Webs is a decent website builder with practical tools and apps to help you build a website without having to write code.
In our view, it’s not the best website builder but it’s worth exploring as it has some interesting features (membership, mobile customization, etc.)
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Over 55 million websites has been built with Webs.com at the time of our review – why is it so popular?
Webs has been around since 2001 and their popularity continues to grow even with newer website builders such as Wix and Weebly joining the party. In this Webs.com review, we want to see for ourselves what makes Webs so popular.
Webs primarily target small businesses and entrepreneurs. This is not to say that you can’t build a personal or non-profit website using Webs as you most definitely can (we will discuss user-friendliness and website building tools below).
But the tools that they provide are slightly more geared towards small businesses, which we will review and let you know our opinion below.
One caveat is that although Webs powers over 55 million websites, it is hard to know how many of these websites are actively used (or abandoned) – since this is private information.
Nevertheless, being able to power so many websites and attract so many users is an impressive achievement.
One of the takeaways from our Webs.com review is that Webs has been around since 2001 and will probably be around for a long time – which is an important consideration for website builders like yourself.
WEBS.COM REVIEW - TOP 3 PROS AND CONS
- When it comes to user-friendliness, Webs has done a good job in making it pretty intuitive for you to build a website. Their drag and drop builder allows you to drag modules (such as pictures, paragraphs, slideshows etc) into the website, and allow you to edit them by just clicking on them. The learning curve is not high when compared to some other website builders (such as Wix or Squarespace). Just as a side note, based on past users feedback, Webs was pretty buggy and can freeze up at times. Webs has since completed a significant overhaul of their builder in mid-2012, and the current version of the builder gives you a much smoother user interface and experience. It’s very easy to add modules, edit them and remove them as necessary.
- Webs allow you to build membership sites directly on their websites. This is a very rare feature in the world of website builders and in fact, Webs is the only website builder we know that includes membership site features in their builder.With other website builders, you can try to integrate external membership gateway services (such as Sentry Login) into your website. The issues is that with external services provider, they are not native to the website builder and so conflicts may occur – this is in addition to you having to figure out the technical aspects of installing the membership site. With Webs, the membership function is all integrated into your website, and it allows you to manage members, send out group email to members, and restrict which of your pages could be viewed by the public, or by members only. So if you’re thinking of setting up a membership site, Webs is a website builder you should definitely try out. See our review on Webs’ membership function here.
- Webs has an App Store that allows you to integrate more features and third party tools directly into your Webs website. Some of the Apps include client information / interaction organization tools, SEO tools, sharing of documents, Etsy store integration, etc. As mentioned in our introduction, this is one way that Webs is trying to cater their services towards small businesses and entrepreneurs. There are both free and paid Apps as some of the paid Apps are created and serviced by third party companies. So this allows you to pick and choose which App to integrate into your Webs website.One thing that Webs does well is that all these Apps are fully integrated into their builder and so installing them is just 1-click of a button – you don’t have to worry about finding out how to install Apps into your website which could sometimes be technical. Most other website builders (except for Wix) don’t offer this feature to you.
- One of the important considerations when building a website is design. While it’s pretty standard nowadays for website builders to offer you a lot of templates options (such as Wix or Weebly), as of April 2013, Webs only offer around 40 templates for you to choose from. In addition, about 6 of them can only be accessed if you upgrade to their premium package. Just as reference points, Wix has over 510 templates and Weebly has more than 100 templates for you to select from. While there are not a whole lot of themes available, the designs are fairly decent so if you are not overly picky with the design of your website, you will most likely be able to find what you need. However, the downside is that if you can’t find a theme that suits your design, you options are very limited here… which leads to our next point… [UPDATE – as of July 2014, Webs released 450 mobile-optimized design templates cover over 20 different industries. This is a significant improvement and gives you a lot of design flexibility and choices]
- At times, when a user is not completely pleased with the template design, some website builders such as Weebly or Jimdo will allow the user to modify the HTML / CSS codes to alter the design (they can hire a designer / programmer to help). Webs doesn’t give you this flexibility, so if you are not completely happy with the 40-ish templates that they provide you, you won’t be able to modify it through codes.This is not entirely uncommon as Wix also doesn’t open up the codes to users either, but it is a drawback. However, Webs do allow you some level of control to configure certain aspects of the template, such as color schemes, background image / pattern, font styles, etc. We’ll discuss this in further detail below.
