly, caring advice.
‘Caring’ was actually a theme throughout our entire experience with Hibu – something that’s particularly reassuring, considering that in Hibu’s mind, we were just another company looking for a website.
Because there’s a lot to consider when analysing a website, we’ve broken it up into four key sections, grading our satisfaction with Hibu for each.
For context, we invented an imaginary sports retail company, NC Sports. As well as designing and creating the whole site, Hibu also designed us a logo and created content for our site. But did it live up to our expectations? Let’s see…
Delivering what we asked for – A
You can’t fault Hibu here. Everything we asked for was put onto the website, right down to the last period. We specified what we wanted on each page of the website, and Hibu delivered exactly that.
Our only complaint was having to add the shopping cart ourselves, in order to make sales through the site.
Appearance – C
This was our least favorite aspect of the website. While far from ugly, we did feel the final design lacked a bit of originality and creative flair. It’s not just our site, either – having reviewed other designs Hibu have put together, they all have a similar, basic feel.
If you’ve got the time, a website builder like Squarespace allows you to design your own site through any of its stunning templates. It requires a little effort on your part, but the designs speak for themselves.
We even got a branding expert to look over Squarespace’s templates, and here’s what they had to say:
“I like Squarespace a lot, because its templates follow design best practices. There’s lots of whitespace, they’re clean and fresh, and they’re easy to use. I think Squarespace spends a lot of time getting its templates right.”
Features – B
Features are one of Hibu’s main strengths. Every feature we asked for was embedded without fail, and all were easy to use for our site’s visitors. Hibu just missed out on an A purely because of the ecommerce limitations.
Functionality – A
Another area that Hibu nailed was functionality. This was down to two key factors: SEO (Search Engine Optimization), and mobile responsiveness.
If you don’t have your own content, Hibu will create it for you based on your brand, and optimize it with keywords. Images also have alt tags (which tell search engines what they depict), and all meta titles/descriptions (text that appears in the search results) are taken care of for you.
The website – as you can see above – is also totally mobile and tablet responsive. Instead of automatically adjusting, however, it is a separate design for desktop and mobile, meaning any edits you make will have to be done on both versions of your site.
When looking at Hibu web design, the first thing to know is that there are two separate payments: a one-time upfront cost, and an ongoing monthly bill.
The one-off, upfront cost is for the professional build of your site, and comes in the form of an individual quote, which can range from $99 to $449. This price is for building your website, and will vary based on things like:
- The amount of web pages you want
- The amount of features you need (e.g. booking systems, contact forms etc.)
- Whether you want to sell online or not
- If you sign up to any of Hibu’s additional services
On that last point, the more services you sign up to, the less your one-off, upfront cost will be.
Hibu offers extra services that complement your website – like social media marketing and display ads – which you can pay for as part of your monthly fee. As a kind of loyalty reward, Hibu subsequently lowers its price.
It’s important to understand that although signing up to Hibu’s extra services will save you money in the short term, it could work out more expensive in the long-run.
Some users may try to cancel Hibu’s additional services, but be warned – this is far from easy. Once you verbally agree to the first 12 months, you’re pretty much tied in. You can renegotiate after the year is up, but make sure you only commit if you’re totally sure.
To give you a better idea of pricing, we were quoted a one-off, upfront cost of $449, and a monthly fee of $129. We had to pay the maximum for our initial design, as we didn’t take up any extra services. And the monthly fee was slightly above the $99 minimum due to the fact we wanted an ecommerce website.
Most non-ecommerce websites are charged at $99/month. Unless you’re sold on Hibu’s other offerings, we’d recommend taking the hit and paying a premium for the upfront cost – after all, it’s the cheaper option over the course of a year. It’s also a very competitive price compared to other web design agencies.
Hibu is far more than a web design agency. As we’ve said, it can deal with your entire online presence. If you have a website already, and want to know how Hibu can help you – or you haven’t thought about other ways you can improve your online presence – here’s a quick overview of some of its other services:
- Social media marketing – Hibu sets you up with a Facebook business page and crafts targeted ads to keep your site’s visitors coming back for more.
- Customer reviews management – Hibu makes it easy for you to collect and share customer reviews with others, encouraging them to leave ratings and detailed feedback.
- Listings management – Hibu keeps your online business listings up-to-date on search engines, making it easier for people to find you when using their desktops, mobiles, or even voice search.
- Display and video ads – Hibu will create adverts for your company and display them across various big-name sites, to drum up interest in your business.
If you’re a business owner without a website – or even have one, and just need some help with your online marketing – Hibu could be the perfect option.
It’s particularly good for all service-based websites – anyone from a tradesperson to a personal trainer, makeup artist, or marketing consultant could benefit.
The entire service from start to finish is very professional, and we can personally vouch for Hibu’s friendly and knowledgeable staff. There’s no escaping the fact it’s expensive compared to DIY website builders, but given web developers usually charge around $7,000, Hibu actually seems really reasonable.
Hibu sits in that middle ground between a DIY website builder and a full-blown web developer. Its service is fantastic – exceeding our expectations by 17% – and what you receive is a well-functioning, ready-to-use website.
The website itself looks a little dated, though, and we do feel it’s possible to design something similar (if not better) for less on a platform like Squarespace or Wix. These website builders are better suited to you if you need a personal site, or you’re a business on a budget.
If you’re interested in using a website builder, we recommend you check out our website builder comparison chart, where you can compare the best platforms side-by-side. Alternatively, head over to our best website builders page for a full breakdown of the top-rated options on the market today.
Turning our attention back to Hibu, many of the complaints we’ve seen online center around the fact it doesn’t do everything for you. It’s important to understand that Hibu will build and optimize your website, but ultimately, you’re in charge after that.
Others complaints focus on not being able to get out of Hibu’s verbal agreement. So again, only agree if you’re 100% sure. In our opinion, Hibu is worth the cost, if you’re fully committed. Remember: you’re as much a part of your future success as Hibu is.
How much does Hibu cost?
Hibu charges two separate fees: a one-off upfront cost, and a monthly rolling fee. The upfront cost covers the actual design of your website, and is quoted at between $99 and $449. The monthly fee varies from $99/month to $159/month.
Is Hibu worth the money?
In terms of Hibu’s web design service, we’d say it’s worth the money if you’re a small business owner who needs an online presence. Hibu works best for service-based industries, though, so it’s not worth it if you’re after an online ecommerce store.
Do you have to sign a contract with Hibu?
You have a verbal, 12-month agreement – made by phone – for Hibu’s web design service, with a monthly rolling contract in place after the first year. You can cancel the contract at any point after the first 12 months, but it’s difficult to do before that.