CityMax Review: Overview

User Rating
  • 25 different pre-made pages for business tools.
  • Over 1750 Business Templates
  • Over 600,000 websites built using CityMax
Score
7.1
Ease of Use
Simple
Templates
1750+

Overview

Pros:

  • One package gives you everything - Great Value!
  • Best range of promotional tools of any builder.
  • Award winning & established for over 11 years

Cons:

  • Difficult to add your own logo, but possible 
  • No built-in image re-sizing.

Bottom Line

CityMax is the best in its class. It's the easiest to use and gives the best bang for buck. It has the widest set of features and promotional tools included in its all-in-one price, many of which are unique to this builder alone.

Price Range: $19.98/month (or $16.98/month when you buy a year)

Ease of Use

The Easiest Builder to Use

CityMax provides a single interface for all its tools that is clearly labelled and doesn't take too many clicks to use. No other builder does this better. This makes it so that once you've learned how their interface works, you'll find it easier to use other tools.

So far, it's the easiest website builder we've reviewed, though there are a couple of things that CityMax could do to make design customization easier.

User-Friendly Toolbar Gets You Where You Want to Go

CityMax's interface revolves around an icon-based toolbar across the top of the builder.  It's well laid out and the buttons are labeled so you know exactly what to click on to do whatever you need.

Without looking at any documentation you know how to edit, view and add a page. When you click to add a page, all the page types are clearly displayed.  What's great about this builder's interface is that the simplicity extends throughout every tool and application.

Microsoft Word Style Editor is a Pleasure to Use

CityMax's editor helps new users learn to edit their website quickly because it's styled like Microsoft Word. All the familiar tools are there with no guess work required to figure out its functions.

Editing the different page types is also easy. All the pages are form-based. You have only to fill in the blanks, hit save and the page is created for you. Be sure to click "Save" rather than clicking "View Page" though or you'll lose all your work.

Basic Design Changes Are Easy, but Hard to Add Logo

To change the design of your site, you only have to click on the Design button. There you'll find over 1500 pre-designed templates, 4 different layouts and with a few clicks you can edit the look of the border, header, index and body. 

We did have a harder time adding our logo to our template though. There's no tool to do this quickly but you can upload your logo to a blank colored background or tile it across the header. There's a workaround if you have basic design skills and software, but it's not as easy to get your logo up this way and can be time-consuming.

Smooth E-Commerce Set-Up

CityMax has their own integrated shopping cart with lots of options that are easy to set up. Setting up your shopping cart will take some time, but CityMax does a great job of walking you through the process. 

Adding products is a breeze. It's all form-based and has an easy image upload system. Unfortunately there's no way to upload many products at once.  You have to do it one at a time. This can be time-consuming.

Setting up the rest of your shopping cart options is done in the "Tools" section.  This can look intimidating because there are so many options to set up, but CityMax's documentation gets you through it step by step.

Support is Easy to Find and Understand

You'll never feel lost on CityMax because the Support button is always right at the top of the page. Most other builders seem to tuck a tiny support link off in a corner, in an attempt to discourage its use. And no matter which page type you're editing, there's always a link to the documentation for that page at the top.

CityMax's documentation is all clearly written and easy to follow, with plenty of screenshots. And if you still need help, you can submit a support question. Support responds quickly to all queries, usually in less than an hour, and helps you find the documentation you need to do what you want to do.

Editor

Easy MS Word Style Editor Does What it Needs to

CityMax's editor is easy to use and does everything a business owner needs to make a professional-looking website. Though it doesn't have a lot of flashy tools, nor does it have the best image upload and editing system, we still found that it was no trouble to get text and images on the page the way we wanted.

ActivEdit Mode Provides the Most Editing Tools and Layout Versatility

You have a choice of three different editing modes in the CityMax editor: Word-Style, ActivEdit, and Basic. ActivEdit is the most complete of the three.

The ActivEdit and Word-Style modes are very similar. They are both styled to work like MS Word, but ActiveEdit gives you more freedom and a few extra features, including tables, a spell-check and more colors and fonts to choose from.  The Word-Style mode has all the standard text editing features (bold, italics, underline, bullets, and links.).

