When creating and designing a website proves too difficult, or you decide it’s time for a makeover, finding a great site builder can be a challenge. There are tons of free ones, but their features are often locked away behind paywalls, and it can be hard to find a paid online creator of good quality.
But 1&1, a pioneer in the web services industry, is one company that’s committed to providing a website builder of only the best caliber. The company focuses on providing the greatest services it can at the best price — and it shows.
Find What You’re Looking For
How It Started: the German Success Story of 1&1
1&1 was founded nearly 30 years ago in 1988. The German company began its life as a marketing agency for T-Mobile. It wasn’t until ten years later that it broke into the web hosting business. The company grew quickly, expanding all over Europe and the US.
Now it’s well-known far from its home country and serves as a major US provider.
The company’s business model is to act as a “one-stop internet shop.”
You come for the builder, but along the way, you can pick up all sorts of hosting, marketing services, email-related services, and more.
But let’s put all that aside for the moment and focus on the website builder. To starters it’s responsive. You don’t need to design another mobile site; it’s all optimized from the get-go. This does, however, come with a downside. The builder is a bit restrictive as to where you can place elements.
Templates & Photo Options
Still, you have over 10,000 templates to choose from, and 20 million stock images. There’s even a text and image suggestion tool, in case you’re unsure of where to go with your design.
Another useful feature is the online photo editor. There’s no need to crop and resize in another program; just do it right in the editor.
As for extra features, most plans come with a solid 50 GB of storage. The tiny personal plan is missing a few features, but every plan allows for unlimited pages, tons of design templates optimized for mobile, a free domain, and a free SSL certificate.
All websites built using 1&1’s site builder is, without any additional effort on your part, optimized for mobile devices.
Add Functionality to your Site with Hundreds of Web Apps
Need a bit extra? 1&1 offers a robust app store where you can find all sorts of nifty things you can add to your website.
There are tons of tiny apps that you can just drag-and-drop in, that will give your site more interactivity. Let customers browse your brochure, add a clear hours-of-operation stamp, or even schedule appointments.
There’s almost anything you can imagine, including a UPS order tracker, a car loan calculator, and an Eventbrite plug-in enabling you to advertise your event and sell tickets online.
A big one is the blog app. Just drop it in and use the “create entry” button to write your first post, simple as that. There are more complex blogging programs out there, but for just a simple online presence, it’ll get the job done.
A few of the more popular apps include:
- Clerk hotel management
- Microsoft Translator
An added plus is that these hundreds of web apps are sortable by various categories like “Top rated,” “multi-media,” “social networks,” and so on.
Start Selling Online with MyStore and E-Commerce
“1&1 MyStore Premium” is the builder’s integrated online shopping tool, which you get by purchasing the highest-tiered plan. There is a cap on products, but it’s high enough to satisfy most businesses, and most payment methods are available. SSL certificates are already included with all plans, so your customers’ data is safe.
Top e-commerce features for 1&1 include:
- Easy to use layouts
- Professionally designed template options
- Connection to online marketplaces like eBay, Amazon, and Google Shopping
- Setup Assitant that walks you through set up
- Mobile optimization
- Google Analytics integration
- Social media integration
- Ability to offer coupons
- Choice of payment options including credit cards, PayPal, and Amazon Pay
- Ability to manage multiple stores
Overall, their e-commerce capability is rather high, and it comes at a much lower cost than many website builders that charge hefty fees just to sell a few products.
With that said, the 1&1 Website Builder is designed for personal or professional websites without e-commerce functionality. If you would like to launch an online store, you are better off with one of 1&1’s E-Commerce Website packages.
Choose the Right E-Commerce Package
The e-commerce website packages offer features and functionalities that are better suited to online sales, such as customized templates, order integrations and payment processing, and the ability to connect to a wide variety of online marketplaces, such as eBay, Amazon, or Google.
1&1 offers three e-commerce packages that start at just $9.99 a month. The higher tier packages offer premium features such as integrated shipping, marketing tools, and comparison websites.
Note, however, that the e-commerce plans cost much more than the website building options.
Video above: This small business owners shares her experience of using the 1&1 site builder. (Video courtesy of 1&1).
Every plan comes with a domain, free for 12 months, though only with the standard extensions like .com or .org. You also get either a basic or professional mail hosting service that matches the domain you choose.
Buy or Transfer
The company itself sells other top-level domain extensions like .blog, and you can transfer your domains easily and manage them all in one place. Also, it keeps your data hidden from the public registries — free of charge.
CheatSheet: 1&1 Feature List
There are just too many features, add-ons, and services to talk about. Most of them are free as well. Here’s a quick list to look through:
- Drag and Drop Builder: no design knowledge is required to make the most of this simple builder.
- Auto-Responsive: all you need to do to get a well-made mobile site is to publish it! No extra work is necessary.
- Free SSL Certificate: whether you run a site that takes sensitive info, or you just want that handy green address bar lock, there’s no need to pay a fee. DDoS protection is thrown in as well.
- Free Domain: register your website free for 12 months, or transfer to 1&1.
- Email Hosting: get your own email address at your new domain, free as well.
- MyStore Premium: the most expensive plan nets you this gem, which lets you accept payments from most sources, sell thousands of products (with variations), and integrate with Amazon and eBay.
- 10,000 Templates: each template is elegant, professional, and tailored to a specific industry. No matter your line of work, there’s something to suit you.
- 20 Million Images: hard to go wrong with that many stock images!
- 300+ Small Business Apps: from Google Maps to a contact form to even a blog, drag the widget in and you’re done.
- Online Photo Editor: it comes integrated so you can crop and make other edits fast.
