By: Vistaprint Netherlands B.V.
Provides a free website builder and hosting service that allows you to build professional websites in a simple way. It features customizable templates, SEO booster, social media integration, mobile website, local listings, photo and video galleries, advanced web analytics, and more. It also offers additional features, including cloud hosting, maps, password protection, and blogs.
Webs is one of the veterans of the website builders. The company is headquartered in Washington DC. The builder was created with an intention to make it simple for a layman to create his own website. The builder does not ask for any knowledge of the computing languages from its users. One can create amazing websites using this tool and keep managing it without any issue whatsoever.
Let’s just face it. Creating, publishing, and then managing a website is not an easy task. All three processes require some technical expertise and resources.
It becomes challenging for small businesses and organizations to have their own website up and running. They rely on external parties to create and manage sites, and that can have complications of its own.
Almost two decades ago, two brothers realized that website building is a tough task for a lot of organizations and individuals. So, they decided to come up with a platform which would let anyone create a website irrespective of the person’s knowledge of the computing languages.
Webs is what they ended up presenting to the world. This primary function of this website builder is to make website building as easy as possible so that anyone can do it.
This website builder has been around for many years and has a lot of users around the world. However, a lot of website builders have now shown up to compete with Webs.
In this review will be comparing the features available in this website builder to the ones available in the other builders. It will be interesting to see if this old website builder has been able to keep up with the relatively recent ones.
We will go through all the features of this website builder and assess their usefulness. There will also be some direct comparisons with the other prominent website builders.
The review will also give you an idea about what can you expect from the hosting services of the builder. It will also go through the speed and security of the published websites.
The ease of creating a website on the builder will always be one of the critical factors, and we will also see how easy it is to manage the site once it gets published.
Starting to make a website can often be the most difficult task for a beginner. There are so many things that one needs to decide before the start.
The color scheme, the layout, the style, etc. decide how appealing the website will be to the viewer. Even though these attributes can be managed at later stages, it always helps to start in the right direction.
It is difficult just to imagine how the website will look with a pattern and scheme until and unless the user creates it. But switching between so many attributes is a daunting task in itself.
The website builder can be of great assistance in this case. It can provide the user with relevant examples for different styles and make it easy for the user to get an idea of the appearance of the website beforehand.
Webs does exactly the same thing and provides the user with all the necessary options at the beginning of the process.
The website builder helps the user apply filter according to her preferences right from the start to server her with more relevant options.
The filtering starts with the signing up on the service. The website builder asks the user to choose the type of website that he wants to create. The four choices that the user gets are the business, group, personal, and online store.
Some of you may feel that these are very few options and each category can still encompass a lot of options. However, these are not the only options that the builder has got to offer. Things get narrowed down a lot more as one progresses.
Next, the builder server the user with various templates to choose from. The user can select from one of the multiple sub-categories that the builder offers. The sub-categories divide the template for the various types of industries.
The next narrowing down happens when the user chooses the template. The user can choose the color scheme for the template if it is available. The number of color schemes available varies with the templates.
The website builder opens up the editor once the user is done choosing the color scheme.
There is nothing to worry if the user doesn’t like the chosen template and the color scheme very much. The user has always got the option to switch the template in the editor.
The builder also opens a small tutorial video for the user to give her an idea of how the editor works which is again helpful at the beginning of website building.
Webs kept it very simple for the user to start with the website building process and provides appropriate filters which save a lot of time and effort for the user.
There aren’t many website builders which provide the right filters and options for the user to start building the website.
It is the editor which is most of the times responsible for the success or demise of a website builder. The editor is where most of the action happens. It is only after the user is done with the editor that he tries any other feature on the website builder.
The editor and the user interface of Webs somehow take us back in the time when the icons used to be big and bulky and everything used to be a lot slower.
Webs has been around for quite some time now. It is one of the reasons for the popularity of the product. However, the builder doesn’t appear to keep up with the changing times and the improving technology.
Their user interface might have been the modern and sophisticated one a few years ago, but it needs some serious remodeling to compete with other website builders. It should take examples from website builders such as Webflow and Wix.
The interface of Webs may not be very modern, but it is sufficient for sure and does its job very well. Let us analyze the components and the feature of the editor.
