Homestead Review: Editor (3 stars)
The Three Faces of Homestead's Editor
Since there are 3 different editors within Homestead's system, we'll have to handle each one in turn, discussing their individual merits and drawbacks. We'll leave out the ProStores Storefront editor though. Click here to read the review of ProStore's Editor. If this sounds complicated, it is. Website builders are much easier to figure out when there's only one editor with one kind of software to learn.
SiteBuilder Lite (Online Editor)
Simple and Efficient Online Editing, But No Frills
This editor is designed to allow you to make online edits on the fly. It's so easy to use that it literally explains itself. When you scroll the mouse over any element on the page a yellow box pops up to explain how to change or edit it.
Pop-up instructions provide instant explanations.
Drag 'n Drop and Simple Re-Sizing
Within this WYSIWYG editor ("What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get"), text boxes and images can be resized and moved simply by clicking and dragging. Just as easily, you can change the text by clicking a text box and typing. And if you're working off a template without a customized logo, you can change the generic heading text to your company name.
Easy Image Upload
This is one of the easiest, quickest image upload systems we've seen. When you add an image to a page, you click to either browse your computer or check out Homestead's massive image library. Once you choose your image it's inserted directly onto the page. If the image came from your own computer, it's automatically saved on Homestead's server.
Standard Text Editing Options with a Few More Fonts
SiteBuilderLite comes with all the basic text options (bold, italics, page alignment, font size and links). When you click to type into a text box, the text options appear on the top left. There are also a few more font choices than is usually available on online website editors. It would be nice if the font choices appeared as they would on the page though.
Plenty of fonts right at your fingertips
SiteBuilder (Downloadable Editor)
Very Flexible but Has No Quick Page Set-Up
While SiteBuilderLite has only simple editing capabilities, the downloadable version lets you edit all aspects of your website. It's a dream if you have specific ideas of how you want your web pages to look. Because there are so many features and capabilities, it takes awhile to learn to use all its tools, but it's worth it if you want this level of control.
If you just want to get a page up fast, there are no quick page set-ups. If you wanted to set up a page with an online form, for example, you would have to create all the individual fields for each form in addition to the text boxes that tell the person what to type into each field. Not great if you have to slap something together quick.
The major advantage of this builder is that it allows you to put as many tools as you want on any page. You're not limited to a quick page set-up, so you can create your own page concepts rather than having only one tool per page.
Save Your Work and Publish Later
When using the downloadable builder, you have the option of saving your work without actually having to publish the page online. This is great if you don't have time to finish what you're doing, which we would imagine would happen often since page creation with this builder is so time consuming.
Make Your Text and Images Move
Another cool feature of Homestead's downloadable editor is that it allows you to create animated text or images. You can make your text bounce, scroll, fade, and dissolve. You can also make your images spin, flicker, piece together like a puzzle, or even create a moving scroll of several images. This feature is a bit gimmicky and if overused on a page it can annoy your visitors. Still, it's nice to have the option. Be sure to use it sparingly!
Image Scroller and Puzzle Piece Effect
Can't Make Tables
Since you can't make tables in the online editor, we just assumed you'd be able to do it in the downloadable version. We assumed wrong. We called phone support and they admitted you can't make tables in either editor. They suggested that we find some HTML code online somewhere, which can then be inserted into the source code using the editor. But if you're the kind of person that's scared by terms like "HTML" and "source code" you might just want to leave the tables out or find another website builder.
While we like the advanced capabilities that come with the downloadable builder, it would be much better if you could do the same thing online. To be fair though, it is harder to get this kind of dynamic programming to apply to the Internet.
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