Bluehost Website Builder review

Built on top of WordPress to help you quickly deploy websites

Bluehost website builder
(Image: © Bluehost)

TechRadar Verdict

Users have the option to switch back and forth between Bluehost’s inbuilt website builder and a WordPress builder with a single click. Bluehost provides an easy to use, intuitive drag-and-drop builder that can help you assemble a website, as well as tweak it’s appearance and add different elements in almost no time at all. The company claims that its new website builder can cut down the time it takes to create a fully functioning website by 25%.

Pros

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    Large repository of templates and stock photos

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    Excellent uptime

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    Easy switch between Builder and WordPress builder

Cons

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    No email accounts included

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    No ecommerce store with base plan

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    No monthly billing

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Bluehost (opens in new tab) recently introduced a new website builder, built on top of WordPress, which is intended to help you put together a professional website without any technical know-how.

The drag-and-drop website builder offers a simplified, intuitive and streamlined interface. You have the freedom to switch to WordPress’ builder as well, which is an incredibly useful feature, and necessary. That’s because while the website builder will help novices, and new users, those familiar with WordPress’s malleability will find its offerings rather basic.

Thanks to the integration between the two, you can set up parts of your website using Bluehost’s website builder, and other elements using WordPress. But there’s a downside to this approach as well. WordPress is almost infinitely customizable thanks to the availability of myriad plugins. Although, if a functionality is added to a website using a plugin that’s not natively offered with the Bluehost website builder, such as an ecommerce store, you must use WordPress to customize this feature.

The Bluehost website builder relies on Smart AI, to help you narrow down the design and look of your website based on key questions to identify the nature of business. 

HostGator also provides a similar set of features with Gator (opens in new tab), their website builder. While Bluehost only offers online store capabilities with their premium plan, Gator offers an online store with all plans.

Bluehost Website Builder pricing

Bluehost Website Builder pricing (Image credit: Bluehost)
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Pricing and payment methods

Apart from all the other hosting plans on offer, Bluehost offers three plans for its website builder. You must consider each plan carefully before settling on one as they have distinct capabilities. 

By its own admission, the Basic plan is intended for personal websites and blogs, while the other plans are aimed at businesses and store owners. Priced at $2.95 per month, for a 12-month subscription, the Basic Plan renews at $10.99 per month. It includes a bevy of useful hosting essentials such as free SSL and domain name, albeit for the first year only. 

If you want to deploy an online store, you must choose between the Pro and Online Store plans. The former includes WooCommerce and will help you accept payments for your store, and host unlimited products. However, if you want additional store features such as subscription services, in-cart customization, discount code generator, etc., you must opt for the Online Store plan.

The Pro plan is priced at $9.95 per month, for a 12-month subscription and renews at $14.99 per month. The Online Store will similarly cost you $24.99 per month for the same duration, and renews at $39.95 per month.

Each plan includes a vast stock photo library and free email marketing. While the former will help you put together a professional-looking website, the latter is essential if you wish to boost visitor engagement by running email campaigns. 

All plans also provide Blog Post Management, which lets you quickly add a blog to your website, and you can also manage posts from within the Website Builder itself, or traditional WordPress interface.

Money back guarantee

Bluehost offers a no questions asked 30 days money back guarantee. Their refund policy (opens in new tab) is pretty straightforward and explicitly mentions the different services for which it offers a partial or full refund, such as SSL, dedicated IP, etc. Some add-on features carry their own cancellation time-limits, so contact the customer support if you need specific information. 

Bluehost accepts all major credit cards and also PayPal Instant Payments, which means your bank account or credit card must be directly linked to the PayPal account. 

The provider doesn’t accept payments from non-reloadable prepaid credit cards, gift cards, payment through PayPal balance or wire transfers. As of now, Bluehost also doesn’t accept payment through any Cryptocurrency, with no word on whether it ever will.

Alternatives

1. Wix

Wix also offers website builder services coupled with hosting. There are seven plans on offer, split into Website Plans and Business & ecommerce Plans. The cheapest plan starts at $4.50 per month but will add ads to your website. The other costlier plans let you remove Wix ads. You can try Wix for free for a 14 day period.

2. HostGator

HostGator’s offer a choice of three plans for its Gator Website Builder. The plans start at $3.84 per month and include most hosting essentials, as well as email marketing tools and also a $200 credit for search engine marketing. Further, all plans allow the user to build and host an online store.

3. Squarespace

Squarespace too includes the domain in all the plans, which are expensive compared to the competition. The cheapest plan starts at $12 per month for a one-year term, and comes with unlimited bandwidth and storage, subject to acceptable usage policy. There are 4 plans in all with specialized ones for online stores. 

4. Web.com (opens in new tab)

While one might be attracted by the $1.95 per month introductory price, note that this is only for the first month. After that you get charged at the renewal rates, which is $10 per month. Web.com distinguishes itself from others by also providing you the option of having experts make the site for you, instead of mucking about with the builder yourself. 

