GoDaddy is a domain register and web hosting company. It was founded in 1997 and has its headquarters in Arizona.
GoDaddy's Website Builder is an easy-to-use product which the company says enables anyone to "build a better website in under an hour" - a claim that should stake a place for our best website builder list.
The service provides a simple editor which allows creating responsive websites from pre-built content blocks. An integrated Getty image library means great pictures are never more than a click or two away, and GoDaddy says you can design sites on anything from your desktop to your phone.
The ‘Personal’ package is $5.99 per month, which is billed annually. It comes with a 30-day free trial, as do all Website Builders plans. It includes website hosting, rapid-page load performance, blog, SSL and 24/7 support.
The ‘Business’ plan is $9.99 per month, also billed annually. It comes with all the ‘Personal’ plan has to offer plus SEO (Search Engine Optimization), PayPayl Buy Now and Donate Now button.
The ‘Business Plus’ package weighs in at $14.99 per month, billed annually. It includes all the other two tiers have to offer plus e-mail marketing, Google my Business, social media integration, two-way calendar syncing with Google, Office365, Outlook and iCal. It also accepts credit cards via Square and PayPal for appointment bookings.
For users more interested in a fully capable e-commerce solution, there is the ‘Online Store’ plan. It is $29.99 per month, billed annually like the other packages. Also, like the other tiers, there is a 30-day free trial. It incorporates all the options of the other plans plus an online store with fast checkout, manages products, inventory and orders. It also accepts credit cards, PayPal and Apple Pay for store purchases. Users can also offer discounts, configure promotions, enable product reviews and social referrals.
There's a lot of functionality, but the price is relatively high compared to specialist e-commerce platforms such as Shopify who have far more powerful services for the same price-tag.
Signing up for Website Builder requires you to first create a GoDaddy account. This doesn't involve anything out of the ordinary: you can either hand over your email address and choose a username and password, or take the one-click route by using your Facebook account.
GoDaddy next asks for the name and topic of your website. This isn't to choose a template, unusually – it's just so that Website Builder can select matching images for your starting site. For example, when we chose Computers as a topic, GoDaddy picked a photo of a laptop as our main image.
Surprisingly, that's it. You're not asked to authenticate your email address, provide payment details or anything else. GoDaddy skips all that, generates a basic default site and displays it in the editor.
Our first results looked very simple – just a single-page website with none of the visual flash of a quality template. Overall, it wasn't bad for two minutes work, and you can always tweak and adjust it later.
The Website Builder editor opens by displaying a simple preview of your website. Unlike most competitors, this doesn't support in-place editing. You can't resize objects, drag and drop them, edit text directly on the page or do anything else from the editing area to immediately affect the site.
Instead, to carry out any useful work, you must click a website object – a header, a text box, an image – to view its properties in a right-hand sidebar. That gives you access to captions, text, image controls and more, and you can adjust these to customize the page.
While this works, it doesn't feel nearly as natural as editors which allow you to manipulate content more directly. With 1&1 Website Builder, for instance, just moving your mouse cursor over an image or text box highlights its border for speed resizing, and you can click inside a text box to begin editing its contents right away. Here you're forever switching your attention between the page and the sidebar, which becomes distracting over time.
As the initial site is extremely basic, you'll probably want to begin by making some major edits. You might start with choosing a new theme, a combination of font and color scheme. There are twenty different themes included with the service. They all look very different and it's easy to create your own.
Scrolling down the page reveals multiple Add buttons in the margins. Clicking these allows adding pre-built content blocks called ‘Sections’. These include basic content containers (photo galleries, video and audio players, custom HTML code), standard page elements (About Us, Contact Us, Menu and Price Lists), more complex integrations (blogs, calendars, e-commerce) and supporting tools (accept reservations, collect email subscribers).
GoDaddy's business-oriented sections are the clear highlights. The ability to build a mailing list, take appointments and integrate iCal-compatible calendars may be essential for some business sites, and GoDaddy makes it easy to add these and set them up.
One immediate problem is there aren't many other sections, and what you get isn't generally very configurable. There are just three Blog templates to choose from, for instance, and even a section called Content – which you might think would have scope for infinite variations – only includes seven.
