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Thursday, Aug 9, 2012 « Back to the Press Room
SiteBuilderReport.com

Webs Review

Insanely flexible. Tons of options. Webs will surprise with just how much you can do with it.

I knew Webs was good before I started this review. It’s reputation preceded it. But it wasn’t until I started using it that I realized just how flexible it really is. You can create some truly complex websites with Webs.

Webs is one of the oldest website builders on the net (since 2001). But unlike other website builders, Webs has aged extremely well. They’ve managed to keep abreast of technology and stay relevant (unlike other website builders). That commitment to staying in the front of the pack has paid off. According to PR spokesperson Kaitlin Ambrogio “over 40 million websites have been created using Webs and we continue to grow.”

Apps

Webs is highly extendable. At the core of Webs is “application” pages. Applications (or apps) are pages that offer more advanced functionality than the standard texts and images. For example, a blog is an app because blogs have complex functionality (you need to be able to add posts, posts need to appear in order of date, you may want comments etc.)

Apps are a clever idea and something I haven’t seen other website builders execute nearly as well. Adding an App is done through pages in your control panel:

There are a wide variety of apps to choose from. According to Ambrogio some of the most popular include Web Store (ecommerce), ContactMe (beautiful contact buttons) and Appointments (an appointment scheduler). But there are plenty more outstanding apps beyond that including:

CafePress – Sell custom merchandise. Just upload images and they’ll be automatically added to t-shirts, mugs and more for you to sell on your site.

Donations – Accept donations through PayPal. Includes a thermometer option to encourage users to hit a fundraising goal.

Etsy – Put your Etsy store onto your Webs website

…. And much more, including forums, guestbooks, logo creators and podcasts. According to Ambrogio, “some of the apps are built in-house at Webs and sometimes third parties approach us.”

Membership Sites

If you need to run a membership site, look no further. Nobody has membership sites down like Webs. For Webs, easy membership sites have been a longtime goal. In 2009, CEO Haroon Mokhtarzada went so far as identifying Ning (not a website builder— actually a social network builder) as Webs most direct competition. So Webs has been dead serious about robust membership sites for a long time— and it shows.

Membership works easy with Webs. You can easily drag and drop the “sign in or register” link anywhere on your site:

From there you can create pages that are “protected” so that only members can view them:

From there, members can sign up, edit their profiles and even invite other users to join the site. It’s all out of the box and easy to implement. Plus you can add Facebook Connect to make registration painless for users. And you can even send out email blasts to all your members.

Combining these basic membership functions with apps is where the real magic happens.

For example, a company could build a basic intranet. Just setup the membership functions, and start adding apps: forums (company discussions), appointments (meeting room bookings), a blog (for company wide announcements). Impressive!

Or consider a user who wants to create a community fan-site. The user can setup the membership functions with a forums app, a CafePress store (so fans of the site can order swag), and the membership app (which allows your website users to post pictures, videos and announcements). And if the site ever need to fundraise (to upgrade their Webs website for example), just add the donations app!

The alchemy of combining apps and membership sites is, I think, the beauty of Webs. You can use these features to build out some quite complex websites.

Partners and Integrations

Besides application pages, Webs also has a strong roster of partners. You can create Facebook landing page designs with a partner called PageModo. Or edit images with Picnick.

For website stats, Webs uses Clicky, which allows you to view website stats right inside your Webs control panel. While Clicky is not quite as advanced as something like Google Analytics, it’s still got lots of good features and doesn’t force less tech-savvy users to have to figure out what Google Analytics is.

Mobile

Webs automatically takes your content and repurposes it into a mobile friendly version. Unfortunately, it does not also automatically take your styling. So you’ll need to use Webs mobile editor to try to re-create your styling. Other website builders (Weebly, Onepager) handle mobile sites by automatically creating a site based on both content and styling. It’s far more handy— I’d like to see Webs do that.

Salesy

Like many website builders there is an element of salesmanship to Webs. Whether they are pushing their “Today Only Sale!!”:

Or hiding their real prices on the pricing page with “As low as” pricing:

It can all be a little bit much. I’m sure these tricks push the needle with sales but for the end user the ambiguity and sleight of hand are annoying and hard to follow. It’s hard to know if you’re getting a good deal.

Ease of Use

This review has praised Webs ability to make complex websites— but that shouldn’t be to the detriment of Webs ability to do simple things as well. Webs is incredibly easy to use. It has the basics of website building down solidly. Their drag-and-drop website editor is perfectly executed. It’s fast, easy and responsive.

Conclusion

Webs is an excellent choice and highly recommended. It’s particular strength is giving users the ability to create complex websites easily.

Original Article URL: http://www.sitebuilderreport.com/reviews/webs