HostGator Website Builder Review – (April 2019) – Positively Surprised!
HostGator is famous for its web hosting business, but did you know it has a sitebuilder product as well?
I wanted to find out what their product is all about, and that’s exactly what you are going to find in this HostGator WebsiteBuilder review.
The test was made by using HostGator Builder’s eCommerce subscription.
HostGator Website Builder Review at Glance
- Building Your First Site: *****
- Main Features and User Interface: ***.5
- Integrations: ***
- Customer Support: ****
- Plans and Pricing: *****
- Overall: Starter plan 3.84€/$3.84 (if chosen the two year plan): 4.1
- Verdict: Get it, unless the templating and multi-language questions are not stopping you (read more about these on this post).
- The website setup is very simple and fast.
- Robust and easy-to-use website editor.
- 24/7 (chat) support.
- You can't change the website template on the fly.
- No multi-language website support.
- Limited app market.
My Initial Expectations
When I was approached to write a HostGator Website Builder review, I didn’t know what to expect.
Had I heard about HostGator before?
And what about their website builder?
Yes to that too.
Still, I wasn’t quite sure how the builder, built by a web hosting company, would actually compare to other site builders. But when I realized that they had just published the new version of their builder, I was excited to see what they had come up with.
Who Isn't This Sitebuilder For?
Show me a website builder that is a perfect fit for everyone, and I’ll show you how to fly. In other words, there is no single website builder that could attract everyone, and this holds true with the HostGator Website Builder as well.
In particular, these could be the potential deal breakers when you are evaluating the tool:
- You’d like to see more apps on their app store.
- You’d like to change the website template in the middle of the design process.
- You’d like to create a multi-language version of your website.
However, if none of these things are important to you, then HostGator Builder could be your tool!
Building Your First Website
Creating a Website
The sitebuilding process starts right after you have registered with the HostGator Builder. And if you have worked with other online sitebuilders before, you know the drill; you start by picking a template for your website:
You have over 200 mobile-friendly templates to choose from, divided into different categories.
You can then decide to either preview or choose the template. If you pick the Choose button, your new site is opened in an editor right away:
And that’s it! It’s your job to make the necessary changes so that you can publish it.
Building Your First Site:
The website setup process is extremely easy and fast. Just pick a template, and you are set.
Main Features and User Interface
When you open your site for the first time in the editor, you’ll notice that the website is divided into three sections: left navigation, top navigation and the editor area. Let’s take a closer look at these sections.
In this view, you can access many important tools that help you to build your website.
For instance, you can add new Elements, Pages, or Styles. In addition, you also have access to Blog, Store (if you have the eCommerce plan), Stats and site settings.
Opening any of these navigational items will give you some new options to choose from. For instance, when you click Elements, you get this type of view:
Everything you find on these menus is laid out easily, and the user interface is simple to use.
The top navigation gives you access to two main sections, and the first can be accessed by clicking the hamburger menu on the left:
You get access to various site settings over here. From a design standpoint, the most interesting feature is the Columns Grid Settings setting, which turns on the guidelines in the editor area:
You can even turn on the rulers to make your designs even more pixel-perfect.
On the right, the top toolbar displays other important settings:
These functions give you access to check out your website with desktop and mobile devices. You also have handy undo and redo buttons, and also access to revision history.
Please keep in mind that in order to access the revision history, you need to purchase access to it through the App Store (it costs approximately 40 EUR per year at the time of writing - that’s approximately 45 USD). However, it would have been great to see an icon (like a dollar sign) indicating right away that this was a paid functionality.
Finally, you have other supporting links at the top like Save, Preview, Publish and Support.
One thing that I noticed during the setup of my website was that the builder didn’t ask me any time about setting up my domain. This is, however, a common practice with the other sitebuilders I have tested.
However, I found the domain setting when I clicked the Save button. I was then asked to provide a sub-domain for my site:
If I wanted, I could also hook up a real domain to my site later if I wanted to.
And oh … one thing about the Save button: please make sure to click it every once in a while after making changes to your design. Your changes are not saved automatically.
The editor area is your canvas where you place all your elements and your content.
When you place an element in the design area, you’ll notice that a context-based option comes up:
You can then fine-tune the particular element with the setting related to it.
In some cases, you can have even more options to choose from, like in the case of the Button element:
At first, you may think that these options are pretty plain, and there is nothing special going on. But when you start digging deeper into options, you’ll notice that there are quite a few features packed in.