We have divided the UI of the editor screen into three parts and we will each of them separately to understand how the editor on this builder works.
Let us start with the most used part of the editor.
Webs has placed all the design elements of the builder such as text, images, columns, button, etc. at the bottom of the editor in a section called the dock. One can access any design element from the dock and place it anywhere within the website.
The user can arrange and modify these design elements in different ways. You can also call these design elements as the basic building block of the website.
The advantage of design elements is that the user gets a lot of freedom for the designing of the website. The elements can be stacked in a lot of arrangements.
The builder also provides specialized elements such as image, text, timeline, quote, etc. to keep things interesting for the user as well as the viewer.
But there are some limitations as well. There are a lot of things which are out of control of the user. One can use all the design elements but within the limits of the template.
The issue with the templates and layouts available on the builder is that hardly anyone of them follows a modern design. This creates a lot of roadblocks for the user.
For instance, most of the modern website designs have beautiful backgrounds for all the sections. The backgrounds stretch from one end of the screen to the other, and people usually include some text on it such as the title and the logo.
But that cannot be achieved on this website builder as you cannot mix the elements or overlap them. There is an option to add text or title for the image module, but it merely puts text at the bottom of the image.
Similarly, the old design of the templates poses a lot of other problems while designing the website.
There is a panel available below the dock which allows the user to switch between the different categories of design elements or modules. The categories include structure, media, social, etc. categories which contain specialized modules.
The structure button will give modules such as the one to insert a table or spacer while a category like social will give dedicated social media modules.
The modules within the builder provide for most of the designing needs of the user, but sometimes and at some places, the user may feel deprived of options.
Canvas is the place where the modules go.
Once the user places the module on the canvas, she can do the necessary modifications to make the module suit the needs.
Let’s say that you inserted the image module on the canvas. You can now double click at the module on the canvas to open the box in which you can add the image. From here you can add a picture in the module and then make the necessary changes such as zooming in or increasing the size of the element.
If it were some other element, the builder would have displayed the relevant options for that particular module.
One can also drag the module or the section around on the canvas. If you try to combine elements, be prepared to come across a lot of restrictions.
Merging happens only for a few selected cases such as when you insert a column module within another one.
The canvas also contains the header and the footer section. The user can add the icons and logos in these sections. But the limited customizability of the header and the footer section may be annoying for the user.
It is very tough to make the header and the footer sections look appealing with the basic options available on the builder. In our opinion, the builder needs to add a lot more fluidity to the header and footer.
The canvas also contains the navigation panel of the website, but the template controls its properties. The builder gives no options to the user to change the styling of the navigation panel.
The top panel is the last stop for this bottom-up approach of ours to explain the builder.
The top panel, on the builder, contains all the basic yet necessary tools for the user. The left side of the panel comprises the account button where the user can switch between the projects, manage account settings, add more projects, etc.
It also lets the user visit the homepage of the account where all of the user’s projects have been listed. From this page, the user can check the status of the different websites if they have been published or not.
The right side of the top panel contains a bunch of options and menus. First comes the Dashboard.
Dashboard is the place where the user gets all the information about the website. It also informs the user about the amount of progress that he has made on the website.
We will discuss the dashboard in detail in the later sections of the review.
Next option on the panel is the ‘builder’ which takes the user to the editor. It also showcases a small panel below it. The panel contains the undo, redo and preview buttons along with a settings option.
The settings button contains various modification options related to the page. One can add the meta tags or description, change the name of the page, change its layout, choose password protection, etc.
Password protection allows the user to limit access to specific pages on the website. One can choose to keep the page accessible only to the members or require the visitors to enter a password to view the content of the page.
The next button on the panel is ‘themes.’ One can change the theme of the website without affecting the content that has been already added by the user. This allows the user to experiment a bit with the appearance of the website.
There is a preview option available which helps in the decision making. One does not need to apply changes to see how the website will look in a different theme.
The pages button on the top panel allows the user to manage the pages on the website. The button opens a window to manage the pages on the website.
It contains the option to add a new page and allows to manage the arrangement of the pages already present on the website.
All the pages are visible on the navigation panel by default. The user gets the option to hide the page from the navigation panel. There is also the option to create subpages.
All that one needs to do is to drag the subpage to slightly to the right on the page manager window. Each page bar also has the option to delete and copy the page. The user can even manage the meta tags and password protection from this window.
