I was a bit puzzled when I was approached to write a Novi Builder review on my blog.
Because I wasn’t quite sure what the Novi Builder was all about. Sure, I knew that it was a tool for creating websites but not in a way that I have written before on my blog.
After having an “ahha” moment of what the Novi Builder was about, I became interested. The tool that Template Monster had created was actually a very interesting one.
In this review, you are going to find my experiences on using the tool and what I think about it.
Novi Builder Review at Glance
- Building Your First Site: ****
- Main Features and User Interface: ****.5
- Integrations: ****
- Customer Support: ****
- Plans and Pricing: Starting from 29$/26€ / year (billed once per year) *****
- Overall: 4.3
- Verdict: Get it!
- Great tool for builder HTML-based websites.
- Great features especially towards developers or template designers.
- Simple, decluttered interface.
- May require more technical expertise to create your website (when compared to an online sitebuilder).
- No blogging component.
- No chat customer support.
My Initial Expectations
So, what is Novi Builder, exactly?
To cut to the point, it’s an HTML website builder where you do the page editing visually by using an editor. However, you can also access and modify the code directly if you wish.
In other words, this builder is meant, both for designers/developers but also for less-technical end-users.
Who Isn't This Sitebuilder For?
Like with any sitebuilder, there are also potential deal breakers when it comes to Novi Builder:
- You don’t like any technical aspects of setting a website. Especially, if you try to setup the required environment on your local computer, you need enough technical expertise to do that. Based on my experience, a much better solution was to upload files directly to my webhost where all the necessary settings were already configured.
- You would like to have a chat customer support.
- The package does not include a blogging component.
Building Your First Website
As mentioned, the easiest way to get your site up and running is to download the Novi Builder installation package, extract the downloaded zip file on your computer, and then upload the contents to your web host via FTP.
Once you access the Novi Builder website for the first time, expect two things to occur.
First, it’s possible that you’ll first need to install updated versions of the platform before you can start using the tool. This is a good sign since it shows that the builder gets fixes and updates on a continuous basis.
Another thing you should do is to change the current password of your Novi Builder installation. So, head over to the administrator area first:
Then, change the default password by going to Security Settings > Change Password tab:
Once that’s done, you are set, and your new website is up and running. Your next step is to change the content of the website (and the look and feel), according to the demands of your brand.
Building Your First Site:
Considering that you can upload the extracted Novi Builder installation package to your web host, the setup is easy.
You may need to update the software before you can log in and change the default password. But these tasks shouldn’t take too long, and they are easy to do.
Three Types of Builders
There are basically three ways (*) to build a website. Here is a quick rundown of each of them:
- An online sitebuilder: You can create a website very quickly with an online sitebuilder. There are many of them available, and they are probably the fastest way to get your website up and running.
- A self-hosted CMS: This is a category where platforms like WordPress or Joomla fall under. It takes more steps to build your site with these platforms but still, this is a very popular way to build your presence online.
- HTML builder: Finally, you have the builder which you use on top of an HTML template. For instance, Novi Builder represents this type of tool. You can change the templates or even create ones yourself. However, creating a template requires HTML/CSS coding skills.
* Technically speaking, you could also create a site by hand-coding the HTML/CSS yourself, or even outsource the whole website building project. However, I didn’t want to include these special cases on the list above.
Main Features and User Interface
When you log into the Novi Builder website, you’ll directly enter the edit mode. You’ll notice the editing capabilities with three things.
First, at the top, you have the editing toolbar, where you can choose from different options:
To make this long toolbar a bit easier to digest, you can imagine it in three parts.
On the left, you can access the page editor:
Here is where you can add or manage pages on your website.
On the middle of the toolbar, you can access the different modes of your site:
First, you have the Preview Mode to preview the current state of your website. Next, you have the Edit Mode, which is a visual editor for your website. Finally, on the right, you have the Design Mode, which gives code access to your website. This last view is intended for those who are comfortable with the code.
Continuing on the right, you can see your website with different devices, access page settings (like SEO settings) and publish your website when it’s ready:
Finally, when you click the hamburger menu on the right, you’ll see the site-wide settings:
Context-based Menus and Presets
When you hover your mouse over any of the elements on the page, a context-based menu pops up. In other words, you see different editing tools depending on where your mouse pointer is located:
You also have the Presets, and you can access them by clicking the plus sign on the page:
You’ll then see the Presets window opening up:
So, what are these presets?
They are just premade sections of a page that you can then add to your website. Many of them are available out of the box when you install Novi Builder, but you can also create them yourself.
In my opinion, presets are great since they save you time when you build your website.
One final thing worth mentioning is the right click of your mouse: it gives you more functionalities to choose from:
The most interesting item is the Source Code option, which gives you direct access to the page’s source code:
Other options are, for instance, duplicating or deleting presets.
You can manage and update the page with 20 plugins available through Novi Builder. The management happens in two parts.
For instance, there is a Link plugin, which enables you to edit a hyperlink on your page. So, when you mark a word on the page, the hyperlink icon appears on the menu. You can then change the URL your link is pointing to:
You can also manage the plugins through a plugin manager, which opens in the Design Mode:
Here, you can fine-tune the plugin configuration, if needed.
Novi Builder is a drag and drop HTML builder.
For instance, you can drag the presets from the presets area to the design area of your website.
When you drag a preset to the design area, a blue line appears on the page to give you an idea where the preset is going to be placed:
You can manage your account settings in the account view:
Here you can, for instance, manage your subscriptions or download new templates for Novi Builder.
There are two ways to access SEO settings with Novi Builder.
First, you can set the SEO settings on a website level by clicking the hamburger menu on the right and then clicking Configuration:
From there, you can choose the SEO tab:
You can also access the SEO settings on a page level.
