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The Network Solutions site builder is relatively basic but it works just fine if all you need is a simple website. That said, I was underwhelmed by the support experience and overall pricing structure.
Frankly, you’ll get a lot more for your money with other services – more features, more tools, more templates… just more.
Can The World’s First Domain Registrar Make A Good Site Builder?
That’s right – Network Solutions is the first-ever domain registrar, and for a long time, it focused entirely on web hosting and domains. But now it’s got a site builder, too, and that’s what we’re here for today.
Clearly, Network Solutions has been around for some time, but does all of that experience translate into a better site builder product? Is this service right for your site and business? Well, truth be told, probably not. While the site builder itself is fine, its services and infrastructure (along with a certain lack of transparency) hurt the whole experience for me.
In fact, if I’m being honest, you’d probably do much better with a more comprehensive (and far more transparent) builder – like Wix or Squarespace.
Read on to see exactly what went wrong with Network Solutions. Then, you can decide if it’s the sort of thing you can live with, or whether the competition is better for you.
The templates are flexible and customizable. And they also come in single-page and multi-page variants, depending on whether you want to make a regular site, a one-page portfolio, or even a product landing page.
There’s also a blank option if you want to build your own template from scratch.
You edit the templates in a block-based drag and drop editor, where you can add basic elements like text, images, buttons, sliders, maps, and blocks for embeddable code to a simple layout.
It looks pretty darned familiar if you’ve used any other site builders out there.
You can change quite a bit about the base template styles. This includes colors and fonts, but also the global styles of headings, links, buttons, quotes, and even horizontal rules/dividers. It’s a fair bit of convenient customization that will change the look of your whole site at once.
I only have two small but somewhat important complaints. The font/typeface selection is relatively limited – I’m sure you want more typographical choices if you can get them. And secondly, Network Solutions doesn’t support right-to-left languages such as Hebrew and Arabic.
Unfortunately, the Network Solutions site builder isn’t packed with great features. It’ll let you build a decent site, but not much else. We’ve compared all the best site builders in 2021, and well, you’re spoiled for choice.
Between AI-based tools like those provided by Wix and Zyro, streamlined experiences like Squarespace, and the massive add-on and app libraries that many site builders have, Network Solutions has stiff competition.
That said, this site builder is not bad – if you consider it in isolation. Its features feel well-made, and they are more than enough if all you want to do is get that five-page brochure site up and running, maybe with a blog.
There’s also a big emphasis on security features: Network Solutions has you set up a security PIN from the moment you sign up. The service heavily advocates two-factor authentication, a feature that has saved my hide repeatedly on other services.
Beyond security, here’s what you can expect:
Start a Quick and Simple Blog
Okay, so the blogging feature is very simple. Write your post, add tags, add a cover photo, and go. That’s about it. You can’t even schedule it to be published later, unfortunately. Simply put, don’t expect WordPress-level publishing features.
You can, however, add a comments section – if you ever feel like letting the people of the internet have their say in a public forum.
Accept Payments Easily
This feature is an add-on that costs less than a full e-commerce site, but you still have to pay extra for it. Basically, it allows you to accept payments and donations on your existing site without any fuss. It’s compatible with major credit cards and PayPal.
It’s a simple feature on the front end, but not everyone needs to build a whole online store, you know?
Build a Full E-commerce Site
The e-commerce plan comes with the usual stuff: set up a store, sell your products. All the site templates are e-commerce-friendly*, and you can even link your inventory with Facebook Marketplace as an extra sales channel.
E-commerce sites are, of course, only available on the most expensive plan. But Network Solutions tries to help you offset the costs by providing marketing tools to grow your business. These include:
Social media marketing tools – get your Facebook on!
A price-comparison engine – so your customers can see exactly how your products stack up against the competition.
SEO tools – so people can actually find your store in search engines.
* It must be noted that there are premium templates that only come with the e-commerce plan.
Get a Free Domain With Every Plan
That’s right, every plan comes with free domain registration, although you have to pay to renew it. With the low cost of the cheapest plan for the first month, this is actually a pretty decent deal if you’re building a brand-new website, as domains usually cost $10-50 per year on their own.
That said, you’ll end up paying for it when you get hit with the renewal prices (more on that below).
It Would Be Easier If The Main Site Had More Information
The site leaves out a lot of key information about the site builder, especially the pricing, which seems rather important to me. In fact, all of my interactions with support (down below) involved some pricing or finance-related questions because Network Solutions doesn’t provide any of that information upfront.
There is a pricing page, but you have to Google it, and it’s broken, broken, broken.
The information on the features is painfully sparse as well. You know, the features, the things you use to sell a… never mind. I’m complaining about the marketing here, because first impressions can absolutely break an experience. The lack of information sent me down a few rabbit holes, I can tell you.
However, if you do buy in, the dashboard where you manage all of your Network Solutions products is serviceable despite being a bit dated. The learning curve is fairly short, and you could say the same for the site editor – it’s pretty standard stuff, as seen above.
Beyond that, there are a couple of things that Network Solutions offers to make your life easier, including:
Have Your Site Designed For You
You can have regular and e-commerce sites designed and built for you, to your specifications, by the Network Solutions staff. Naturally, this costs a fair bit extra, so it’s not the budget option.
