Moonfruit Review: Overview

User Rating
  • Full freedom design.
  • Option to have more than one site.
Score
5
Ease of Use
Simple
Templates
50+

Overview

Pros:

  • Flexible "What-you-see-is-what-you-get" editor.
  • Option to use and create flash animation.

Cons:

  • No pre-designed templates or headers.
  • Support documentation is limited.
  • Not for full e-commerce sites.

Bottom Line:

Moonfruit is the only builder that uses Flash technology. It's great for making fun sites with lots of animation, but has no business tools and no fully integrated shopping cart.

Price Range: Free to $23.99/month

Ease of Use

User-Friendly Editor but E-Commerce is a Pain

Editing text, images and design is easy with Moonfruit's SiteMaker once you learn where everything is. Setting up the PayPal shopping cart, on the other hand, is a real headache because you have to insert and link every single button.

Editing's a Breeze Once You Figure Out Where the Features Are

Once you're in your site it's easy to figure out. It's clearly laid out with clear buttons and drop-down menus at the top of the page.  Most features are easy to find but some require a look through the FAQ section.  Certain features aren't where you'd expect. It was also hard to find text and photo effects.

Adding pages, images or text is clear and simple.  In fact, the editor is the best part of Moonfruit.  You click on the item you want to edit and an edit box appears with your options - no extra steps.  The image library is confusing because the images aren't in clear groups.  Uploading your own images is easy though. 

Moonfruit has some no-brainers we like.  For example, every time you switch pages or leave the site you're prompted to save your work.  This saved us more than a few times!

If you close your window without logging out you'll still be logged in when you go to Moonfruit's homepage.  It's a nice feature so you don't always have to sign in. Make sure your computer is password protected to avoid others getting onto your site though.

No Templates but It's Easy to Design Your Site

Moonfruit's design features are user-friendly.  Everything is under the drop-down Design menu.  You can change the body font, title font, background, loading bar and menu with just a few clicks.

You will have to create your own template since Moonfruit doesn't have any. But it's simple to create a design for your site by using the Master Page.  This is where you can add content that will be displayed on all of the pages of your website. 

Too Many Steps to Sell

Setting up an e-commerce store is harder than it should be. Because there's no quick set-up shopping cart you have to link everything to PayPal's shopping cart. This means you first have to sign up for a PayPal account. Then you have to insert PayPal buttons below your product and link each of them to your PayPal account.  This is time-consuming and after doing 10 products you'll be pulling out your hair. 

Support is Simple, But Limited

Support is simple to find and use with two options to choose from.  There's a small FAQ section which is organized in alphabetical order rather than by topic, making it harder to find specific questions.  Or you can fill out a support question through the builder. It's easy to do but you'll have to wait till the next day for a response since they're based in the UK. 

Difficult to Choose a Package

For a website builder that's design-based it has too many package options without a clear description of the features.  There are 5 plans to choose from, making it hard for new customers to make a quick decisions for their needs.

Editor

A Great Editor with Lots of Image and Text Tools

The best part about Moonfruit is the editor. It's incredibly easy to use and gives you lots of editing options as well as a great image upload and editing system. There's no HTML editor though for people who want to make fine touches through code.

What You See is Truly What You Get

It's easy to switch between editing and viewing your site. In view mode you see your site as it would be on the Internet. You can test your site to see if your links and tools work correctly.

In edit mode you click on the text or object you want to edit and a box pops up with all your options. Everything's done right on the page. 

Versatile Editor with Options Galore

MoonFruit gives you lots of text and image tools to play with that are flexible to use. This editor will give you no trouble getting the text and images where you want them on the page.

All the basic editing options are available for text (i.e. bold, italics, bullets, underlining etc.) as you'd see in most builders.There are also cool text and image effects that are similar to Power Point. Images can be cropped into different shapes. You can also make the images fly, fade in, zoom out, and more. The text effects are just as neat (fade in, flash on, slide in etc.). It's options like these that make Moonfruit fun to use. Just don't overuse them on a page; visitors can quickly become annoyed by animation overload.

You can also drag and resize objects and text boxes.  This is a great feature, letting you lay out pages any way you want and make images any size.

You can also create different types of links easily.  You can link any text, image or button to a URL, an email, a file, another page or to PayPal. 

Awesome Image Upload and Editing System

Uploading your own images is easy; you can even upload a bunch of images at once.  You can rotate them, change their brightness, add a link, and even attach Alt tags (text displayed when the image can't be).  All this is done by clicking on the image and using the pop-up editor.

