Homestead is basically one of the earliest web-based site builders in existence. After being bought by Intuit in 2007, the company shifted gears and repositioned itself as a website building and hosting solution for small businesses. Can this platform provide you with what you need? Let us take a closer look to see what it can do for you.
Features and benefits
Homestead was primarily designed to allow average, non-technical people to establish their presence on the web. Listed below are some of the basic features that come with their service.
It has an intuitive interface. Homestead features a simple interface that allows users to create and edit their sites with drag and drop simplicity. Users can add, edit or delete page elements (photos, downloadable files, buttons, media player, maps, blogs, polls, guest book, custom menus, social media and ecommerce tools) with relative ease so you can design a site that is tailor-fitted to meet your needs. All text elements can just as easily be edited by double clicking anywhere within the content area.
The service comes with hundreds of detailed templates. Homestead offers hundreds of website templates in every niche conceivable. As such, users have the choice of using existing templates or starting a customized template from scratch. The elements of these templates can also be mixed and matched to suit individual business needs. Each template comes with unique pages, text and relevant images as well as a fully functional navigation.
It can help with your search optimization efforts. Homestead allows users the freedom to edit meta tag, descriptions and page titles.
It allows users to collect visitor information. Users can add prefab forms to their sites and collect information from their visitors. Web forms can be customized by adding checkboxes, list boxes, textboxes, dropdown menus and option buttons. In addition, the system can also be set to send you the submitted forms so you can manage new business leads more effectively.
It allows users to track website metrics. Homestead uses RealTracker to monitor site performance. However, you can choose to add Google Analytics to do the job.
It offers free, live advice. Users can always get live help whenever they feel stuck. Users’ questions can be answered by a live person, through email or online.
- Personalized domain and email address. Everybody knows that a separate domain name can make a business look more professional and help people find your business more easily. In cases where your chosen name is already taken, you can also have Homestead’s web expert to suggest names.
- Blog. Homestead gives users the freedom to add a blog to their site quite easily. While the basic package does not have any blogging capability, this feature comes free with the Business and Business Plus packages.
- eCommerce functionality. Users can easily convert their existing site into an ecommerce site. Users can sell products online by choosing the “basic store” or SimpleStore feature or the “advanced ecommerce” or Storefront feature.
- With the SimpleStore feature, users can integrate an online store into their existing website, offer up to 100 products on sale and receive payments through flexible payment options. Users also get the freedom to organize their products by category and add product details with relative ease.They can sell their own products by using any one of the 200+ online store templates available. You can also sell products from Amazon, eBay, Google Product Search and Yahoo! Shopping right from your own pages. In addition, it offers flexible payment options (cash, checks, credit card, money order) and a secure checkout.
Site creation and traffic. If you really want to have a website that is designed by a pro, you can let Homestead do the work. In addition, they offer paid services to help drive traffic to your site.
Homestead offers three distinct packages – basic, business and business plus. All packages offer a free 30-day trial period, a 30-day money back guarantee and can be upgraded, downgraded or canceled at any time since there are no long-term contracts or penalties that binds you to a particular package.
The basic package offers 25 MB storage space, 5 GB bandwidth per month and the ability to create and host and single five-pager site while the business package offers 5 GB storage space, 100 GB bandwidth per month and the ability to create and host three sites (not exceeding 100 pages). The most expensive package offers 10 GB storage space, 500 GB bandwidth per month and the freedom to create and host unlimited number of sites with an unlimited number of pages.
The lowdown on using Homestead
While there is a free version available, Homestead requires you to submit your credit card information before they allow you to take their website building and hosting services for a spin. At present, they also do not offer the capability to create a forum or build mobile sites – two features that any serious web owner should have. In addition, since their basic package is limited to a five-page single site, using this service can get real expensive in the long run.
However, while Homestead can be a bit pricey, it is definitely very newbie-friendly and can help non-techies set up their first website or ecommerce site quite easily.