Bluehost new page template

Bluehost new page template (Image credit: Bluehost )
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Features

The three Website Builder plans on offer all come with ‘hosting included’. Unfortunately, the provider’s website doesn’t list any details of the hosting package on offer with the different plans. 

For the Basic plan, which we opted for, the services on offer are the same as with the Basic Shared Hosting plan. This includes free CDN, domain, SSL, etc. for the first year, as well as 50GB SSD storage space.

The Pro Website Builder plan however, despite its name, doesn’t include all the features of the Pro Shared Hosting plan. For instance, features such as Codeguard, Domain Privacy, etc.. which are offered as part of the Pro Shared Hosting plan, must be separately purchased when you opt for the Pro Website Builder plan.

The Bluehost Website Builder is built on top of WordPress, and serves to provide a more streamlined and straightforward interface for building websites using WordPress.

Novice users will appreciate the drag-and-drop Website Builder which lets you assemble robust websites with any technical know-how, coding skills, or even familiarity with WordPress.

The interface is minimalist in design and you can create pages and add different components to them by dragging the required elements from the sections menu. 

Creating a website

Once you’ve completed the sign-up formalities and the domain registration, you’re ready to create your website with Bluehost. Click the Create website button to get started. 

You’re presented with three options - ‘No Help needed’, ‘Little Help Needed’ and ‘Built for you’. The names are self-explanatory, and describe the level of skill and familiarity you have working with WordPress. Opt for ‘Little Help Needed’ if you’d like to use the Smart AI driven system to create your website. 

You’ll be asked to answer a few basic questions, and then asked whether you wish to install WordPress or Bluehost Website Builder. Choosing the latter option will still automatically install WordPress, but additionally grants you access to the new website builder. 

You’ll then be asked questions to help identify the nature of business and type of website you wish to deploy. This is important because a website for a restaurant or coffee shop will look nothing like the website for a tech startup, which is altogether different from a photo gallery. 

You’ll be sent to the website builder interface after you’ve answered these handful of questions. 

This interface is divided into three panels. The panel at the top allows you to toggle between the desktop view and the mobile view of your website. The left panel gives you access to the overall website and the pages, whereas the right panel gives you flexibility to edit properties/elements of the selected page.

All the website builder plans include various features that are aimed at businesses, such as landing pages, social post buttons to help visitors share content on their favourite social media platforms, social review templates to help visitors see reviews from Yelp, Google, etc. You can conveniently use the website builder to add any or all of these disparate elements to your website without any hassle.

Bluehost website builder dashboard

Bluehost website builder dashboard (Image credit: Bluehost)

About Bluehost

Headquartered in Utah, USA, Bluehost is one of the most popular web hosting providers, and hosts over two million websites. Unlike some of it’s peers, such as HostGator which revel in sharing statistics such as starting with only three servers and growing to 12,000, Bluehost is stingy with such details.

Despite being a global behemoth, Bluehost.com stands apart from it’s peers as its data centers are located only in Utah, USA. 

Started in 2003, the company began offering WordPress-focused solutions in 2005. It reached 500,000 domain registrations in August 2007 and by June 2008 was home to over a million domains.

Bluehost was acquired by Endurance International Group (EIG) in November 2010 and started offering VPS and dedicated hosting solutions in April 2013. 

Early this year, investment firm Clearlake Capital Group completed a $3bn acquisition of the Endurance International Group, and in partnership with the Siris Captial Group spun a new company called Newfold Digital, a SMB-focused provider of web presence solutions. Newfold Digital is now home to some of the most popular hosting providers including HostGator, BlueHost, Domain.com, iPage, etc.

By its own admission, Bluehost has been recommended by WordPress because of their customer service and expertise. Since 2014, Bluehost has offered hosting plans optimized for WordPress.

While our experience with billing and the customer support was satisfactory, a quick look at Trustpilot reveals a different story. At present, Bluehost scores a rating of 3.2 out of 5. Most of the reviews are from dissatisfied customers expressing frustration at their interaction with the technical support and questions about billing. 

Only 37% of users reported their experience with Bluehost as 'Excellent', while an even 50% voted it as 'Bad'. Thankfully, Bluehost has responded to each of the negative comments and even escalated the issue with respective teams to provide a meaningful solution to their customers. 

Bluehost builder guide

Bluehost builder guide (Image credit: Bluehost)
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Support

The mere knowledge that expert advice is only a mouse-click or phone call away is quite a reassuring safety net.

Bluehost used to offer a ticket-based support system but that’s been discontinued. Your only options are phone support, live chat, or scavenging for a solution on the Knowledge Base. 

The Knowledge Base is home to a vast collection of guides, tutorials, articles and more discussing all hosting. You’ll find a series of FAQ’s on billing, domain registration, configuring email accounts, and all other basic aspects of website setup and management. 

The content on the Knowledge Base is split across eight broad categories, FAQ, WordPress, email, domains, account and control panel. You can also use the search bar at the top to quickly find relevant answers. All guides and how-tos provide detailed step-by-step instructions, supported by screenshots.

