As of August 2012, Intuit Websites no longer exists. Intuit sold it’s website business (including Homestead which it purchased in 2007) to Endurance International Group. The information in this review still applies to the Homestead site builder which remains the same and some of it has been updated to reflect this change. Mention of the Intuit brand name had been removed for the most part.

 

I Spent My Own Time & Money To Test Homestead Websites So You Don’t Have To…

Of the many website builders on the web, Homestead Websites by Homestead Technologies is one of the more popular options. Before deciding on a website builder for your website, it’s important to understand what you’re getting. To help you with your decision, I spent my own time and money to get a Starter Package from Homestead Websites. You can check out the video below to see my example site and get a quick walkthrough of the website builder provided by Homestead

Pricing & What’s Included with Homestead Website Packages…

Intuit Website PriceHomestead has different packages but I used their Starter Package to build my example site. The Starter Package was $7.99 per month when I bought it but it is currently $4.99 per month. This starter package gives you access to the basics including the Homestead SiteBuilder and the ability to create a 5 page website. This package does not include a domain name or email addresses but these are both add-on options. However, I wouldn’t recommend adding these to your Homestead Starter Package. You can get a Domain Name from GoDaddy for $12/year and a free email address will be included. On the other hand, buying these from Homestead as an add-on the domain name would be $5 for setup and $2/month and adding an email address to your account is $1/month per email address.

The next step up from the Starter Package is the Business Package which includes 100 pages on your website, a domain name, and 5 email addresses for $19.99 per month. If you compare this to the Starter Package described above and using GoDaddy for domain name and 1 email address, your total cost would be $5.99 per month ($4.99 for Homestead and $1 for domain and email from GoDaddy). The difference between these two options is the number of pages on your website. If you get the Starter Package, you’ll be limited to 5 pages. If you need more than that, you’ll probably want to go with the Business Package which includes up to 100 pages.

 

Weebly ReviewSorry to interrupt – Please finish reading this review, but open my Weebly Review page now in a new window and read it next. You can also watch my video on the best website builder.

 

Is the Homestead  Website Builder User-Friendly?

Most people who want a website don’t know anything about HTML or other coding technologies and software required to build websites. To solve this problem, many companies like Homestead have developed website builders. Website builders are programs that allow anyone with basic computer skills to set up and manage a website. There are mixed reviews among customers using the Homestead website builder. Some customers say it is user-friendly while others say it is very difficult to use.

Intuit SiteBuilder

I have a decent amount of experience building websites on different platforms but I was able to pick up the Homestead website builder very quickly and build my site in less than an hour. There is no HTML code to worry about. You simply click on text and image elements to edit them or drag them around the page. You can add links to other pages and change the color, font, and size of the text like you would in Microsoft Word.

Pictures – The Homestead website builder includes a gallery of pictures that are free to use on your website. You can also upload your own pictures from your computer.

Page Templates – When you first setup your site, the website builder will allow you to insert pre-designed templates like About Us, Services, Contact Us. Since these are pre-designed, it will move along the site building process for you and cut down on the overall time it will take you to create your site.

Special Page Elements - The Homestead website builder makes is pretty easy to insert special elements like a blog, YouTube video, contact form, social buttons, payment buttons and more to your site. Some of these options are not included in the Starter Package.

Page Elements

 

Website Templates from Homestead Websites

When you use a website builder like Homestead, you will be limited to the website designs that the company offers. When I set up my example site, one of the first steps was to choose a website design template. Homestead Websites offers hundreds of templates so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding one that achieves the look you want. However, they are just templates and have the “template look”. Many people who visit the site may not be very impressed with the overall look of the site and some people may not perceive it as being very professional. But you get what you pay for. Many small businesses pay more than $5,000 to get a custom designed site that looks very professional. If you or your small business can’t afford that, then the website templates from Homestead is a good option. You can see the template selection screen below and see the look that I chose on my example site. You have the ability to change your website design template at any time within the SiteBuilder.

