Build your own custom website, right from your iPhone, in under five minutes! Created by Future Lab, Inc., this website builder promises to be simple, fast, and fun. Easy enough for anyone to use. And it’s free! Perfect for those busy people on the go.
Really? I looked into this app and discovered some scary things that other reviewers aren’t telling you.
So what is this? Follow along with me as I give you my Universe Website Builder review. We will be looking at what exactly this tool is, who it’s for, how it works, then the pros and cons. I also want to reveal some scary information I discovered, that no one ever speaks of.
Finally, my thoughts and recommendations for you.
Would you like to see where I built my website?
What Is The Universe Website Builder?
This app was developed by Joseph Cohen, founder of Future Lab, Inc., and sold under the name Universe. His website is onuniverse.com. There, you can see the choice of themes available, as well as posts.
This Universe website app claims to be the first, open-ended website builder designed for phones. It can create blogs, personal homepages, online portfolios, professional business sites, event invitations, or your own e-commerce store among anything else you can dream up.
According to the iTunes App Store:
- compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch
- requires iOS 11.2 or later
- age rated 4+
- in-app purchases from $2.99 to $14.99
The Universe Website Builder creates simple yet functional, one-page websites. You can include links to other sites, social media pages, and contact links.
Here’s a quick video of someone using this app. The interface is a little more colourful now, since the creation of this video, but it’s doing all the same things…
Who Is This App For?
This app was designed for people on the go. It’s effective for throwing together a quick site for people to be able to reach you on your Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook, etc. It can also be used to create simple landing pages for email opt-ins or product offers.
The developer refers to these websites as “lightweight”. Universe has simplified the interface so it’s easy to use for those with no web design experience. It’s only a matter of dragging and dropping the squares on a 3 X 5 grid.
For simple applications, its fine. Just don’t expect anything too robust or powerful. Strictly designed for simplicity and fun.
How Does It Work?
When you open your app, you are met by the Magic Builder, which walks you through the building a website process, by asking you questions.
- What kind of site do you want to make?
You have a choice of personal, business, creator, event, or a blank canvas
- What’s your business’s name?
Simply type in your name of choice
- Where can people find you online?
Just pick out the icons of platforms you can be reached, such as social media, telephone number, YouTube, etc.
- How can people contact you?
Type in your email address and whether you want it displayed on your site.
- What does your business do?
Type in a description that will show up in search engines.
- Where is your business?
Type in your address if desired, or just skip.
- What photo best captures your business?
Upload the picture of choice.
- Lastly, give your site the perfect domain.
Type in the domain name of your choice. For a custom domain, you must purchase the Pro subscription of $12.99/month.
If you choose the Pro Subscription, you get a 7-day free trial. Just click “customize” under your domain name choice, and a screen will pop up to search for one, or bring over a domain you already own.
- The final step.
Pick one of their 14 theme selections, and voila! You’re done. It builds your site and publishes it for you, online.
From there, you can add posts. These are very simple, with a header picture you can upload, a title, and the text area. Once completed, hit “publish”.
What Are The In-App Purchases?
The basic app is free to use for anyone. This is the list of in-app purchases according to iTunes:
- .COM Domain $2.99 (starting price…)
- Track Views x 1 $2.99
- Universe Pro for 1 Site $6.99 – $14.99
- 1 x Tier N Domain $0.99
- .COM Domain for 2 Sites $5.99
- External Domain x 1 $0.99
- Hide Brand $2.99
At the time of this writing, I tried upgrading a domain or adding the “hide brand” option, but none of the above features were accessible. All edits pointed to the Pro Subscription Upgrade.
The Pro Subscription includes:
- unlimited pages
- site analytics
- removes Universe Branding
- early access to new features
- 24/7 customer support
To remain free, your domain name must reside on their sub-domain. Meaning if you choose a name like “Joes Photography”, then your domain name would look like “joesphotography.onuniverse.com”.
If you want a custom domain, you have to purchase the Pro Subscription for $12.99/month. You must purchase the Pro plan for each additional custom website.