- 24/7 Support: phone and live chat support are included, at all hours.
- Money Back Guarantee: try it for 30 days, and if you don’t like it, get your money back.
Other Services: Hosting, Servers, and Marketing
If you’re in the market, 1&1 offers everything from simple hosting to managed cloud hosting to dedicated servers. Note: you must purchase the site builder plan separately from the web hosting. We think it would add another layer of convenience if 1&1 offered packages combining the two.
Grow Traffic and Conversions with Professional Marketing Services
Marketing services are also offered. Get your business verified and listed on search results, or hire experts to help improve your search engine optimization.
These services can be rolled into your MyWebsite subscription to help improve your business.
Design Services from 1&1
Finally, if you’ve no time to design a site, hire someone to do it for you. 1&1 has staff who can create tailor-made websites for you, though such services can be costly.
Engage Visitors with Social Media
For small business owners, a digital presence, especially one centered around social media, is important to drive sales.
1&1 makes it easy to integrate your new website with your social media accounts. You can easily add sharing functionality, connect to Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks, set up an RSS feed, and implement user commenting functionality.
Pricing/Plan Costs: Good Budget Options
For small businesses on a budget, 1&1 allows you to get up and running for less than a dollar a month (those who need a bit more can opt for an upgraded package).
1&1 does not offer a free plan when it comes to their website builder. The company explains that this is because their paid options include many features free ones do not, such as:
- Web hosting, without restrictions and corner-cutting (e.g., not offering custom domain names, SEO tools, ability to share the account with additional administrators, e-commerce functionality, etc.)
- Better website templates and editing availability (the more powerful drag-and-drop website builders tend not to be free options)
- Online photo editing to quickly resize and adjust brightness or contrast
- Image library with access to over 20 million photos
- Ability to display website content in over 60 languages
As with all site builders, there are some drawbacks to this service.
Slow Load Times, Iffy Controls
While trying out the builder, it seems to load quite slowly, even with just one template and an image or two on screen. The builder’s layout is also not as intuitive as I would like.
Simple Blog and Store Options
Blogging functionality is limited to a small, simple widget without a lot of functionality. That’s fine for businesses, who usually just end up writing a lot of simple articles, but not if you’re looking to create a feature-rich blog with a lot of interaction.
Another issue you may right into is the pricing structure. The intro rates are quite nice, but after a year, they quickly increase. The site builder and hosting won’t come cheap after that time.
Finally, just getting the free trial requires sensitive personal and credit card info. Plus, the intro rate only applies if you sign up for a year. And if you get a monthly plan just to try it, presumably, you forfeit the price drop.
This company has built up a solid reputation. It’s a great choice for those looking for a website creator suited to e-commerce or a company site for a small business.
Lots of Perks
There are a lot of enhancements and add-ons, securing this provider’s post as one of the highest-tier hosting and site builder services. It’s amazing how much the company gives away for free. It could probably get away with just charging for the builder, but it chooses to give you hosting, a domain name, email hosting, and more.
And as its service is directed at businesses, the company could have made a pretty penny charging for SSL certificates, but instead, it gives them away, too. Pair that with enough templates to tide over even the pickiest designers, and you’re left with too many perks to count.
There’s a lot of creative freedom to be had, and you could spend hours trying to find the perfect picture or the best template. It could even be said that there are too many templates and images.
You’ll never get to the bottom of it. But this means that even if you can’t create your own graphics, your site will never look like anyone else’s.
And with full coding access, there are really no limits to what you can do. If you’re tired of playing with the editor, delve into the code and see what you can tweak. Add Flash and video elements, HTML5, and whatever else you need.
While the renewal rates aren’t quite as dirt cheap as the introductory prices, you won’t break the bank with these annual bills. Not to mention, in an industry funded by paid add-ons and themes, most of 1&1’s services are free. Most web hosts can’t even claim a free domain and SSL certificate.
Plus, you don’t need to pay for the millions of images or thousands of templates, and you can swap them out at your discretion. All the license fees are taken care of. No more tiny transactions piling up and wrecking your budget.
An Elegant Content-Rich Builder
If you’re searching for a website creator packed with features, with great e-commerce integration (at least in the premium plans) and a simple but beautiful theme, you’ve found your match.
With 1&1, you get the value out of your money. And if that’s something you find important, this has got to be among the best choices. The company’s all-in-one package is comprehensive.
So, if full creative freedom, along with tons of features, sounds good, you will not be disappointed. Don’t be afraid to give this provider a whirl; the refund policy will protect you. And in the process, you’ll get to try one of the top site builders on the market.
FAQ for 1&1 Website Builder
Got questions about 1&1 site builder before you take the plunge? Below, we answer a few of the most commonly asked questions.
Does 1&1 offer WordPress hosting?
Yes, they offer three different WordPress hosting packages, starting at just .99 a month. These packages include easy installation of WordPress, faster speeds, and enhanced security features. The speed boost is due to the use of SSD (solid-state drive) storage and the provision of the 1&1 proprietary CDN (content delivery network). These are “managed” plans, meaning 1&1 will take care of the regular updating of your WordPress core software and of security updates.
What is 1&1 Click & Build?
Click & Build is a feature that allows you to install software applications on your site, such as WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal, with just one click. You also have the option to use the manual installer, but this is a very useful feature for the less technologically-savvy.
Does 1&1 offer free domains?
No, they do not offer free domains, but they are very affordable. A domain and email are included in their lowest package which starts at around .99 a month. Note: some plans, like the WordPress plan, list the conditional “1 domain free for 12 months.” This benefit is restricted to certain extensions, namely, .com, .net, .org, .info, .biz, .website, .club, and .me.