After writing so many articles related to big online site builders, like Wix, Weebly, or Jimdo, I thought that it was time to figure out what was going on outside of these big players.
After doing some research, I decided to start exploring Ucraft, which is one of the lesser known site builders on the web. Yet, it deserves some attention too, and that is why I wanted to write this Ucraft review.
Ucraft at Glance
- Building Your First Site: *****
- Main Features and User Interface: ***
- Customer Support: ****
- Pricing: Website plan $6 / month (if chosen the annual plan) *****
- Overall: 4.25
- Verdict: Yes, go get it!
- Simple steps to get started with the website setup.
- Inexpensive website plan.
- Great customer support.
- No totally free website plan.
- It may take some extra steps to understand some design elements.
- Some delays on the chat response times.
My Initial Expectations
When I was doing some online sitebuilder research, I happened to stumble upon this (funny-named?) sitebuilder called Ucraft. To be honest, I had never heard of it, and at first, I didn’t know what to think of it.
So, I went to Ucraft’s home page, but nothing seemed unordinary: The site looked like any other site builder’s home page, by introducing what the website builder had to offer and what benefits it would give to you if you choose their platform.
I then scrolled down their front page, and I was able to find their contact information easily (they had both email addresses to show. Physical office locations were listed there, in the US and in Armenia). Even the team introduced themselves on the Team page.
That gave me the feeling that the sitebuilder was serious about what it was doing, and I was happy to learn more about it.
Who Isn't This Sitebuilder For?
There isn’t a single online sitebuilder that would appeal to everyone and Ucraft is not an exception. So, these following points could be reasons for not signing up with them:
- There is no permanent free account for websites. Yes, you can create a landing page for free, but you have to pay for a website plan (after a 14-day free trial).
- You are not happy with their existing templates (there are plenty of them, but still).
- No phone support.
- No site export functionality (like moving the site data to an XML file, like with SquareSpace).
Then again, if none of these points are showstoppers for you, then go ahead and continue reading this review!
Building Your First Website
Ucraft provides you three main ways to create an online property:
The three types of sites are meant for following:
- Landing Page: Create a one-page website, mainly for capturing email leads.
- Website: Create a regular website for yourself or your business.
- eCommerce: Create an online store.
I chose website for this article, and I was greeted with the screen where I was asked to choose a theme for my site:
On the next step, I was asked to choose a domain for my site:
Finally, I created my account and entered the billing information. And then, Ucraft was ready to start creating my site:
Once Ucraft engine had done it’s magic, my site was alive:
There was still one concern, and that was related to the themes I picked. More specifically, I wasn’t sure if it was possible to change my theme afterwards, after my site had been built.
A quick question to customer support helped me learn, that this was indeed possible with the Templates App.
Building Your First Site:
I liked the site creation process, as it happened quickly and easily. The site builder wizard was simple to use.
Also, the fact that you can change your website template afterwards is a big plus, as this is not possible with every sitebuilder (ahem … Wix… ahem)
Main Features and User Interface
In some sense, the first impression of Ucraft’s user interface was that I was using Weebly.
The reason for this was that the UI was somewhat similar to Weebly, where the building blocks are on the left. However, this is where the similarities stop.
So next, here is a rundown of the major features and how their user interface/usability felt like.
Blocks and Elements
Ucraft uses block/element type of design solution when you are building your website. The difference between these two is as follows:
- Elements: single page components, like text or images
- Blocks: A container for elements
The idea behind a block is to save your time and effort when creating a site. In other words, you can build your site faster when you can use a pre-defined block during the design process.
For instance, if I wanted to change the header of my current website, I could just pick a Header block from the Blocks list, and then drag and drop it to the header area of my site:
Once you had added the Block, you could access its properties by clicking the three dots in a bubble:
Issues with Header Blocks
The previous example of dragging a header on top of another header didn’t quite work out as expected.
