'Bookmark is dedicated to helping small business owners start and grow their online presence', is the mission statement you will find when you first visit Bookmark - and once you look into things, you can see how. It's time for a Bookmark review.
Created in early 2016 in Canada, Bookmark is a website builder that aims to assist you with your website building process, from start to finish.
With an intuitive artificial intelligence system (Known as AiDA, which we'll discuss in more details later), Bookmark is an interesting take on website building.
Pricing & Plans
Bookmark offers 3 choices of plan. Free, Professional, and Business. The prices range from free (obviously), to $29.99 per month.
Let's start by looking at the most basic plan: Free. The features include:
- Mobile Website
- Free Hosting
- Free Subdomain
- 50MB of Storage Space
- Bookmark Branding
Next up, Professional. This option will set you back $11.99 per month if you buy an annual plan, or $14.99 if you choose to pay monthly. Choosing to pay annually will save you 20% over the course of a year. The Professional plan offers:
- Unlimited Storage
- Unlimited Bandwidth
- Unlimited Pages
- Mobile Website
- Free Hosting
- Free Domain (Only for the first year)
- Secure SSL Certificate
- Advanced Analytics
- Advanced SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
- Video Backgrounds
- Removed Bookmark Branding
- Connecting Your Own Domain
- E-Learning Courses
- Premium Support
And finally, onto the most extensive but also priciest plan: Business. This will cost you from $24.99 to $29.99 per month, the latter if you choose to pay month-by-month, as with the Professional plan. The features include:
- All Professional Plan Features +
- 3 Email Addresses (Free only for the first year)
- E-Commerce / Online Store
- Zero Transaction Fees
- 1000 Product Website
- Shopping Cart On Your Domain
- Sell Digital Goods
- Advertise On Major Marketplaces
- Wholesale Pricing Groups
- Edit Orders
- Sell On eBay
- Discount Coupons
- Android + iOS Store Management App
- Sell On The Go With Paypal Here and iZettle
Take a look at the table below to get a nice and easy comparison.
|Disk space limit||500MB||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|How many website templates? (how many free?)||20||20||20|
|Free domain||No||Yes (1st year only)||Yes (1st year only)|
|Can you connect your own domain?||No||Yes||Yes|
|How many websites can you make?||1||1||1|
|How many personal email accounts?||0||0||3 (Free only for 1st year)|
|Are there builder's own ads on your website?||Yes||No||No|
|Can you add your own ads?||No||No||Yes|
|How many add-ons?||-||-||-|
|Choice for server location||No||No||No|
|Free automated backups||Yes||Yes||Yes|
As you can see, the options available if you choose to purchase the Professional plan are much more extensive than the free plan. This is true once again when comparing Professional to Business. There are shared features, however. You have a Money-back guarantee on all three plans (which isn't exactly useful for the free, but I digress), as well as the option to choose from 20 website templates. Backups are provided free of charge, too.
There are some negatives, also. You are only allowed to create one website per account, even on the Professional and Business plans.
Additionally, I must stress that when considering the fact that the Professional and Business plans both specify that certain items (Domain and 3 Emails) are free for the first year, there is no information regarding how much these will cost after that year, so keep that in mind.
Let's take a brief look at pricing options:
|Annually (12 month contract)||$143.88||$299.88|
Like I mentioned previously, the pricing is relative to your choice of payment. If you want a yearly subscription, you will save money, around 20%, over the course of that year. However, you can cancel the agreement whenever you like. You have that option with monthly billing. This is an option that many website builders don't offer, so it is nice to see Bookmark being open to this!
Creating a custom website
I spent a little while thinking of a soundbite to place here. Something that summed up my feelings towards building a website with Bookmark succinctly. Unfortunately, the only one that comes to mind is: 'Great ideas, lacking great implementation'.
Allow me to elaborate. When you first load up the website builder, you are greeted by 'AiDA' (Artificial Intelligence Design Assistant), which is essentially Bookmark's AI for helping you set up a site that speaks for you or your business.
You are asked a few questions. 'What kind of website do you want to create', 'Do you need an eCommerce/Online Store?' etc. It takes roughly 2 minutes to go through this process. At the end of the process you are prompted to enter your website name, and information about you or your business.
We'll see AiDA, we'll see.
Okay, so if we are considering User-Friendliness, AiDA is actually incredibly helpful. AiDA pops up with a helpful little walkthrough, including video tutorials of how to accomplish each step, as well as explaining what each part of the builder does.
It's a really simple idea and it's implimented well, so props to Bookmark for this.
Anyway, once you get past AiDA, you are greeted with your new site.
On the left panel of the screen, you can see the design options that Bookmark provides.
These are fairly basic options including things like site style, menu colours, and fonts. I feel like Bookmark could do a better job of allowing more creativity here. Things like colour gradients, importable Google fonts and the like would really help you feel as though you have total control over your creation.
The other selections are fairly self-explanatory, you can edit and create/remove pages in the 'pages' tab, and the 'focus' tab allows you to add a new focus to your site.
