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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Next, I submitted a support ticket asking if I could edit the mobile version of my website.
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 features a contact number front and center. And, as it turned out, I actually had a reason to call.
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.
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:
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.
How does BuildYourSite match up to the competition?