Intuit Website Templates

 

Goodbye Personal Service

Since Homestead is a large company, you can expect to get the personal service you are accustomed to with large companies. Within the SiteBuilder, there is a help menu that includes questions and help from the Homestead community. You can also chat online or speak on the phone with a web advisor. I did use the live chat feature once when building my example site and was able to get a quick answer. I did not use their support phone number. They do claim it’s unlimited but I can’t say for sure if a web advisor will spend hours with you on the phone. If you have any experience with the phone support at Homestead Websites, please comment below.

With a website from Homestead, you will be on your own for the most part to build your website using the site builder.

 

Do Search Engines Like Website Builders?

If you want a website, it’s probably because you want website traffic. And if you want website traffic, you will be relying heavily no the major search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. While using a website builder is an affordable solution, one of the major downfalls of website builders is the fact that search engines do not like them.

Search engines use website crawlers, automated computer programs that view the source code of a website to determine the content of the site. For this reason, it is important that the source code of a website is clean and easy for a search engine crawler to analyze. Because the main concern of website builder software like that used by Homestead is to make it easy for the website creator to use, the cleanliness of the source code is sacrificed. As a result, search engines rankings suffer. In fact, your website may not be indexed at all by the major search engines which means your site will not be listed at all when people search for related search terms.  Getting your website built by a professional who uses a more sophisticated design process will result in cleaner code and a website that is indexed and ranks higher in the search engines.

Take a look at the two code example below. The first one is an example of a portion of code outputted by the Homestead Website Builder. Compare it to the next picture of WordPress source code and see the difference. Even if you know nothing about code, you can tell the WordPress code is much cleaner. All of the red and blue text is styling and formatting text. The black text is the actual content of your site. In order to make the website builder easy to use, the source code ends up with a very muddied output source code. Users won’t see this but the search engines will. And it may cause them to view your website as lower quality.

 

Homestead Website Code

Intuit Website Code

 

WordPress Website Code

 

This may be one of the most important aspects of deciding whether a website from Homestead is right for you. If you want a website that will rank well in the search engines, you may want to consider not using a website builder.

 

Try It For Yourself

One of the best ways to decide if Homestead Websites is for you is to try it for yourself with their free 30 day trial offer.  Try Homestead Websites Free

 

Alternative to Homestead Websites

If you are looking for an alternative to the Homestead Website Builder, consider a Complete Website Package from Web Eminence. This unique service allows you to get a simple and affordable website setup with a professional and sleek design theme. Everything you need is included so you don’t have to worry about combining services. Ongoing maintenance is also included so you don’t have to ever think about how you will make edits to your website in the future. Read this testimonial from a satisfied client:

Karen Selman - President First Call Advisory Group

After many hours of research and electing to go with Homestead Websites, I was led to the article above written by Ryan about the advantages and disadvantages of using Homestead Websites. This led me to review Ryan’s website which we found to be aesthetically appealing, informative, and user-friendly. WebEminence was offering exactly what we were looking for at a price that was affordable for our organization. It was a perfect fit!

What Has Your Experience Been with Homestead Websites? Leave a Comment Below

Find Ryan Bowman On Google+
  • Seattle Computer Guy

    Thank you, clear, clean, explanation. What do you think of Weebly??

    • http://WebEminence.com/ Ryan Bowman

      Your welcome. I’ve used Weebly but not extensively. I plan to write a review on it soon after getting more familiar with their website builder. Weebly offers a free website on their domain so your domain would be domain.weebly.com. Their website builder offers many features but with the free version, you’re limited on # of pages and storage space. They offer upgraded plans with more storage and pages.

  • Susan

    Thanks for your insight. What do you think about 3DCart? I am presently on Yahoo Sitebuilder, but was thinking about changing.

    • http://WebEminence.com/ Ryan Bowman

      Hi Susan. I’ve never used 3DCart extensively but am familiar with it and believe they are a reputable service. I don’t do e-commerce sites for clients but my personal recommendation is Shopify because they have simple and clean theme designs and their service is simple. I’m a big fan of “simple.” You can tell the difference bewteen 3DCart and Shopify even by looking at their respective home pages. I’m somewhat familiar with Yahoo Sitebuilder and think both 3DCart and Shopify would produce a better end result for you. They both have free trials currently.

