Launched by two “kiwis” in 2009, Rocketspark is a New Zealand-based website builder and e-commerce platform that was originally designed to help that country’s small business owners easily create and maintain top-performing websites. Since its founding it has expanded with offices in the U.K. and a global client base. Rocketspark’s goal is to deliver a platform so easy to use that even the most inexperienced computer user can create and maintain their own professional looking website or online store at an affordable price. With plenty of success stories documented on their site and real companies using their product, Rocketspark stands out as a real-world tested website builder.
RocketSpark offers three different products:
- The site builder gets you up and running with a customizable website
- The e-commerce site builder gets you up and running with a customized online store
- The Design Studio, aimed at graphic designers, allows you to design and launch websites without writing a single line of code.
Rocketspark also offers custom website design services.
Regardless of which option you choose, Rocketspark takes care of everything on the back-end, including hosting, domains, security, and so on. The only thing you have to do is design, create, and maintain the front-end of your website.
Rocketspark Site Builder Features
The foundation of all Rocketspark sites is the customizable template. It offers many templates from which you can choose — all look good as is, but you can edit everything in your template, including its fonts, colors, layout, images, and text-based content using the intuitive, drag-and-drop, WYSIWYG template/website editor.
One particularly nice feature is the ability to easily edit, move, and resize feature headlines. In modern website design, these often overlay a large image at the top of your home page. When the feature headlines are fixed and unmoveable, you can run into annoying positioning problems. For example, if you upload a large photo of people, you may find that your headline displays inconveniently right on top of their faces. With Rocketspark, you’ll never have this problem.
To ensure that your site gets indexed appropriately by search engines, RocketSpark includes basic search engine optimization tools. They aren’t fancy, but they get the job done in terms of allowing you to edit the title and description tags and set up redirection whenever you move your site’s pages to a new location. In addition, Rocketspark integrates with Google Analytics, so you can get the data you need to determine how well your site is doing.
Integration with the social media platforms of your choice is easy. In addition to offering social buttons and icons you can integrate onto your site, you can share blog posts (if you don’t have a blog already, Rocketspark comes with built-in blogging functionality), choose the icons/buttons that best match the design of your site, and publish Facebook or Twitter feeds on your website.
All Rocketspark sites are designed to be responsive, not just mobile-friendly. This means that, rather than creating two versions of your site and serving the one that best fits the device of the user, there’s just one version of your site. Then, depending on the size of the device the user’s using, your site shrinks (or expands) as necessary to fit the device screen size. Having just one version of your site makes it much easier for you to manage.
If Rocketspark doesn’t have a feature you’d like built-in, you can take advantage of add-ons to extend the functionality of your site. The add-ons available include integrations with companies like MailChimp (email marketing), Xero (accounting), Vimeo (video hosting), and Stripe (payment processing).
E-commerce Site Builder Features
If you’d like to build a fully-fledged online store, not just a simple website, Rocketspark’s e-commerce site builder might be the choice for you. You’ll get all the features of the regular site builder. However, with the e-commerce builder, you’ll get set up with a product catalog, product/stock management features, a shopping cart and checkout process, and payment processing.
Furthermore, you’ll get design and display options that aren’t available to subscribers of the regular site builder, such as product image zooming, toggles between grid and list views for your product lists, search and sort functionality, and access to additional e-commerce-related add-ons. Like the websites built by Rocketspark, all online stores are responsive by default.
One of the things that set Rocketspark’s e-commerce builder apart from its competitors is its lack of transaction fees. You pay a flat rate for your monthly subscription (the exact amount varies based on the number of products you sell in your store), and any fees assessed by third-party vendors (such as PayPal or Stripe), but Rocketspark does not charge any per-item or per-sale transaction fees.
Rocketspark Design Studio
Design Studio is a product aimed at graphic designers and agencies who want to create and sell Rocketspark websites. With this option, you can build either a regular website or an e-commerce site — all of the features available in either site builder are available for you to use, which means that you can create websites for your client without writing a single line of code.
What makes Design Studio stand out, however, are its administrative/management tools. You’ll get a master dashboard where you can manage all of your projects in one place. You don’t have to create and manage a separate account for each project/website you’re working on. Furthermore, you only have to worry about the design, creation, and management of the front end of your clients’ sites — Rocketspark manages the rest, including web hosting, security updates, domain names, email accounts, and so on.
If you ever need additional functionality for a client’s site, you can request custom build services from the Rocketstudio development team. This is a service only available to subscribers of Design Studio.
Rocketspark Email Accounts and Other Services
If you need a professional, branded email address to go with your site, you can purchase individual email accounts from Rocketspark. You’ll be billed on a monthly basis for each email account you own.
If you want to outsource the creation of your website, you can either request a full design and build package from Rocketspark or one of its partners. You’ll work with your designer to provide information about your business and your vision for your site, and the designer will get it up and running using the appropriate Rocketspark package. Once your site is live, your designer hands full control of the site over to you — the only thing you have to do is make sure that the content stays up to date.
Pricing and Billing
All new users, upon signing up, automatically get a free, 30-day trial (no credit card required). At the end of the trial period, you’ll have to convert to a paid subscription, otherwise, Rocketspark will deactivate your site.
If you purchase a subscription to either the regular site builder or the e-commerce site builder, you can choose to pay on a monthly basis or upfront for a years’ worth of service (by opting for the latter, you can save 20% off your total fees).
RocketSpark charges one flat rate for the regular site builder, but the cost of the e-commerce site builder varies depending on the number of products you’re selling — the more you’re selling, the more you’ll pay.
Purchasers of the regular site builder get the following:
- Unlimited disk storage
- 1 free domain name (first year of service only)
- 1 ten-page website (additional pages can be requested free of charge).
Purchasers of the e-commerce site builder get the following:
- Unlimited disk storage
- Integrations with e-commerce suites, such as Vend, Stripe, PayPal, and so on
- 1 free domain name (first year of service only)
- 1 ten-page website (additional pages can be requested free of charge)
- Inventory and stock management features.
The Design Studio features are free to use; however, either you or your client must pay Rocketspark the standard fees for the regular or e-commerce site builders. Note that, as the designer, you’ll receive a commission for using Design Studio, so if your client is paying the Rocketspark fee, you’ll earn additional revenue above your fee for creating the website.
Refunds and Cancellations
You may cancel your account at any time, and unless you request otherwise, your website will be available until the end of the current billing cycle. However, Rocketspark doesn’t offer any refunds (for example, if you purchase an annual subscription and you cancel your account in June, you won’t get a refund for the months of July through December).
If you receive a free domain name, you’ll retain ownership of it even if you cancel your account with Rocketspark (note that the Rocketspark only covers the registration cost for your domain during your first year of service — renewal fees are strictly your responsibility).
Help and Customer Support
Those with a subscription to the regular site builder get email-based customer support, while those with e-commerce packages get phone and email-based support.
Rocketspark does maintain one of the better help and documentation sites we’ve seen, and its company blog contains many useful posts.
If you’re looking for a simple, easy-to-use website or online store builder, Rocketspark might be the right option for you. Its goal is to streamline the development process as much as possible, and the only thing you have to do is design and create your site — Rocketspark will take care of the rest, including everything related to the back-end.