 

No HTML Editor

Moonfruit uses a what-you-see-is-what-you-get (aka WYSIWYG) editor that's designed in flash.  Basically you point, click and edit.  There's no HTML editor in this builder but you can upload files created in HTML as a download link.  That's a bit too much work if you want an editor in which you can easily switch between WYSIWYG and HTML.

Design

Lots of Customization, but No Templates

Moonfruit gives you lots of freedom to make your site look the way you want with its versatile editor, but is short on pre-made design options like templates or headers. Basically, you're left to your own designs to create a look for your site. If you're artistic and know what you want, you'll have a lot of freedom. But if you just want to pick a design and add your content, you won't have the option. Plus, the image library is tiny and confusing to use.

Create a Unified Look or Make Every Page Different

One cool feature is the use of a Master Page. This is a page where any designs you do will be displayed throughout your entire website.  So if you want a logo on every page this is where you'd put it. What's great about this is if you want every page in your website to look the same or different you have the choice. You have more flexibility than working off a template.

You can use this page to change the color or designs of your fonts, background, menu and loading bar, and have the changes apply throughout your site.

Not Enough Images in the Library

The image library is tiny and confusing to use.  When you click to insert an image from the "library" you're taken to a bunch of folders for different categories.  Only two of them have actual images.  The rest are audio, text effects, games and other less useful items. 

The photos are laid out in alphabetical order rather than useful categories (ie. animals, buildings).  But then there's not much need for categories when there's only around 40 photos.  The clipart is in seven groups with around 20 per group.  If you need images or clipart, you better have your own.

Must Change Page Size to Add Content

With Moonfruit you can change the scrolling length of each page on your website. At first it seemed like a neat feature but it just adds another step.  You have to change the size of the page if you want to add more content and it's an awkward process.  Other builders we've come across will extend down as you add more content or at least make it easy to extend the page.

Pre-Made Logos if You Need Them

Moonfruit does offer a few pre-made logos, but they're very generic and no real substitute for a personalized one.  When you first log into your site your website name is displayed as your logo in the top left hand corner.  The logo's too small and gives your site a cookie-cutter look. 

Promotional Tools

Pick Up Internet Marketing for Dummies - There's No Help Here

Moonfruit doesn't offer much for marketing or promotional tools.  They do however automatically submit your site to Google once a month which is another nice no-brainer.  They also give you links in the FAQ section to Google, Yahoo, Altavista and Lycos for you to submit on your own.  In the Admin section there's a place where you can add keywords to the Meta Tags of your site which help search engines understand how to index your site.

Because Moonfruit is based on Flash technology some search engines can't read the content.  To fix this, they reproduce the text, links and all content in an HTML tag below the flash version.  This is a must to make a Flash website at all useful to search engines.

Adding a Marketing section with articles or a few helpful links to informative marketing sites would be nice if Moonfruit isn't going to provide them themselves.

# Score Plans Main Advantage Get Started
7.1
Templates
1750+

 

  • 25 different pre-made pages for business tools.
  • Over 1750 Business Templates
  • Over 600,000 websites built using CityMax
6
Templates
100+

 

  • Free trial
  • Premium support included with all accounts
  • Value-added features
4
Templates
75+

 

  • SSL certification;
  • Small business listings;
  • Blogging platform;
  • Quality customer support;
  • 30-day money back guarantee.
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
5
Templates
50+

 

  • Full freedom design.
  • Option to have more than one site.

E-Commerce

E-Commerce Seriously Lacking

First off, there is no shopping cart integrated into Moonfruit. You have to link to PayPal's shopping cart.  Setting up your products for this system takes a long time and it's not really worth it. There are no special options for shipping, taxes, products or anything. If you're looking for an e-commerce website, don't use Moonfruit. 

Too Many Steps to Sell One Product

There are so many steps in this confusing system that it takes real effort to figure out how to set up a catalog from which you can sell products on your website. The supporting documentation isn't much help either - it assumes you know lingo like "PayPal widget." Once you figure out how to set up your store the process is easy but still time-consuming. Each product takes about 5-8 minutes to set up.

First, you create a PayPal account.  Once that's set up you insert the product image then you need to insert PayPal buttons (add to cart, view cart, single item purchase). Then you have to link each of those buttons separately to PayPal.  Each PayPal link requires you to fill in your account, pick your button type, fill in the item name and enter a price. You have to repeat all these steps for each product on your site.

Shipping and sales tax calculations have to be set up in PayPal.  You can't override these settings in the website builder. 

Can't Use a Merchant Account

There's no option to use a merchant account for credit card processing with your shopping cart since everything must be done through PayPal.  This is limiting for a business website.

No Options (Product, Shipping, Tax, etc.)

