At Bubble, we want to enable potential builders to create their ideas without code, so we are exploring and reviewing the many tools and software that entrepreneurs might use to build their ideas.
What is Universe?
Universe is a no-code website builder that specializes in site-building from mobile devices. With Universe users are able to launch their business, operate an online marketplace, and engage with customers directly from the platform. The platform offers templates as well as a grid editor, helping lower the barrier to entry for creatives, startups, and other consumers who can’t afford to hire outside help.
When users download the Universe app, they’re given the option to choose a domain name, but can only secure that domain if they choose to sign up for the Pro plan. From here, Universe users have a number of options to choose from when starting their site-building journey, including importing an instagram profile (a useful tool for those who may have an audience in place already). Users can also choose from a variety of templates, including a generic online marketplace, a local business, a portfolio, professional services and more. Once Universe users choose their template they’re prompted to answer a few more questions and can start editing their template.
The platform also offers a blank canvas composed of blocks on a grid, for those that have a more customized idea in mind. While in the blank canvas, users can add in a number of features and elements (payment buttons, videos, social profiles, and more) using the various blocks that are available. Users can also customize backgrounds, themes, and the overall structure of the layout with the grid editor.
Businesses also have a wide range of control and insight when it comes to managing their online store with Universe. Universe product and inventory management tools allow you to add and remove new products to your site in a seamless process, compared to the multi-step processes available on platforms like Shopify. Users can manage inventory details, pricing, and customer retention all on the same screen. Universe also offers a seamless integration with Apple Pay, where customers engage with a single step checkout process.
Who is Universe for?
Universe can be used by any person or small business that wants to establish their services, talents, or products on a website. The platform's wide array of templates allow for users of all backgrounds to easily create a site that will serve their customer base.
Newer businesses that offer direct-to-consumer products will benefit from the simplified check-out process and streamlined product management. The platforms Apple Pay integration also offers a secure checkout for those operating an online marketplace.
Writers, musicians, visual artists, and other creatives can also make use of the platform's drag and drop features to display new work, social content, and drive sales. One thing that Universe users should note is that the platform is app-based and is currently only available for download on the Apple App Store (as of September 2020).
Universe Cost and Pricing
(Pricing model evaluation: September 2020)
Universe is primarily free to use, if you just want to build out your site and use it as a portfolio, blog, or other creative venture. Free users have access to basic analytics such as email subscriber numbers and website views. But, if you plan to do anything more sophisticated with your website, you’ll need to upgrade to Universe Pro. With the Pro plan, users open up a variety of new perks including features like custom domains and payment functionality. The free plan allows you to get your feet wet, but don’t expect to take full control of the platform's capabilities without the Pro plan. Additional pricing details include:
Universe Pro: $24.99/month if paying monthly, $10/month if paying annually, and $500 for lifetime access. Pro plan users receive:
- Access to custom domain
- Ability to create/manage online marketplaces
- Custom email address
- Payment processing
- In-depth site analytics
- TLS site protection
- Higher rank in Universe search
- No Universe branding
Universe vs. Bubble: A Comparison
How does Universe compare to a no-code platform like Bubble?
The main similarities between Bubble and Universe include:
Both Bubble and Universe offer front-end and back-end capabilities.
Both Bubble and Universe offer no-code site-building.
Both Bubble and Universe offer options for no branding.
Both Bubble & Universe serve freelancers, entrepreneurs and small businesses.
The main differences between Bubble and Universe are:
Web Based vs. Mobile Based: Universe allows users to build sites on the go with a mobile app. Universe users cannot create their websites from a web browser or computer. Bubble provides a browser-based web editor accessible on all computers . However, Bubble does not currently have a mobile app editor available for download.
Free Option: Universe does allow users to start their site-design process for free, a useful feature for those that aren’t looking to operate a marketplace or sell products. Those who do want to operate and manage their own online store would have to pay for the Pro plan. At Bubble’s free tier, Bubbler’s enjoy all of the core features of the platform, allowing them to create any number of free apps, in exchange for Bubble branding and hosting on a bubbleapps.io domain.
Web Editor Designs: Universe presents users with a variety of templates to choose from when starting the design process. The platform also offers a “blank canvas” that allows you to manipulate blocks on a grid. However, users are limited when it comes to working with and around the grid. At most, Universe users can add in or delete new rows, group blocks together, and change the colors of the site, but are limited in their ability to place features or elements exactly where they want them. With Bubble’s web editor design, users start with a fully blank canvas, and have 100% control over the placement of elements rather than having to edit within a grid. Bubble does have an ecosystem of third-party templates that can be used for free or purchased for a price as well.
Education Tools: Universe offers a number of videos that break down the details behind their blocks and grids. They also offer an explore page where users can see examples of other sites being built, but that’s the extent of the educational resources and community offerings. Bubble’s Academy is packed with learning resources for users of all skill levels, offering interactive lessons, how-to guides, and other online resources.
Alternatives to Universe
Alternative no-code website builders include:
If you’re looking for a tool that will help you build primarily mobile websites, check out Duda.
If you’re looking for a no-code tool that can help you set up a professional e-commerce website, check out Weebly.
For bloggers and creatives that want a templated website builder, try out Wix.
If you’re looking for a fully customizable no-code platform that can power your business, try out Bubble.
Bubble is a leader in the no-code movement. Bubble offers a powerful point-and-click web editor and cloud hosting platform that allows users to build fully customizable web applications and workflows, ranging from simple prototypes to complex marketplaces, SaaS products, and more. Over 400,000 users are building and launching businesses on Bubble - many have gone on to participate in top accelerator programs, such as Y Combinator, and even raise $365M in venture funding. Bubble is more than just a product. We are a strong community of builders and entrepreneurs that are united by the belief that everyone should be able to create technology.
Join the no-code movement today.
Disclaimer: The goal of these reviews is to provide an honest, practical, differentiated comparison of features and educate readers on tools in the no-code ecosystem so that you can evaluate how these services fit together and serve your needs.