Format Website Builder Review 2021

Company Overview, Pricing, and Features

Ogi Djuraskovic
Updated: June 11th, 2021
8 min read
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Format logo Format
Format logo
Free trial - Premium starting at $12/month

With dozens of popular website builders available on the market, it can be hard to stand out. However, instead of offering the same thing that your competitor does and try to please everyone, you can find success by choosing to be specific and offer a service only a handful of people need. And if you do this right, you will capture the attention of that small portion of targeted users and amaze them by providing something that no one else can.

This is what the Format website builder has tried to do. Instead of allowing users to build anything they want through their service, they offer portfolio creation. When you take a closer look at their site, it’s clear that photographers are their primary target.

If you are not interested in creating a portfolio, skip Format before you waste too much time. But if that’s what you have in mind while searching for website builders, then this platform could be the perfect choice for you.

Who should use Format (best for):

Format is tailored for photographers who want to showcase their work online without worrying much about the process of building a site. If you want to write simple blog posts and maybe even make money online by selling some photos, then Format is the website builder for you.

Honestly, Format is great for sharing visual work of all types. If you’re an artist of any kind, you will love what Format has to offer.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to build a business website, have custom features you want to embed, or want to focus on blogging, this website builder might not be a great fit. Instead, I suggest looking at WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace.

Format key features

Templates for photographers – modern layouts tailored for photographers and artists, created by award-winning designers.

Customize without coding – unless you really want to add custom code, you can have a gorgeous portfolio site created simply by customizing portions of template pages.

Mobile optimized – all templates are designed for mobile users, so you don’t have to worry about how your portfolio will appear to visitors coming from smartphones and tablets.

Review summary

Format is a modern website builder that’s created for photographers and artists. It’s easy to use, and you can share a custom portfolio online within a day. But that’s basically all that it offers.

Although the platform does offer blogging and eCommerce features, those are extremely basic and will only be good for smaller projects. For anyone who’s trying to build a different kind of online business, blog, or a more serious eCommerce store, Format is not suitable.

Detailed Format review

Ease of use

Format is built with simplicity in mind. Their creators didn’t want you to struggle to find options that you might not even need. The entire user interface is straightforward and clean, and that’s something I really liked from my first time opening the editor.

There are only a handful of settings that you can access, and that’s a positive thing if you’re looking for a lean platform simply for showcasing your work. You don’t want technical items that you don’t understand floating around your work area.

format ease of use

Although it does look effortless at first, Format can become confusing in some situations. For example, when you decide to change your homepage design, you will probably need to do a few clicks before locating the correct page to do so. I hate to admit that even after a few hours of working on a demo site, I couldn’t always get where I wanted to be.

However, because there are not many elements to confuse you, you will likely understand how Format works in just a few hours.

Templates

Their templates are definitely Format’s strong point. There were 75 of them available when I reviewed the platform, and I must admit they looked impressive.

Whether you need a template dedicated to photography, art, design, video, fashion, or weddings, there is more than enough choice available. It will be hard to choose just one, since all of them look great. If you are a fan of Instagram, you will quickly become a fan of Format’s templates.

Don’t stress too much about your choice, because templates can be easily changed at any moment during the design process. So, choose one, and play around with it until you find the perfect fit for your site.

Design flexibility

The template strictly controls the entire design of your new website. While you can modify the elements, the editor is quite vague, and you shouldn’t expect much from it.

Adding a new section is only a click away. But, compared to other website builders like Wix or Squarespace, there are very few options to choose from. With Format, a new section can be composed of text, images, media, and forms. And that’s it. OK, you do also get to place a divider when needed.

format design flexibility

Once an element is added to the page, you will have a chance to modify it even further. But be prepared to expect only the basics. For text, that means selecting a predefined size of the font, alignment, making it bold or italic, and adding a link. That’s it. When it comes to images, you can change the photo (use their images, Unsplash or upload a custom one), orientation, add alt text, and make a link out of it. If the image is large enough, you will be able to zoom in. That’s all.

Yes, Format is created with simplicity in mind, but a few more options wouldn’t hurt.

Domain options

Unless you decide to purchase a custom domain name or transfer an existing one, you can access your Format website via their subdomain.

format domain options

By default, that subdomain will be generated from your personal name, but you can always change it from the settings. In that case, your site address can be anything.format.com unless it’s already in use by some other Format user. But since there aren’t as many Format users as there are at Wix, WordPress, or Squarespace, it shouldn’t be that hard to come up with a unique subdomain idea.

