Laser-focused on businesses and professionals in any industry, the German company 1&1 offers a website builder that makes it easy to create a powerful website for achieving online success. As its mission statement clearly states, 1&1 is dedicated to providing an optimal Internet presence for small to medium sized businesses, as well as private users.
This is a company rich in technology and marketing services, both home-grown and through acquisitions. Its parent company, United Internet, is the first web company to go public.
Furthermore, 1&1 acquired BTX marketing services, an online service of T-Com, which is the sister company of T-Mobile. This acquisition led to 1&1 developing the first telecom decoder (browser) for T-Online, defining the new KIT standard that featured a broad user interface, and establishing an Internet-based media network for online marketing opportunities.
In growing its company, 1&1 focused on developing a full range of online services, including its website builder, web hosting, domain offerings, servers, e-mail and office services, and e-commerce.
Furthermore, because its beginning are in marketing activities, 1&1’s website builder, MyWebsite, includes sophisticated online marketing tools not typically found in other site builders.
Today, 1&1 is a global company, with 14 worldwide locations, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Italy, Germany, France, Spain, Austria, Poland, Romania and the Philippines. This review focuses on the 1&1 MyWebsite builder for the UK since the product is the same, but the pricing for the UK is cheaper (see the pricing section below).
Although 1&1 is not a free website builder, it is one of the few builders that offers a 30-day free trial and monthly short-term contracts. This gives you sufficient time to try out the website builder for yourself to determine if it’s right for your business before making a long-term commitment.
While 1&1 MyWebsite promotes itself as being an easy platform for creating a professional website, it’s not so easy trying to take advantage of the free 30-day trial.
Upon clicking on the Try for 30 Days button on the MyWebsite home page, the package plans appear without any guidance as to what to do next.
Apparently, you need to choose the package you want to try for 30 days, so be sure to read what you are receiving with each package carefully in case you decide to purchase it after the free trial. This way, you’re trying out the package you’re most interested in.
Once you select your package plan, you fill in information as prompted so the builder can provide you with images and text relevant to your business sector.
As with other site builders, you have to create a password to log into your website. When you log in, the MyWebsite builder automatically gives you industry-specific design templates from which to choose.
The MyWebsite builder is cleanly organized, with a Website main menu located on the right hand side of the screen. It lists the main icons, Layout, Style, Insert Elements, Add Web Apps, Settings, Search Engines, Control Panel, Help, Contact, Order More Features and Social Media. When selected, each icon displays its applicable menu with related functions that lead to additional menus or tools.
Since the 1&1 templates are prefilled with text and high quality images related to your field of business, there’s very little you need to do to build your site.
While this is a major time-saver, keep in mind that hundreds of others are using the same templates. Unless you set your website apart from the others with your own unique content, your site is not going to rank very high in search engine results.
So, it’s best to use the prefilled pages as a starting point, or to reduce the amount of time you spend building your site entirely from scratch. The ease of using the MyWebsite site builder environment makes it worthwhile to take the time to customize your website.
Anything on the prefilled web pages can be moved, changed, or removed entirely using the Website menu. Insert Elements is probably the icon you will use most often when creating your site because it holds all the tools necessary for adding all sorts of content.
For instance, to insert a text box, select the Insert Elements icon and click on Text Box. 1&1 made its builder a simple drag and drop environment, so all you need to do is click on the text to be replaced and drop in the new text, or move the text box around to where you want to add new text and drop it in place.
In terms of images to enhance your website, 1&1 gives you access to its royalty-free stock image archive. This is well stocked with thousands of image options.
The 1&1 MyWebsite builder also makes it easy to create multimedia presentations, or an interactive animated slideshow.
One area that sets 1&1 apart from the competition is its full catalog of Web apps to add enhancements and functionality to your website. They are found under the Add Web Apps icon.
There are over 300 Web apps, many specific to certain industries, others to major services and some for improving communication with visitors to your site.
Among the functions you can integrate into your site using these Web apps are eBay instant auctions, your Amazon store, Zillow and local search services, such as Foursquare and Google Maps.
As with other builders, no additional software, or design or technical expertise is needed to design a web page on your site. With a well-organized site builder, 1&1 certainly lives up to its goal of being simple to create your own business website.
1&1 gives you the option of optimizing your website for mobile devices, such as smartphones. Unlike other website builders that automatically make a mobile version of your site, 1&1 requires you to enable the mobile optimization feature yourself.
You have to choose Settings from the main website toolbar and then click on the Mobile Website icon. From there, select the Yes, activate optimize for smartphone option to enable this feature.
After doing so, your website will be viewable on mobile devices without appearance or functionality problems.