For instance, you can animate the element:
Or change the styling entirely:
The webpages are built with sections. You can see the section you are on when you click any particular part of the page. You can then access the design and other settings of that particular section:
To see how the whole page is laid out section-wise, just click the Sections link on the left:
Naturally, you can drag the sections any way you want to have them in the order you want.
Unlike some other website builders, HostGator builder doesn’t include mouse right-click functionality. However, this can be a good thing since that could complicate things for the average user.
Working with the editor - as mentioned - is simple.
All you have to do is to pick an element on the left and then just drag it to the design area. And by the way, HostGator Website Builder is a true drag-and-drop experience. In other words, you can place an item on the design area anywhere you like:
The dashboard view gives you access to all the necessary information when managing your websites:
What I liked about this view was that it was uncluttered, unlike some other website builder’s dashboards I have tested. You can not only access all your sites through this view but also the site statistics as well.
At first, you may be thinking: “Well, isn’t this view just bit too simplified?” But fear not; you find more options to configure when you click the hamburger menu at the top-left:
This gives you control over your settings, like the ability to buy a domain for your website or getting mailboxes (through Google G Suite).
HostGator Builder does include some simple SEO settings like page titles or descriptions and alt tags for images:
In my opinion, this particular feature is very basic.
For instance, I would have liked to see that you could set a custom URL with your keywords (this feature was available with blog pages, however!) or keyword density checking.
However, you should always remember that SEO is actually much more than what you define on the page. In other words, the content quality counts too, not to mention the backlinks that reference to your content.
You have over 200 themes at your disposal, divided into various categories:
These templates are professionally designed and look decent. Previewing and choosing them for your website is just a matter of clicks.
However, there is one downside to templates: You’ll have to stick with the chosen template, and you can’t change it in the middle of the design process. Although you can change the colors and other style-related settings of your theme, this particular aspect is missing.
Although you may not necessarily need this functionality at all, it still adds more flexibility to the design process, especially for those folks who like to test many templates before sticking with the final one (yours truly included ;).
Currently, there are no mobile apps to view or manage your website. But as I have stated before, this is not a mandatory feature since managing your website through a mobile device (especially through a smartphone) is oftentimes a bit cumbersome.
At least at the time of writing, HostGator don’t offer multi-language site support. So, if you are thinking of building your site with multiple languages, this rules HostGator Builder out of your plans. Build Your Next Website with HostGator Website Builder - It’s Lightning Fast!
Top Main Features
There are plenty of features that make HostGator Builder an exciting acquaintance. Here are some of the features worth mentioning:
1. Stock photo library
This feature makes it easier for you to include great-looking images to your site since HostGator Builder integrates with a stock photo library:
2. Blogging component
It is possible to add a blog to your website with HostGator’s blogging component:
This is nice since a blog section is very common in websites nowadays. Naturally, you do all the management (adding new posts, modifying them …) by using the browser interface.
3. Free SSL Certificates
Some years ago, SSL certificates were a novelty that only certain websites had. Nowadays, since data security standards have tightened, these certificates are more a norm than an exception.
Therefore it’s great that HostGator provides free SSL certificates for their customers. This improves the data security of the website and makes the site more trustworthy to its visitors.
4. Mobile-friendly templates
People are browsing the web more and more by using mobile devices. And since this is the case, it’s important that websites can be viewed with mobile devices.
Fortunately, you get mobile-designed website templates with HostGator Builder:
Features and User Interface:
There are both strengths and weaknesses when it comes to HostGator Builder features.
First, I loved the editor since it felt robust, and it was very easy to use. The workflow was also simple to understand. In addition, I was pleasantly surprised by the true drag-and-drop feature, which enabled me to place the elements anywhere I wanted on the page.
However, I was hoping to see more flexibility with the template selection. Currently, once you choose your website template, your selection is locked, and you can’t change the template in the middle of the project.
Also, if you are thinking of building a multi-language site with HostGator Builder, you are out of luck; the builder doesn’t currently offer support for this kind of functionality. HostGator Builder Is Very Easy to Use - Try It Today!
Integrations and Extendibility
HostGator Builder is one of those (rare) website builders that come with an app market. You can access it easily by clicking the App Market link on the left:
Currently, all the apps are premium-level ones, and with premium-level apps, you’ll have to purchase them:
If you want to purchase mailboxes for your website, you’ll have to get them from Google’s G Suite:
I think that HostGator’s App Market is a great idea; however, what’s needed desperately is more apps.
I liked the App Market approach, but unfortunately, there weren’t that many apps to choose from.
