Strikingly is a website builder with a difference. This relative newcomer emphasizes simplicity of site building and beauty of design, and it takes an innovative approach toward both those ends. Strikingly relies on a scrolling single-page design with sections to which viewers can navigate. I like this new thinking, but I expect many people want greater control over their sites, such as that afforded by Duda and Wix, which are our Editors’ Choice website builders.
Getting Started and Pricing
The first page you land on in Strikingly invites you to get going on your website right away by filling in a simple three-box form asking for first name, email, and password. If even that’s too much for you, you can click the Facebook button to sign up using your information from the social network without any typing. You can be off and running for free, without having to enter a credit card number.
Free accounts get a yoursitename.strikingly.com address, show a Powered by Strikingly badge at the bottom, let you sell one product, and limit you to 5GB throughput per month. For $8 per month (billed yearly), you can attach your own registered domain, increase the monthly bandwidth to 50GB, and raise the product maximum to 5. The $16-per-month Pro account makes bandwidth unlimited, increases the number of products you can sell to 300, and removes branding. Importantly, only Pro lets you create multipage sites. It also lets you use the full app store of third-party widgets and lets your mobile site include actions like phoning or sending email—both of which are included with all Weebly and Wix accounts. The VIP account level ($49 per month) adds priority phone support and 500-product stores. Committing to a year of paid service gets you a year of domain name registration, similar to Squarespace’s $12-per-month plan. Strikingly now offers HTTPS with all domains, a boon to security and SEO.
As with most online site builders, your next move is to choose a template. Strikingly offers 29 choices, up from 25 the last time I reviewed the service. Not only are they very good looking, but they also seem more varied than those of some services that offer a much larger number of templates. Wix, for example, has hundreds of templates, and Duda has over 100. Buttons in Strikingly’s template chooser let you narrow down your choices to those suitable for business, personal, and portfolio sites. You can either start editing right away or see a preview. The former doesn’t show how the sample site looks on mobile specifically, but you can narrow your browser to get a good idea. I tried the Bright template, which, like many Strikingly templates, uses scrolling effects and a top menu bar that elegantly reformats to a fixed position after you start scrolling down.
One cool capability is the ability to build a personal website instantly based on your LinkedIn account. The ADI feature in Wix is similar, though that scours the web for other services and sites with info on and images of you or your business. Jimdo and Simvoly now also include automatic site builders, though Wix’s remains the most potent. My automatic Strikingly site was not bad looking at all, and all the standard editing tools of free Strikingly accounts are available for customization.
Web Design Tools in Strikingly
Strikingly takes a fresh, perhaps even unique, approach to site design: It’s the only one of the dozen or so sitebuilders I’ve tested that uses a single-scrolling-page format. As mentioned above, Pro accounts can now add up to 20 of these scrolling multi-section pages per site, but that’s not really the point of Strikingly. The intention is clearly to make the process as easy as possible and to ensure that the design is attractive. This comes at the cost of customization and control. The Editor Panel along the left doesn’t offer page elements as most other site building services do. Wix and Duda, for example, let you choose the exact elements you want; for example, a button, image, text block. Instead, it lets you switch among and add sections, which show up as you scroll down a page. Within a section, you can only add elements dictated by the theme.
So, for example, if I’m working in the Employees section of my site, I can only add another Employee entry that’s designed just like the existing ones. In effect, each section defines allowable element types and their exact design. This often consists of an image and text. Some sections offer a Change Layout button, which cycles through a few options, for example, swapping photos and text from left to right or alternating sides. Undo and redo arrows helpfully let you revert to earlier and later edit states
Your route to greater customization is through adding and removing Sections. There are about 20 section types, depending on which template you chose at the outset. Types include content in columns or rows, social feeds, blogs, galleries, and forms. You can also add third-party site widgets like SoundCloud playlists, a Medium feed, Facebook comments, and PayPal buttons. Some apps—and even some Section types—require a Pro account.
You can change a template’s background colors (now with an unlimited color picker), and you get a large font selection, after tapping the tool panel’s Styles button. Some of Strikingly’s newer templates allow for greater customization, including transparency, padding, and width. Even these are somewhat limited compared with other site builders, though. For example, the width option is limited to Full, Section, and Centered, and padding choices are just Small, Medium, and Large. I like the choice of overall site navigation layouts, with options for left, top centered, top right and more.
The Settings button offers a wealth of sitewide options such as site title, domain name, descriptions for SEO, navigation, and privacy. The last option lets you require a password and hide your site from search engines. You get six choices of language, including Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish. New for this menu since my last review is the ability to turn on full site search, but that’s only available with paid accounts. Other paid-only options include mobile actions, custom code entry, and site-buiding collaboration.
Multiple pages for Pro users are simply multiple sectioned Strikingly pages. Navigation and links are automatically added for them. As with most of the other, more-standard website builders, you can drag page entries in the left panel up or down to change navigation.