  • Losing Customers

    The Homestead IP address is on a uce-dot-gov blacklist, and they are working on day 5 of not fixing the issue that we have nothing to do with. Way. To. Go.

    • http://WebEminence.com/ Ryan Bowman

      Wow, I didn’t know that. I’ll have to do some research on it. I would imagine Homestead doesn’t have one IP address for all their customer sites. Are you a current customer?

      • Losing Customers

        I was at the time. Whatever IP that was compromised only consisted of a small(~>200 maybe) group of customers that didn’t purchase their own dedicated IP. SpamCop or whoever it was basically put the kabosh on one certain IP and Homestead’s customers that had anything to do with the shared IP suffered. Now I have my email hosted somewhere reputable that won’t explode into a ball of flames. I did hear that Homestead fired their email hosting contractor(or whoever it was). Here’s a link to the group of people that was affected: https://community.homestead.com/homestead/topics/emails_not_delivered?utm_content=topic_link&utm_medium=email&utm_source=reply_notification

        • http://WebEminence.com/ Ryan Bowman

          Thanks for the update. Hope everything is going well for you. So you left your website with Intuit/Homestead but transferred your email elsewhere?

  • Hope Stansbury

    Intuit powerd by Homesead is a great company. I am impressed with the support you get and the quality. I purchased the optimization package and they did an amazing job with my website. Royalgardensaromatics-dot-com

    • http://WebEminence.com/ Ryan Bowman

      Hi Hope, thanks for sharing. What’s the optimization package? I don’t see it on their website. Your site looks nice but pretty typical of what you get from a template on the Intuit website builder.

      There are a few issues with your site that you may want to fix. On some of the pages, the text goes off the page at the bottom.

      • Hope Stansbury

        Thanks for your response. I don’t know what kind of a computer you used to look at my website but I have a Mac and I looked at all of the pages and I didn’t see any page where the text goes off
        the page. The optimization package they have is to get the website up in the ranks organically which is what we want .

        • http://WebEminence.com/ Ryan Bowman

          I’m on a Windows PC and using Google Chrome browser but it’s happening in 3 different browsers. Look at the Note Worthy page. That’s where it’s most noticeable.

          How much is their optimization package? You’ll be interested to read my Search Engine Marketing Guide I’m releasing in a few weeks.

      • Hope Stansbury

        I see that you use templates and themes too as well as Intuit. I personally designed my own website, colors, photos, which I took myself, the verbiage as well. What they did is enhance what I did and tweaked it.
        Sent from my IPAD

        • http://WebEminence.com/ Ryan Bowman

          Yes, I use premium themes for WordPress. They allow you to keep the site affordable but still get a custom look.

  • superpsychomom

    Great review! I have a question that I am hoping that you can answer: If I build my site on Homestead and want to add a “Search” option where visitors can search for keywords, phrases, or article titles, is that a feature that they offer? If not, is there a sitebuilder that does offer that particular feature? Thanks!

    • http://WebEminence.com/ Ryan Bowman

      Good question – I don’t believe Intuit Homestead has a site search feature. I’ve reviewed several website builders recently and the one I remember that does have a search feature is Weebly. However, their search function is only available to their Pro customers.

      Feel free to contact me through my contact page and I can help you out more with finding the right website builder for you.

    • cmw

      Yes there is a search option If you use Simple Store. Very limited for pics and text.

      • http://WebEminence.com/ Ryan Bowman

        Thanks. That may be to search the store products. I think what superpsychomom is talking about is a site-wide search though.

  • barcodeguy

    Ryan – I have been a user of the Intuit (small business version) for several years. As you say, it is fairly user friendly. I have worked with barcode design software that functions very similarly. However, Homestead’s tech support is the worst I’ve ever seen. I don’t need them often, but hold times can be as long as forty minutes, and their tech support is usually terrible.

    Recently, when attempting to upload monthly changes, I was given an error message and told that I had to ‘upgrade’. When attempting to do so, the program completely locked up, and I had to wait until a weekday to call tech support. The technician said that if I upgraded, that the look of some of the pages might change slightly. I replied that I only wanted to keep the desktop version I was using, and he overrode the upload feature and said that was fine. Now, a month later, I have the same problem. After 35 minutes on hold, the new technician wanted a pin number that he said I could get off my homepage. Oops! that feature is not available on the desktop version.

