Review: Zeeblio

Website Builder: Zeeblio
Pros: straight-forward editing tools
Cons: designs feel somewhat outdated; relies on third-party services for features like email marketing; free package places advertisement on your site
Price: The basic service is free; paid packages that include additional websites, more storage space, fonts and other features range from $4.95/mo for the Plus package, to $11.95/mo of the Webmaster package
Ideal for: personal websites, small businesses or not for profit organisations that are just starting out on the web

Zeeblio is the recently updated and re-branded hosted website builder by Tripod, which in turn is owned by former search engine and webportal giant Lycos.

Launching a product with such a pedigree does set some expectations. Tripod started in 1995 and was one of the first free, hosted website builders, along with GeoCities and AngelFire. In February 1998, Lycos bought Tripod for a reported $58 million in stock.

Lycos introcudes Zeeblio to replace its previous hosted website builder solution in October 2011. Could so many years of experience in hosted website builder solutions deliver something exciting and innovative in this crowded market?

When we created our first Zeeblio-powered website, we were somewhat underwhelmed. The interface is sparse, at first it feels a tad outdated. Zeeblio’s design lacks a lot of the fanciness that we’ve grown so used to in webdesign recent years. But that is not necessarily a bad thing. Zeeblio’s interface responds fast, which makes working on your site a pleasure.

Zeeblio Welcome Screen

After creating our new site, Zeeblio takes us through a lengthy wizzard that ends up doubling as a help feature. In its first steps, the wizzard lets us do the initial set up of our site. Anything we enter here, automatically populates things like Site Title and short description of our site. Next, the wizzard gives us a quick tour of all the features of the website builder. Previous and Next buttons let us navigate the tour at our own pace and we can dive right in by dismissing the wizzard altogether whenever we feel comfortable enough to do so.

Zeeblio features a top menu-bar with 5 items; Styles, Media, Add-ons, Pages and Site.

Zeeblio Menubar

Clicking the Styles menu opens a pull-down panel that lets us select a design, a layout and a navigation placement. There is also a button that opens a separate CSS editor, allowing us to edit the currently selected design. We found two issues with this menu. One is that the designs currently available look somewhat out-dated, and secondly that we find it hard to believe that a text-based CSS editor is suitable for the average Zeeblio user. You’ll need to have a fairly good understanding of HTML and CSS programming to be able to make use of this particular feature.

Zeeblio CSS Editor

The Media menu gives us access to our site’s media library. This is where we store, edit and manage photos, videos, audio and other media files, even documents, that we want to use on our site. The Media Manager itself opens in another window and features the same spartan look that defines the rest of Zeeblio.

We can search and sort media files we have uploaded by name or type. We can also organise content in Collections, which we use to make a photo-gallery, for instance.

Zeeblio Media Manager

Add-ons are what other website builders call Content Blocks or Widgets. They are the basic containers we add to our page and that hold our content. Zeeblio’s Add-ons are sorted in a number of categories, to make it easier to find the exact Add-on we are looking for.

We can simply drag-and-drop Add-ons into place. A red marker tells us where the new content will appear while we are dragging the content over the page.

Add-ons range from a simple blocks that hold text, to contact forms, Google Maps, Guest Books, even PayPal buttons to Facebook, Twitter and Google+ share buttons. Dragging and dropping the appropriate Add-on lets us embed a Google Calendar, or Flickr or Photobucket photo gallery, or Vimeo or YouTube video.

Editing content is done in-place where possible. This means that, in order to edit a title or the content of an article, all we need to do is double-click that content and we can start typing.
It is somewhat disorientating that the text-formatting tools are located along the top of the screen, not immediately above or below the content we are editing.

The Pages menu lets us copy, edit and delete the pages on our website. Since there is no search or sort function for pages, this could become a bit clumsy as the number of pages on your site grows.

Finally, the sites menu lets us make site-wide configurations, set up a custom URL, and do basic Search Engine Optimisation. It even includes a quick and convenient way to integrate Google Analytics and Webmaster Tool Kit — two tools that no self-respecting webmaster can be without.

Final Words
Tripod’s new Zeeblio is a thorough, but bare-bones website builder. It does seem to have borrowed quite heavily from Yola in both the organisation and the look and feel of the builder.

The designs that Zeeblio offer are somewhat outdated and we can only hope that Tripod will be updating those as soon as possible. Until then, we’ll have to rely on the (limited) ways in which Zeeblio lets us custimize our site design.

Though Zeeblio is great for personal or hobby websites, its usefulness for small businesses is limited. For ecommerce, all that Zeeblio offers is PayPal buttons integration, and the only way to add email marketing is by using a third-party service like Constant Contact. Zeeblio even offers a Constant Contact signup button straight on your Zeeblio dashboard.

All in all, Zeeblio could be a perfect hosted website builder for you, if all you need is the very basic functionality. It is ideal for personal or hobby websites, or small business websites that require only a few static pages.

To sign up for your free Zeeblio site, click here.

If you use or have used Zeeblio, we would like to hear your experience in the comments below.

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