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Reviews and expert opinion BuildYourSite

Louisa McGrath
Louisa McGrath
Website Development Expert

BuildYourSite’s website builder has decent support, clean templates, and an intuitive editor. But it really falls down on widget options, SEO, and pricing. Alternatives like Wix or Squarespace offer more perks and less downsides at a much lower price.


Overview

BuildYourSite proudly boasts over 12,000 customers across every state in the US, as well as seven countries. But this figure pales in comparison to the likes of Wix, which has more than 125 million customers globally. BuildYourSite has been around for ten years, so why haven’t more people started to use it yet?

Well, it’s probably got something to do with the lack of free plans or trials. Then the pricing is pretty offputting too! There’s also the fact that its website builder isn’t actually BuildYourSite’s main focus – it wasn’t even designed in-house. It’s actually a third-party builder which BuildYourSite has labelled as its own.

BuildYourSite was originally created by OneWeb Hosting to offer design services to its hosting clients. While it offers a website builder, it seems more focused on getting people to hire its design agency.

It would appear that the BuildYourSite designers are happy to offer their expert guidance to DIY users too. But the question remains: can you trust this builder to create a quality website for your business? Or is there a chance you’ll need to pay someone else to do it for you?

If you’re looking for a straightforward DIY option, the likes of Wix or Squarespace would be a much better choice. In fact, you’d probably be better off with any of the options on our list of top website builders for 2020.

But let’s take a look at BuildYourSite’s features, usability, and pricing so you can make that decision for yourself.

Templates

3.5
BuildYourSite's template gallery
BuildYourSite has 20 template categories for the likes of portfolios, landing pages, stores, and events

Can’t Find the Right Template? They’ll Make You One!

With around 200 templates available, BuildYourSite offers a range of clean designs. They’re all mobile responsive too.

There are templates in 17 categories, ranging from restaurants and real estate, through to portfolios and professional services. The templates in the restaurant category are particularly appealing. I also like the idea of its ‘4-Minute Sites’ section.

Unfortunately, you can’t filter your options in any other way and there’s no search bar either, so finding the right template might not be easy.

I liked a lot of the layouts – they’re not your standard cookie cutter templates. A lot of the color schemes were quite dark, which I didn’t like as much, but the good news is that you can completely customize the colors.

If you can’t find a template to suit your industry, the team says they’ll customize one for free. Or, if you’ve found a template you like but can’t find appropriate images in the media library, they’ll look into adding some for you.

The FoodHouse template from BuildYourSite's gallery
Any changes you make in BuildYourSite’s editor will appear immediately on the page

Once you’ve found the right template, you can tweak the design using BuildYourSite’s point and click editor.

Each individual page element can be changed in terms of dimensions, layout, alignment, and margins. A good selection of fonts are available and even the letter spacing can be adjusted. You can add custom HTML too.

The editor’s ‘Effects’ tab also gives you the option to add some attractive animation options with just a few clicks. For example, you could easily have your logo or business name slide onto the screen when someone enters your home page.

Overall, I was impressed with BuildYourSite’s templates and customization options – but still, it may be safer to go with a company like Wix, whose main goal is to provide a great website builder. This way you know new templates will be added and updated constantly.

Explore BuildYourSite Templates

Features

2.0
Features available from BuildYourSite
Because BuildYourSite was created by OneWeb Hosting, website and email hosting are both promoted as features

Basic but Practical Business Tools

All BuildYourSite’s website builder plans include a free domain name. If you already have one, BuildYourSite will renew it for you every year. You can also set up custom email addresses using your domain name and use BuildYourSite to send and receive business emails.

This website builder also offers blogging, multi-language translation, and Google Analytics access. However, the SEO features available within the editor is a let down as they’re so basic.

All you can do is add one title, some keywords, and a description for your entire website. Most website builders allow you to do this for every page. It looks like BuildYourSite simply submits your website to search engines for indexing. But this would happen either way as Google’s bots crawl the net.

So with BuildYourSite, chances are that your SEO is going to be weak and your pages are unlikely to rank high in search engines results.

Here’s a more detailed look at some of BuildYourSite’s other features.

Graphic Design Help

Each plan is supposed to come with access to a logo maker. As I was testing BuildYourSite, this tool was being updated, so I couldn’t try it out. However, help is also available from the experts.

I noticed that all plans come with ‘Free Graphic Design Help’ but was unsure what this meant. When I contacted support, a representative named Tony told me that they commonly assist customers with the creation of basic graphics. But once your request gets complex, they’ll charge a fee.

It’s nice to know that if you’re ever stuck, there’s help available. Though how much it will cost is a bit of a mystery.

The Web Application Library

With just nine widgets available, BuildYourSite’s library is extremely limited. The free Tawk.to chat support tool can be handy, and there are useful apps for adding feedback forms and cookie consent to your site.

