Homestead | Get a site, Get found Get customers?

My thoughts and experience with homestead.

Homestead said: Quickly create a site with our award-winning website building software. Our easy to use tools will have your small business website up and running in minutes.

Right? Sounds good?

Homestead is a blank canvas editor— which means you can drag and drop elements anywhere on a page. This sounds good in theory but it usually introduces headaches.

One of the headaches from a blank canvas editor is dealing with footers. Footers are supposed to be global elements (appearing on every page) but it’s really impossible to create them on Homestead because longer pages will just overlap the footer. Another problem with Homestead’s blank canvas editor is that it offers no grid or snap-to-grid. You’ll spend time inches from your screen trying to align elements! I don’t recommend blank canvas editors in general but I especially don’t recommend Homestead’s. There are better blank canvas options (Wix being the best). Overall Homestead just feels unpolished and outdated. For example, two small changes could improve this page editor: making moving pages draggable and adding a character count for titles— especially if you’re going to limit users with it. Another example of a lack of polish. You can’t copy and paste without pasting in this separate light window. I’ve never seen this a problem in any website builder except Homestead. Weird and annoying. One more problem that gets really annoying is that there is no way to set global styles— so you have to style each text box individually! This gets really annoying (especially when the default text style always stays the same).

More Important things!

Blog. Only the more expensive tiers can have a blog (very website builders do that). There are some very basic style customizations with the blog but mostly you’re stuck with a very basic view. There are just enough features, such as drafts and commenting, for me to say that they Homestead has a blog editor but it’s very clunky and I really wouldn’t recommend you use it for a blog. Furthermore I noticed major style differences between the website preview and the actual websites. That’s inexcusable! Ecommerce. Ecommerce is a $14.99 addition to your store (which is expensive if you’re already on the $20 / month business plan). Unfortunately ecommerce is so skimpy and poorly executed that it’s hard to imagine anyone could build a successful online store using it. You certainly couldn’t setup a store outside of the US (they only allow regional taxes for American states). The product editor is incredibly skimpy, product variations are limited to two, you can’t change weight or shipping based on product variations and there’s no way to edit email receipts. I wouldn’t recommend building a store on Homestead.

Wait there is more

Form Builder. There is an ugly contact form lightbox that allows no customization. iOS & Android Apps. No. Retina Ready. No. Newsletter. No. Membership System. No. Themes. Homestead themes are outdated. They look like they were designed 10 years ago. In fact I would be surprised if Homestead has designed any new themes in the last 5 years. Because Homestead is a blank canvas editor, changing themes means your existing website will be deleted— so make sure you choose the right one! None of Homestead’s themes are responsive. Homestead does offer a mobile site that you can add to your website but you have to add a domain name to your account in order to get it. What a joke! Probably the most frustrating aspect of Homestead’s themes is that instead of having a central customization editor you have apply styles to each individual element. This gets really annoying quickly!

Billing Practices: Not Ideal.

I was able to pay and cancel my Homestead account using their web interface. The not ideal part? They require a credit card for signing up for the “free” trial.

In the end. Buy yourself a server like at bluehost for $5.00 a month and hire a professional to do the work. You will be happier in the end, trust me.