It’s not clear why 1&1 requires this step to enable a mobile website. According to 1&1, its design templates have built-in responsive design, so it’s odd that your website would not automatically adjust to the screen resolution of the display accessing it.
Upon further review, it appears other site builders just minimize your desktop version to fit a smaller screen or offer a mobile template, whereas 1&1 is more sophisticated, creating a separate mobile site that retains all the branding and style elements of your desktop version.
1&1 has a vast selection of themed templates in its web templates catalog. Since it is focused on providing businesses with a quick and easy website builder, the themes are categorized by specific industries, including construction, real estate, education, health care and health services, hotels, restaurants, transportation services, tourism, product manufacturing, professional services, trade professions, retail and commerce, vehicle services, associations and organizations.
The themes can be accessed by logging into your 1&1 account and clicking the layout icon under the Website main menu.
There are hundreds of available layouts in 120 business sectors to browse through, so leave yourself plenty of time to do so. When you find a theme that’s right for your business, simply confirm your selection.
A major plus is the generic themes offered by 1&1 for business types not listed by category, or for businesses who want to customize a template to create a specific branding design using their logo, images, or color scheme.
Professionally designed by graphic designers, the themes have a polished and professional look to them, which is important seeing that 1&1’s core audience is the business community. The functionality of these themes is also very good, which is essential when looking for the ease factor when building your site. So with the 1&1 themes, you’re getting both a quality look and functionality.
Unlike other do-it-yourself website creators, the 1&1 builder gives you plenty of flexibility to change the page structure, design and color schemes of the template. But more importantly, 1&1 gets high marks for allowing its users to change their themes or layouts at any point without their content being affected.
When it comes to themes, what sets 1&1 apart from other website builders is its specialized Web apps based on the industry you selected. Here’s how it works: When you select a design theme, 1&1 intuitively recommends complementary apps that suit your type of business. These could range from online chat options or newsletter tools to multimedia apps or translation tools.
For instance, if you selected a theme in the hotel, restaurant and tourism business sector, the 1&1 builder would automatically display specific Web apps for your business sector, such as table reservations, event calendar, appointment booking, and ratings and reviews, to add to your website to make it more functional and interactive for your visitors.
On the other hand, if you selected a theme in the building, construction, property business sector, the Web apps recommended for your website would be floor plans, property listings, photo galleries, and download documents, such as brochures, user manuals and product catalogs.
These Web apps are a slam dunk for 1&1 when it comes to offering something of value to businesses that other website builders do not have. What business wouldn’t want interactive apps specific to their line of business to engage visitors on their site? And best of all, businesses don’t have to go searching for them, they are automatically provided to them.
Whether your business is growing or downsizing, 1&1 gives you the option every month to scale your package plan up or down according to your business needs. This option is offered at no additional cost.
There’s also no problem with adding more pages or more web space. All 1&1 templates are scalable, which means you can upgrade to another plan, request more web space, change to another web design, or add more pages without having to redo your website.
The structure of the pages remains intact, as well as the content on them.
To optimize your website to obtain a top ranking on search engine results pages, 1&1 gives you flexibility with meta tags and offers its SEO Pro tool. It is accessible by clicking on the Search Engine button on the main Website menu in the site builder. SEO Pro allows you to select suitable keywords for your type of business, optimize your website with influencing SEO factors and monitor your SEO efforts.
To see how well your website is optimized, click Start the 1&1 SEO Pro to access the 1&1 Assistant. You will be prompted to click start and enter your company’s name, your industry and your location.
This information is used to create search terms and keywords relevant to your business and its products and services. In the short period of time it takes you to click next, the 1&1 Assistant has automatically created search terms and keywords to optimize your site.
After confirming them, an overview of other optimization options is provided on the next screen. For instance, you can optimize the content on business directories or the Google Places listing.
A really nifty tool is the SEO speedometer, which shows your website’s current level of optimization so you can measure your SEO efforts and perform further SEO activities if needed.
Along with the SEO speedometer, 1&1 offers SiteAnalytics, a tool to monitor your SEO efforts. For example, you can evaluate topics of interest to your visitors, see how many visits there are to your site at any given time of day, analyze what visitors are doing on your site, determine how visitors are searching for business services you provide, etc. With this information, you can tweak your site’s content to better attract visitors to your site.
1&1 also gets major kudos for making SiteAnalytics as a mobile app for both iOS and Android so you can access it on your tablet or smartphone when away from your business office.
A blog can be incorporated directly into your website by selecting the page on your site where you want the blog to appear, clicking on the Insert Elements tool under the Website main menu and selecting Contact & Communication.
