Today I want to talk about a startup website builder called Verst, which has again come to my attention due to the good folks over at AppSumo running a lifetime deal on it.
Verst might be the new kids on the block compared to the likes of WordPress, Wix and SquareSpace but people are absolutely loving the easy to use website editor and the iOS app for those times when blogging inspiration hits you on the go.
Image on the left is iOS app. Android app is coming soon according to Verst.
The people behind Verst is arguably one of its strongest features right now. This is not a small team of 3-5 people but rather a team of as I write this 30 employees and a board and advisory panel due to their Series A funding to the tune of $12 million. They might only be a few months old but because of this strong team of designers and web engineers, they are very responsive to user feature requests.
Let me be clear Verst is not a full-fledged content management system like WordPress or an eCommerce platform like Shopify. What it may lack in certain features it more than makes up for in focus.
What does Verst do best?
Verst is totally focused on providing you a writer’s dream platform to create in a beautiful & minimalist way. With a special focus on call to actions and content monetization to get people to engage with the information you produce. That being said, it does have a game-changing feature that allows you to charge for specific pages or content built right into the system. In other systems like WordPress, this feature requires the addition of a membership plugin, which seriously slows down your website.
And talking about website speed, this is what made me signup to a free trial immediately to Verst after visiting their demo sites.
And I’m sure glad I did.
After the first few hours of using Verst, I was having grandiose ideas of ditching WordPress altogether – this is how much I was loving the simplicity of publishing in Verst. However, on closer inspection, I started to notice things were missing compared to the usual WordPress experience I was used to.
Not major things, but noticeable.
Things like not being able to change the color of text and hyperlinks. Plus other things that make you think, ‘Yes WordPress is clunky and slow‘ but it works fine and I can plug in this and that to it. There is no plugin option for Verst, but to be perfectly honest for most people this is an actual advantage. For website tinkerers, Verst will soon feel limited though.
You see the problem with WordPress in many ways is plugins and how it can make it even more clunky and slow – than what it already is – this is my main issue with WordPress. The good people over at Copyblogger were trying to solve this with their Rainmaker platform by using the best of WordPress and nothing more but they are no longer selling Rainmaker off the shelf and their pricing was a bit steep to start off with at $95 p/m for essentially a stripped down version of WordPress.
But I digress we are talking about Verst here so I have just emailed their support and hopefully, the answers to my questions will allay my concerns. The most serious of which is, “What do they do with your website data in the event of their business closing“. This is something you never have to worry about with WordPress as you download and install the WordPress software on a server you control and pay for.
Third party hosted website builders is a whole different story, so let’s see what they say.
VERST SUPPORT UPDATE – 18/08/2017
Here are the answers to my questions
- Q: How do I change the color of text and hyperlinks?
A: At the moment you are not allowed to change the color of text or hyperlinks but it’s something we can definitely look into.
- Q: How do I activate the members only content?
A: We can set up paid subscriptions for your account once you follow these steps!
- Q: How do I change the color of text and hyperlinks?
Sign up for Pro or Enterprise
Get a custom domain (or connect yours). Let us know you want SSL for your domain. Make sure you follow these instructions to set it up correctly: https://verst.zendesk.com/hc/
Complete this form https://verstco.typeform.com/
Send us a photo you want to be used on your member’s page. Optimal sizing is 1440×810, but we can adjust any high quality, landscape-oriented photo you send.
- Q: How do you handle my website data in the event of your business closing?
A: We back up all of your data and in the unlikely event of Verst shutting down, you’ll have access to your website data still.
Let’s move onto using the Verst platform
I can’t highlight this enough, using Verst is an absolute dream and a vision of simplicity and minimalist beauty. You know all that hype you hear of how you can create a website in minutes, well with Verst it is actually true. I absolutely love it, which is why I am asking them such serious questions about moving my entire site over. I really like it, if not love it…
Which leads nicely to the next point that if you wish to transfer your website over you can but they will charge you $299. A little steep (considering you are paying a monthly fee to them), but that depends on how complex your site is.
If you wish to start with a blank slate they make this super easy using their templates and modular block builder.
Seriously one of the easiest processes you will ever have to go through.
— VERST DISCOUNT PROMOTION —
Coupon code ending soon…
If you are excited about using Verst. I seriously recommend you check out the AppSumo deal where they are offering lifetime access for only one payment of $49. These deals never last long as startups use it to get exposure for themselves on AppSumo and then close it down. So make sure to check out the deal below or just sign up for a free trial first to play around with the builder yourself.