Website Builder Review: 1&1 IONOS MyWebsite
Although perhaps not on the tip of anyone's tongue in the US, 1&1 is widely known in Europe as one of the continent's leading hosting and cloud providers. Less known, both in the US and Europe, is that 1&1 also markets a website builder, which although not as familiar as Wix, Weebly, or Squarespace, has found its way into our evaluation; let's take a look at why.
What is 1&1 IONOS?
1&1 IONOS is Europe's largest provider of hosting and cloud services, being used by more than eight million customers. For those lacking in programming know-how, 1&1 offers MyWebsite, a drag and drop site builder that makes it easy to create a polished website in just a few steps. Below, we'll take a detailed look at how MyWebsite performs.
Pros and Cons
Lots of features
Powerful editor with a wide range of options for customization
Personalized guidelines for client-specific marketing
Large variety of templates to choose from
The editor is sometimes clunky or cluttered
Bare minimum of templates
No third-party app center or store
Configuration and Usability
In order to use the IONOS site builder, you'll need to set up a 1&1 account. In the service's dashboard, look for "Websites & Shops", which will allow you to create a new web project. Here, you can start building a website with CMS apps like WordPress, Typo3, or Joomla, or use the service's "MyWebsite" program. 1&1 is based on Duda's site-building software.
Once you've selected a template, your website will be created and you can start filling it with content. When doing this, most of the screen is taken up by the editor's site preview, in which you can work and edit content directly. Around this window, you'll find the two menu bars: All tools, including design settings, elements, blogs, and products, can be found to the left. Above, you can alternate between desktop, tablet, and smartphone views, or switch into developer mode. Here, you can also repeat steps or undo changes, as well as publish your website.
As already mentioned, you can edit your site's content directly in the live preview. Depending on the type of content which is on your site, you'll be able to choose from a variety of different content options with a mouse click. You can further modify elements by right-clicking on them, allowing you to add start animations or widgets. All of this can be integrated into your site by dragging and dropping content.
You can add an entire section by clicking on the 'plus' sign that appears between columns. Here, you'll find ready-made sections filled with elements, such as an "About Us" page, an image gallery, or customer reviews. These elements can be modified at will.
MyWebsite's editor is nimble, slightly intuitive, and definitely versatile and powerful. The variety of options, as well as the manner in which they are presented, is somewhat overwhelming, particularly when first using the service. Compounding this is that 1&1 still exercises some control over your design options. Each element has two menus (accessed via either right- or left-clicking on it), whereby some of the options presented in each lead to the same tool.
Those who are ready to learn the ins and outs of the editor will be rewarded with a significant degree of creative freedom. Unfortunately, the editor's learning curve might scare away inexperienced users. As a result, IONOS is not really designed with those looking to create their first website in mind, at least when set against some of the other services we've reviewed.
Score: 3.7 / 5
IONOS makes adding new widgets to a page easy. You can select from a variety of elements in the page menu, and then arrange them by dragging and dropping them. Alternatively, you can right-click on elements which have already been integrated into your site, and add new widgets to them. These include text, videos, buttons, contact forms, and more; the possibilities are (nearly) limitless.
Once you've gotten used to IONOS, its editor demonstrates how powerful it is, offering a great deal of freedom in designing your website. The large selection of widgets, ready-made sections, customization possibilities for content elements, and drag and drop functionality provide a lot of creative room.
Unfortunately, 1&1 doesn't offer an app store or center, however, the editor comes with some external apps like Yelp or TripAdvisor, which are directly integrated as widgets.
You can access blogging features through the menu bar on the left, or by clicking on the blog entry in the website preview. As with the rest of the editor, the settings here are somewhat confusing, and one can't help but think that 1&1 could have put a bit more effort into making their service a bit easier to navigate, especially for beginners. At the same time, this complexity arises from the versatility of the options. For anyone who wants to really personalize their blog, IONOS provides just the tool. New entries can be added through an extra tab that is dedicated to managing blogs.
You can add tags and user-defined URL to your entries, and create a backup of your blog to protect against unexpected data losses or attacks. Through a pop-up menu, you can set the number of entries per page, as well as how they are displayed.
The division of a number of features between the blog tab and the regular editor's dashboard makes things somewhat more complicated than they need to be. As another deficit, some features, such as the ability to grant editors password access to certain areas of a blog, are missing.
