Homestead Site-Builder Review: The Godfather of Websites

Homestead’s website claims a whopping 12 million users, making Intuit 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

Criterion Rating Comment
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.
Overall Rating
2/5
This website builder is in desperate need of a complete overhaul to better reflect the era we live in.

Conclusion

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 Intuit website builder packages

Homestead Example Sites

Alternatives to Homestead

Weebly
See review
Squarespace
See review

Last updated: 10 Jan 2011 | Robert Brandl

Your opinion and user reviews:

 
  • Charlie

    I have used homsead for the past 7 years…

    the website features get worse or disappear, the offline wbsite builder is very unstable and take forever to do a simple task and even then it might crash without saving any thing.

    The customer service is the worst i know..

    For the amount it cost you would think that they could cover the basics, But on the bright side my website did stay at A on Google map and on the first page for at least 5 years so i just put up with it.

    Oh i forgot to say dispite all of the downside they always remember to take payments on time without fail.

    Hope this helps a bit???

    • http://www.tooltester.net/ Robert (Tooltester Network)

      Thank you Charlie, I appreciate your feedback!

  • Sophie

    I’ve use Homestead for 3 years now, I like it. It was fun and easy to create a website. Every time I have an issue trying to design something they are very helpful. It used to be by the phone, but one is by chat. I personally don’t see any problem with that. I think they can improve by having the option of calendar, the reducing the cost of “simpler store” … At least for small businesses.

    • http://WebsiteToolTester.com/ Armin

      Hi Sophie,
      Thank you for sharing your experience with our readers. We agree with you. The total costs with the store addon could be cheaper. If you need a calendar then check out Tockify. You can add this calendar feature to any website.