So, after having a chat/email with the customer support, I learned that the existing block should be cleared out first (in this case the current header), before the dragging and dropping the new header block would work.
So, what about creating your own Blocks, then? Yes, this is possible, by following the instructions provided by the Ucraft team. Basically, you drag your own elements to the page, activate the block, and click the bubble menu, which exposes Save As Block:
However, there was a bit of a learning curve to figuring out when a block was active and when not.
In the current theme I used (Shoonig), it took a bit trial and error to change the blocks (I wasn’t quite sure when the block was active and when not). So, perhaps Ucraft would make this part of the process bit easier, as this will take hit on the work productivity.
Adding new elements to the site was easy, too; Just activating the Elements menu on the left, and then dragging the element to the page:
Once the element was on the page, you were able to access its properties, by clicking the element. That showed an additional menu:
One thing I noticed right after my first site was built was that I saw all these little red/white Fx icons everywhere on my site:
It turned out that they were effects that you can attach to any of the elements on the page. So, when you hover over an Fx text, you could see what it was all about:
This simple feature can add some nice effects to your page. Unfortunately, even with this feature, I had difficulties in making it work until I had a chat with the customer support team. Once again, they came to the rescue and helped me to understand how this functionality works.
Issues with Effects
For some reason, I couldn’t delete an effect by clicking the trash can icon. So once again, I opened the chat window and asked the reason for this behavior. It seemed that there was an issue at their end.
The customer support contacted me soon after I reported this issue, and the problem was fixed! Nice work!
You can access the dashboard, by clicking the Dashboard icon on the left:
Through Dashboard you can access the functionality of your site. This view is divided into two parts.
First, there is the MySites view, where you find all your sites easily.
However, when I hovered over the site I was working on, I kept wondering: what were all these small icons that popped out:
Most (but not all!) of them looked self-explanatory. However, it would have been nice to have a small descriptive tooltip telling me what happens when I click any of these icons.
The second part of the Dashboard view gives you the access to the website’s functionality. There you can control for instance the settings related to your pages, languages, design tools or integrations with other systems.
It was simple to navigate in this part of the dashboard, and the icons were self-explanatory. Of course, a small tooltip (again!) on top of the existing icon would have been even better, to describe what the icon was all about.
Ucraft has a tool which can translate your website’s content into various languages. I’m a Finn, and I speak Finnish, so I wanted to see how easy it was to translate the content into the Finnish language.
Eventually, I came up with this translated version of the About page:
Making the translated version was relatively simple to do. At first, though, it took a bit of reading the knowledge base article, until I “got it.” But now that I know how it’s done, it’s easy.
For some reason, my first concern was that Ucraft uses Google Translator, to translate the content. Fortunately, this wasn’t so.
Although Google Translator has improved over the years, I still remember those days when it generated plain gibberish (from English to Finnish). In Ucraft’s case, you do the translation manually, Ucraft provides you the tools to make the process easier.
Apps and Tools
There are additional tools available, which enhance the functionality of your site. They are all free, except the E-commerce tool:
- Templates: Change from your current website template to another.
- SEO: Search engine optimize your pages.
- Articles: A blogging tool for your site.
- Languages: Create content in various languages.
- Designer Tools: The tool for giving you the control over typography and layout settings of your site.
- Logo Maker: A tool for creating a logo for your site.
- E-commerce: Create an online store for your site.
- Landing Page Creator: Helps you create a landing page for your site.
Most of these tools are available through the Dashboard. But then there are some which are not. Perhaps Ucraft could make things a bit easier and include add all the tools under the same menu so that things would be easier for the end user.
Although Ucraft doesn’t include an app store like Wix App Market or Weebly App Center, there are still apps available. However, they are not located under the same menu.
For instance, when you look at the apps list on the home page of Ucraft, it shows you the following ones:
But when you go to the Integrations part of the Dashboard, it only shows you the following list:
So, what is going on here?
Well, it turns out that some of the apps are under Integrations, while others can be found on the left-side menu:
So, rest assured; all the apps mentioned on the home page are there, they are not just under the same location.