For those who purchase an e-commerce package with IONOS, a few additional features are worth talking about: By clicking on "Personalize" in the menu, you can create user-defined as well as client-specific rules and guidelines. In this manner, you can display certain pages and products to users from specific geographical locations.
While the slightly fragmented and overloaded interface takes some getting used to, 1&1's website builder is a powerful tool that offers an impressive selection of features.
Score: 4.7 / 5
Templates & Design
IONOS offers more than 400 different design templates, divided into categories (by type), such as, "Professional Services", "Construction & Property", or "Trades". Most of the designs are sleek, however, they do evidence some shortcomings in terms of quality, especially when set against those of competitors like Squarespace.
Unfortunately, you cannot change the template of your website once you've started building it, and have to actually start a new project to switch designs. You can select different layout options within the template you've chosen, and freely modify the page background, font, text size, and spacing, but these don't really amount to more than a consolation prize. In each column, you can configure further design options, such as the background color, shadow, or frames.
MyWebsite's templates didn't impress us as much as those of its competitors, however, the ability to further personalize these is commendable.
Score: 4.3 / 5
Marketing, SEO, & E-Commerce
You can only set up an online shop in IONOS if you've booked a "Shop" subscription. Here, you can add products, images, as well as prices. You also have the opportunity to upload a CSV file with a list of your products or import a shopping cart system like LiteCommerce. In addition, you can group your wares into categories. IONOS supports a number of different payment methods, including PayPal and Stripe.
IONOS provides fewer settings and configuration possibilities than other website builders, also putting a number of basic features behind its paywall. For example, you can only sell digital products with an "Advanced" subscription.
SEO & Analytics
In terms of SEO, you are given access to a number of basic features, such as the ability to add global page titles, descriptions, and keywords. In addition, you can configure each of these for all of your subpages, even though SEO pros would take some issue with this. To produce unique content that is appealing to search engines, you should replace default page texts with your own.
IONOS offers internally-developed analytical and SEO tools, such as Ranking Coach or WebAnalytics, albeit as subscription add-ons. Other site builders are less fragmented and provided basic analytical features at no extra charge. With the help of a tracking code, however, you can easily integrate free tools from Google into your site.
Score: 4 / 5
1&1 guarantees round-the-clock support, seven days a week. Should you be unable to find any answers to your issue in the service's well-organized help center, you'll be provided with a means to contact support by telephone or live chat. During testing, using both methods, we were connected to staffers within a matter of minutes.
Although other providers offer the ability to contact their support teams by e-mail, while not making telephone or live chats available, 1&1 took the more direct route. Since our question was satisfactorily answered within a short period of time, we can't really take any issue with the lack of e-mail contact possibilities.
Score: 4.7 / 5
MyWebsite is available in three different subscriptions. "Essential" is geared towards individual projects and doesn't include any e-commerce functionality. This is offered with the unimaginatively named "Business" package. For access to all the marketing tools necessary for an online store, you'll need the "Shop" package.
|Base price per month||$5.00||$5.00||$20.00|
|Contract period (months)||12||12||12|
|Free of ads|
IONOS didn't really do beginners any favors. The editor, with its numerous pop-up windows and start-up settings, is overwhelming to the uninitiated, with most probably cursing their luck at not having selected a service with a more straight-forward dashboard and less fragmented input fields. Continuing with the negatives, the service's templates didn't really do much for us, especially when set alongside those of their competitors, which seem to emphasize quality over quantity.
At the same time, the functionality and range of options that MyWebsite offers after figuring out how the editor works are, in our opinion, entirely worth it. 1&1 provides a truly powerful website builder with solid features and plenty of possibilities for customization. Should you be ready to set aside a bit of time to learn its ins and outs, you'll be afforded a high degree of freedom in terms of design, as well as access to well-thought-out features and marketing tools. If 1&1 made their editor more accessible to beginners, they'd be able to go head-to-head with the leading services.
The reviews of 1&1 that we analyzed were mixed. Further, it's difficult to judge which of the reviews (and how many) are focused on MyWebsite, and which relate to other services and programs provided by the company. Support seems to be an issue, with a number of reviewers noting the lack of expertise and competence among staffers, however, considering our positive experience, this too might apply to different areas of the company than its site builder.