The Moscow-based uCoz offers many services. Its standard service is for veteran web developers, but it also has an e-commerce platform in uShop, an A/B testing suite in uLanding, and professional site creation utility in Divly. It offers website-building services, too, in the form of uKit. This is drag-and-drop site builder for non-developers lets you quickly create clean, beautiful, and responsive sites. Sadly, the designs aren’t particularly malleable, and uKit lacks some of the cool, behind-the-scenes features that make other website builders appealing, such as mobile site customization options and integrated statistics reporting.
Getting Started With uKit
Clicking the Personal option on the uCoz.com home page takes you to the aforementioned, developer-targeted uCoz builder not uKit, which causes considerable confusion. In fact, you must scroll down to uKit. You can avoid this problem by pointing your browser to ukit.com rather than ucoz.com.
Ukit has decent pricing. For $10 per month ($7 per month paid annually), the Premium plan gives you unlimited pages, visitors, storage, and sites, 24/7 support, and a mobile-friendly site. The $15-per-month Basic tier ($10.50 per month paid annually) adds live chat support and Google Analytics goals. Next up, the eCommerce tier ($25 per month, or $17.50 per month paid annually) builds upon Basic by offering e-commerce options. Finally, the $40-per-month Pro tier ($28 per month paid annually) lets you add custom HTML code to your site. Ukit’s prices are in line with what you pay for many website builders, including Squarespace ($12–$40 per month). Unlike Editors’ Choice pick Duda, uKit has a free tier, but you must use a uKit-branded URL.
Ukit offers a template selection that looks a lot like those you see with Wix and other DIY site builders. There are 37 categories to choose from, including specific options like Nail Design and Tattoo Artist. Overall, we counted 306 total templates. The template previews show you how the sample site looks on desktop, tablet, and smartphone screens, in portrait and landscape formats. The latter is unique, given that we have yet to see that in other site builders. You also have a choice of color concepts for each template. There are no further tags to sort through, and no wizard to narrow down your choices, so this step could be daunting to novice website builders.
The next step is choosing your site address on the service’s ukit.me/usluga.me/ulcraft.com domain. At this point, there isn’t an option to register a custom domain name—you’re stuck with a domain in the form of [sitename].ulcraft.com until later in the publishing process (more on that in a bit). You then go through a short series of questions asking for your business name, address, and social accounts. Finally, you find yourself in the clearly designed, modern, attractive site-building interface.
Editing Your Site
As with Duda, a left-side toolbar displays a tile grid with options for adding elements to your template page. Tabs atop this toolbar let you switch between Widgets and Blocks. In the former, you get the standard Heading, Text, Image, Button, and other site options. Even more choices hide under sections called Structure (separators and spaces), Content (cards, price lists, tables), Media, Contact, and Social. The latter option lets you drop pre-made content sections, such as a portfolio section or pricing chart. One convenience in uKit’s toolbar is a Search space at the bottom, a handy way to get to the widget you want. We haven’t seen that in many competing services. Missing, however, is a Help button within the site-builder interface.
When you hover the mouse cursor over any page element, controls appear at its top. If it’s a Block, you can tap a gear icon to change its structure, for example, from an object with padding (a margin of blank space) to one that fills the whole screen width. You can also double-click an element to access specific settings from the side panel.
The Soundcloud widget lets you enter a song URL and have it play on your site, but you can’t set it to auto-play. The video widget lets you add Vimeo, YouTube, or Facebook movies on your page, but you can’t upload your own personal videos. The SlideShare element lets you display PowerPoint files, PDFs, and Word documents on your site. A few other third-party widgets in the sidebar include LiveChat, MailChimp, and JivoChat. Social icons offer good control of your accounts and services, but their colors are restricted by the template you choose. Another option is to drop in an AddThis widget, which uses the standard colors of the various social networks. You can also add feed panels from Facebook Pages, as well as Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest accounts.
Decent widget choice aside, uKits lacks Wix’s large, third-party widget gallery. This is particularly limiting because uKit requires you to have a Pro level account to add any HTML snippets to your site.
The service conforms tightly to responsive design standards, so you have limited control over where you place website elements. You can’t just place objects exactly where you want them anywhere on the page. By default, they also take up the full page width, but after some experimentation we found a way to add columns, by dropping items onto the side of the current page object. You can add up to six columns this way, which is probably all you’d want for a standard-width webpage. If you shrink the browser width, these side-by-side elements responsively revert to taking up the full page width.
Text elements can be directly changed when you click them, via a tiny menu for formatting, color, and SEO. Text positioning is flexible, though the text must be anchored around existing elements, rather living anywhere on your page. Moving up and down a page is slow going, but overall, it works. Undo works in the page builder with Ctrl-Z, but there are no right-click options. There’s a Backups option lets you save a site’s state and revert to it later. Very nice!
You add site pages from the same left toolbar by clicking on the page icon. You get just two choices: Page and News (for blogs). You can add a page description and keywords for some SEO push. Pages appear in the top site nav, and if you exceed a reasonable number of pages, the overflow appears in a dropdown. You can duplicate a page and move it up and down in the nav. To create nested submenus, you must go into a page’s settings gear. Unlike other website builders, uKit doesn’t let you simply drag the subpage onto a parent-page entry.