    One of the other major problems I found is the limitation on the number of pages, and the way the pages display on various devices. The design editor does not truly reflect the webpage layout, and if you have things that are close together in your design, they might actually be on top of each other on the web page.

    Intuit also pushes their ability to get, and keep you near the top of search engines. That has not turned out to be the case.

    All-in-all, I would not recommend Intuit to anyone if they want a ‘real website’.
    I am downloading your startup guide to try to regroup.

    • http://WebEminence.com/ Ryan Bowman

      @barcodeguy:disqus Thanks for the thorough description of your experience. I’m sure your comments will be helpful to people considering the Intuit website builder.

      I don’t really test out customer service when reviewing these website builders but maybe I should do that since most customers will need to utilize customer service at some point.

      I don’t remember Intuit having a desktop version. Have you tried their online website builder? They probably keep it more up to date than the desktop version you’re using. Out of date software might be causing your issues.

      The overlap problem is a deal breaker in my opinion. I’ve noticed a lot of Intuit sites with overlapping content. A website builder should keep things in box elements that do not overlap and all the good ones do. Intuit (or Homestead) is just a little behind in their technology.

      You can see the website builders I recommend here: http://webeminence.com/website-builders

      And I never believe any website builder or hosting company that sells SEO services. It’s just an add-on to get people to pay for another service when they don’t know any better.

  • fraserriver

    Have been using Intuit for 7 years now and have several sites. I find it very easy to work with and have always had excellent help from them.

    • http://WebEminence.com/ Ryan Bowman

      Good to hear a positive on the Intuit website builder. People are usually complaining about it. There are obviously a lot of people having a good experience since they have thousands of customers.

      • fraserriver

        In fact I have just purchased a 27 ” imac and had to call in to them as instructed to set up on my mac…..took less than 5 min and the fellow was more than helpful and gave me some other helpful advice that I had not inquired about.

  • P. Taylor

    I would have to give Homestead Website Builder a total score of: 4.67

    Website builder – Ease of use – 8
    Overall Website builder (website won’t load most of the time) – 5
    Customer Service – 0 (Never respond to chat or emails)

    • http://WebEminence.com/ Ryan Bowman

      Thanks for the input. That’s pretty consistent with what I’ve heard from others but I’ve not heard about websites not loading. That’s pretty bad.

  • gloria

    I have used intuit (homestead) for almost three years, and it is super-easy for a non-techie such as myself to layout. Unfortunately you are right about the SEO aspects…..my geeky friends tell me that the coding is awful. So eventually I will move my site at http://www.thecatholictravelguide.com to WordPress. But I understand that going from html to WordPress is quite a challenge.

    • http://WebEminence.com/ Ryan Bowman

      WordPress is definitely not as easy as most website builders. You might want to look into finding a WordPress theme that has a drag and drop interface similar to how website builders like Homestead work. This will make the transition to Homestead much easier. The Divi theme from Elegant Themes is a good option for a drag and drop theme.

  • http://WebEminence.com/ Ryan Bowman

    Thanks for the compliment, Susan. Yes, I am using WordPress for this site and it is a much better solution than Homestead but it does take a little more expertise since it’s a more professional platform. It’s worth it though!

  • Linda D

    I have 2 homestead websites that I put alot of hours into building. They look great on PC but horrible on Mac. Everything is all out of order and scrambled, no matter what browser is used. I have tried several times to get answers on the live chat features, but the “techs” always respond by saying “it looks fine here”..after confessing they only have access to PC. Homestead is OUTRAGEOUSLY expensive, and I am basically mortified that my brand is being seen as a jumbled mess. VERY VERY VERY UNHAPPY.

    • http://WebEminence.com/ Ryan Bowman

      Hi Linda, Thanks for sharing your experience. That’s interesting that your site looks so different on Mac and Windows browsers. I’m not sure what could cause such a large difference. Are the Mac browsers you are using up to date? Have you tried it on different computers?