I learned about Websitebox here on Active Rain and joined the contest to win a free website. I didn't win and purchased a website for $99.00 and the blog module for an additional $99.00. I used it for 29 days and ended up canceling on the 30th. They promptly returned my money.
Why Did I Cancel?
I felt the backend was a bit clunky. It wasn't as smooth doing things like my other sites. I'd write a blog post and when I went to hit Publish I was timed out and everything was lost. It seemed like I was timed out a lot and many times would have to keep logging back in to get things done.
The searches weren't working properly. I'd get no search results at all for some of the price parameters. I noticed this on other Websitebox sites. The listing data was lacking - not much information for each listing.
Turning in a support ticket was hit or miss. Sometimes I'd get a reply the same day and sometimes the support ticket wasn't acknowledged.
Why Did I Go Back?
I've been shuffling some sites around and decided to create 2 hyper-local niche village sites. My choice was to try Websitebox again or pay a monthly fee for yet another IDX solution (I have multiple blog/sites - 4 which have IDX). The good news is, things have changed for the better in the short time between my last membership and this one.
Here is my new Websitebox site for Homer Glen real estate:
I chose a very distinctive template as I found it colorful, fun & unique. This is the oddest template they have. It is out-of-the-box and I just set-up the page modules how I wanted them. I did not change the background or colors. I enlarged the font on most modules.
- The price can't be beat, even if you purchase the site and blog at $198.00. That's it - no hosting fees, nothing to pay again! This includes IDX folks!
- The template choices are endless. Not only are there many different templates to choose from, but you can make additional changes to each template such as background, font and page set-up. You can change templates whenever you desire.
- They now have a support forum which seems to get answered quickly.
- This can be both a pro and con. They come with a lot of canned content. You can change it up however you want and make it more original or delete it completely. It's good stuff but if you leave it as-is it will be considered duplicate content and won't help your rankings, but might be useful to buyers and sellers.
- It is supposedly search engine friendly. My Websitebox is new and already at the top of page 2 of Google for some main keywords.
- My past IDX listing results were lacking - not enough listing information. Since our MLS changed to a RETS feed, I have better listing data than on my expensive website. I did have to pay an additional $100.00 for this but this is happening with other IDX providers with our new feed, it is an MLS fee.
- They have a large collection of very nice clip-art you can use on the home page and in your pages/posts, but most photos are homes - exteriors and interiors.
- Although I haven't used it yet, there is a CRM with Contacts, e-mail and task functions. There is a calendar and pre-made drip campaigns.
- You can create pre-made searches in price ranges, number of bedrooms, etc. You have different selections as how you want the results to show up.
- You can include search results in blog posts, and although you have some choices as to how they show up, you cannot set order (I always set ascending and can do this with other searches on the site but not in blog posts).
- I had trouble fitting in my logo. It fit better on some templates than others, so you might have to do some tweaking depending on your logo and the template used.
- You are hosted on their site. If they go down or close their doors what happens to your website?
- I cannot find a back-up function. I can easily and quickly back-up my Wordpress sites, but not this one. If you decide to leave down the road, you will have to cut & paste all of your work as there is no quick back-up system like Wordpress has. This is the same with many websites that you would host with so it's not just a Websitebox issue. There are back-up programs out there but most require a fee.
- Although you can edit almost everything, there are some things you can't. For instance, the main blog page does not allow edits and doesn't have the Categories in the sidebar. It only appears in individual blog posts. That's weird!
- There aren't enough step-by-step instructions. I think they're trying to improve that, but there is a learning curve that I had to do the trial and error way.
- For some reason, the IDX search has still shown problems. It would work fine then one day I would notice it wasn't working properly on a specific search or multiple searches. They fixed it but I'm not sure why it suddenly breaks. That can happen with other IDX's but I've personally never had problems with others once it was set-up and running. Websitebox fixed it on their end but then I had to go back and redo my pre-done searches.
- I cannot find a way to force registration on the IDX searches.
- As mentioned in Pros, I cannot set an order for search results in my blog posts - it is set to highest price first. I prefer lowest price first. Not a deal breaker.
I'll come back and add pros and cons if I find any but I think this is a great value. If you're like me and like to change things up on your websites and have multiple sites and don't want yet another monthly IDX fee, then this is a solution you should check into. If you're new or lack funds to pay for a website with IDX then this would be great. Consider this, paying an IDX fee of $40.00/mo for 5 years = $2,400.00. That doesn't include hosting. As long as Websitebox remains in business and keeps things running well, your cash outlay would be $198.00 for a website with blog. If you don't want the blog then it's only $99.00. There are other upgrades you can select if you want, all one-time fees.
Disclaimer: I am not receiving any compensation from Websitebox.