Nowadays, having a website is crucial for business success. But, hiring a web developer and a designer to get your site up and running may not always be feasible. Thankfully, there are plenty of options out there that allow you to create your own site, without having any coding experience.
One of those options are site builders that rely on a drag-and-drop interface to allow anyone to create a website without having to hire a developer or have any coding knowledge. Some site builders are outdated and offer little in terms of customization and features. But there are others that are easy to use and flexible.
One of those site builders is Moonfruit. In this review, we’ll explore the features Moonfruit has to offer as well as the different types of plans it supports.
What Is Moonfruit?
Moonfruit was founded in 2000, during the dot-com bubble era. It was initially supported entirely by advertising. Shortly thereafter, Moonfruit switched to a subscription-based model. In 2013, Moonfruit announced that its Flash-based platform had been adapted to support HTML 5.
In 2012, the company was acquired by hibu, which currently operates in the UK under the Yell brand. Today, Moonfruit consists of developers and entrepreneurs who want to make it as easy as possible for small businesses to launch their websites without breaking the bank.
The platform claims to be the #1 site builder in the UK and rapidly expanding in the rest of the world. Moonfruit powers more than 5 million websites, with a third of its user base in the US.
With features that include responsive templates, a drag-and-drop editor, SEO support, the ability to register domain names, and third-party app integrations, the platform seems to be an attractive choice for any small business on a budget. Let’s explore these features in more detail.
The builder offers a decent selection of templates that are organized into several categories. The categories cover shop, photography, business, portfolio, craft, and personal sites. At first glance, some of the templates look rather dated while others appear modern. You can select a template during the sign up stage or you can build the layout and contents of your site completely from scratch.
Once you select whether you want to use a template or start from scratch, you’ll be taken to the editor screen.
If you start from scratch, you’ll start off with a blank canvas. Clicking the plus icon will allow you to start adding elements to your page. The elements are grouped into several sections, some of which contain pre-designed elements:
- Layout: allows you to choose the number of columns for your page.
- Navigation: adds a menu to your site.
- Header: you can choose between several header designs that are already pre-built.
- Body: similar to the header, there are already several pre-made designs that you can customize.
- Footer: adds a basic footer area with another navigation menu.
If you choose the layout option, you can start adding elements like buttons, images, social media links, icons, and more.
Tweaking the style settings for any of the elements can be done through the editor on the right-hand side of the screen. In the editor, you can fine-tune the colors, fonts, spacing, and control the background image. There are also some pre-made color schemes and you can choose among a number of Google Fonts.
If you want to add a new page to your site, you need to click the Pages link in the top toolbar, enter the name of the page, and then click on Save. From the same toolbar, you can upload your favicon and images that will display on social media when someone shares your site.
Using a pre-built template, on the other hand, gives you a set of styled pages with dummy content that you can replace with your own. The editor for the pre-made templates has a slightly different interface but it does offer access to the same tools for tweaking the colors, fonts, and more. If you find that you don’t like a particular template, there is no easy way to change it. You will have to create a new site to test out a different template or delete your site and start with a different template.
It’s also worth mentioning that you can preview how your site will display across desktop, tablet, and mobile devices at any point during the design process.
If you want to purchase a domain for your site after signing up for a plan, there is an option to do so through the site settings area. This area also allows you to connect your site with Google Apps and Google Search Console which leads us to the SEO features.
When it comes to SEO features, Moonfruit allows you to add a title, description, and keywords to each page you create. They also generate a sitemap automatically, which helps search engines to index your site.
You can add ALT tags to every image you upload as well as a title. The SEO features are located in the design editor along with the style settings.
Stock Images and Image Editor
Not many site builders offer stock images. Moonfruit stands out in that aspect: it has an integrated stock image library where you can find free stock images for use on your site. On top of that, they integrate with the Lobster marketplace which allows you to pull low-cost images from social media and use them on your site.
You can upload your own images and edit them through their editor to adjust the size, contrast, saturation, and color filtering.
Blogging and E-Commerce
Moonfruit allows you to set up a simple blog, Facebook shop, or a regular shop on your site. It’s worth mentioning those features are available once you sign up for one of their paid plans.
Some of the templates already come with a pre-made blog and shop pages and they allow you to add new blog posts using the top toolbar. You can add images and text to your articles and schedule posts to be published at a later date.
