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- Date Established
- Eindhoven, The Netherlands
- Core product is free
- Easy to use
- Editor is well-designed
- Inexpensive eCommerce
- No blogging tool
- No manual/FAQ
- No prefabricated templates
- You’ll have to find your own web host
Mobirise is a free, responsive website builder that fundamentally differs from its contemporaries. Rather than follow the freemium web-hosted model that has practically become the industry standard, Mobirise is an offline program, available as a free download. It is the first serious offline website builder I’ve come across (Yahoo SiteBuilder doesn’t count), so I was happy to be able to explore something that differs fundamentally from the pack.
Based in Eindhoven in the Netherlands, Mobirise officially released its website builder in August of 2015, so it’s relatively new to the scene and is likely to become more fully-featured as time goes on. The fact that Mobirise is an offline program can be seen as inconvenient, though this arrangement isn’t without its benefits. Though many on-the-go startup owners won’t be enthusiastic about the need to find a web host for their Mobirise site, others will be pleased to be able to change hosts at will – with many hosted website builders, you can’t take it with you.
Let’s find out how this unique website builder gets on.
Table of Contents
Mobirise is free to download and use. However, the company does hope to actually make some money, so certain features are only available for purchase:
- PayPal Shopping Cart – $29
- Icon Extension – $29
- Code Editor (HTML/CSS) – $69
- DirectM Theme (basically a fancy template) – $29
- SpaceM Theme – $19
- ColorM Theme – $29
- Block Pack for Mobirise 3 Theme – $39
- WOW Image Slider – $29
- All-In-One Kit (includes all Themes + Code Editor, PayPal Cart, WOW Slider & Icons) – $149
The Code Editor, in particular, is a tad pricey, though keep in mind that these are one-time charges, as Mobirise is not a subscription service. However, it’s easy to see a future where Mobirise expands its feature offering but reserves the good stuff as paid downloads – bringing the video game DLC model to website builders. Payment is accepted via credit card, PayPal, and something called “Cash at 7-Eleven/ACE”.
Web-hosted or Licensed
Mobirise is an offline program, free for personal and commercial use.
Mobirise is available for Windows (XP or newer), Mac (OS X 10.7+), and Android (4.4+).
Business Types Supported
Apart from the premium themes on offer, Mobirise doesn’t really have templates, so it’s hard to say which particular businesses are in Mobirise’s wheelhouse. Your Mobirise site will be comprised of one of the three available full-screen headers, along with whatever content blocks you wish. This simplified approach to responsive website building lessens the need for a large selection of templates, as a personalized site can be so easily created without one. The funny thing is, some of the features, such as the pricing tables, would be well-suited to selling subscription services online – ironic, as Mobirise eschews the subscription model!
Ease of Use
I’d be hard-pressed to name a website builder easier to use than Mobirise. Upon starting, you are presented with a video demonstrating the creation process. I found the MIDI-esque public domain music slightly distracting.
It’s doubtful you’ll need the help, though, as Mobirise makes the website creation process about as easy as it could possibly be. Click the “Add Block To Page” button in the bottom right of the screen, and every addable element pops up in a scrolling menu. Just click on any of the content blocks and it will be affixed to the bottom of your stack of content. From there, you can drag it up or down the page as you wish, making Mobirise more of a “drop-and-drag” than a “drag-and-drop” website builder, if you want to get pedantic. And who doesn’t?
Mobirise continues the trend of simple, block-based responsive website building seen in many contemporaries. It’s a formula that makes it easy for even the least tech-savvy web jockey out there to get a website going, though it does result in a generation of websites that all look fairly similar to one another. That’s not likely to be the foremost concern of the average emerging business struggling to gain a foothold, though. Clarity and mobile responsiveness, by contrast, are likely to be primary concerns, and Mobirise seems to recognize this.
- Preview Mode: Naturally, Mobirise allows you to preview the look of your site. Buttons along the top bar let you preview your website in desktop, tablet and mobile mode. Additionally, a button in the top right corner will open your site in a browser tab.