The other buttons on the top panel are support, preview, and done. The support and the preview buttons do what they say, and the done button is to save and publish the changes.
The meaning and thus the use of a dashboard may vary from one website builder to another. For most of the website builders, dashboard is the window where all the websites or projects of the user are listed.
However, it is not the same case for Webs. The dashboard on this builder refers to the control panel of the website. It is where all the details and data related to the website is mentioned.
Before getting into the details of the dashboard, let us first see how the website builder presents all the websites of the user collectively.
The accounts page on the website builder lists all the websites of the user collectively. But this is all that the page does.
It does not help the user sort the websites on any basis whatsoever. It presents the websites in the order they were created and tells if the websites have been published or not. You can choose which website you want to manage or edit.
The service provider should have provided the options to put the websites into different groups to keep it easy for the user to manage the website.
The dashboard available for the website provides an array of tools in the side panel and a checklist on the window.
The checklist contains a set of tasks which ensure that the user makes use of all the features available on the builder to get the best results possible. The checklist can be specifically beneficial for those who are new to website building or new to this website builder.
The side panel, however, contains some specialized tools which can be of great assistance to the user in various niches of website management.
One of the noticeable and probably the most useful tool on this panel is ‘local listings.’ This feature is focused mainly on businesses.
What it does is that it takes information from the webmaster about the business and then fills it in various directories and listings such as Google, Yelp, Bing, Yellow Pages, etc.
It helps the website gain more friction by listing it on so many directories, and also reduces a lot of effort for the user by automatically filling in the information.
The local listings feature is currently available only in the US. However, it does not mean that the webmasters outside the US cannot use it. If most of your business happens in the US, then you can take help of this tool.
Some of the other tools on the panel are SEO booster, statistics, form submissions, etc. The statistics tab tells the user about the traffic on the website and its sources.
This will help you to identify the areas where the website is doing good and what can be possibly improved on the website. The stats are shown in easy to understand infographics which make the task even simpler.
The SEO booster helps in improving the website’s ranking on the search engines, and we will discuss it in a later section of the builder.
The ‘mobile’ tab on the side panel lets the user manage how the website will look on a mobile device. Unlike most of the website builders such as Webflow and Site123, this website builder doesn’t show the preview for devices such as mobiles and tablets.
So, even though there is a dedicated section for mobile devices, one will still not have much clue as to how the website will appear on a mobile device.
The settings button on the panel allows the user to change details such as the site name and the user name along with the description for the website and the tags.
The user can also add the codes for Google Webmasters Tools and Google Analytics in the settings window. The builder will directly incorporate these popular website management tools for the user.
The dashboard on Webs is very well detailed and provides the user with enough tools and features to make the website more effective.
It is hard to think of anything which is not sold online these days.
Before you start listing out the products not available online, we should mention that we are talking about the items which can be legally sold.
Online stores and e-commerce websites are taking over the markets. If you have a business which involves selling items, then it will be a very wise decision to list them for sale on the website as well.
The size of the business does not matter much. Online stores are just as vital for a small business as much as they are for a large business.
The Internet offers the product to a larger group, and therefore the chances of being able to sell the product also increase manifolds.
The webstore is one of the essential features of a website builder nowadays. Since the majority of the webmasters want to include a webstore on their sites, the onus is on the website builders to server the users with relevant features on the webstore.
Back in the days, when Webs was at the peak of its popularity, online stores were not very popular. This website builder did not need to infuse the platform with highly advanced features related to online stores.
And since they haven’t changed a lot of things on the builder, the stores on Webs appear very old and outdated. Everything ranging from the product listing to the layout demands a total revamp.
There is an option to create an e-commerce site on the builder, but the tools available don’t seem to be backing the claims of the builder.
Let us first talk about the layout and presentation of the items on the builder. Unlike other pages on the website builder, there is no option to change the layout of the store.
The user can change the theme and the color scheme, but the products will be listed only the way the builder lets them.
However, it is effortless for the user to manage the products on the website builder. One can create various categories for the products and then list the products according to the different categories. It also helps the customer to sort the products on the store.
The user can add all the details related to the product along with multiple images. The options available on the ‘Add Product’ are the standard ones such as description, price, tax, etc.
