Ucraft Site Builder: Simple, Straightforward, Easy to Use
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Not everyone needs a super complex builder designed for professionals, but that doesn’t mean you want a site that looks like it was made for toddlers. Cheap, simple web builders that are easy to use but don’t severely limit your potential are pretty rare. Worse still, if you can find them, they usually end up having plan tiers that get more and more expensive and lock away essential features.
Ucraft stands out as unique in this regard. There’s only one core plan, and all the tools they provide are easy to work with. Their builder, while drag-and-drop, doesn’t limit you as much as some of its competitors. Everything is uncomplicated and comes together seamlessly.
Straightforward Site Builder
Drag-and-drop might be what you’re used to, but Ucraft brings a few slight tweaks to the table. Instead of pre-defined areas where you can put elements, you stack blocks to build the website. You can add a few animations to these, like parallax or fades.
But before you get to that step, you’ll have to pick a template. You have 48 colorful, interesting premade templates to choose from. A few make use of a little text and a lot of white space, while others use large, eye-catching image placeholders, or stylish banners. Some templates are better than others, but the majority of options are modern and can suit most websites or blogs.
They’re also responsive out the gate, so there’s no need to make a separate mobile site or use a clunky, heavily limited editor. Obviously, the building-block format will present some limitations, but it is less limiting than other tools that only allow certain elements in certain boxes.
And don’t forget the team app. Inviting team members can be a real hassle with other builders, and sometimes they even require a fee. Ucraft makes it easy.
That’s about it as far as the main builder goes! It’s a simple but versatile little program. There’s a 14-day trial, so if you like the sound of it, jump right in and start tinkering.
Free One-Page Builder
Along with the typical builder, there’s also the one-page creator. There’s no catch here; you get the hosting, the tech support, the team app, everything. If you have your own domain, you can move it right on over with no problem.
The downside is that you’ll have to deal with a Ucraft watermark, and you can’t choose your own template, only modify the one they give you. Blogging and e-commerce are disabled, as are all the other app integrations.
It’s a pretty heavy penalty, but it is free. Most site builders don’t include even that much. Or, at least, you’d be stuck on a hidden subdomain. Ucraft even lets you publish your one-page site and transfer the domain.
White Label for Design Agencies
If you build websites for your clients and make decent money, Ucraft wants you to use their builder to do it. Brand it how you want, give clients access, and get the same great hosting as everyone else. You also get an admin dashboard, an API, and unlimited websites.
However, don’t get too excited if you aren’t making much money. The price ranges from several thousand dollars on the typical plan to — gulp — over 20k in the self-hosted plan. So if you’re serving up your first clients and don’t have several thousand dollars to shell out, this is not very much of a solution. However, larger or mid-sized design agencies may be able to make use of this simple yet resourceful tool.
All the Apps & Addons
There are quite a few apps to play with, some free, some not. There are two paid add-ons: first, the e-commerce app, granting access to Shopify and all its features. Then there’s the designer tools, which comes at a tiny one-time fee and lets you tinker with advanced typography, reusable forms and buttons, and fine-tune layouts.
For free, you get a very simple logo builder with a couple fonts, icons, and shapes to play with. Nothing too revolutionary, but if you don’t have an artist on board, you can get a nice temporary logo.
The blogging app is also free and includes scheduling, sharing, and commenting. As is the SEO app, which allows you to edit the blurb that will appear in search engine results, along with some other cool features.
Then app integrations, which include all the big names. Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo, SoundCloud… and some nice extra goodies like MailChimp, Disqus, and Aviary. There’s a lot of others, so check it out.
Last but not least, they’re bringing out the big guns with free Google Cloud hosting. No slow shared hosting here, and no bandwidth caps either. You get a free subdomain, so that’s covered as well, and it seems like you also get a custom domain name with a yearly plan. If you already have one, connect it for free.
So many cool features! They’ve “crafted” a pretty nice program here, and all their free apps do a great job of enhancing the experience and making their websites more interactive.
Does Ucraft stand out? In some ways, maybe. Its straightforward, cheap pricing system, and its strong yet simple builder are unique. But as for paid add-ons and lack of interactive features, well, are they really different from any other builder in this regard?
Another Static Site Builder
As is usual with this sort of builder, there’s not a lot of interactivity outside of the e-commerce features. You can connect apps like YouTube and Soundcloud, so that will cover most creative web designers. And there’s e-commerce for product sellers.
But builders like this are designed for the restaurants, the grocery stores; they’re made for the simple, static websites, maybe with a small store. There’s no member databases or anything like that, and it seems, no HTML5 or even Flash implementation either. For the more complicated sites, the sad truth is you’re probably on your own.
But, in the end, this is more a criticism of site builders in general than of Ucraft.
Paying for Features
When your site builder is under $10 and comes with cloud hosting, you’ve gotta make money somehow. But while it almost feels bad to complain about such a small thing, making people pay for access to only semi-advanced tools like a layout or text editor seems a bit iffy.
Having to pay for e-commerce is par for the course, so you can’t whine about that, but it does feel like they’re reeling in small content creators with the low price tag, only to slam them in the face with an app that’s nearly four times the price.
And while I’m not suggesting that major features be locked behind a $150 paywall, it is a bit confusing why you’d want to buy a lifetime subscription that grants the same features, if you’re planning to stick around for more than a year and a half. They could at least unlock the designer tools if not the e-commerce app.
These relatively small issues aside, Ucraft is a great program for newbies and experienced designers alike. Its simplicity is refreshing, and its ease of use yet the unrestricted design is unique and interesting. The core features more than makeup for any small downsides.
Great For Beginners
While Ucraft works well for advanced users, amateurs are the ones who will really benefit from this. It’s easy to work with, fun to tweak, and requires no coding. It may not be as sophisticated as some fancy-schmancy builders or give as much total control, but it does what it does well.
There’s also not a hundred confusing apps to contend with, only the few that are helpful. I’m sure even someone who’s never touched a computer before can figure out what SoundCloud is. It’s all designed to help people get the hang of web design, without too much condescending hand-holding for those who don’t need it.
Simplistic, Strong Design
To talk about this, you have to first look at the themes, the “face” of any website. And they certainly pass. Photographers and artists will love this, with most themes giving plenty of space for large, bold images.
Then there’s the builder, which offers tons of control and is still easy to use. Anyone can learn drag-and-drop builders, but only the best can master it and make the best use of their space. This block builder is a great stepping stone to become that master designer without unnecessary restrictions.
Altogether, it makes for a program that’s easy to understand but powerful and full of variety. One that helps you create a design that stands out as impactful and stylish.
Cheap, Straightforward, & Functional
If ever a site builder represented these three qualities, it would be this one. They do a fantastic job of providing a creator that does its job efficiently, without irritating restrictions. And at such a low, even with the e-commerce price tacked on, you won’t have to empty your bank account to get access to it.
Ucraft does nearly everything right. Some interactive features are missing, and it seems silly to have to pay for an overblown text editor. But despite this, this builder shines. It’s undoubtedly one of the better ones out there, the underdog of site builders. And with the free one-page creator, as well as the 14-day free trial, I would certainly encourage everyone to give it a try.