Therefore, each custom domain costs $12.99/month or $155.88 per year (plus tax). Wow…
This is not uncommon, but I checked it out anyway. This is what I found…
Wow, unbelievable! You don’t even own your domain name. Universe owns it and is just renting it out to you to $155 per year! If you purchase your own domain name anywhere else, it’s yours, for considerably less money.
That in itself is bad enough, but then I discovered this…
This paragraph gives Universe the right to remove your content (posts), for any reason, and they are not liable for any losses you may acquire.
A mentor of mine asked me to think of this in a worst-case scenario. What if my site started gaining a lot of traffic day after day. That would mean I have a potentially, very profitable website. Now, what if Universe noticed this, and decided they could auction off the domain name for considerable money.
All they need to do is suspend my account, remove my content, and sell the domain name to the highest bidder.
Now, of course, I hope that they wouldn’t even consider this type of action, but unfortunately, their terms of service give them the legal right to do so.
- No Experience Necessary
The Universe website design is created in the simplest form for anyone to use. There’s no web design experience needed. Just answer a few questions, pick your theme, and your website is built and published for you.
- The Option To Upgrade
If you would prefer a custom domain name, you have access to multiple extensions (.space, .biz) if available. With this type of customization, you can really personalize your name of choice.
- Digital Business Card
Universe websites can be your digital business card or portfolio. It offers a means to allow others to contact you through your social media accounts or email, etc. You can also use it to link to larger databases for such things as member registrations.
- It Does What It Says
The Universe site builder lives up to what it says it does and creates decent looking websites on the go. Though the websites are “lightweight”, they’re fine for promotional uses.
- You Don’t Own Your Domain Name
Any custom domain name is owned by Universe and not yourself. There is no way to take it with you if you leave, and unless they release the name, it won’t be available anywhere else.
- The Pro Subscription Is Per Individual Website
To get a custom domain name, you are required to purchase the Pro Subscription. Each custom domain requires its own Pro plan. So that means $12.99/month per domain name.
- Single Page Website
The Universe app websites are very “lightweight” due to its simplicity. Though you can add simple posts, these sites are not equipped to handle any type of ongoing business.
Because this app is so easy to use, your design capabilities are very limited. The posts are even simpler with just a header picture, a title, and room for a little text. No other pictures can be uploaded into the posts.
- No SEO Capabilities
There is no way to apply any SEO (search engine optimization) strategy to your website or posts. Therefore, there is no means to drive traffic to your site. Your only sources of traffic will have to come from your social media accounts and email.
- No Desktop Responsiveness
The Universe app designs websites suitable for mobile phone only. Anything larger, like tablets, or desktop computers, show a very narrow view.
The price of a custom domain is extremely high for something you don’t even own. Domain names purchased through other registries like GoDaddy or BlueHost only cost an average of $15/year, and are owned solely by you.
- Questionable Terms Of Service
Despite not owning your own domain name, the fact that you can lose your website and all its content with no legal recourse is very disturbing.
Thoughts And Recommendations
The Universe Website Builder is an ingenious little app that allows you to create a simple website on the go. It’s fun to use and a good way to point people in your direction. It’s a great way to link to your larger business site if used as a promotional tool. Other than that, it’s just not powerful enough to build a business around.
I would recommend you use this app as a landing page to collect emails or use as a directory to your other online presences.
And I strongly suggest you use the free domains offered. The cost of a custom domain is ridiculously high when you don’t even own it.
Because you have no control over the domain or your content, I would only use this in such a way that it won’t affect your other businesses if lost.
If you’re wanting to create a successful business, you’re going to need something much more powerful than these simple websites. And thankfully, its still very easy to create.
There are platforms available that not only build your website for you but train you how to direct traffic to your site to generate income. You see, your business is not only your website. It’s a host of other strategies to have it become profitable.
If you truly want to start a business and create multiple income streams for years to come, then please click on the picture below. It’s my finest recommendation for you. And it’s free to start!
If you have any questions, please let me know, OK?