Then there’s also a “snowfall effect” widget, which is pretty much useless unless it’s winter. But the fact that you can choose the exact number of snowflakes which cross each user’s screen is a testament to BuildYourSite’s customization options.

You can also create your own widget using code. Though it’s probably not worth the effort when other builders offer loads of extra add-ons that are ready to go. For example, Wix’s app market has more than 300 apps to choose from.

BuildYourSite’s widgets are available to all users whatever plan they’re on.

BuildYourSite widget options
With just nine options available, all of BuildYourSite’s widgets fit neatly into one tab on the editor

Social Media Management

There’s also a widget for adding social media share buttons to your pages. But e-commerce plans and up come with an automated social media marketing tool.

This allows you to manage, schedule, and customize posts for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. You can also use it to monitor reviews and mentions of your business on social media.

This is a nice extra if you’re planning to sign up for BuildYourSite’s e-commerce plan anyway. But don’t let this feature sway your decision. You could get a basic business plan with Wix, as well as a subscription to Buffer, for a considerably lower price each month.

The Store Builder

BuildYourSite’s e-commerce plan comes with some practical, built-in features. As well as social media automation, features include credit card processing, discount codes, inventory counts, and automatic tax calculations.

While it certainly offers everything you need to start selling online, most store owners would be hindered by BuildYourSite’s lack of apps and integrations.

Integrating your store with the tools you use to manage marketing, accounting, and inventory can save you tons of time. Data is automatically transferred between platforms and lots of repetitive tasks are performed automatically. Very handy! But because this isn’t an option for BuildYourSite users, it isn’t a good choice for building an online store.See full list of features

Ease of use

3.0
BuildYourSite editor walk through
BuildYourSite walks you through the basics of using its template editor

BuildYourSite Is Pretty Easy to Use

The point-and-click editor is intuitive. Adding pages, uploading photos, and all the other basics are simple. So are the trickier tasks like creating pop-ups and forms.

You just click on any element to change its design settings. Although your ability to rearrange layouts is quite limited.

Once you make a change, it immediately previews in the editor and you can switch between mobile, tablet, and desktop views with one click. The ‘undo’ button is quite useful too.

Here’s some other points of note in terms of usability.

How-To Guidance

All you need to do is click ‘Tips’ in the top right and you’ll get a full walk through of the editor. But most changes are easy to make without any guidance.

From within the editor, you can also click through to support articles. There’s roughly 20 on how to build and edit your website.

As I said, the editor’s SEO is awful. It’s also the one area where the user experience falls down. When you click through to set up your site’s SEO, whatever you’re supposed to do isn’t very evident.

Why do they want a ‘social image preview’? And what exactly does filling up this form do? It’s all a bit of a mystery – and the six line support article doesn’t offer much insight either. This is poor in comparison to any of the top website builders in 2020.

Squarespace, for instance, has a handy SEO checklist and dozens of SEO-related support articles. While Wix’s SEO Wiz provides a step-by-step plan for improving your site’s SEO right within the editor. It highlights your site’s weak points and links to helpful tutorials, articles, and videos.

SEO settings in BuildYourSite
BuildYourSite’s basic SEO setup won’t do much to help your website rank in Google

Adding Site Sections

You can take elements from other templates and incorporate them into your website. Though that sounds complex, the process is actually easy.

When you click to add a new section to your page, you’re presented with a window full of options. Let’s say you want to add a pricing feature to your page. You simply click the pricing category and you’ll be presented with seven different styles.

The sections you can add to a BuildYourSite template
From slideshows to pricing charts, you can add twenty different section types to your website. Each one comes in a variety of designs

When adding an element to your page, you can add it exactly the way it is – or automatically adjust it to match your template’s style. Forms, team bios, testimonials, CTAs, and maps can all be added in this fashion.

If you’ve got a layout in mind for your website and know what each page needs, you’ll appreciate this feature, though the process can be a little slow. But if you’re looking for a complete template that you can simply fill out, this won’t work for you. Each template is quite bare and it’s up to you to add extra pages and content.

Access to Pop-Ups

You can also add pop-ups to your website from within the editor. Choose from email sign-ups or coupon code offers.

However, you’ll need some coding knowledge to set these up right. The editing process gets a bit clunky here, too.See if BuildYourSite is Right for You

Support

3.5
BuildYourSite's help center
BuildYourSite’s Help Center has 38 support articles, which isn’t a lot when compared to popular mainstream website builders like Wix or WordPress.com

Sometimes Fast, Always Forthright

As well as some support articles, BuildYourSite also offers support through live chat, email, and phone. According to its website, the team offers 24/7 support 365 days a year. So I put their customer support to the test.

I contacted BuildYourSite across three channels at three different times. This is how I got on.

Live Chat

The first time I got in touch with live chat, I received an immediate response. It was a simple question, but I literally got the info I needed in one minute flat!