You can also call for support, which is available 24x7. Dial 888-401-4678 if you’re in the USA but international users must call +1 801-765-9400.

We also tried the live chat service, and a representative connected to the chat almost instantly. The support staff are all well versed with all aspects of Bluehost’s operations, and are determined to address your queries to your satisfaction. The only downside is that it’s not possible to access the chat history, or a previous chat session.  

If you want to go over a previous chat session, maybe because of a solution that was discussed, your only option is to start a new chat session, and request the representative/advisor to share the previous chat session with you. This is a bizarre process, but thankfully there’s a quick remedy. 

At the end of the chat session, request the representative/advisor to email you a transcript of the chat session. This way, you can easily refer to the discussion at a later date, if needed. 

Speed and experience

Our web host speed tests are generally based on the cheapest shared hosting plan available from a provider. If instead we use a free hosting plan, we’ll spell that out in the review.

We then upload a basic static site to our web space and configure Uptime.com to check the availability and server response time of our site at five-minute intervals. One week later, we note the site uptime (the percentage of checks where the server returned HTTP code 200, meaning 'OK') and average, minimum and maximum response time. We save the seven-day response time chart, too, as it's a useful indicator of consistency.

These results are handy as a way of spotting hosts with significant reliability or performance issues, but note that this testing also has significant limits.

We only test the cheapest shared hosting plans so these results can’t be used to measure the response for the VPS or dedicated plans, or any other plan with more resources.

The tests also take no account of page load time, and give us little or no indication of available CPU time, database setup, PHP configuration and more.

We’re happy to report that our Bluehost website reported no outages during the test duration. This is to be expected for such a short period but it’s still good to know.

Response times averaged 1.95ms, which is incredibly fast, as most providers average between 200-400ms on their shared hosting plans.

For comparison, consider that for the same duration and identical plans, HostGator and Hostinger averaged between 400ms - 700ms. In fact, the only provider slower was GoDaddy, which is home to this author’s website.

Apart from Uptime.com, you can also utilise the Dotcom-Tools website speed test to benchmark the performance of a website. 

FAQ

Who owns Bluehost?

Investment firm Clearlake Capital Group completed a $3 billion all-cash takeover of the Endurance International Group, and spun a  web hosting company called Newfold Digital in partnership with Siris Capital Group. 

The new organization serves around 6.7 million customers around the world and owns some of the most popular hosting providers such as Bluehost, HostGator, Domain.com and others.

How is Bluehost different from WordPress?

When it comes to the difference between WordPress and Bluehost, the answer is pretty simple. Bluehost is a web hosting provider that offers website builder capabilities, while WordPress is a fully hosted content management system (CMS).

Is Bluehost website builder any good?

We found Bluehost to be a very useful website builder for those looking to create a WordPress website and have no clue where to begin or how to do it. You can create any type of website with Bluehost, from a portfolio site to an ecommerce store.

Is Bluehost good for beginners?

The short answer is yes. Bluehost is a popular choice for beginnings starting out their online journey. The tool includes 24/7 customer support, promises 99.9% uptime and has 1-click WordPress install, which will enable beginners to build their website with ease. 

Is Bluehost billed monthly or annually?

Unfortunately, Bluehost doesn't offer monthly payment options for its cheap shared hosting or managed WordPress hosting. However, you can choose month-to-month billing with Bluehost's VPS or dedicated hosting plans.

For Bluehost's website builder plans, you have the option to commit to 12 months or 36 months.

What email does Bluehost use?

Bluehost offers the same three individual webmail clients you will see on most mainstream web hosting providers: Roundcube, Horde, and SquirrelMail. 

Is Bluehost good for blogging?

Bluehost is great for bloggers because of its simplicity, great support and excellent interface. You can quite literally have your blog up and running in minutes. Bluehost is also the recommended web hosting provider by WordPress, a top quality blogging platform.

Does Bluehost offer refunds?

You can cancel your hosting plan within the first 30 days for a full refund, and if you cancel within 30 days, you receive a full refund on your hosting service only. The money-back guarantee does not apply to most add-on products, such as domains, given the unique nature of their costs.

Do I own my domain name with Bluehost?

You can register new domain names and transfer domains you already own right inside your Bluehost account. Please note that once you have registered a domain name with Bluehost, it cannot be cancelled for a refund.

Which one is better: Bluehost or Hostinger?

Both Bluehost and Hostinger have plenty to offer, and are top quality hosting providers. It mostly boils down to your individual needs. Luckily, we've written a deep analysis of both providers, highlighting their strengths and weaknesses.

While both Hostinger and Bluehost are particularly popular choices, the latter has been around for almost two decades, establishing itself as one of the biggest names in the web hosting industry and home to more than two million domain names. 

Shashank Sharma

Shashank Sharma is a trial lawyer in Delhi, India. Long before his foray into the world of litigation, he started his career by writing about Linux and open source software. Over the years, Shashank has also written various articles and reviews for TechRadar Pro, covering web hosting (opens in new tab) providers and website builder (opens in new tab) tools.