Features such as inventory management are available within the product page only.
There is also a settings page for the webstore where the user can manage the store settings. It lets the user set up payment options, change currency type, add store description, manage coupons, etc.
If we look at the features alone, then the webstore on the builder seems just as good as a store on any other builder. But it is the appearance and the layout of the store that seems to be pulling it down.
The service provider should make some serious efforts to improve this section. Otherwise, it won’t be long before the store becomes irrelevant on the builder.
One of the best ways to bring traffic on the website is to get the website rank higher in the list of the search engines, and therefore, get more attention of the users.
There are a lot of things that go into consideration when one optimizes a website from an SEO point of view. But the factors affecting the search engine ranking of a website keep changing.
However, the algorithms used by search engines are getting smarter and smarter each day, and these days it has mostly boiled down to the quality of the content on the website.
It is a welcoming change as the content on the website should be the focal point for ranking the websites.
But there are still a few steps one can take to aid the quality content present on the site and hence, help the website rank higher on the search engines.
Webs has a whole section dedicated to SEO on the dashboard. It helps the user to undertake all the healthy practices to take care of the website rankings.
It provides the user with an SEO grader and a checklist. The grader displays a score according to the search engine friendliness of the user’s website. It acts as constant motivation for the user to improve the score.
The checklist shows all the SEO tasks and tells if the user has completed the tasks or not. This helps make sure that there is no chink in the armor when it comes to SEO optimization on the website.
The SEO booster has a sitemap generator which makes it easy for the search engines to index the website, and thus helps the website rank higher in the search engine rankings.
It helps the user optimize the images on the website by adding proper descriptions and tags. The booster also prompts the user to optimize the header and the footer on the website as well.
All these steps make the website more search engine friendly and help to bring more traffic to the website.
The usual features, such as adding meta tags and descriptions for the website as well as the pages, also come along with the booster.
We will again say that it is the content on the website which matters the most in SEO optimization, but the booster can turn out to be a vital tool for ranking the website better on the search engines.
Once you create a website, you want your audience to be able to access the website without much difficulty.
Even though it may not sound like much of an issue, but slow loading speed can often be the culprit in regard to the user not accessing the website. The only way that a viewer can deal with a slow loading page is to wait for it to load.
The chances of a person waiting more than a few seconds for a website to load are very few in this age of instant gratification.
However, the website developer can undertake a lot of steps to ensure that the website does not take too long to load. In this case, the website builder has the responsibility to mitigate any latency issue on the website.
The tests reveal that the website created on the builder is not doing very well when it comes to the loading speed. The website builder has been inefficient in applying the proper strategies to ensure satisfactory loading speeds on the builder.
The two major areas which demand the immediate attention of the website builder are browser caching and scaling of images.
Browser caching is the method used by the developers to store some of the resources locally on the user’s browser, so that subsequent browsing and browsing in the future sessions takes lesser time.
If some of the resources will already be present, then there will be fewer things to download from the internet, and therefore, one will experience better loading speeds.
Considering the fact that it takes hardly any effort to leverage browser caching, we feel that the website builder is not taking the matter very seriously.
The other factor slowing down the website is that the builder does not scale down the images when necessary. It is obvious that a webmaster will put high-quality content and media on the website.
A person using a website builder can’t be expected to have much of an idea about how the images affect a website and what is the ideal image size at different places on the website.
The website builder does not scale down the images when necessary which makes the website take longer to load. If you have created a website on the builder with a lot of high-quality images, then you may come across the latency issues an awful lot of times.
However, we did not use the pro version of the website builder to publish the website. There is a slight possibility that the websites created on the paid version of the builder may do well. But that is only a speculation, and the user should be aware of the possible implications.
Security on the website is also one of the key issues that one needs to deal with before expecting to see some traffic on the website.
Cyber attacks have been on a constant rise, and therefore, browsers are becoming more and more cautious of vulnerable websites.
A browser would inform the user that the site she is about to access or has already accessed is not secure. Sometimes the browser will itself block the website. You definitely don’t want your website to fall in such category.
Thankfully, the website builder seems to have taken care of this section. The website created on the builder come with SSL certification.
The testers reveal that the service uses Cloudflare server which is again a good thing when it comes to the security.