The biggest difference between the two is that ActivEdit lets you add an image anywhere you can add text. When using the image icon however, you can only add images you have uploaded yourself and not ones from the image library. 

Adding images in the Word-Style mode is simple but less flexible. Where your image is placed on the page depends on the page layout option you choose. You can't add an image anywhere on the page in this edit mode.

The third edit mode is Basic Editor. This editor will work in any browser but doesn't have any special formatting features. It's designed for people who want to edit using HTML programming. You can have control over the code rather than just entering content.

The Need for Three Edit Modes

At first we weren't sure why they bother having the Word-style editor at all since ActivEdit has all the same features and more. After a little investigation, we found out that some users with older computers may have some problems using ActivEdit. CityMax's customer support recommends using the Word-Style editor in this case.

We think that CityMax would be better off only having two editing modes, one comprehensive word-style editor and one for HTML. That being said, it is easy enough to switch between the three existing edit modes.

Image Upload is Easy but Takes a Few Steps

When you upload images in CityMax, they're not put directly on the page.  You have to first upload your image onto their server, after which you can insert the image onto the page. It takes a few steps, but it's easy to do. Plus you can also upload up to 5 images at once. 
 
Don't Forget to Save

If you want to view your page after you have edited it you must click "Save" or you'll lose all your work. Clicking "Save" will publish your page and take you to the view mode with all your changes.

Remember that with this system, you can't save without publishing. This means you might want to type up your text in Notepad if you're not sure you'll finish writing it in one go. The alternative is that you'll have to publish unfinished pages, which doesn't look professional.

Design

Design Options That Handle The Usual Business Needs

CityMax provides for all the needs of a standard business owner. All the design considerations keep the most important thing in mind: clean website layouts that are easy to navigate and don't confuse the eye. There are no flash animation creators or sound libraries, but these are considered by most to be unnecessary and annoying.

Our only wishes would be for an easy way to integrate a logo into the template and more ways to easily customize templates to suit your business.

Wide Range of Templates that Are Easy on the Eye

There are over 1500 templates to choose from with 38 categories so you're sure to find one that suits your needs.  They all look good and are easy to navigate. A few of the designs are a little outdated and boxy looking but these are exceptions. 

Template Customization Covers the Basics

You can customize your chosen template to some degree to suit your business.  You can change the basic layout of your site like where the buttons and header are located, the background image & color, page width & alignment, and the border & margin size.

There are also options for editing the index (i.e. menu).  You can customize the button layout by changing the button alignment, spacing, border, width and font.  You can add a background image to the index. All the colors of the index can be changed too (background, border, buttons, active button, and text).  The body of your website can also be customized in much the same way. 

There is, however, no way to change all the pictures and graphics of the template to suit your business. CityMax does allow you to edit the header though. You can add an image to the right of the template header or you can upload your own header or you can tile (repeat) an image across the header.

You can't switch your own images into a template or move around the various design elements like you can in some WYSIWYG ("what-you-see-is-what-you-get") editors. For that level of customization, they provide a design program.

Professional Design at a Reasonable Price

If you would prefer to have someone else design your site, for a very reasonable $249 you can hire CityMax's design team.  They'll create a custom 5-page website that incorporates your own photos, company logo and colors.  We don't usually like having to pay extra, but it's a good deal for high quality work and it saves time and effort. Note that this is the cheapest of the builder design programs available.

Adding a Logo Should Be Easier

There is no simple tool that lets you add a logo or text to the templates. This is something many businesses might want if they decide to use a template rather than hiring the design team. The only option is to add your logo to a colored background.  There's a workaround mentioned in the documentation, but you'll need to use a design program like Photoshop.  With all the other design options in the builder this seems like an oversight.

A Big Image Library, but They're All the Same Size

If you want to use photos to liven up your site, there are lots to choose from if you don't have your own.  The image library is made up of 33 categories with over 1700 images.  They're all high quality images, but they all come in the same size.  If you want to change the size, you'll have to use a design program outside the builder.

