Homestead Site-Builder Review: The Godfather of Websites
Homestead’s website claims a whopping 12 million users, making Endurance one of the biggest website hosts out there. The platform has also received numerous positive press reactions since since its launch in 1996. This alone is enough to make us want to try their product.
A closer look revealed one feature in particular that we didn’t expect: Homestead works as both an online and offline website builder. But you can’t actually do anything unless you’re connected to the internet, which cancels out any advantages to this two-tiered approach. We’ll readily admit that we’re not a big fan of installing software too.
Homestead’s web-based tool, Site Builder Light, unfortunately only features a fraction of the tool’s functionality.
See it in action here
Homestead in Detail
|Ease of use||Web-based editor is very simple but offers only the most basic of features. Locally installed version is a lot more complicated and less intuitive. Does not look like a convincing concept to us.|
|Choice and flexibility of design (templates)||Templates on offer do look ok - we've seen worse. But template customization is very limited and if you decide to change your template, you lose all your content. (Not a problem we've seen with other site builders we've tested).|
|Advertisement-free||yes||Only paid subscriptions available. Find more on Homesteads pricing options here.|
|Languages||Text editor supports any western European language, but interface available in English only.|
|Your own domain name (e.g. .com or .net)||yes||Re-direct or transfer your existing domain; you can also register a domain via Homestead. Help section will show you how this works.|
|Depth of navigation||There's only the main navigation level, as the templates don't have any sub navigation. This will be a major problem if your website grows larger.|
|Widgets (small tools to add extra functionality)||Video tool, photo gallery and many other widgets such as a Facebook "like" button included. Also a large image gallery with free photos.|
|Monetization||yes||With Google AdSense inserted via a HTML widget, or other banner ads.|
|E-Commerce||Add a simple Paypal button or upgrade to SimpleStore or Storefront for an additional charge.|
|Search Engine Optimization (SEO)||Meta tags, meta descriptions and page titles can all be edited. URL is generated from the name of the menu item. W3C Validator finds a high number of HTML errors in the source code though, which is unnecessary.|
|Blog||Can be added via the blog manager module, which is quite a pain to work with.|
|Visitor statistics||Use Homestead's built-in RealTracker, or add Google Analytics to each site individually.|
|Contact form||yes||Offers quite a few field options.|
|Password protection||not tested|
|Newsletter tool||yes||There is a mailing list feature. Not tested.|
|Add HTML code||yes||Allows you to add other widgets and tools.|
|Storage space||25 MB+||The Starter plan offers 25 MB only. The Business plan looks better with 5 GB.|
|Forum||no||No forum available.|
|Support||yes||Email and phone. Support has been responsive.|
|Fun Factor||To be honest, working with Homestead was not our idea of fun.|
|This website builder is in desperate need of a complete overhaul to better reflect the era we live in.|
When describing Homestead’s site builder, it’s easier to tell you what it isn’t: neither free nor cheap. In fact, it is very expensive compared to its competitors. The USD $4.99 package gets you only 5 single pages with storage up to 25 MB (that’s right, not GB). To be able to use it in a remotely realistic fashion, you’d have to opt for their hugely overpriced Business package at USD $19.99.
The problem is not that Homestead is missing a lot of features. Instead, the underpinning system should probably have been replaced long ago because it seems like more and more features have just been added on top of an old core. Homestead is the dinosaur of website builders and is doomed for extinction, unless it quickly learns to adapt to its new environment.
Homestead Example Sites
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Last updated: 10 Jan 2011 | Robert Brandl