First Look: An Introductory Review of Cargo Collective

Screenshot from Cargo Homepage

Back when Cargo Collective, a portfolio website builder platform, was still a new kid in the block, with limited features and free to boot, I signed up and tried out a thing or two.

It wasn’t much different from any of the other cookie-cutter website CMS, in fact, it was even more generic! And so, I moved on.

A couple of weeks ago Cargo came into my radar once again, and whoaa… things have really taken a turn for the awesome around here. It’s no longer a free platform, however, signing up and building site(s) is still free. Payment is due only when the user is ready to make their site public.

Aside from that, the platform is something totally different now. The back-end interface, as far as the look and feel are concerned, are much the same, but the features and functionalities have changed completely.

So, here are some pros and cons after a couple of days of experimenting with it:

Pros:

Unlimited “trial” period.

A user can sign up for Cargo and try out different things for as long as they wish. There’s no trial period which is cool. Payment, as mentioned, is only due if and when the user decides to publish the site and make it public.

Unlimited sites within one account.

You may have as many sites as you want with one account. The property is shared with all sites of course, but unless you have a TON of content, most of which would be images seeing how they take up the most space, you are still getting a pretty good deal.

Interesting and stylish.

Cargo is made for artists and creatives, and such, it offers a platform for the creatives to showcase their work in creative ways. For example, the thing that really hooked me was the ability to drag and drop images on a page in whichever way I want. A true flexible platform, if you will. Something rather difficult to achieve on any other platform (would require a lot of coding). Cargo made this achievable, with nothing but dragging and dropping on the user’s end.

No more boring and generic layout for extraordinarily unboring work!

Example of a website made with Cargo.
Britta Flinterman – Made with Cargo

All inclusive ONE plan.

No tier method. Yet. Hopefully, they will keep it that way… For now, it’s $99 annual plan, or $13 if paid monthly. It feels reasonable to me.

Portfolio showcase.

The thing that I probably love the most has nothing to do with features, but rather something the Cargo team has done on their website — They have dedicated a page to showcase creatives who’ve made websites with their platform. I could literally spend hours just going over these sites and look at all the amazing work people have put together… makes you realize how big the world still is, how little we still know, and how under-represented and under-appreciated artists and creatives still are in our society.

Need inspiration? Head over to Cargo’s “Best Sites” page!

Cons:

Not intuitive.

Cargo isn’t as easy as some of the other drag and drop platforms like Squarespace, Format, Wix and such. It has a learning curve, and the documentation leaves room for improvement. The best way to learn is by playing with the platform, trying out different things. This can be time-consuming and often frustrating.

Buggy.

Not only is the Cargo back-end not intuitive, the interface is also kinda buggy. Sometimes things simply don’t work the way they should… Max frustration alert! Folks there need to step up their game already! As cool as the end product may look, to get there, one will often have to pull some of their hair out first…

No blog, yet.

As I mentioned above, it’s a platform to showcase work. Which makes sense for not prioritizing a blog feature. But it also means that if one were to attach a blog, it will require them to utilize a different platform. Personally, I’d love to see a blog feature added in the future, even if it’s a simple, limited functionality add-on.


I’m still in beta mode with Cargo. I’m about 92.65% positive that I’ll switch to Cargo for my photography portfolio site from my current platform (Format). No more boring. No more generic. No more cookie-cutter! (No offense, Format, you’ve been easy to manage, and you served your purpose…)

I suppose as a web developer myself I could just build something, and I even considered that a few times. Only, photography being more of a hobby than anything else, it often gets left in the back-burners. But now, with Cargo, I think things are about to change!

Example of a website made with Cargo.
Diorama – Made with Cargo

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