# Score Plans Main Advantage Get Started
5
Templates
50+

 

  • Full freedom design.
  • Option to have more than one site.
9
Templates
500+

 

  • You can create a website and get it live in a matter of minutes
  • It’s super easy to use
  • Its pricing plans are very cheap in comparison to some competitors
4
Templates
75+

 

  • SSL certification;
  • Small business listings;
  • Blogging platform;
  • Quality customer support;
  • 30-day money back guarantee.
6
Templates
100+

 

  • Free trial
  • Premium support included with all accounts
  • Value-added features
7.1
Templates
1750+

 

  • 25 different pre-made pages for business tools.
  • Over 1750 Business Templates
  • Over 600,000 websites built using CityMax

Promotional Tools 

The Most Complete Set of Promotional Tools in a Website Builder

CityMax has gone to great lengths to provide their customers with a complete set of tools to help them make money with their websites. From free credits to integrated tools, not to mention their extensive library of articles, they've really demonstrated an understanding that it's not just about having a website, it's having a website that makes you money.

Plenty of Free Credits to Start a Promotional Campaign

Through their partnerships, CityMax provides a number of useful credits to help you get your promotional campaign started. You get a $50 credit for Google AdWords, which allows you to put up pay-per-click ads in Google’s sponsored results. You also get a $60 credit with Yahoo’s equivalent program. These programs automatically show your ad when people search for the keywords you specify.  You pay a designated amount whenever someone clicks on your ad. 

In addition to pay-per-click advertising credits, you also get free credits to list your products on shopping listing sites, including Shopzilla, Froogle and Shopping.com. They also offer you a month free with ExactSeek to get your website on the top ten listings on 200+ search engines.  And these are only a few of the freebies you get with CityMax.

Increase Your Rankings on Search Engines with a Google Sitemap

CityMax created a tool that allows you to easily add a Google Sitemap to your site. This sitemap maps out your site so that Google understands its navigation and doesn't miss any pages. This is important to ensure that your whole site is accounted for in Google's search.

Usually, adding a sitemap is a complicated process that involves dealing with code and using different kinds of software. But with this system, you can add a sitemap in just a few clicks from the "Power Tools" tab in "Manage Pages."  All you have to do is have the site verified then check the boxes for the pages you want to include in your sitemap.

From within "Power Tools" you can also easily add Google Adsense code so you can display ads on your website and earn extra money.  Or you can add tracking code for website statistics software.

Learn to Make Money with a Wide Variety of Marketing Articles

The “Make Money” section on the toolbar has lots of useful marketing tips and articles.  There’s information on all the different types of Web marketing strategies (ie. link popularity, paid inclusion etc.). They even give you copywriting guides specific to different industries. If you want to make money with your website, CityMax shows you how to do it.

Easy Meta Tag Editing

CityMax, like most other builders, gives you an area to enter meta tags.  This is where you enter keywords, descriptions and titles to help search engines understand the content of your site. You can set up the same meta tags for all your pages or different ones on individual pages, a feature that not all builders have.

Add Friendly URLs to Help Search Engines Understand Your Site

In addition to adding info to your Meta tags, you can also give your site friendly URLs for each of its pages. This allows you to customize your web address extension. (ie. from www.ADDRESS.com/page/page/12345.htm to www.ADDRESS.com/store.html). This makes your web pages look more professional, while at the same time being more search engine friendly. It helps them better understand your site's pages' contents. In other website builders there’s sometimes a workaround to do this, but CityMax makes it easy by providing a simple form in which you can enter the info.

E-Commerce

Good E-Commerce for Small to Mid-Size Web Stores

CityMax has an e-commerce tools and options set that is easy to set up and suitable for most Web stores. ProStores is still number one for having the most tools and options that cover the needs of the most advanced stores on the Web. But most Web stores aren't huge networks like Amazon.com, they're run by smaller businesses that for the most part operate out of a single location. For the most part, those smaller businesses will find themselves well provided for with CityMax.

Easy Set-Up Makes Store Creation a Snap

CityMax has their own fully integrated shopping cart that comes with lots of options that are easier to set up than they are in most other builders. When you set it up, there's a lot of information to go through, as is usual when setting up a Web store, but CityMax has a step-by-step system to walk you through it.

You have the option to set up merchant account processing (through PSIGate or Authorize.net) so you can accept credit cards.  If you prefer you can set up PayPal or offer both (some builders make you choose one or the other). There are no C.O.D. or money order options but you can have customers email you with special requests.

