What is Gutensite?
Gutensite was launched in 2008, as a content management system focused on providing high quality websites for small businesses and non-profits. It is a platform with a passionate group of members that voted them second place to Squarespace in a recent CMS Critic People’s Choice Awards poll.
Gutensite has a fun video that can help you quickly see their design quality and how the CMS works so you can more easily visualize the CMS review below.
Managing Your Website
As a content management system, Gutensite stands out for its beautiful design, and its intuitive, easy to learn interface. The CMS includes all the important functionality required for modern websites, as well as industry-specific functionality that can be toggled on and off.
Gutensite is a hosted platform (like Squarespace, Wix and Weebly), which also allows total customization of design and functionality (like WordPress, Drupal and other open source platforms). This makes it quick, affordable and easy to get started, but it is also a platform that is flexible enough to scale and grow over time. Unlike most standalone platforms with this flexibility, Gutensite provides long term support to ensure businesses are not on their own after the website is launched. They even provide a dedicated webmaster assistant that you can call or email if you don’t feel like making the changes yourself.
High Quality, Flexible Design Options
There are many high quality, free design templates provided by Gutensite and other participating design agencies which work great for businesses on a budget. Websites can also be customized from the ground up by Gutensite or other authorized design partners that will walk a business through strategy, design, development and SEO considerations.
Unlike other “visual website builders” like Wix, Weebly or Squarespace, Gutensite doesn’t allow direct access to the design template through the Control Panel. This means only qualified designers can change significant visual elements. So if you want the ability to tinker with the design this isn’t the platform for you. But if you are content with allowing professionals to take care of the design, while you focus on content, you can work with Gutensite or your favorite third party designer to help you modify your site and relax knowing that your site will always look great.
How to Easily Create a Website
You can create an instant website by going to gutensite.com/Start. They have several packages that are affordable for all organizations of all sizes, including a free package. All the packages come with a free 14 day trial. And if you enter your credit card, you will not get billed right away, but you will get a $50 credit on your account, so this makes your first month free.
You can select one of the free templates available, or request a custom design from Gutensite or any third-party design agency. The sign up process instantly creates a website that you can visit immediately, with default pages showcasing features that are useful to your selected organization type. There is also an orientation tour that really helps overcome that initial learning curve that most of us experience, or you can call and get a tour from a real person who will help you specifically.
Like WordPress, it is easy to create basic pages by using the built in WYSIWYG editor to create a page yourself. Or you can use pre-designed content types that take a few fields of data and display a professional page with for a blog, FAQ, News Article, Testimonial, Portfolio, Team Profile, Community, Property, etc. If you want something more customized than the beautiful default layouts, any designer can create custom layouts to meet your needs.
Gutensite has a huge list of standard functionality available out of the box, like ecommerce, blogging, FAQ, searchable multimedia and document libraries, forms, calendars, promo modules, etc. And there are a lot of other administrative features that you’ll discover when start using the control panel.
When you first get started in the control panel, only features that are commonly used by organizations of your type are activated. But if you poke around, or talk to their customer service, you’ll realize there are a lot of features that come standard, hidden in “Advanced” tabs and advanced setting pages, that are useful when you need them. These include things like:
Multiple Administrators and custom roles
Content staging, preview and publish modes
Design preview modes
Enhanced lists with dragging and in context editing
Full SEO control of all the important elements
Beautiful pre-designed content type templates
Shortcuts, Redirects and Friendly URLS
Custom Design Shells for pages or entire subsections of your website
Header images for pages or entire subsections of your website
Custom page layouts for basic pages or specific content types
Member accounts for private content with custom access keys
Analytics for tracking new accounts and sales
Google Analytics Integration plus other third party tools
A/B Testing alternative random page versions or based on specific referrals
Tons of custom display options for how pages display
Search engine site map for better indexing
Going Beyond a Website
These days, having a website just brings you up to the ground level. A simple billboard website will not honestly do very much for your business (other than let you list a website on your business card). If you want a website that actually pays for itself and becomes a valuable part of your business strategy, you have to find a way to go a step further than your competitors. This can be a good investment, albeit potentially expensive. Fortunately, there are a lot of good and affordable CMSs out there that can get you 80% of the way there (we’ve reviewed a lot of these on our website).
But building a successful website requires more than just a good platform, it requires creative thinking, planning for optimization and conversions, great design and attention to detail by teams of people that know internet and online marketing best practices. So a service like Gutensite is interesting because the flexible CMS is just the backbone of a larger ecosystem that provides creative planning, design, and development that you will inevitably need, no matter which platform you use.
No single CMS is perfect for every project (that’s why there are so many), but from what we can see Gutensite proves itself to be a high quality, affordable option for websites both simple and complex. If you have used Gutensite in the past, or you try them out as a result of this review, be sure to come back and let us know what you think!