According to Ucraft, all the pages are mobile responsive. So, whether you look your site through a desktop browser, smartphone or a tablet, they should look fine through each device.
Ucraft provides some basic functionality to enhance your content in front of the search engines.
With SEO App, you can add on-page attributes to your pages like Title, Description or Robots information to your pages.
Of course, in the current landscape of SEO, the on-page SEO attributes are just one part of the story, and they don’t automatically help you jump you at the top of the search results (this requires more than just adding on-page SEO to your pages).
Still, every piece of optimizing is excellent, making you climb up one step higher on the SEO ladder.
Features and User Interface:
I think that Ucraft provides all the necessary features to get your website up and running. It has plenty of features which help you build a stunning website for yourself or your business.
However, for some parts (Blocks, Effects), it took me too much time to understand how something works. And I finally got the knowledge by consulting (helpful) customer support few times.
Perhaps this is just me who encountered these issues in the beginning. Then again, I’m also part of the audience who might want to build the site themselves.
That’s why setting some helpers (e.g., the UI would help me understand why I can’t succeed on something), would be helpful.
There are a couple of ways to get the support you need.
First, there is the online knowledge base, which gives you some basic information related to your questions:
The knowledge base is made for you to take advantage of. And of course, this should be your first stop when looking for help.
Then there is the chat option, which I found to be very helpful.
However, I wasn’t quite sure how the chat support is available. Although I was always able to submit a question through that channel, sometimes I got no responses back.
Even in those cases when I didn’t get an immediate answer through chat, they still got back to me by email, asking me further questions about the issue, and helping me with the case.
If for some reason you don’t like a chat option, there is the plain old email channel, which you can also use for support. However, there is no phone support available.
Ucraft provides 24/7 customer support. I think that this feature is necessary in a 24/7 world; you want to get support whenever you are building your site. And since a customer could be in any time zone, the support should always be open.
For the most parts, the customer support worked fine. There was an occasional delay in the response times during the chat. So even though I didn’t get some answers through that channel, the support continued solving the case through the email.
I also liked that fact that support was just one click away (the green and white chat button is on every page).
What I would like to see, though, is real-time customer support. That way, when I’m not answered right away (through chat), I should at least see if I’m in the queue, or if they are not available right at that moment, when they will be back.
If you want to give Ucraft a try, you can test it for 14-days without charge. While this is fine, I’d like to see a free website account option, too. Then, on the other hand, the landing page option (one-page website) is free.
There are three main types of packages: Landing Page (free), Website (paid) and E-commerce (paid). Under the Ecommerce plan, there are even two more (paid) plans:
Regarding their Website plan, I found it to be inexpensive, especially compared to other online site builders.
The prices announced on the pricing page are annual prices. But even after choosing the monthly price, eight dollars (at the time of writing) is not that expensive either.
Accessing your payment information is easy. When you go to account and billing, you can see all the necessary information related to your subscription.
Even cancelling the subscription is easy, as it happens with a single button click.
I liked that the service was inexpensive when comparing it to Ucraft’s competitors. Also, accessing the billing information - and even cancelling the subscription - was made easy.
Is This the Right Tool for You?
To be quite honest, I was positively surprised by Ucraft. At first, I hadn’t heard of it, and I didn’t know what it was. However, as soon as I started using it, I found it to be a very balanced entity.
For these reasons above, I recommend this tool, if you keep these following two things on your mind.
First, and at least in my case, I had some questions about the site builder and how to use it. Fortunately, the helpful support gave me instructions on how to proceed.
Second, it would be helpful to know more about the customer support, especially if they are available and at what time.
Even though Ucraft says they have 24/7 support, knowing if I have to wait on a chat queue (and how long) would be helpful (like, you are third on our queue, or, please return in two hours).
It is at least calming to know that the customer support still gets back to you, even if they are not replying immediately to you through the chat 🙂
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