Strikingly: Smart Website Builder Endorsed by Seth Godin
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Website building platform Strikingly aims to live up to its name in two ways — by creating strikingly beautiful websites in a strikingly simple way. Endorsed by marketing legend Seth Godin, and used by many online ventures, Strikingly is worth a closer look.
The Strikingly approach is unique. To keep things as simple as possible, it focuses on building modern, scrollable single page sites with parallax effects. These types of sites are the staple of small startups and solopreneur ventures. They’re also ideal for single product launches, or for selling a few products while establishing a strong brand identity. They can be used as marketing landing pages too. You can add a blog, e-commerce, contact forms and social media feeds. Everything you add appears on a single page that you scroll down.
The highest tier subscription allows you to build multiple pages.
The speed and ease of creating a site on Strikingly will appeal to bloggers and entrepreneurs looking to get a stylish new site off the ground with a minimum of fuss. There is also a one-click option for creating a site from your Facebook or LinkedIn account, ideal if you are self-employed or even if you just want a personal website.
Free site builder
Getting started on Strikingly costs nothing at all, and you can sign up to build your first site for free.
Strikingly is notable for the slick, modern look of its main editing engine. The main menu of options to the left of the screen could not be easier to navigate: style and setting options at the top, along with save, preview and publish buttons, and a simple list for existing and new sections.
The rest of the screen shows your site in editing mode. Clicking on any section brings up relevant options, such as adding content, adjusting the layout of elements, or changing the background.
Strikingly uses templates as the basis of your site. The layout editor gives you a lot of freedom to customize the templates the way you want. You can switch templates any time you like to try out different looks. The customization options may be fewer than those found with some other site builders, but reducing choice is a key feature of simplifying and speeding up the launch of your online venture.
Marketing guru and best-selling author Seth Godin recommends Strikingly: “I started using this tool and it turns out it’s a simple web development tool that is all plug and play… It’s hard for me to imagine a website being ten times more beautiful than what you can build with Strikingly.”
In addition to the usual page elements such as text boxes and images, Strikingly lets you add the following specialized sections to your page, with a single click:
- Blog: The main blog section added to your site acts like your blog front page, with links out to individual posts. Strikingly’s blog editor gives you the usual content tools, including options for adding images, video, hyperlinks and enabling comments.
- E-commerce: Strikingly offers a basic online store with product listings, order and shipping management and additional extras like coupons. It supports PayPal or Stripe for processing payments. Unlike many site builders that support e-commerce, Strikingly does not charge a transaction fee.
- Sign up and contact forms: Capture visitors’ email addresses with a simple sign up form for newsletters or offers. You can also add a contact form.
- Social feed: You can choose to display the feed from your Facebook, Instagram or Twitter account directly on your site.
Strikingly includes SEO tools and automatic optimization to help your site perform to its best in search rankings, and analytics for analyzing site traffic and performance. Sites are automatically optimized for mobile.
On the higher tier plans, access to HTML code is given in the headers and footers for embedding additional features. Strikingly makes the code available for a selected number of apps, such as a comments section, PayPal donations and an Ask & Answer feature.
Creating a site from Facebook and LinkedIn
If you are looking to make a personal website quickly, perhaps to help find clients for your business or as a front end to your blog, you can sign up through your Facebook or LinkedIn account and let Strikingly do all the hard work for you.
Strikingly uses a preconfigured template to pull information from your account and turn it into a professional-looking web page. In particular, it will pull things like education, work experience and profile details to create a workable bio. You can add pictures too, not just from Facebook but from Flickr or Picasa also.
Hosting and domains
If you are wondering what you do with your site once it is built, don’t worry – Strikingly includes web hosting as part of the service. You don’t get any of the extras you get with a specialist hosting service, such as cPanel control panel or SSH access, so don’t expect to customize your hosting experience. This hosting experience is designed to be fuss-free.
You can transfer existing domains to Strikingly to host, or buy a new one through the company. Yearly subscriptions come with a free domain.
Strikingly is free to use, giving you full access to the site builder and the freedom to build and host as many sites as you wish. The catch is you get a maximum 5 GB monthly bandwidth, and your sites have to be hosted on a Strikingly domain.
Strikingly offers two paid subscription plans, each with a very different set of features. For the lower tier, the only real benefits you get over the free plan is 50 GB bandwidth per month. You can set up e-commerce capability, but with a maximum of 5 products per site.
One thing worth pointing out is how Strikingly qualifies its “unlimited free sites” offer. On all of the plans, you can build as many free sites as you want, but they will only have the free plan features, hosted on a Strikingly domain with the 5 GB maximum bandwidth. If you pay for the higher level subscription, you only get three sites with the full list of features, such as coding access, extra apps and the e-commerce platform.
Billing & Support
Billing and contract terms are offered on a monthly, annual or biennial basis. As with most web services, the longer the term you pay for up front, the great the savings.
There is a 14-day cancellation window after you sign up to get a full refund. Note that if you choose to cancel your paid account outside this window, the payment will only stop at the end of your billing term, i.e. no refunds. But in the meantime, your account will downgrade to free, meaning your site will lose all of the additional paid-for features.
Strikingly offers 24/7 support via email and live chat. There is also a knowledgebase with an in-depth library of how-to articles to help with your queries.
Strikingly’s big plus point is the quality of the editing platform. It is one of the most straightforward to use out there, it gives users a good level of control over design as well as content and the results look impressive.
Unless you are looking to run very basic one-page sites with limited features, you really need to sign up for the higher tier. For bloggers, unless you want to have all posts listed on a single page which will eventually become enormous, your really need the multiple page feature. The cost of the most expensive plan puts Strikingly in the higher price bracket of site building and hosting options for a blog