The Design toolbar mode lets you change the site background color or use an image instead. There are overall color schemes, background colors, site-wide font options, and header and footer settings here. You can also change the design template at any time, unlike with Editors’ Choice pick Gator.
Working With Images
After you drag an image element onto a page, a placeholder photo appears that you can easily crop, zoom, or attach a caption to. Ukit makes it simple to add your own photos. You can drag and drop them onto the Image Library dialog, where everything you upload is saved for later use. You can also choose from a decent stock photo collection (with usage fees), use your Facebook photos, or enter an image URL. Unlike Wix, uKit doesn’t let you upload, sell, or rent videos you upload to the site builder host.
One thing missing in uKit is integrated photo-editing capability beyond the aforementioned cropping. Rotation at the very least would help a lot. The Gallery widget is a simple grid of images that a visitor clicks through for a fuller view. You can change the grid view to a collage or a slideshow with a filmstrip across the bottom. It works fine, but other builders offer more in the way of formatting, with rounded corners and the like.
Making Money With Your uKit Site
There’s no simple PayPal button widget in uCoz’s widget panel, so if you just want a simple, single Donate, or Buy button, you’ll need a Pro level account so you can enter PayPal’s widget code. That’s unfortunate, as Gator lets you add commerce to all of its tiers. For full e-commerce, uKit uses the feature-packed Ecwid online shopping cart and storefront software. In fact, you need Ecwid to sell digital downloads. We added this to a test page, and the store design nicely matched our site design.
You can connect your Ecwid account, or you can create one right from the site builder. Ecwid takes you through onboarding your store via a six-step wizard. You choose the store layout from within uKit, but otherwise you control all commerce functionality (shipping methods, inventory) in Ecwid.
Mobile Site and Blogging
Since uKit uses responsive design, any site you build is automatically formatted to look good on mobile screens. There are editing views for Tablet and Mobile, and you can drag-and-drop elements and widgets within this view. Not every site builder has this option—some only allow you to see the mobile view, not edit in it, and some lack even that meager feature—so kudos to uKit for thinking ahead.
When you add a News page, uKit creates a blog page, complete with a decent post form. This lets you add links, images, videos, and a Read More delimiter for long posts. You can enable or disable commenting (which requires a Disqus account), and schedule a post to launch at a later date and time. In all, it’s an excellent blogging tool—neither too gunked up with options nor too limited.
Publishing Your Site
We like that uKit lets you finish building your site before publishing, with a clear yellow Publish button for when you’re ready. After you publish your site, a message box offers domain registration so that you can, for example, send people to techlover.com, rather than techlover.ulcraft.com. As is pretty standard, the box also presents links for sharing your site to Facebook and Twitter, along with a link to view the live site. Even if you’re not ready to publish the site, you can create a backup at any point during site building.
As with most easy online site builders, uKit suffers from lock-in: There’s no way to move your pages to another web hosting service. If this is important to you, consider Weebly, website builder that lets you take all your site code and assets. Likewise, Squarespace lets you switch to a WordPress host of your choice.
Stats and SEO
Unfortunately, uKit lacks built-in site visitor statistics. You must jump through the hoops required to set up and connect a Google Analytics account to get traffic reports. Doing so yields a ton of tracking options, but note that these stats are always delayed by a day. Built-in stats, such as those delivered by Weebly, tend to be delivered in near-real time.
You go to the Promotion page of the dashboard to start getting control of traffic drivers to your site. Here, an Analyze website button tells you whether your creation is actually ready for promotion. For example, our site didn’t have enough quality original text to even be considered for promotion. Once your site is ready, uKit offers Search Console and Business Listing tools to raise your visibility on the web. This is important, since people building sites may not realize that their sites won’t appear in the major search engines without some effort, including submitting them to the engines and proving ownership.
Limited Customer Service Options
One thing uKit lacks is a comprehensive help desk. Sure, there’s 24/7 support sure, but that’s purely over email. No live chat options exist. When we sent a question over the contact form, we received an answer within an hour, which is quick. Sill, live chat would’ve been far more helpful overall. On the upside, uKit has a robust knowledge base, with articles for most basic questions about site building.
Website uptime is one of the most important aspects of a hosting service. If your site is down, clients or customers will be unable to find you or access your products or services.
We used a website-monitoring tool to track our uKit-hosted test site’s uptime over a 14-day period. Every 15 minutes, the tool pings our website and fires off an alert if it is unable to contact the site for at least 1 minute. The testing data reveals that uKit is incredibly stable; in fact, it didn’t go down once in the two-week testing period. You can trust uKit to serve as a strong website foundation.
You Can (Mostly) Do It With uKit
Featuring a modern, easy-to-use interface, uKit provides the many tools you need to create a mobile-friendly, commerce-capable, and consistent-looking site. Its blogging tool is excellent, and it lets you decide when to publish. Plus, uKit saves your images (but not videos) in an online repository for reuse—a nice touch. However, you don’t get an extensive gallery of third-party widget options, or built-in site statistics. For better rounded services, you can’t go wrong with Editors’ Choice picks Duda, Gator, and Wix.
For more web hosting tips and advice for building your website, read our guides on How to Create a Website and 10 Easy But Powerful SEO Tips to Boost Traffic to Your Website.