BuildYourSite customer support live chat
BuildYourSite’s guest editor isn’t prominently promoted, so I had to ask about it

A few days later, I sent a message later in the day. I was told I’d be notified of a response by email. I thought this might signal a slower response time, but I got an answer 16 minutes later.

I contacted agents through live chat a few times and every time they responded quickly, clearly, and politely. Their answers were usually short and concise, but they always contained the information I needed.

Ticket Support

Next, I submitted a support ticket asking if I could edit the mobile version of my website.

BuildYourSite support ticket submission
BuildYourSite’s website and support articles didn’t cover all the questions that potential new users might have

I did this on a Friday evening outside of Californian office hours and the response was a lot slower than Live Chat – it came back 12 hours later. Once again, I got a short and straightforward answer.

BuildYourSite ticket support response
In my experience, getting a response through ticket support was a lot slower than Live Chat

Phone Support

BuildYourSite features a contact number front and center. And, as it turned out, I actually had a reason to call.

BuildYourSite contact page
BuildYourSite’s contact number appears on the homepage, contact page, and a phone icon pops up on mobile

My account wasn’t set up automatically because my billing address is Irish. Phone support is available from 8am-6pm PST, which was a bit awkward for me. But if you’re in this timezone, it’s reassuring to know you can pick up the phone and speak to a human. After a brief chat with a representative named Marcus, I got access to my account. He wasn’t particularly apologetic about the mix-up but the problem was fixed within a couple minutes.

Overall, I found support to be accessible and helpful. Though it would have been nice if someone had reached out to me when my billing address was flagged. My payment went through but I was left in the dark about how to access my account.

Pricing

1.0
I already touched on the fact that BuildYourSite doesn’t offer a free plan or trial. Though you can test out the editor as a guest, I thought this was strange.

When I did a little digging, I discovered that BuildYourSite is reselling a third-party website builder. This isn’t the company’s own tool, so that’s probably why users can’t access a free trial.

So what are your sign-up options? Well, there’s the starter plan. But to be honest, it’s a complete rip off for limited features and just five pages of content.

In general, BuildYourSite’s pricing is quite expensive. This is especially true when you consider that the number of pages you can publish is limited on all plans, except the most expensive one.

The top-tier Business Max plan provides unlimited pages, but this will cost you about twice the price of Wix’s most expensive plan. However, the BuildYourSite team will work on your website for two hours every month, which is an unusual feature. They can work on graphics, content updates, or other site changes for you.

BuildYourSite’s Professional Plan is the most popular (or so they say). Though this will cover the needs of many businesses, you’re limited to just 50 pages of content. This plan provides access to BuildYourSite’s advanced forms builder, which powers event registrations, subscriptions, and donations. So it could be an option for charities and politicians.

There’s also a plan specifically for e-commerce. This comes with the shopping cart and social media automation I mentioned earlier – but it’s pricey!

Everyone gets access to analytics and graphic design assistance. However, all plans also come with a small (but not insignificant) setup fee! This came as a surprise when I headed to the checkout. It’s not clear what this fee covers either.

Users can pay month by month or take advantage of a 15% discount by paying annually.

Payment options include:

  • Visa
  • Mastercard
  • American Express
  • Discover

Cancellations and Refunds

BuildYourSite advertises a 30-day money back guarantee, but it’s not as straightforward as it sounds!

Firstly, I couldn’t find the cancellation form its Terms of Service insist you use. However, another message to support quickly got me on track.

It’s worth noting that BuildYourSite’s terms also state: “Any chargeback will evoke an automatic US$150 (one-hundred-fifty dollars) service fee, without exception.” So simply put, if you ask your bank or credit card provider to reverse the payment, they’ll charge you. Yikes!

The form was easy to complete. But the process was slow and I was left in the dark on what was happening. It took weeks for the money to come through.

I also lost my setup fee. On support, Tony referred to it as a “domain fee” and sent on login details for managing it. He said domains are free unless you cancel. But the fine print says setup fees are non-refundable anyway, so it seems to me like the setup fee is kind of a domain fee. It’s safe to say I wasn’t impressed.

Comparison

How does BuildYourSite match up to the competition?

WixCompare 4.9 Compare
SquarespaceCompare 4.8 Compare
BuildYourSiteCompare 3.0 Compare
SimpleSiteCompare 2.5 Compare

User reviews

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Bottom line on BuildYourSite

Can It Be Trusted?

I would be wary of using BuildYourSite’s DIY website builder service.

While the templates, editor, and support are all okay, it really falls down on widget options, SEO, and pricing. I also felt misled in terms of setup fees and refunds.

Tools like Wix and Squarespace offer more perks and less downsides at a much lower price.

However, if money is no object and you want a hybrid plan which includes both a DIY builder and web design assistance, you could consider BuildYourSite’s unusual Business Max plan.

Louisa McGrath
Louisa McGrath
Louisa is a freelance content creator based in Ireland. By day, she works with SaaS companies and SMEs. By night, she writes short stories and walks dogs.

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