There are no special features for e-commerce whatsoever.  And if you have more than 10 products for your store you'll end up spending more time setting up your shopping cart than actually selling anything.

Tools & Features

A Few Solid Features, but Not Lots

Moonfruit doesn't have a ton of features.  There are a few page types you can add like a directory, event calendar, message board or a gallery/photo page.  All of which are well laid out, easy to manipulate and excellent features to add to any site. 

There are also some additional features you can add to any page like a chat tool, polling box or even an Ask Jeeves search.  We liked the polling box design as you can change the questions whenever you want and have an unlimited amount of answers to each question.  These tools can add to a web page's design and function.

Here is a list of its features:

  • Can create animation with Flash files
  • Automatically compresses large images to save disk space
  • Ask Jeeves search tool
  • Polling booth
  • Chat tool
  • Directory page
  • Calendar page
  • Message board
  • Blog/ News page 
  • Photo album 
  • Can add music
  • Multiple user access 
  • Site counter

One of the Only Builders with a Blog

Moonfruit has a Blog page which few other website builders have. It's easy to set up regular articles and posts by date.  Visitors can browse headlines or search for keywords in any article.  It's handy for people setting up personal websites.

Great for Flash Animation

Moonfruit makes is easy to create animation. It uses any Flash software that outputs .swf files (file format produced by Macromedia Flash software).  Some builders can't support this but Moonfruit was designed for it.

If you like music on your site you can do that too.  You can add it to individual pages or across your entire site. Use the jukebox setting so it can be turned off; it's cute at first, but starts to annoy visitors after about 2 minutes.

All the interactive features are found in the same file section as the images so it can be hard to find them. You'll probably have to refer to the FAQ's.  Once you find them they're easy to figure out.

Keep in mind that all images and files you upload will take up disk space.  Luckily Moonfruit has thought of this and automatically compresses larger images.  Another great no-brainer.

Access for Multiple Users

There doesn't seem to be any password protection but they have a page permission feature.  This is useful if you'd like others to have access to your site for editing but only want them to access certain pages. 

Customer Support

Customer Support is No Help

Online documentation is poorly organized and badly written and email support is no better since it just points you to the online doc that's supposed to help you. Other than the welcome email, Moonfruit didn't give us anything helpful at all.

Easy to Find and Use, but Doesn't Deliver

Support is clearly labeled at the top of the builder as "help" and also as a "?".  You have only two options to choose from, an FAQ section or you can submit a support question within the builder. 

We submitted a support question and asked how to set up a shopping cart. The answer was lazy. They told us to check out the FAQ section under "selling products on your site" but they didn't bother linking us to the answer.  That would be ok except we had already read the FAQ and were hoping for more direction.  If you're in North America you'll also have to wait overnight for a response as they're based out of the UK.

Online Documentation is Next to Useless

The online documentation (FAQs) itself was a drag to use. The questions they answer are in alphabetical order rather than distinct categories. And once you find the question you're looking for, the answers are short and unclear. There are no screenshots to guide you visually either.

Value

Great Price for What You Get

If you don't want an e-commerce website, Moonfruit is a good value. There are five different packages all of which are well priced. 

There are free sites with limited pages and storage but no e-commerce. The Lite package ($4.49/month) comes with unlimited pages, a little more storage, but no e-commerce.

The three upper level packages (ranging from $8.99 - $23.99/month) all include e-commerce. The only difference is the amount of storage and bandwidth. There are no hidden fees or contracts.

The Plus package is the best value assuming most people don't need more than 10 websites.

If you want more storage or emails you have to upgrade to the next package.  Most of the packages let you build more than one website. With the Max package, you get an unlimited number of sites.

Free Trial

There's a 14-day free trial with limited functionality (no e-commerce). They also have a free package. From what we can tell, it has the same limitations as the trial.

 

Technical Spec Sheet

 

Package Free Lite Standard Plus Max
Price / Mo. Free $4.49 $8.99 $13.99 $23.99
Set-Up Fee No No No No No
Free Trial Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
No. of Pages 15 Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Email Addresses None None None None None
Domain Names N/A Costs Extra Costs Extra Costs Extra Costs Extra
# of Products N/A N/A Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Integrated Shopping Cart No No External External External
Accepts Credit Card No No Yes Yes Yes
Can Use Merchant Acct No No Yes Yes Yes
Transaction Fees No No No No No
Shipping Options No No Yes Yes Yes
Advertising Credits No No No No No
# of Templates None None None None None
# of Images 195 195 195 195 195
Free Customer Support Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Documentation Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Site Statistics Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Disk Storage 5MB 40MB 200MB 400MB 1GB
Bandwidth (monthly) 1GB 6GB 10GB 15GB 30GB