Features such as password protection for different webpages on the website also strengthen the security measures on the website in some way.
Security does not seem to be much of an issue on the builder, but the loading speeds can see some improvement for sure.
Creating a website and putting it on the internet does not guarantee that people will visit it or that the website will be successful. Website building is just one of the starting processes, and the actual battle to gain friction starts after that.
Managing the various elements of a website is no easy task especially if it is a big one. The webmaster also needs to take help of the other avenues which can bring more traffic to the website.
There are a lot of third-party applications available which serve all kinds of needs of the webmaster. They take care of the subjects ranging to analytics of the website to email management.
All that the user needs to do is to include the codes for these applications on the website, and they will make life easier for him.
Integrating third-party applications on custom websites is a relatively easier task as the webmaster can access and modify the codes. However, the ability to include applications on sites created on website builders vary from one website builder to another.
Some of the builders provide all the popular applications in an app store while there are others which allow the user to add the custom HTML codes of the applications on the website.
Webs provides both the ways to the user when it comes to integrating third-party applications.
Let us first have a look at the apps which are readily available on the builder.
The two third-party applications which are readily available on the builder are Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools. Both are available in the settings window of the dashboard.
Both these tools help the user manage the website better, and one can start using them for the site by simply adding the key in the dashboard.
The website builder has also got an app store, but none of the apps available in the store are from any third-party. Additionally, the apps don’t seem much specialized as well. Some of the apps available in the store are Photo Gallery, Guestbook, Blog, etc.
The app store is available in the pages button on the top panel.
One can install any application by using the ‘custom HTML’ module. The element can be dragged and dropped just like any other module present in the dock.
The webmaster needs to place the module wherever she wishes and then paste the application’s code inside the element.
The process is fairly simple, but it would have been a lot better if the website builder provided an app store with popular third-party applications in it.
There is a lot of content that goes on the website ranging from text files to images and videos. It is this content what gives value to the site and builders are only for the outlining of this content.
The volume of content may differ from one website to another. In most of the situations, the webmaster imports this content from the device. It means that the webmaster can manage the site only on that device which has already got the material for the site.
If the user wants to be able to use the website builder on devices and manage the content, then she will need to create a copy of the content on all those devices.
But one will not come across such a problem while working on Webs. The website builder has a file manager where the user can upload all the content related to the website at the beginning of the website building process.
Once the webmaster has all the content in the file manager, he can use the website builder on any device, and all the content related to the website will be readily available to him.
You can log in into your account on any device, and manage both, the content and the website.
Such a feature gives a lot of freedom to the webmaster, and one manage website anytime and anywhere provided there is an internet connection available and a device to use it as well.
The file manager is available in the ‘settings’ tab of the dashboard. The manager has already got separate categories for images, music, and documents.
Any file which does not fall into any of these categories can go in the ‘other’ section available in the manager.
There is no need to keep coming back to the file manager when there is a need to upload something from it. The builder will automatically show the content present in the manager wherever there is an option to do so.
For instance, when you need a picture in the image module, the builder will show all the images available in the file manager along with the library pictures and the option to upload a picture.
The file manager makes it easy for the user to keep working on the website from a lot of devices. It can be helpful in cases such as when one wants to work on the website both from office and work without the need to copy content on both the house and the office device.
The file manager feature on Webs helps the user efficiently manage the content for the website. But so many things go on a website that one may not always have enough resources to get everything needed on the site.
The webmasters look towards online resources in such scenarios. These online resources can be stock image galleries and websites which avail non-copyrighted content.
This website builder helps user combat this issue by providing a lot of resources on the platform itself. The wide variety of resources covers everything from stock images to text formats.
The website builder is also rich when it comes to presenting templates and layouts that the user has at her disposal. There are enough modules which only help the user diversify the website even further.
Even though some of the resources available on the builder may not appear to be that modern or sophisticated, there is still plenty for the user to create an interesting website.
So far, we discussed how the website builder excels in so many sections, and why it still enjoys such a broad user base. But there are some things which this website builder still hasn’t got right, and we will be discussing them in this section.
One cannot neglect the omnipresence of mobile devices. These are computers we carry around in our pockets. People spend a significant portion of the day interacting with this tiny device which fits in the palm of their hands.
