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Upon first glance, Homestead appears to be a contender for one of the top spots in this category. However, upon closer inspection we became increasingly skeptical of the quality of what they deliver, especially at a pretty high price.
With a wealth of features and flashy homepage, Homestead certainly present a professional image. Despite being put off by having to enter card details to even access the free trial, it did not take us long to get to grips with their Website builder; although differing from others in this category, it is easy for an amateur to edit the basics of their website once you are used to it. Here, however, is where it all starts to fall apart for Homestead. Although we didn’t personally experience all its shortcomings, those we did come across fitted with the many others we discovered during our research of this product. Firstly, Homestead’s pricing policy is not clear at all; unlike other products in this category, you don’t really know what you are getting before you give them your card details. Although they do claim that cancelation is easy, we have come across many reports to the contrary.
Secondly, although their website builder is easy to pick up, it is quite limited in terms of bandwidth, storage space and features for what you pay. Despite a long features list, many basic ones such as forums and decent widgets are missing and the more advanced ones are very difficult to add. Also, Homestead’s interface makes it tricky to transfer your page to another platform because they use all their own code which is not compatible with other platforms. Even though their Store Front software has many features, these are difficult to use and available elsewhere for cheaper or free as an open source version.
Homestead purport to offer Email and telephone customer support but we have read a worrying amount of negative feedback with regard to this service. Their toll-free phone line is always busy and based in the US - non US customers will pay a significant amount for their calls that are only available during California office hours. Even if you do get through to technical support, do not have high expectations that you will be dealt with in a polite and helpful manner; in fact, we would urge you to expect the opposite! Likewise, Email support has received a high degree of criticism as being unresponsive and unhelpful.
Overall, it seems that Homestead is orientated towards those with little knowledge of web sites and easily parted from their money. If you want a simple website, Homestead will provide you with this, but at a price far higher than the market average. If you want a sophisticated website then be prepared to pay a lot for something you may have limited creative control over. Fortunately, there are many other products in this category that you can rely on for cheap, easy and professional website design at a far lower price than that of Homestead.
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