- When we were testing Webs, the loading time between changing of pages was fairly slow. When we used other website builders to build websites, switching between pages were pretty quick. Although this will not stop you from building a pretty good website, it does get a bit tiring as all the seconds of waiting does add up especially at the beginning when you will be building a ton of content into the website.Having said that, the website does load pretty fast when it is in published mode. So when your visitors are visiting your website, the loading time is pretty normal.
WEBS IS IDEAL FOR….
If you are a small business or plan on having an online shop (e-commerce), Webs is a website builder you should consider (at least try them out for free). The key reasons being that their e-commerce tools allow you to present multiple images per store item, product search and inventory tracking (more e-commerce discussion below), and also their integrated Apps helps you to manage your business better and will save you time.
However, as mentioned in our Webs.com review above, even if you just want to build a personal or non-profit website, Webs have enough tools to allow you to build a pretty decent website.
EASE OF USE
Webs is a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) website builder, meaning you build the entire website right in front of you and what you see when you are building, is what actually shows up after you publish the website.
Webs gives you the option to either build “normal pages” or “specialty pages”.
Webs provide you with 6 different page layout configurations, so whenever you create a new page, you can choose which page layout to use. You can change the page layout later on if you want. The modules that you insert into the page (i.e. your content) will be automatically transferred into the new layout so you won’t lose any information.
Webs also give you “specialty pages” – what we mean is that they have dedicated, pre-set structured webpages for you to choose from. These include pages dedicated to blogs, web stores, photos, membership, videos, forums, guestbooks and appointments. You will find these pre-set pages in the App store and these are nice to have especially if you have a need for them.
Since these “App pages” are pre-set in structure, you won’t be able to drag and drop any modules into these pages, like how you could for normal webpages. Although this seems a bit inflexible when it comes to design, it’s a nice feature if you have a need for it.
Overall, based on our Webs.com review, it is a very intuitive and easy to use website builder. Combining normal pages and specialty pages will allow you the ability to create a more interesting website without making the building process complicated. We like how Webs gives you many features, but keeps things quite simple.
TEMPLATE DESIGN OPTIONS
Webs has 450 mobile-optimized design templates for you to choose from, which is a fairly large collection. These templates span over 20 different industries so this helps you find one that caters to your industry.
However, Webs doesn’t allow you the flexibility to edit the HTML and CSS of the templates, so even if you want to hire someone to modify the design for you, you won’t have this option with Webs.
This is also the primary reason why there aren’t any third party templates providers for Webs, which is the same as for Wix.
However, Webs does allow you some customization options. Some themes come in several color schemes, and some allow you to customize the background image/color. You can also customize the font styles of the navigation bar, body and footer.
But in general, compared to other website builders, Webs’ templates selection and flexibility is not very comprehensive. You can still build a good website with Webs, but if you’re selective over design, this is where Webs can fall short.
Aside from the template for the browser website, Webs also provide you with some options when it comes to customizing mobile templates so your website can be mobile-ready.
The options that Webs give you are actually a lot more than what other website builders have. Most website builders only provide you with one generic mobile design, and you can’t customize it.
With Webs, you can choose from 6 mobile template designs. You can even customize the color scheme of each template to match your website’s color scheme.
This is fantastic feature that give you more control over your mobile website without having to pay and manage a separate mobile website.
SUPPORT / TUTORIALS / COMMUNITY RESOURCES
If you subscribe to their premium plans, you can get email support for the Starter plan, email + live chat for the Enhanced plan, and email + live chat + phone support for their Pro plan.
However, if you are only using their free plan, your support option is limited to forum discussions, so you may not get the necessary, 1-on-1 attention you may want.
This is understandable as they have millions of users to support, and it’s only fair to give paying users a higher priority and better service levels.
Webs Tutorial Resources
Webs have a knowledgebase located in the dashboard. At any time you have a question, simply type in your question and it will give you the closest matching answer. We’ve tested this and we do find a lot of answers in the knowledgebase – so this function is pretty helpful.
However, one improvement point is that Webs could try to incorporate more pictures and tutorial videos in their help section. Currently, their knowledgebase has a lot of text which although helpful, could sometimes be overwhelming if you prefer pictures. Nevertheless, if you are an Enhanced Plan or Pro Plan user, you can just use their Live Chat function to get help.
Webs Community Forum
Webs has a comprehensive and helpful forum. If you have questions, you can quickly search within the forum to see if their support staff has answered the same questions before. You can save a lot of time using this approach.
We have seen some Webs.com reviews that their forum help could take some time, but as mentioned above, if you do upgrade to a paid package, you will receive 1-on-1 help, which is fair as you are a paying customer.