- Undo/Redo: Here’s the thing about Mobirise’s undo/redo buttons: they don’t exist! For a website builder focused on user-friendliness, the ability to undo and redo edits you’ve made to your site would seem to be a no-brainer. The lack of this essential editing function means Mobirise loses a few ease of use points, in my opinion. Mobirise is a young product, though, and hopefully, we’ll see this feature added in the future.
When the time comes, click the Publish button in the upper right corner to bring up a set of three options for publishing your site.
Mobirise doesn’t have a particularly deep set of features, as their focus seems to be on visual clarity and seamless mobile responsiveness. Still, a number of features are included.
- Contact Form: Mobirise’s contact form is rather basic in comparison to the leading website builders in the field. You can either include or not include name, email, phone and message fields, and that’s about it. You can’t include more than four fields, and you can’t add radio buttons and the like. Given how important a good customizable contact form can be to a business, it’s unfortunate that you don’t get more options here.
- Media: Blocks are available that allow for the easy insertion of images and video into your website. Video will have to be added via a YouTube or Vimeo link, however – you can’t add your own video directly.
- eCommerce: Available as a paid add-on, the PayPal Shopping Cart will allow you to offer both physical and digital products to your customers. At $19, it’s not a bad deal, considering that’s about how much you’ll have to pay per month for an eCommerce website with many competitors. Mobirise provides a how-to page for the PayPal cart, which helpfully includes a video walking you through how to use the feature. The video is accompanied by another set of some of the finest tunes the public domain has to offer. Pay special attention to the particularly stirring rendition of “Old MacDonald Had A Farm” starting at the 2:54 mark.
Features notably absent from Mobirise include blogging, a photo editor (I guess there’s no offline version of Aviary), and a newsletter tool. Mobirise is still young, so I would expect to see more features introduced in future updates.
Web Design and Editing
- Templates: Mobirise seems to point towards a post-template website building world. With customizable image-focused headers and easily added content blocks, the need to start from a pre-arranged template is reduced. However, this also means that particular industries won’t find a lot of content pre-formatted for their individual needs. Compare this to a builder like Wix, where hundreds of templates are on offer with aesthetics that complement a wide variety of fields.
- Mobile Editor: Disappointingly, Mobirise doesn’t have a mobile app for editing. Mobirise’s website editing format would be ideally suited to mobile devices, so hopefully, they’ll introduce a mobile editing app in the future.
Integrations and AddOns
Mobirise isn’t an integration-heavy website builder, but you will get the (premium) PayPal Shopping Cart, along with SoundCloud integration, Facebook comments, Twitter feeds, Google Maps, and Google Analytics.
Mobirise’s customer support is provided via email, tutorial videos with jaunty music, and user forums. An actual manual would have been nice, but the email support is fairly prompt. What’s more, the user forums seem to be pretty active, which is a good indicator of popular interest in the product. If you find a website builder with near-empty user forums, they’re usually empty for a reason.
Negative Reviews and Complaints
As Mobirise is relatively new, user and reviewer feedback on Mobirise isn’t plentiful. However, those who have reviewed Mobirise have had the following nits to pick:
- Difficult to have Multiple Collaborators with an Offline Website Builder
- Few Extensions
- No Manual or FAQ
Furthermore, one user who purchased the code editor noted that the master code is not as customizable as you would think.
Positive Reviews and Testimonials
On the whole, reviewers seem impressed with the core product, and have had the following compliments to pay to Mobirise:
Mobirise has the makings of an excellent website builder, and though the offline approach has its pluses and minuses, it’s good to see some variety in a field largely populated with barely distinguishable products.
However, the level of features provided by Mobirise at this point doesn’t put them in the same class as the heavies of the industry. There just isn’t enough there yet. Given the undeniable potential of this fledgling product, however, I wouldn’t be surprised if the feature gaps are filled in time. Hopefully, this will happen, in which case I’ll gladly boost Mobirise’s three-star rating.