But somehow Webs has still not recognized the importance of mobile devices and therefore, they don’t provide the adaptive view feature on the platform.
Majority of the website builders provide this feature where the user can preview the website for devices which have different aspect ratios when compared with a desktop. The devices, in this case, are mobile phones and tablets.
The builder does allow the user to modify the landing page of the website for mobile devices, but there is no preview option.
The user can only hope that the website will look equally good on a mobile device as well.
The second feature that we missed on the builder is the ability to manage the website as a team.
The team management is again a ubiquitous feature on the website builder these days. It lets multiple people manage a website and work on different sections of it.
It not only lets one handle his area of expertise rather than the whole website but also helps to create a better site in lesser time.
It also makes it easy to manage a large and complex website and makes the website building tool a lot more suitable to organizations.
We can continue to point out the advantages of team management on a builder. But it would have made sense to discuss more on the feature if it was available on the builder.
We have already expressed our dissatisfaction when it comes to designs and templates on the builder. The builder is providing templates which would be more suitable to the square screens of the past rather than for the wide screens.
All the themes and templates are based on the same architecture, and there is not much that the user gets other than different borders styles on different templates.
The drag and drop website builders have this advantage that they provide the user with a lot of customization options, and so does this website builder.
However, there are still a lot of design challenges that one cannot overcome on this website builder. On such example can be the large blank space on both the sides of the content.
None of the templates availed by the builder extend the content section to both the horizontal ends of the screen. There are more roadblocks of similar kind, and there seems to be no way around them as well.
No matter how easy it is to use a website builder, it will still involve some learning curve. If we talk of beginners, then they will have even more to learn as they will also need to get accustomed to the various facets of website building.
There will be times when the user will need some assistance to manage some settings on the builder, and it is this when the customer support comes into the picture.
It is one of the key factors which decide the success of the product as it has a direct relation to customer satisfaction.
Since we were not using the premium version of this service, we were not entitled to use all the available customer support resources.
Customer support can be provided in many forms, and since the user may prefer one form over the other, and therefore, the service providers generally try to include all the forms in their arsenal.
Webs also tried to encompass all the possible forms to help the customer. The builder has live chat support, email support, and phone call support for the premium users.
It is commendable that the builder avails telephonic support as well. This is quite a rare feature to come across in website builders.
However, we cannot say much about the quality of all three of these services as we were not able to test any of them. But the fact that the user has these many avenues for support is very encouraging.
The support page on the official website has a lot of content related to the builder, and one can find guides for a lot of the features on the website.
The guides not only tell the user how to use the feature but also educates about the purpose of the feature. This extra bit of information makes a lot of difference and results in more efficient and productive websites.
One can also find a lot of video tutorials on the support page. It is an interesting way to learn how to use the feature. All the video tutorials of the website builder are also available on YouTube if one prefers that way.
You can either go through all the videos at once or refer to them as and when needed.
We don’t think that there is anything more that one could have asked for in terms of the customer support on the service.
This website builder was made to help small businesses and individuals to come up with their own websites without putting in a lot of resources. And the builder does this job very well.
Creating a website on this platform is as easy as it can get. The user interface is very intuitive, and the clean design helps the user start creating the website without much confusion.
The drag and drop feature along with the available modules give the user a lot of customization options. The abundant template options and the rich content gallery also assist in the website building.
Even though the website builder has been around for 18 years now, it takes care of a lot of the essential modern-day features of a website such as SEO. It lets the user include third-party applications which makes the deal even sweeter.
However, there is also a fair share of things that we feel are not right on this website builder.
The designs of templates need some serious upgrades. The builder should be proud of its legacy, but it should not get lost so much in it that the service starts appearing old and obsolete to the users.
They are still missing on some of the vital features of a website builder such as collaboration and adaptive views.
One can create a functional online store using this builder, but there is still a need for more features in the store. It lacks flexibility in design as well.
The service providers also need to work on the loading speed of the websites created on the builder. People can hardly bear the pain of slow loading websites anymore.
If the service provider can work on the shortcomings we just pointed out, then it will not be very tough for us to recommend the builder to our readers.
Overall Visibility Score 84.25
Company Name: Vistaprint Netherlands B.V.
Founded In: 2001
Address: 1100 Wayne Avenue, Silver Spring, Maryland, USA