Click the gear icon first and scroll down a bit. You will then see the SEO section where you can set the Meta Keywords and Meta Description information to your pages:
Changing a template requires a couple of steps.
First, go to your account page and download the desired template:
Then extract the downloaded package file, upload the downloaded zip file (that was found inside the package file) to your Novi Builder website by clicking the hamburger menu and choosing Import:
Once you have located the right the template file on your computer and imported it to Novi Builder, you should have a new template active on your website:
If you are a developer, then Novi Builder is a great choice for you.
To access the code view (or the Design View), click the icon at the top, and a developer view opens at the bottom:
What’s really cool is that when you activate a certain part of the page in the editor, it marks the corresponding area on the HTML code view as well:
However, this same functionality is not present with the CSS code. I kind of expected it to be, but perhaps it becomes available in later versions of Novi Builder?
You can use Novi Builder user interface with various languages. However, if you want to build multi-language versions of your website, you’ll have to create them yourself.
Selecting the desired language for the user interface happens by going to Configuration > Settings > General. From there, you can pick the language from the available list:
Once you have changed your setting, you’ll see the menu items with the new language:
Features and User Interface:
For me, the UI took a bit of time to get used to.
But after playing around with the menus, the user interface became more familiar to me and hopping from one menu to another became easier. I guess this is the strength of the Novi Builder: it’s not cluttered with millions of different options, and it is easy to use.
Also, it is possible to build a modern website with the features that Novi Builder provides out of the box.
Integrations and Extendibility
As mentioned, Novi Builder gives access to 20 plugins to your website. These plugins all vary from adding an iFrame to your website (for instance, embedding another webpage on your current webpage) or an image carousel:
These plugins are created by the Novi Builder team.
Novi Builder has also nice importing and exporting functionalities. For instance, I used the import functionality to change the template of my Novi Builder website (see the Themes section on this post for more information).
However, the export function is handy too.
You can use it to export just the HTML template of your website. You could then use the template, for instance, as a basis of a WordPress theme (please note that you may need to tweak it so that it runs under WordPress).
However, if you want to export the whole Novi Builder project, that can be done too. In this case, the export spits out all the settings (on top of the template), and you can then import the whole setting into another Novi Builder website.
Novi Builder comes with 20 various plugins you can use on your website.
You can also use the handy import/export functionalities. For instance, if you want to change a template of your Novi Builder website, or if you want to export just the HTML template and use it elsewhere.
There were three ways to get support to my question regarding Novi Builder.
First, you can access the knowledge base where you can find plenty of support documents and videos that you can take advantage of.
I also contacted customer support several times when I wrote this review. I always got answers to my questions.
However, there was one thing I hoped for when it came to customer support: I wished that there would also have been a chat support option available.
Because this would have speeded up the process of getting answers to some of my questions.
I know that sometimes I asked perhaps too simple questions, and these would have been solved much faster with the chat, rather than consuming the support’s ticket queue.
However, please note that the customer support did a fantastic job by answering all my questions and getting back to me every time I asked anything from them.
Finally, the third way to get support is the community option. This was implemented as a Facebook page:
However, I didn’t test this option at all during this review.
I always got answers to my questions from customer support. I also consumed the knowledge base to gain more knowledge of the Novi Builder.
However, I wished that the chat channel would have been available so that I would have gotten answers to my (sometimes simple) questions faster.
Plans and Pricing
Currently, there are three subscription plans (yes, Novi Builder is a subscription-based service) to choose from: Startup, Advanced and Developer:
With the Startup plan, you get the basic functionality of Novi Builder, like the plugins, customer support and one HTML template.
If you hop on to the higher level plan, the Advanced level, you have all the same features as in the Startup plan but also more templates (20+) to choose from.
Finally, on the highest plan level (the Developer plan), you get lifetime access to all Novi templates. You can also sell the templates you build with Novi Builder.
The pricing itself is very transparent.
First, you see the price you pay per year. This is not the price after paying a big sum of money upfront. Folks, this is the real yearly price you end up paying!
If you want more information regarding the pricing, just click the Join Novi button first:
Then you see more information like the renewal date and how much your credit card gets billed on that particular date:
If you want to purchase a domain with your Novi Builder website, you have to do it yourself at your own expense. In other words, Novi Builder is not providing you with a domain.
Currently, my favorite marketplace for purchasing domains is NameCheap. And as the name implies, it is cheap.
For instance, purchasing a domain name at the time of writing costs approximately 8 Euros per year, which is close to 9 USD.
You don’t get email addresses from Novi Builder, either. Instead, you’ll have to purchase them yourself.
A very good option to do this is to purchase a G Suite subscription from Google. Currently, the prices start from 6 USD per user per month (that’s approximately 5 Euros).
I’m currently using the Basic plan, and I have been happy with the package.
Accessing and Cancelling Subscription Information
Managing your Novi Builder subscription is very easy. All you have to do is to log into your Novi Builder account and choose the Membership & Plans tab:
For instance, if you want to cancel your subscription, all you have to do is to click the Cancel button.
Pricing and Billing:
Novi Builder is a very affordable HTML website builder. Also, the pricing is simple and transparent, so you are not getting any surprise when you subscribe to this builder.
Is This the Right Tool for You?
After testing Novi Builder, I think that it’s a very exciting tool for building websites.
However, whether you choose the builder for your next project or not depends at least to a certain point on your technical skills. For instance, the installation part is different compared to other sitebuilders out there.
But amongst the HTML Builders out there, would I then recommend this tool? Yes, I do!
It’s developed by Template Monster, and you are getting professional support as part of the package.
So, what are you waiting for? Get it now!