BaseKit (now called Sitejam) review – first impressions and a comparison with Squarespace
BaseKit started out in 2008, so is still a relative newcomer to the website builder market. The British company has positioned itself in the high-end category, somewhere between WordPress.org and Weebly.
BaseKit doesn’t use a Freemium model, and in this it is similar to the longer-established New-York-based provider Squarespace. Indeed, comparing the websites of the two, you can’t help getting the impression that BaseKit have been taking inspiration from their colleagues in the US in other aspects too.
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A trial version of BaseKit is available for a 14-day period. Limited to only three web pages, the trial version is a bit too restrictive to really try it out properly, however. We therefore obtained the full Business version for our review.
Our advice to the BaseKit team would be to give users access to a full website kit as a trial version – it will make it harder for people to leave after that!
Apart from the trial version, the BaseKit packages available are Basic, Business and Professional. The Business package seems the most useful at $14 (£8) per month with a one-year contract. It includes your own domain name and unlimited web pages.
Setting up a website with BaseKit
Having registered and logged in, you choose your website template – and BaseKit offers some very nice designs indeed.
Once you have chosen a template you get a basic website with dummy content, which you can then start to customize. Additional elements are displayed in the left-hand column and are inserted simply by using drag’n’drop.
This really is exactly as easy as it sounds. You can also move elements around very easily and arrange them whichever way you like. There is plenty of room for creativity. BaseKit also offers lots of useful additional functionalities, such as a search function, a comment widget, form templates and a nice photo carousel plug-in.
Social Media integration is also included, of course, as are e-commerce buttons for PayPal and Google Checkout. You do need at least the Business package for the latter. Nevertheless, for a fully fledged online store BaseKit is probably not really the right tool. Incidentally, Squarespace doesn’t yet offer any e-commerce functionality at all.
Now for a few minor problems I’ve had with BaseKit. For example, I found it quite complicated to change the banner graphics or navigation for the entire website. Tech support suggested that I should use the template widgets. To figure out how this works exactly took me quite a while.
It’s interesting how Basekit’s approach to create different site structures compares to the one of Squarespace. Both ways have their pros and cons.
Having said that, it doesn’t do any harm in principle to understand the basics of how HTML and CSS work together. With BaseKit, just as with Squarespace, you will soon come across terms like Border, Margin, Padding etc., and it helps to have some basic background knowledge so you can understand what these words refer to.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
As far as SEO is concerned, BaseKit passes with flying colors. You can access all relevant areas and are even able to set up 301 redirects. Here BaseKit can certainly hold its own against its US counterpart.
Functionalities we were missing
One thing we would have expected from a comprehensive toolkit like BaseKit is an integrated blog function. And my guess is that this will probably be added sooner or later. Also, similar to Squarespace, BaseKit lacks a mobile-friendly website version. I think, in this day and age, when the Internet is increasingly being accessed through smartphones and tablet devices, this is no longer acceptable. So this should really be addressed urgently.
The system is well documented and we also found the Live Chat Support especially useful. The BaseKit team seems to place particular importance on excellent support, something we very much endorse.
BaseKit offers an extremely promising platform with great potential. We also welcome the fact that Squarespace is now finally facing some real competition. Perhaps this will help speed up the development cycles of the American provider, which can be a little on the slow side.
At the moment Squarespace still seems the more rounded and further advanced of the two. In particular its brilliant blog function is as yet unrivalled – as are its membership functions and the Business package.
Anyone seriously interested in a premium website builder tool should definitely give both providers a go. A clear bonus of BaseKit are its fresh and contemporary designs. You can try Basekit free for 14 days.
Update 31 Dec 2013: Basekit is now called Sitejam.
Last updated: 13 Dec 2011 | Robert Brandl