When it comes to products, there is no limit to the amount of products you can add. Note that you will be rather limited when it comes to product options. There is no way to easily add multiple options so if you want to display different colors and sizes, you will have to enter each available color for each size and set their prices individually.
Social and Third-Party Integrations
When it comes to social media and other third-party integrations, there are a few options to choose from.
The video blocks allow you to embed YouTube or Vimeo videos by entering a video ID. You can embed a Spotify playlist or a SoundCloud player if you want to add audio content.
On the social front, you can add links to your social media profiles and embed a Twitter timeline or Facebook pages, comments, and likes. You can also add your Instagram feed. There is even an option to add a Chatango widget if you want to allow visitors to get in touch with you through a Live Chat option.
Third-party integrations allow you to add a custom contact form or embed a Wufoo form as well as a Google Calendar, WordPress blog, Pinterest Pin It buttons, HTML snippets, and more.
Once you sign up for one of their plans, you can purchase a domain name through the dashboard area in your account. You can transfer an existing domain name as well. Doing so, gives you the ability to set up custom email addresses tied to your domain and take advantage of their integration with Office 365.
Billing and Cancellation
Moonfruit offers monthly and yearly plans. They accept Visa, MasterCard, and American Express as payment methods.
If you want to cancel your account, you can do so at anytime. You will need to log into your account and navigate to the Billing page where you can manage and cancel your subscription.
Ease of Use
Overall, Moonfruit’s site builder is easy to use. Adding new blocks and elements to your site is not entirely drag-and-drop but rather click and point, however, the settings for each block are intuitive.
Adding new blocks is relatively easy as well as is choosing the number of columns for the page layout. Keep in mind that there is no option to control the width of the columns nor the ability to create a custom column layout.
When it comes to customer service and support, Moonfruit provides a live chat option, a knowledge base, and a forum.
Their customer support forum is listed as a place where you can submit your feedback and suggest ideas for new features. Aside from suggesting features, you can get feedback and help from other Moonfruit users.
The knowledge base contains over 200 articles that answer the most commonly asked questions and contain tutorials on account setup, using the templates, and the editor, and information about feature releases. The articles are organized into different categories and you can also use the search bar to find the answer you’re looking for.
Finally, if you want to talk to a support agent, you can use their Live Chat option or use the contact form on their site to get the answers you need.
Why You Should Choose Moonfruit
The ease of use and affordable pricing are the biggest benefits Moonfruit has to offer. They make it easy to get started with your website if you’ve never built one before and don’t have a big budget but still want to get your business online.
Their editor is easy enough to use whether you’re starting from scratch or tweaking one of their templates. You’ll find features that allow you to showcase your services or your products and connect your site with major social media platforms.
Their knowledge base is also rather extensive so you can easily find out how to work with the editor, add new pages, and more.
Another point in favor of Moonfruit is the fact that they are actively working on new features according to their feedback section and plan to add support for SSL certificates and other features in the near future.
What Are the Disadvantages of Moonfruit?
On the other side of the coin, Moonfruit does have some disadvantages that you need to consider before making the decision to sign up for one of their plans.
While they do offer an impressive number of templates, bear in mind that some of those templates do look somewhat outdated and still appear to be using Flash technology. This becomes obvious only after selecting a template so there is no way of knowing what you will get.
Similarly, having no ability to easily change the template you’ve selected is another reason against using Moonfruit, given there are plenty of site builders who allow you to change templates with a click of the mouse.
Their Flash templates lack the mobile features that you get if you start without using a template. Starting from scratch allows you to have a responsive website that maintains your branding and images on all screen sizes. The templates, on the other hand, all use a default, plain-looking template that doesn’t look the same as the desktop version of your site.
Another downside is that there is no obvious and easy integration with an email service provider like MailChimp or AWeber.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that their Live Chat support team does take awhile to respond to questions and inquiries so you might be better off turning to their knowledge base or seeking support in the feedback section.
What’s the Final Verdict?
Moonfruit caters to small businesses who need to get their site up and running quickly. They also want to attract designers who want the ability to create and maintain their clients’ websites without a lot of hassle.
They offer enough features to satisfy the needs of small businesses that aren’t looking for a lot of bells and whistles. If you don’t mind starting from scratch, you can create a decent-looking website that works across desktop and mobile devices.
Along with affordable pricing, Moonfruit seems like a good choice if you want to build a simple, no-frills website.
However, if you need more advanced features without relying on Flash-based templates or a more modern looking website, you may want to consider alternative options.