WEBS E-COMMERCE WEB STORE
If you are building an online store, Webs offers a pretty comprehensive e-commerce solution. You can choose to add a Web Store or integrate your Etsy store (if you have one) directly into your website.
Web’s web store has all the practical features that any online store will need. It allows you to insert product images, descriptions, prices, set tax options, shipping options, configure product versions (so your visitor can select different versions of the same product), and product status.
You can also set your products in different categories to allow for easier sorting.
For premium accounts, you also have access to the inventory tracking system. This system helps you manage and track your product directly in Webs dashboard.
You can use PayPal as your payment processor to collect money from your customers. You will have more payment options if you choose to integrate your Etsy store in the website.
Overall, we think in our Webs.com review that it has a decent set of e-commerce tools to help you build a web store. To take maximum advantage of what their tools have to offer, you will need to upgrade to their premium packages, which is something you should consider if you are serious about your business (we will discuss premium packages and pricing below).
Another positive point is that Webs does not take a transaction fee from each of your sale (some other shopping carts provider out there does take a percentage of your sales), so you get to keep all your profits.
WEBS SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Webs allows you to optimize all the basic SEO functions, such as titles and descriptions for your overall website. However, you will need to subscribe to a paid plan in order to customize the titles, description and meta tags for individual web page.
Webs also provides you with an internal traffic tracking tool which allows you to see how many visitors you have, number of pageviews, monthly averages, traffic sources, etc.
Of course, if you want to use Google Analytics instead of Webs’ own stats tracking tool, you can definitely do so. Just insert the snippet of tracking code you get from Google Analytics into the “Settings” tab when you are in your Webs dashboard.
HOSTING AND EXPORT OPTIONS
Webs provides free hosting, so you don’t have to pay extra for that, even if you are not using their paid plans. This is helpful as you will not need to manage your own hosting. If there are any technical or security issues, Webs will manage it for you so your website will always work properly.
With the free plan you have limited storage space and limited bandwidth, so the size of you site will be restricted. However, the free space you receive should be sufficient for you to build a basic website. Upgrade to their paid packages to receive more storage space and bandwidth.
One downside of Webs is there is no exporting function. This means if you ever want to use a different website builder or host your own website, you can’t take the website with you. You will need to build the site from scratch if you ever choose to leave Webs.
This is not entirely uncommon as Wix and Jimdo also have this restriction. If this is an important consideration for you, you can check out Weebly or Squarespace as they do allow you to export websites.
Our Webs.com review recommendation is that if you’re interested in Webs, try it for free to see if it fits your needs. This way, you can decide whether you would like to commit.
PRICING – IS IT WORTH THE INVESTMENT?
You can try using Webs for free and there is no pressure to upgrade since they don’t impose a time limit for using them for free.
With the free account, you will have limited features, storage space and bandwidth and you won’t be able to access their 1-on-1 customer support unless you decide to upgrade.
If you do decide to upgrade to Webs’ premium plans, they have a 30 day money back guarantee policy,which removes the financial risks from you:
Webs has 3 levels of premium plans: Starter, Enhanced and Pro.
If you sign up to a 1 or 2 year plan, you do get a “bulk” discount of 33% off the monthly price – a substantial savings if you are comfortable with committing to use Webs after you test them out with a free account.
Further, if you sign up to their 1 or 2 year plan, they will waive the $10 set up fee, which is only applicable if you sign up for a month to month payment plan.
You will also receive a free custom domain if you sign up to their Enhanced or Pro annual packages (which is about a $12 value with most domain name registrars such as GoDaddy)
So if you sign up for a 2 year plan, you will save 33% and for a 1 year plan, you will save 15%. If you sign up for either the 1 year and 2 years plans, you will also receive a free domain name (which will cost about $12 or so with most domain name registrars).
The benefit of upgrading to premium plans, of course, is that you will gain access to premium features, such as full range of e-commerce tools and priority support.
If you benchmark prices of premium plans across other website builders, you’ll notice that the monthly investment of using Webs as your website builder is pretty fair, or even slightly on the cheaper side.
Further, Webs give you $100 worth of advertising credit to use for Google Adwords and Facebook Ads when you sign up for their Enhanced or Pro plans. That alone will pretty much means you get to use Webs’ premium packages for free for the first year.
As mentioned in our Webs review, this website builder provides you with a number of good tools if you are building an online store, and their App store gives you some helpful tools that are fully integrated with Webs to help manage your business. The benefits of using integrated tools is quick and hassle-free installation, and that you can confident that the Apps will not conflict with Webs.
WEBS.COM REVIEW – CONCLUSION / RECOMMENDATION
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