You are currently viewing Cargo review: website builder for artists

Cargo review: website builder for artists

Cargo is a versatile website builder built by artists for artists. It was founded in 2005 as a platform that would allow its users to publish their work. Cargo wants to encourage people to envision their website as an ongoing feed of creative output.

With Cargo, you can create a blog, portfolio, magazine, and an online store. Its themes and templates stand out from what the other website builders offer. They’re modern, responsive, eye-catching, and avoid the cookie-cutter feel of other more focused web publishing providers.

Pros and cons of Cargo


  • Pricing is simple, transparent, and fair
  • You won’t be charged until your project goes live
  • You can always restore your template to its original pristine condition (before you started working on it) or change to another one
  • Modern, bold, and responsive templates
  • Fully customisable, if needed you can tweak the raw code (HTML, CSS, and JavaScript)


  • Not all browsers are supported; it only works in Safari, Chrome, and chrome-like browsers. It does not fully support Firefox.
  • There is no plugin or app store to extend your site
  • SEO functionality for products is not available (yet)
  • Provider lock-in due to its CMS
  • No backup and export function

Who is Cargo for?

Anyone used to the wide-spread website builders or blogging platforms will feel at home immediately and be able to create a site. Although Cargo lingo is a bit different – instead of blog entries you’ll read “projects”, you’d get used to it right away.

You can build sleek websites without the need to know how to code. Cargo lets you customise each page to your heart’s content. And if you want to go further, you can dive into the code and in their lingo extend your Cargo site.

How easy is Cargo to use?

The onboarding process is very well thought-out. When you visit their website, you follow their link “Get started for Free” which brings you to the overview of their templates. You first can get a good sense of their templates before you start.

Cargo templates

Once you’ve decided on the template, you can sign up and it will take you to the design and content editor. It’s well-conceived so that it feels intuitive and easy to use. Very handy is that you can change between mobile device and desktop views to check your design. It also has a duplicate function, once you have finished a page.

Cargo editor

Cargo’s design approach is quite unique. It lets you work on each page of your site just as you’d be when writing a text document. That is, you work directly inside your page to edit your content. Its user interface is centred entirely around the work and creation of the individual artist. Its clean interface lets you work with your site, create new content, and manage your publication and online store all in a single location with great ease and efficiency.

Cargo design and templates

Cargo has more than 60 attractive and modern templates that are a good starting point to showcase your work. The design is responsive so it looks good on all screen sizes. Cargo even uses projects of its members to show how these look like in real life. You can see this when you browse through the templates, underneath the names you see the link “See It In Use”. Or just browse through their category “Sites In Use”.

It’s worth mentioning that all the templates are all free.

How to manage your ecommerce store in Cargo?

Once you have enabled Cargo Commerce in the settings, you will see a third tab in the editor for your online store.

Cargo product panel

In this tab, you manage your inventory and orders, set your shipping methods and tax rates, and handle all the tasks of running an online store.

Cargo handles physical and digital products. You can add as many products as you like with variants.

Cargo integrations

At the time of this review, Cargo does not offer a plugin, extension, or integration store.

You can still extend your site by embedding snippets into your code. Like this, you can add services for displaying a map and such. If you’d want to have a deeper integration with accounting or a shipping service, you’d be disappointed.

What marketing and SEO tools does Cargo have?


You need to enter meta tags into the Custom HTML Editor that is accessed via the Design tab. Note that the HTML entered here is added onto your entire site (every page of your site).

Each page that you manage and work on in the Content tab has the button “Code View” in the Formatting Toolbar at the lower right-hand side. Use this to add meta tags for that specific page.

The social sharing settings also lets you add meta tags.

The product panel in the Commerce tab has no option to add meta tags.


Cargo doesn’t really see a difference between what is traditionally considered a portfolio and what is categorised as a blog. You just add a new page to your project and fill it with your work.

Social media

You can add the different social media icons as usual to your site by embedding them.

Payment options

Cargo’s built-in payment gateways are Stripe and Paypal. Cargo itself does not levy a charge on the transactions. Ecommerce functionality including payment options is available once you have chosen the Cargo Commerce plan.

Cargo security

Each project is secured with an SSL certificate, even those that have not gone live yet. There is no official backup function, but you can duplicate your entire site as a backup.

As the payment providers are Stripe and Paypal all personal and financial data is stored with them.

Cargo customer support

The Cargo knowledge base is well documented. If you need more help, you can contact support via email. When you’re working on your project in the editor, you can contact them via chat, if the Cargo support team is online.

Cargo pricing

Cargo pricing is just as user friendly as its editor. It’s simple and transparent. It consists of 2 plans, one for standard sites and one for online stores.

Cargo pricing structure

You will only be charged when you want to take your site live.

Is Cargo the right tool for you?

If aesthetics is high on your priorities, you’re a creative professional like a photographer, architect, or designer, you will like the bold designs and templates offered by Cargo. Even better if you want to tweak your site to exactly your vision, and add your own HTML, CSS, and Javascript for even more ways to play with your site.

As its Commerce feature is still in beta at the time of this review, Cargo is an excellent choice for design-oriented content-based sites that occasionally sell products on the side.

Why not see for yourself if Cargo is the right website builder for you? You can start with the free trial to build your site, go live with their standard plan, and then upgrade to the Commerce tier to sell your art after you open an account with the Stripe payment processor and CargoCollective won’t take a cut of your profits.

Leave a Reply