1&1 couldn’t have made it any faster or easier to add a blog to a website. Simply click and hold the Blog icon, drag it to the spot on the page for the blog to be located and drop it in.
The blog element automatically prompts you to name your blog and a title for your first blog post and insert your content. You are also prompted to select a setting for blog comments and your preferred time zone.
With the 1&1 Blog Web app, you can write blogs that are all text, or enhance the text by embedding images and integrating videos from Vimeo or YouTube. You also have a choice on how your images are displayed.
In demonstrating its deep understanding of the needs of businesses, 1&1 provides a mobile blog app for iOS and Android for accessing, updating and keeping in touch with blog conversations while on the go.
1&1 makes it easy to expand your website to sell products or services online directly from your website without entering any coding or installing software. What’s nice about it is you never leave the website editor.
You start building an online shop by clicking on Insert Elements from the main Website menu and selecting Products & Documents. Within this category is the Sell Products/Services icon, which you click and hold while dragging it to the web page where you want your products to appear. From there, it’s just a matter of filling in the information in the prompts under the Edit text, Edit image and Search criteria tabs.
For example, to add a product, you would select Edit text and fill in the product or service name, description, price and tax, including the value-added tax (VAT), if required. The same process is used for adding an image, where you can upload your own image stored on your computer, or search for one using the 1&1 image library.
The Search criteria tab includes View and Settings options, which allow you to adjust how customers search, view, purchase and receive your products. Settings is also where you can add your PayPal account to accept payments, set shipping costs for your products, edit the text of the automatic e-mail order confirmation, add terms and conditions for visitors shopping at your online store, and edit the text of the automatic thank you for your order message.
If you have the time, you can also add a product search function to your website. However, you need to have finished listing all the products for your website store before using this tool. Basically, you drag the Product/Services Search icon onto your eShop page. It’s found under Insert Elements on the main Website menu, then Products & Documents.
Do allow plenty of time for this task because it’s rather involved. You have to select the search options you want to be displayed to create search categories for your products, then input a product category and one or more subcategories for each product. Once that’s finished, you then have to assign the search criteria and search categories to your existing product elements.
On the plus side, 1&1 offers Web apps that enable you to expand your selling opportunities. For instance, you can add an app to your site for your Amazon store, or add other shopping carts, such as Ecwid.
If you prefer an online store separate and apart from your website, 1&1 offers e-commerce packages at a cost separate from its website builder packages.
With 1&1, your website or online business can grow without the worry of a slow loading site or downtime. Part of the reason is that 1&1 provides its own services, such as domain registration, web hosting, e-mail and messaging services, and dedicated servers for e-commerce. As such, it can manage these services directly, ensuring they meet their customers’ needs.
The other part of the reason is that 1&1 has several state-of-the-art data centers located around the world that are secure and powerful, ensuring uptime during planned maintenance, redundancy, self-repairing systems and security of information being transmitted. The website builder goes one step further by partnering with major Internet exchange points and providers around the globe to make your website even faster and more accessible.
1&1 doesn’t offer a free website builder, but instead offers a 30-day trial so you can try its MyWebsite builder for 30 days at no cost. However, when you click on the Try for 30 days button from the 1&1 home page, you’re referred to its package plans, so you actually need to choose a plan before getting 30 days free.
So it’s more of a 30-day money back guarantee as opposed to a 30-day free trial. And be aware that the responsibility is on you to cancel within the first 30 days.
Also be aware that when you are reviewing and purchasing a package that you are on the 1&1 UK site and not the U.S. site because the 1&1 website product offerings, do-it-yourself website packages and prices differ between the two.
In the UK, 1&1 offers three, do-it-yourself website builder package plans: Basic, Plus and Premium. All packages include the drag and drop website editor, 10 GB web space, design layouts, text and images for your business sector, mobile optimization, online photo editing, blogs, contact forms, 1&1 SiteAnalytics and 24/7 support.
The Basic plan, ideal for modern websites, is £6.99 and includes your own Internet address that is not a subdomain of 1&1, 200 e-mail addresses, search engine optimization, images that pertain to your business sector and an online shop for selling up to 10 products.
The Plus plan, designed for professional online marketing, is £9.99 a month and offers everything in the Basic plan, but boosts up SEO with assisted search engine optimization and images with a comprehensive library of professional images for your business type. In addition, the plan includes tools for creating a Facebook page and synchronizing it with your website, and conducting online marketing activities, such as sending newsletters and more.
The Premium plan, ideal for professional e-commerce, is £19.99 a month and includes everything in the Basic and Plus plans, but offers an online shop for up to 1,000 products, plus more product categories, and payment and delivery methods. The plan also includes a £20 PayPal voucher.