I tested the customer support by using the knowledge base, using email and using the chat. However, I didn’t use the Priority Support at all.
Accessing support was easy. All I had to do was to click the Support link on the membership dashboard, and I got all the available support options in front of me:
I first noticed that the text that led to the Knowledge Base was a bit misleading. It said “Search our Knowledge Base,” but when I clicked the link, I wasn’t able to search the knowledge base in any way:
Nevertheless, the knowledge base contained many helpful articles regarding HostGator and HostGator Builder. I just wished the actual search functionality was there since it would have been easier to find articles based on a keyword.
To see how well the customer support performed, I contacted them through chat and email.
In both cases, I got answers quickly and professionally. I was especially happy to see that the chat option was available since it saved me plenty of time if I had a question to ask.
I loved the chat support. The email support was also working as expected. However, the knowledge base should have had search functionality to locate the articles much faster. Now only the browsing option was available.Get Answers to Your Questions Quickly with the HostGator Chat
Plans and Pricing
HostGator Builder comes with three pricing plans:
First, there is the Starter package, which lays out the foundation of the HostGator Builder:
It has features such as free SSL certificate or 24x7 support. At the time of writing, this plan starts from 3.84USD/EUR / month (if you have chosen the two-year billing cycle).
The Premium plan starts from 5.99USD/EUR / month (with a two-year billing cycle), and the eCommerce plan is 9.22USD/EUR / month (again, with a two year billing cycle).
The Premium plans give everything that the Starter plan has and also priority support. The eCommerce plan, on the other hand, gives everything that the Starter and Premium plans provide, but also an option to run an online store. And if you choose annual billing, you get a free domain as well.
If you’d like to use the monthly billing cycle, the respective prices are 12.49USD/EUR for the eCommerce plan, 6.49USD/EUR for the Premium plan and 4.99 USD/EUR for the Starter plan.
The pricing is straightforward, although I noticed that for some reason, the front page of the pricing page showed me the price in USD dollars, but when I clicked into the details page, the prices were in Euros:
The VAT is also displayed and calculated as part of the price, and this naturally improves the transparency towards the pricing.
Normally, you have to pay for HostGator Builder, but If you have shared hosting bought from HostGator, you get the builder for free.
On a general note, the pricing is very competitive amongst the other online site builders.
Even if you choose the Premium subscription (which, in my opinion, is the one you should choose, unless you are running an eCommerce store), the monthly price is still under 7 USD/EUR. And that, my friend, is very inexpensive, considering that with that price, you are also getting priority support!
When you purchase a HostGator Builder package, you get a free domain for the first year.
However, registering new domains is 19.95 USD, so the domain renewal after the first year is 19.95 USD / year. The price is relatively high compared to other domain name registrars, so you have two options when you want to register a domain.
First, you could register a domain through HostGator. For the first year, the domain is free, and you only pay for the subsequent years.
The pros of this option is the free domain, of course, but also that you don’t have to leave the platform when you are managing your domain names. This makes the domain registration process a much smoother experience. The con is the aforementioned price.
Then again, if you decide to register a domain through an external registrar like NameCheap, the current price for the .com domain is approximately 9 USD (8 Euros):
This, of course, means that you’ll have to jump to another service to register your domain name, and this naturally complicates the registration process a bit.
As I already mentioned, HostGator provides email addresses through Google’s G-Suite, which is a subscription-based service. Currently, the price for the mailboxes (and for Google’s tools) is 5 EUR per month (approximately 6 USD per month).
Accessing and Cancelling Subscription Information
Reaching out to your billing information is easy. All you have to do is to log into your dashboard, go to My Account on the left, and then choose Services at the top:
Obviously, if you run into issues with your billing, HostGator’s professional customer support is happy to help you out.
Pricing and Billing:
I was quite happily surprised by the pricing of HostGator Builder. Naturally, you save more money the longer you commit to their service, but even with the monthly subscription, the price is pretty low. The premium-level subscription is inexpensive, even if you get access to priority support. HostGator Builder - Get Affordable Website Builder Today
Is This the Right Tool for You?
Whether this tool is for you or not depends on the answers to two questions:
- Do you want to change the website template in the middle of the design process?
- Are you going to build a multi-language website?
Because if the answer is no to either one of the questions, then HostGator Builder is not your option. On the other hand, if these issues are not deal breakers, then read on.
The builder gives you all the essential tools to build your website with high-quality support options. Setting your site is simple and fast, and the editor is easy to use.
So to answer the question: Yes, it’s the right tool for you, if the template and the internationalization question are not stopping you.