These focuses are really a fancy way of saying 'sections'. It allows you to organise your site in a way that best showcases what you do, or what you offer.
Now moving on to the something more interesting: Modules.
In its essence, Bookmark is a drag-and-drop website builder. Once again, in terms of ideas, this is wonderful. We are seeing a trend of more and more builders allowing this functionality, or even being built around it, since it allows users so much more freedom and ease of creation.
Unfortunately, the implementation and depth of the drag-and-drop system in Bookmark is, well, disappointing, to say the least. For a website builder that has been created with drag-and-drop at the forefront, I really expected it to be more thought out and fully featured. We do have to bear in mind that this is still a fairly young company, and is their first foray into website builders, so expecting a perfect first attempt would be fairly naive and this will definitely improve over time.
Above are all of the available modules in Bookmark's website builder. What's the first thing you notice? For me, it was glaring and I still am not sure how Bookmark have managed to miss the inclusion of this module. A search box.
You will see, there is an option for 'e-Commerce Search', but that isn't exactly useful for anybody who is not running an e-Commerce website. Again, disappointing.
On the flip side, there are some really fantastic inclusions here. Being able to drag in a clickable button or contact form, instead of self-coding or importing from elsewhere makes your life as a website builder and owner far more simple.
Hosting.Review Recreation Experience
I attempted, as we always do in website builder reviews, to recreate the hosting.review website in Bookmark. Sadly, this was not very successful. This should be easier to do with a fully fledged builder, see our Wix Review for an example of how well it can be done.
This is how our site looks, and how it should look!
And below, is the best recreation I could make for this Bookmark review.
Not very good, to be honest, and getting to this stage was fairly difficult, too. As I mentioned previously, there is no search box module, so I was unable to add that to the right of the pages, as we have.
You'll also notice that the top of the photo on the carousel has a long grey bar. This was the bane of my life for the last few hours, attempting to remove it. Every time I did, the text 'Web Hosting Reviews by...' would jump up behind the Hosting Review icon. If I then went to the text and moved it down a couple of lines, the grey bar would re-appear. It seems it's not possible to change the top bar when it's in a template. The only way to get something different is to change the whole template altogether.
Getting the texts right was also a challenge. When you select your font it tells you all options in plain text. Then, it updates the entire web page's fonts after you click on a selection. Why not just show the font differences on the menu? Most people couldn't tell by name the difference between 'Limelight' and 'Raleway', for instance. Again this is something that has a simple solution and I'm hopeful that Bookmark implement this soon!
At this point I would recommend that you choose the free plan, at least to begin with. If you find that Bookmark is what you are looking for in a website builder, then upgrading to the Professional or Business plan, as needed, is very simple and takes just a few moments.
Always an important aspect of any kind of website builder or hosting provider, the performance of your site will be crucial to your success.
Thankfully, Bookmark seems to be doing a fantastic job in this aspect. Average response time was around 500ms (half a second). This is pretty great, and is likely, in part, due to the fact that Bookmark are using Amazon Web Servers as their server base. Amazon's server infrastructure is incredibly vast and reliable, so this is a great choice!
In terms of uptime, we've seen absolute 100% reliability in this area, after tracking these stats for the past several days.
The site is responsive and seems to be reliable in terms of correct linking and displaying visuals, too.
Customer support is something that, personally, is an incredibly important part of any company, and is important also in the context of this Bookmark review. Companies are nothing without customers, and the way you treat the people that help you grow is a big indication of the type of business you want to be. With that said, let's talk about how Bookmark did.
In a word: Wonderful. Bookmark's customer support is hands down the best part about them, from what I have seen. I sent off an email asking some probing questions, not expecting to get a real answer, as most places will respond with a simple scripted answer.
Interestingly, on the 'Contact' page of Bookmark's website, the option to get support via live chat wouldn't work for me, so I was forced into writing an email to them.
Here is what I asked and received:
The response came within 8 hours of my email. This turnaround time is not ideal, obviously, but I must stress that my question was sent at around 1 AM in Bookmark's local timezone. So this is perfectly acceptable, considering.
I was very pleased to receive both an articulate and informational response. My questions were answered well, thoroughly and courteously.
Once again, I know very well that this should be the norm, but sadly it is not the case for the majority of customer support experiences both myself and I'm sure you too have encountered.
Bookmark review - Conclusion
To sum everything up in regards to this Bookmark review, I'd have to say, quite simply 'Lots of room for improvement'. And that's a shame, to be honest. There is a heck of a lot of potential in this website builder but sadly it just doesn't live up to that. At the end of the day, there are some really fantastic ideas here, they're just executed in a not very good way, compared with other website builders of similar pricing, especially Wix.
Overall there is a lot of promise here and I'm sure in time Bookmark will get it right, and hopefully it's a name that is on everyone's lips soon enough, as their superb customer service and website performance are definitely worth giving a try!
Well, we have reached the end of the Bookmark review. It's been fun, huh? If you're interested in checking out the competition, click down below!
Pros and Cons
- Great customer service
- 'AiDA' AI is promising
- Good performance
- Pretty expensive
- Lacking features
- Could do with more site reliability