You can't do much to customize the layout of a section. There's no way to resize a video, add an image box next to a text block, drop in a Share button or anything else.
There are no significant low-level editor features, either. We didn't notice any keyboard shortcut support, there are no right-click menus, and you don't even get a general Undo, although there is an option to manually back up a site so you can restore it later.
For the most part, though, Website Builder's editor is horribly basic. If you're looking to knock up a simple website in half an hour, you might not care. But anyone with any interest in tuning or customizing their site will get very frustrated, very quickly.
Website Builder's media support is as limited as the rest of the product. Native widgets allow embedding images, slideshows and simple photo galleries, YouTube or Vimeo videos, and SoundCloud tracks and playlists. The ability to insert custom HTML might allow you to add other content, but there are no other add-ons or controls to extend your website's abilities.
There are a few small plus points. GoDaddy offers a good stock photo library, for instance. We searched on multiple keywords and most of them returned plenty of quality images.
The ‘My Uploads’ area is another handy feature. Upload your favorite images and they're stored in the cloud, allowing you to add them to additional web pages without having to find or upload them again.
Elsewhere, though, the editor delivered no more than the core media-handling essentials. This isn't a service for demanding or ambitious users.
GoDaddy also include a basic blog template which can be added to your website. It is pretty basic. You can add text, dividers, videos and image. The interface is entirely separate from the Website Builder. You can also choose when you want to have your blog published.
After all our Website Builder disappointments, we didn't hold out much hope for the integrated web store. But we were wrong on that score, because it turned out to be a surprisingly decent system.
The Add Products dialog is neatly designed, and gives you plenty of control over your product details. You're able to provide names, images, regular and sale prices, an SKU for inventory management, and mark products as taxable or not. You can configure both product options (color, size) and add-ons (gift wrapping), and price them accordingly.
Shipping options allow you to calculate costs by weight, product dimensions, or by using a specific per-product shipping price. You don't get the flexibility and features of a dedicated e-commerce platform, but it's still far more useful than the very basic flat rate schemes used by many other stores.
Abandoned cart support – often a premium feature elsewhere – allows sending automated emails to remind customers to check out. There's support for accepting payments by Stripe and PayPal, and applying tax rules according to your location. Bonus features include the ability to build up subscriber lists and launch email campaigns, handy extras that (again) you won't always see with other builders.
None of this makes up for Website Builder's other limitations, and the $29.99 a month cost for the store plan is quite high, however, it is a surprisingly capable product, and if your website needs a simple web store, GoDaddy should be on your shortlist.
Website Builder has a sizeable web knowledgebase of support articles, but these can't be viewed directly from the editing screen. You must open the GoDaddy help site in a separate browser tab, and browse the articles there.
The site has a search box, and when we entered the keyword 'video' it displayed a list of supposedly relevant searches: video background, video choppy, video file size, and so on. While that sounds great, most of the search results are forum threads which have nothing to do with the apparent topic.
Searching for 'video background' doesn't tell you how to set a video as your page background, for instance (Website Builder isn't even capable of that). Instead you're linked to forum posts with titles like "Add link to video" and "How to upload video from URL?" The 'video choppy' and 'video file size' searches are equally pointless as Website Builder only plays videos hosted elsewhere, and there's nothing you can do to change the video quality or size.
We ran searches for single keywords and although these typically returned many articles, most had nothing useful to say on our chosen topic.
Even when you do reach the most important articles, the results are mixed. Our video search got us a genuinely helpful walkthrough on setting up a video control.
If you can't find your answer online, GoDaddy offers phone support, although you'll have to get through the automated menu system first. This asks for an unusual amount of information before allowing you in – your phone number, customer number, support PIN – but the questions do eventually come to an end. GoDaddy support would be greatly enhanced if they had a ‘Live Chat’ feature.
When we eventually did get through to an agent, they were more than capable of answering our query.
For our final text we ran the usual Bitcatcha test. Overall the site performed well and there was nothing in the results to cause us much concern.
Basic site designs and a lack of customization options mean that GoDaddy's Website Builder isn't for demanding users, but if you're mostly interested in selling online then its web store might appeal, and the responsive phone support was a plus, too. Overall, it’s worth a look – just about.
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