Mobile site optimization

Since I mentioned that their templates are modern, you should not be surprised by the fact that all of them look great on mobile devices. But that’s all you get.

format mobile site optimization

While you can preview your website in mobile view at any time, you won’t be able to modify it. This will come as a disappointment, but since the templates are designed really well, you shouldn’t worry about how your website will look on smartphones and tablets.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

Since Format is such a simple builder, one wouldn’t expect to have options related to search engine optimization. However, it comes as a pleasant surprise to find a few SEO options available in the builder.

format seo options

Changing titles, adding alt text to your images, and controlling the URL are all excellent additions to the options available with this straightforward builder. 

I was surprised that Format creates a sitemap for you automatically, and that you can access it from the settings at any time. Google and other search engines will love your portfolio site because of this simple file.

You will be able to connect your Google Analytics as well, and even add a few keywords you would like to rank for. As long as you don’t expect to become an SEO star, these options will be more than enough for your simple site.

Blogging functions

Even if you’re a photographer or an artist, you might still want to write something every now and then. As long as you are not interested in becoming a full-time blogger, Format’s blogging options will be sufficient.

Adding a blog involves clicking a button in the page settings, and immediately, you will be able to publish your first story.

format blogging functions

The blog editor is very simple and, as you might guess, focused on adding media. So, all you can do with your blog post is attach text, images, and videos without any special treatments. Add to that the ability to add tags, and that’s it for blogging options with Format

While this is adequate for someone entirely focused on imagery, those who tend to blog more often will wish for more features and options. Also, keep in mind that you can’t have reader comments on your Format blog unless you connect Disqus.

eCommerce integration

Creating a simple store feels quite lovely when using Format. Whether you want to sell digital goods, services, or even physical products, you’re only a few clicks away from making it a reality.

Adding a store to your site means adding a new page. Add items you want to sell, describe them, and make everything look good. Then, connect your PayPal Business account, and you will be ready to start selling.

Although you can manage the inventory and each product in the online store, don’t expect to build the next Amazon with Format. If you’re selling only a few items, you will be good to go. But anything more complex will require a more extensive platform.

Format pricing and plans

Unlike other website builders that all come with free versions, Format does not. It allows you to start a 14-day trial, but you will have to select one of their pricing plans after that period ends.

All of their plans allow you to build unlimited pages and have unlimited bandwidth, which is crucial if you plan on loading lots of images. There is also 24/7 customer support included.

Pro
  • $12/month.

Up to 1500 gallery images, free custom domain name, 3 store products, and 1000 client gallery images.

Pro Plus
  • $18/month.

Unlimited gallery images, free custom domain, 60 store products, 10000 client gallery images, custom code editing, premium layouts, mailing list builder, site-building service.

Premium
  • $25/month.

Up to 1000 store products, unlimited client gallery images, custom code editing, premium layouts, mailing list builder, site building service, professional email by Google Workspace.

Customer support

The support is quite nice. When I decided to contact their support team to leave a question, I was surprised at how it works. The system tracks down what you’re about to ask and suggests articles based on your keywords. So, for example, if you decide to ask about embedding a commenting system to your blog, before you even get to hit the “send” button, you are presented with a link to the article that explains the situation. Amazing!

If you decide to skip this process, you can always contact one of their agents. My question went through, and I received an answer a few hours later.

Format pros and cons

PROS

Templates – all templates look really beautiful, and you can tell professionals designed them. Also, the templates are easily editable so you can expect high-quality sites with no extra effort.

Mobile optimization – although you can’t edit mobile pages, everything is so well-optimized that you really do not have to care.

Support – all plans come with 24/7 support that you can rely on.

CONS

No free plan – unlike other page builders, there’s no free plan you can use long term.

Exclusivity – practically all that you can build with Format are portfolio sites. If you decide to create something else, you might have a tough time.

Blog – blogging options are very basic, and all you can do is write text and add images. There’s not even a commenting system included.

Examples of sites built with Format

Justin Dingwall — Created with Format

Justin Dingwall homepage

Matt Holyoak — Created with Format

Matt Holyoak homepage

Caitlin Cronenberg — Created with Format

Caitlin Cronenberg homepage

FAQs

Can I start a blog with Format?

Can I earn money with Format?

Is Format free to use?

Is Format right for creating portfolios?

Is it hard to build a site with Format?

Conclusion

If you’re a photographer or artist who wants to showcase your work by building a custom website, Format is an excellent platform to choose. Templates are modern, beautiful, and responsive. The editor is easy to use and comes only with options that you would actually need. So, you can quickly create a gorgeous site without stressing over the details.

However, if you want anything more from a site, you will find it’s practically impossible to do with Format. Your blog and e-store will stay as simple as it gets, but your images will always look amazing.

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