You can set your shipping methods by country or state/province (per order, item or unit weight). There's even a handy UPS shipping rate calculator to help customers figure out what they'll be paying. You can also set up tax rate by country, state/province or whether or not it applies to shipping charges.

In the shopping cart set-up you can enter your product/service guarantee and your return policy. Not all builders give you this option. CityMax gets you started with a written example to follow. 

There's even a nifty Express Checkout option. This keeps your return-customers' information on file so they don't have to keep re-entering it. A great feature to encourage repeat business.

Catalog Page Isn't Fancy but Does the Job

The Catalog page isn't fancy but it covers the base of product options that are used by most Web stores. The Catalog page has three different page layouts on which you can feature your products. There's a limit of 500 products but for $1/month you can add more.

You can enter an original price and sale price, a full description, summary, shipping weight, and whether the item is in stock. You can also list color and size options. There's an inventory management tool in which you can have an out of stock message or hide a product if it's not available.

Upload Your Product and Enter Details All in One Place

The product upload process in CityMax is quick and easy because it's all done from the same page. In many other builders, you have to set up different aspects of the product in different areas to the confusion of the store owner. When you create a new catalog item, you simply click to upload the image, enter all the details in the fields of the form, then you're done.

One downside, however, is that you can't upload a number of products at once. This is a time-saver that larger Web stores might want to have to make life easier.

eBay Selling Made Easy with Full Integration

With CityMax's eBay integration, you can easily push the items in your catalog onto your eBay account. You can update your bids, shipping, payment methods and more all from your website. The benefit is that you don't have to do this set up twice, you just do it once from your builder. Not all builders are eBay integrated, but they really should be since eBay is such an important selling tool online.

Tools & Features 

The Most Complete Set of Non-E-Commerce Business Tools in a Builder

CityMax leads the way by providing useful tools of all kinds for business websites, including communcation tools like newsletters and autoresponders and text-based page creators for making typical pages like FAQs, articles, links, even quote pages.

Here is a list of its features:

  • Photo album
  • Guestbook
  • Message board
  • Contacts page
  • Links page
  • Hours of operation page
  • Maps page
  • Multimedia
  • FAQ Page
  • Quotes
  • Sitemap/ Table of Contents
  • Recommend Website
  • Polling Booth
  • Online forms
  • Autoresponder
  • Mailing List/Newsletter
  • Event Calendar
  • Articles page
  • Press Releases page 
  • Redirect
  • Coupons
  • Downloads
  • Password Protection Pages

Easy Page Creation System

All the main business tools offered on CityMax are page-based allowing you to easily set up interactive pages like online forms as well as pre-formatted text pages like FAQs. You fill in the blanks, hit save, and they're instantly published on the Internet. 

There are 25 different page types. These include typical tools like photo albums, online forms, polling booths, etc. CityMax goes further though to provide unique tools like the autoresponder, re-direct page, and very useful text-based pages like the articles and quotes pages.

The only problem with this system is that you can only have one tool per page. This is limiting if you want to have the freedom to put a few tools on the same page, but this isn't an issue for many website publishers.

Autoresponder is a Great Tool for Sending Info by Email

CityMax is the only builder that we've reviewed that has an autoresponder as a tool on its own. This tool allows visitors to sign up to receive automatic emails. This can take the form of free e-courses or instructional guides, which improve the customer experience on your website. 

Re-Direct Page for Smooth Navigation Between Websites

The Redirect page is also a feature unique to CityMax. It automatically redirects a user to another URL.  This is useful if you want to link to another website you own but make it look like part of the same site, by including it in your index.

Keep in Contact with Your Customers with Newsletters

The Newsletter page is an important feature for many businesses. It allows you to keep regular contact with your customers and let them know of any promotions or special events.

You can add as many newsletters as you want and choose when and if to send them. You can put up a small summary of each newsletter and visitors then click on the title to read the full story. It's also a great way to capture emails to use for future marketing campaigns.

The best part is that they're published on your website simultaneously when you send them to your subscibers. This helps you regularly add to the content of your website, which is important because this increases your website's value according to search engines thereby helping get a better ranking. 

The newsletter has a double opt-in system that re-assures subscribers that they won't be spammed. It also automatically generates the option to unsubscribe, which is required by spamming regulatory laws.