On the other hand, there’s no easier way to build a website than to have someone else do it for you. If you have the extra money and you really like working with Network Solutions, this might be the way to go.
Find All The Pictures You Need With an Unsplash Integration
We’re seeing more and more site builders integrate with stock image libraries, and Network Solutions is no exception. Stock images are no substitute for custom images and photos produced by your company, but they’ll do the trick in a pinch.
They’re especially good for spicing up blog posts.
Keep Your Site Safe With The Cyber Security Service
The cyber security service is another add-on that costs extra. If you’re concerned about hackers – which you should be if you run an e-commerce site – you can hire a dedicated team of security specialists to keep an eye on your site.
Having a security team intimately familiar with the software and servers doesn’t hurt.
My support experience was lackluster overall. If you want to learn to do things on your own, well, there’s a knowledgebase, but it’s not great. It doesn’t cover much beyond the basics.
To get in touch with a support person, you have three options: live chat, phone, and a ticket/email system. The phone line is available all week, from 7 AM to 12 AM EST. Live chat is available from Monday to Friday, 8 AM to 11 PM EST.
I can’t tell you the hours for the ticket system because I never got a response there.
I asked for basic pricing information because, as you might remember, I couldn’t find it on the site without going most of the way through the sales process.
I received a response in minutes. Unfortunately, that response was, “Go through the signup process, and you’ll get to see the price.” I understand why that was the answer, but it’s not a good answer. It’s just not.
I simply asked, “How much does the Website Builder package cost after renewal?” As of yet, I have not received a reply, which is not a good look.
Over the phone, II asked if it was possible to use GIFs in the site builder and for information about cancellation and refunds. You know, because that information isn’t easy to find. Not even in the legal policies.
The agent didn’t seem that knowledgeable and asked me “which website builder” I was referring to. Making me think the team handles a lot of different products at once.
He was able to get back to me with the information I needed after some research, so I can’t fault him too much. I suspect poor planning on the company’s part.
Anyway, there’s no GIF support, but you can get refunds within 30 days of the initial purchase. At least that.
There’s no free trial and no free plan, so you’ll need to drop some cash (at least a few US dollars) to try the service out for yourself. It isn’t a huge amount, but demos are standard practice in the industry.
A lack of transparency about pricing has cost Network Solutions dearly in the score for this section. I mean, to find the renewal prices, I had to make my first order, go to the Renewals section of the website, and then see the prices in the shopping cart itself.
Those are downright tacky sales tactics.
Sure, you can start on the cheapest plan for $6.95 per month, but then the prices go up significantly for monthly renewal. Think five times as much. Now, you can get a discount if you pay for 1-to-10 years in advance, but it’s not as cheap as it should be, and it only gives you access to the basic site builder.
The mid-range Website and Online Marketing plan only adds the automatic submission of your site and business profile to search engines. You can do that yourself for free.
Network Solutions Website Builder REVIEW: BOTTOM LINE
The Network Solutions site builder itself is capable – I’d even go as far as to say it’s enjoyable to use. Plus, it has some nice-looking templates.
However, a lack of transparency around the pricing, poor customer support, and an underwhelming feature set turned me off.
Frankly, you’ll get a lot more for your money with other services – more features, more tools, more templates… just more. From choosing a package to building your site, you’ll have fewer headaches with builders like Wix or Squarespace.
Is Network Solutions a good website builder?The Network Solutions website builder itself is alright – I have little bad to say about it. It’s a simple tool that you could find with any number of other services, like GoDaddy or SITE123. But sometimes, that’s precisely what you want.
Still, the feature set is incredibly basic compared to the more prominent names in the industry and I was disappointed with the lack of pricing transparency and support responsiveness.Can I use the Network Solutions website builder for free?Nope. There is no free trial or free plan.You can get a refund within 30 days if you contact support. That’s all I have to say about that.
If Network Solutions’ relatively low starting prices are a bit out of your budget, or you’d rather go to one of its competitors on the cheap, check out our list of the best site builder coupons and deals.Is Network Solutions easy to use?The site builder is fine, but the problem lies in all the infrastructure and poor UI design you have to wade through before using it.
The Network Solutions site made it hard for me to find important information on advanced features, pricing, refund policies, and other stuff. You can’t even see the starting prices – which are lower than the renewal prices you’ll have to pay later – until you’ve picked a domain name.
I had to ask support about the renewal prices, and I never received an answer.What is the best website builder in 2021?Heck, I’ll give you two options. Wixwould be the first choice for many due to its powerful design options, marketing features, and the bits of AI that can design your site (or an SEO plan) for you.
Squarespace (my personal favorite) has a more streamlined and modern experience, gorgeous themes, and a focus on quality over quantity when it comes to features.
In truth, either would make a pretty good choice. You can also look at our list of the best site builders in 2021 to check out all of the competition.
Ezequiel Bruni is biologically Canadian, legally Mexican, and self identifies as a total nerd. He’s been a web and experience designer off and on since he was a teenager, and loves sharing the kind of beginner’s advice he really wishes he’d had when he first started. He also loves video games, tacos, open source software, video games, sci-fi and fantasy in all their forms, and video games. He does not love writing in the third person.