UcoZ: Hosted CMS Review

UcoZ LogoSometimes, blogging software just isn’t enough and you have to transition to a full blown content management system, where you can easily run polls, guest books, photo albums, forums, and more, but the change can be difficult if you don’t have the technical knowledge on installing and configuring complex applications like Drupal.

Those that enjoyed the hosted environment of WordPress.com might enjoy a new hosted service called UcoZ. Ucoz provides its users with an almost Drupal or PHP-Nuke (if you can remember back to when that was popular) like content management system that supports a variety of features out of the box that go beyond just blogging.

There were two features that really excited me about UcoZ, the first was that UcoZ includes unlimited disk space, something that most hosted services do not provide, and usually when they do, they don’t allow the uploading of multimedia files. UcoZ has a section dedicated to uploading your podcasts (mp3’s) and videos, as well as easily embedding YouTube videos and whatnot. When you first sign up, you don’t really have unlimited space, but like Gmail does, it has a counter, which starts at 200MB and grows from there over time. It is based on some formula mixed in with your sites traffic. The more traffic you get, the faster your space grows.

The second feature that really drew me in was that UcoZ includes FTP access, something that no other hosted service like this has ever allowed from my experience. FTP access allows you to quickly, and easily upload huge blocks of content, images, videos, and the like to the service, making it easier to build out your content fast. Without this ability, most other hosted services are frustrating to use.

Ucoz Domain ListWhile signing up, UcoZ allows you to select either a subdomain or use your own domain to host your site. I would recommend using your own domain if you have one as there is only one dot com available in their list. The good thing though is that there also dot org, dot net, dot co.uk and other extensions for those not willing to purchase a domain.

The other great thing about all of these domains you can have a subdomain on is that they also support multiple languages, and so if you want to blog in German, Ukrainian, or Russian, you can easily switch the language of the site.

Once you’ve signed up, you need to chose the theme you want to use, and you’ll have many options ranging from themes relating to online games to business, to personal, and everything in between, and once you’ve selected your theme, you aren’t stuck using it as is because there is a full customization tool that allows you to change the header images, content blocks, colours, CSS, and even the template code. You have full control over what you show the world, and it is a very nice feeling, though maybe more complex and involved than most users will ever need.

UcoZ Control Panel

For those of you always tweaking things, you’ll love the built-in backup tool which allows you to backup your current theme before making changes. This means you can come back to previous looks if, like me, you mess everything up. I love when companies are smart enough to save me from myself.

I was surprised at how easy many things are to use. Once I realized I could edit nearly all of the content through links on pages, rather than moving through the options in the administration panel, adding content all over my new site was quick, and painless. It was also nice to see how things would look live, without having the administration interface in my way.

UcoZ My Site

The UcoZ community seems to be thriving, with the support forum having very few areas that haven’t seen a new post in the last half a week, many having had replies in the last twelve hours. I feel a little shocked that I hadn’t heard of this service before, as it definitely feels like a pretty powerful CMS, hosted in such a way that users will never have to worry about upgrading their software, or worrying about their own bandwidth and storage space.

For those that are interested, you can also make money if you enjoy the UcoZ service by joining the UcoZ Money affiliate program, where each member you introduce to the system will earn you $0.50. While that is not a lot of money, it is still more than you will get from hosted blogging services like WordPress.com or TypePad. You can also receive 10% of the funds that any users you referred purchase any extra features, like instantly upgrading their space, or removing the UcoZ credits from the bottom of the page.

When I went to learn more about their current membership, it definitely appeared to be uniquely Russian and Ukranian in nature, but that shouldn’t put people unable to speak those languages off, as it, unlike many newer competitors, has been thoroughly tested.

Would I recommend UcuZ to people? If they wanted a hosted CMS platform, then definitely. If they only wanted to blog, I might tell them to stick with WordPress.com, unless they needed the ability to edit their template heavily.

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