Text Based Pages Are a Great Time-Saver

There are a few text-based page types that are useful for creating pages typically found on business websites. You simply enter the necessary info into the page creator's form and it instantly creates the page, all formatted and ready to go.

The Hours of Operation page sounds standard but not all builders have it. You can easily enter your store's hours for your customers' reference.

The FAQ page is also well laid out and simple to use. Just enter the questions and answers in the appropriate boxes, hit save and it formats it with embedded links from the question to the section on the page with the full answer.

The Articles and Press Releases pages help set your business apart from others on the Web.  With the Articles page you can add articles, journal entries or updates. It's a great way to keep your customers in the loop and establish your expertise. The Press Releases page gives you credibility by distributing official company announcements to the public.

All the page types are nicely laid out and easy to use.  But because they are form-based you have little freedom with the look. That being said, each page type adds practical value to your website. CityMax is certainly designed with the business owner in mind.

Customer Support 

CityMax Takes Care of You, Even Without Phone Support

CityMax's Help & Support section is extensive and easy to use. There may not be any phone support but with such easy-to-search documentation and quick, detailed email support, you don't really need it.

We're sure there are a few people who'd rather have the comfort of someone on the phone, but this sometimes makes you dependent on it rather than helping you learn the system better. Since CityMax's system is so easy to learn, it only takes simple direction from documentation to figure out everything you need.

Documentation is Easy to Follow and Has Screenshots

Citymax's documentation is clearly written, detailed and easy to follow with screenshots to guide you along.  Many other builders fail to realize that screenshots add a much needed visual element to help docs.

If you just want the quick basics then check out the Getting Started Tutorial and read through the FAQ section.  For detailed information on different page types and features there's extensive documentation.  All of which is on the main page of Help & Support.

They also have a "Knowledge Base" that answers a wide range of questions about using their builder.  We found our answers quicker and easier through Citymax's "Knowledge Base" and documetation than we did through some builders' phone support. There's even a useful search function so you can quicly find the topic you want. 

Email Support is Efficient

Email support system is efficient because it not only sends you answers to your inbox, it posts them on your site under your help and support history so you can refer back to them. You'll never have to ask a question twice.

Depending on what time zone you're in (support is 9am - 5pm PST), you can expect a same day response, often in less than one hour. We submitted several support questions, all of which were answered within 1 hour (during their business hours). 

The answers to our support questions were clear and informative. We submitted a question about how to set up a domain name with our website. We received a detailed response with links to the documentation that walked us through it. Few other builders responded as quickly or with as much detail as CityMax.

Value

Best Overall Value!

CityMax makes your decision easier by having one all-in-one package, including domain name, at a great price. It's value is unbeatable at $19.98 a month and this includes everything they offer, even their fully integrated shopping cart. While you may not need all the features now, it gives you room to grow as your business's needs change.

The free advertising credits certainly add to the builder's value by saving you money when you set up your website's promotional campaign.

Plus, if you pay for a year all at once, it costs $203.76, which works out to be $16.98/month. This is the best value we've seen in a website builder.

There are no hidden fees but you'll have to pay extra for certain add-ons. You can also order more email accounts ($1/mo. for 1 email), disk space ($1/mo. for 10 MB), images ($1/mo. for 100), or products ($1/mo. for 50). You can also extra pages ($1/mo. for 500) if you need more than the 500 that come with your site.

Try Before You Buy

If you want to try out the builder ahead of time, Citymax has a free 10-day trial.  Once you sign up, if you decide it's not for you they have a 30 day money back guarantee.

 

Technical Spec Sheet
 

Package CityMax
Price / Mo. $19.98
Set-Up Fee None
Free Trial Yes (10 Days)
No. of Pages 500
Email Addresses 5
Domain Names Included
# of Products 500
Integrated Shopping Cart Yes
Accepts Credit Card Yes
Can Use Merchant Acct Yes
Transaction Fees No
Shipping Options Yes
Advertising Credits Yes
# of Templates 1500+
# of Images 2000+
Free Customer Support Yes
Documentation Yes
Site Statistics Yes
Disk Storage 50MB
Bandwidth (monthly) Unlimited