These U.K. prices exclude the 20 percent value added tax (VAT).
In addition, 1&1 offers one month, short-term contracts on a per request basis. This is an option not offered by many other site builders and is ideal for professionals, organizations, associations, or clubs that don’t have the need to commit for longer than one month at a time.
Top 3 Pros and Cons
- You get your own domain or website address, not a subdomain of 1&1. This is a huge benefit for getting found by search engines and for establishing an online identity.
- When adding products or services to your website, 1&1 provides ready-made product description templates. All you have to do is add a customized product title and the product’s price. There’s a good range of professional business sector templates for both products and services, among them jewelry, toys, shoes, wine, gift baskets, glasses and real estate. This is a great time-saver, especially for those who aren’t the best in writing creative or catchy product descriptions.
- There’s a 1&1 Social Media Hub upgrade that can be added to your 1&1 MyWebsite package so you can connect your website to Facebook and Twitter. You can also create a Facebook page for your business using this upgrade.
- It’s not uncommon to receive an error message while editing or adding an item to a page. It’s usually because some of the 1&1 MyWebsite functions require Java or Adobe Flash. If you’re running an outdated Flash Player or Java Runtime Environment, you’ll likely experience error messages. You have to remember to update your software and keep it updated.
- Even though 1&1 offers a 30-day free trial of its website builder, you have to provide a credit card upon signing up. You have to keep track of when your 30 days are up, which, by the way, begins when you order the 30-day trial, not when you actually start using the builder. 1&1 does not send a reminder that your 30-day trial is nearing its end, so if you want to cancel it, you need to do so before the month is up, otherwise your credit card will be automatically charged for the upcoming month. Also, during the free trial, you do not get to choose a domain name, unless you pay for it and that cost is non-refundable if you cancel the site builder service. Instead, 1&1 assigns you a URL for your initial website, which you can change if you keep the service.
- Support response time is poor. Telephone support, while 24/7, has long wait times and in many instances, the solution to your problem isn’t immediate, with deeper investigation needed. Replies to e-mail inquiries are also slow.
1&1 offers 24/7/365 phone support, as well as help via e-mail inquiries, a Contact icon within the site builder and a self-service Help Centre. Your best bet in terms of getting a quick response is the self-service section, which includes video tutorials, step-by-step text instructions on different stages of creating your site, and a search function. The 1&1 Help Centre is accessible from the 1&1 home page by clicking Help and Contact on the main toolbar.
Although the marketing message for the 24/7 phone support promises your question being answered as quickly as possible by an expert, 1&1 doesn’t deliver in either claims. The wait time is long and the solution to your problem might not be adequate. You may have to wait a few days for 1&1 to research the issue and provide additional clarification. The same issues apply to e-mail inquiries, as well.
Whom This Website Builder Is Ideal For?
1&1 makes it very clear from the start that its website builder is a simple solution for businesses that want a professional website. So if you’re a business that wants to create an online presence, attract new customers, stay in touch with existing customers, or sell products online, this is the website builder for your needs.
In particular, 1&1 caters to small and medium sized businesses, as well as professionals, contractors, associations, organizations and clubs. It is evident that the site builder put a lot of effort in customizing its service to meet the needs of a wide range of business sectors.
Any business or professional service provider will find 1&1 an adequate do-it-yourself website builder for creating a professional website with ease, building an online store, or enhancing their online marketing efforts.
Since a 30-day free trial is offered, it’s worthwhile to try it out to see if this website builder and its business-focused features meet your company’s needs.
There’s no denying that 1&1 is focused on businesses and the components they need to have a complete online presence. 1&1 delivers by providing the services and tools needed to create a modern website with error-free functionality, mobile access, e-commerce and good SEO.
The site building environment is well presented with self-explanatory icons. Just be prepared to browse within these icons to find additional elements and functionality. If you prefer to see all site building tools displayed on the screen at once in main and secondary toolbars, this probably isn’t the website builder for you.
However, if you’re looking for a website builder that offers a full range of other services essential for having an online presence for your business, then 1&1 is a good match. Besides offering a do-it-yourself website builder, it also provides other web services, including domain registration; web hosting; virtual, cloud and dedicated servers; e-mail and office solutions; e-commerce; and online marketing services.
In terms of its website builder, it is a good value for the money. Whether creating a business website for an online presence, or building an online shop, 1&1 MyWebsite makes it possible with its drag and drop interface builder, a wide range of key features responsive to the needs of businesses, and a wealth of powerful marketing tools.