I like that Strikingly’s toolbar includes a Save link and a Publish button, preferable to some builders, like Squarespace, that immediately publish any edits. Strikingly Once you do hit Publish, you get a message box with the live site link and share buttons to send the site to Facebook and Twitter.
Working With Photos and Images
Like Wix, Strikingly has the commendable feature of letting you save images you upload to its online storage in case you want to use the pictures elsewhere on your site. By comparison, with Weebly, you have to upload the same photo for each place on your site you want to use it.
True to Strikingly’s approach, you can only add photos to sections designed with photos in mind. So on one site type, I couldn’t add any photos to the Who We Are section. The photo-adding dialog supports drag and drop for uploading multiple files at once. You can easily add a content or gallery section, which accepts video as well as photos, but the video must be hosted—you can’t just upload your own AVIs, MOVs, or MPGs.
Strikingly lets you add a custom favicon, that tiny image that appears next to the site title in the browser tab. The builder also includes stock button art for social media and other uses that you can add to your page; they’re mostly in the modern flat design style. But you don’t get any stock photography like you do with Duda and Squarespace. There is a library of icons and badges you can use, however.
Strikingly includes a basic version of Adobe’s online photo editor, Aviary, which offers image adjustments and enhancements, including Instagram-like effect filters. Gallery layout options are limited to a few choices, like square thumbnails versus rectangular ones, or justified images versus spaced out ones. You switch among these with a button that changes from A to B to C as you click. A square button at the top right corner of the gallery does a similar thing for color, switching from a black background to gray to white.
Like Squarespace, Weebly, and Wix, Strikingly automatically produces good-looking, functional mobile sites. These include touch-friendly menus that jump viewers between sections. The simple fact that Strikingly websites are one deep page is a plus for mobile—they don’t have to contact the server repeatedly to fetch separate pages. One drawback is that mobile actions—clicking to call a phone number or to send an email—are only available in paid accounts, something that’s not the case for competitors such as Wix and Weebly.
Strikingly’s Simple Store is a well-made feature, with inventory and order tracking. You can accept credit card payments using Stripe or PayPal. Pro users can create coupons, and any accounts can have automatic email notifications sent for each step of the purchasing process. But there are no custom fields for things like size and color, and you can’t sell digital downloads. Nor does it integrate with UPS or FedEx to streamline shipping. Pro account users can create product categories, embed full-featured Ecwid stores, and send marketing email blasts using Mailchimp.
I was wondering how the service would handle blogging with its sectioned single-page design, and the answer is that it does so fairly well. Strikingly blogs actually do appear on a separate page. The blogging tool is capable. You can add the standard content types: text, images, videos, separators, link buttons, and quotations, but you can’t wrap text around pictures.
Strikingly now has its own comment feature with an approval system, so you no longer need a Disqus plugin. The design of your blog is dictated by your theme choice, so there are no appearance customizations, aside from things like background image, text size, color, and alignment. You can save drafts, but you can’t set a post to publish at specified date and time the way you can with Squarespace and Wix. Finally, blogs automatically get an RSS button, giving readers an easy way to subscribe.
The well-designed Dashboard pages shows tiles for each of your sites, from which you can start editing or see stats. The latter choice opens a new page showing your unique site views for the last week, month, and 90-day period. It also shows you traffic sources and country of origin. You even get a breakdown of mobile usage, technology used (OS and browser), and visitor countries, similar to Weebly’s stat offerings. That said, it’s a bit limited compared with Squarespace’s stats, and doesn’t show search terms used to get to your pages.
Support With Strikingly
Even free Strikingly accounts can get chat help from any Strikingly page, via the big question mark button in the lower-right-hand corner of the interface. In my experience, this chat help is quick and well informed, and it’s available 24/7. You can also leave an email message on a web form, complete with attached screenshots, or directly email firstname.lastname@example.org. However, callback phone support is only available to VIP accounts, which costs $49 per month. Wix offers phone support even to its free users. Strikingly also sports a thorough knowledge base, with an impressive 17 categories, ranging from questions about affiliate programs to third-party domains.
Happiness Officer Ken piped up less than a minute after my first request on an afternoon. The next morning I had a very different experience, waiting more than 15 minutes without getting a chat response. I suspect the delay could have been due to browser or internet connection issues, however. A chat message on Strikingly’s Facebook page got a much faster response at the same time. On another try a few minutes later, Happiness Officer Paulo responded in less than a minute. I like that he answered my question about connecting a third-party domain directly, rather than just pointing me to a FAQ (which actually had instructions for my specific domain registrar, Namecheap.).
A Different Approach
There’s a lot to like about Strikingly, particularly its ease of use and its appealing site design for both desktop and mobile browsers. Both of those plusses come at the price of control and customization, though the company has made some strides in offering more customizability. Strikingly also differs from other builders in emphasizing single-page, deep sites divided by content sections. You may find that Strikingly suits your needs perfectly, but if not, check out our website builder Editors’ Choices, Wix and Duda, for more precise control over your or home on the Web.
For tips on getting started building your site, you can read our primer, How to Build a Website.