September 7, 2019

HostGator Website Builder: What You Need to Know

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HostGator's own drag-and-drop website builder is a big plus of their web hosting service. How easy is it to use? Read our review for all the details.

Plans start at $3.46/month and include free hosting. They also offer features for ecommerce and personal blogs.

Users with little to no experience building websites will love Gator's easy drag-and-drop design. You won't need any technical knowledge to start designing your own website.

The downside is that the features may be too simple, which may not be enough for experienced or demanding users.

Is it the right web builder for you? Read on to find out.

HostGator Website Builder Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Easy to use drag-and-drop editor
  • Great social media integration
  • Cheap sign-up prices
  • Free SSL certificate, domain name, and hosting

Cons

  • Not suitable for complex websites
  • Disjointed blog functionality
  • Less than transparent pricing

How HostGator Website Builder Works

Setting up an account with Gator Website Builder is simple. You just need to visit HostGator.com and click on Website Builder.

Then, choose your account type. You can pick between "Starter," "Premium," and "eCommerce." All of Gator's plans include unlimited bandwidth, storage, SSL certificate, free hosting, and a free domain name.

Here are the differences between each plan.

  • Starter
    Has all the basic features you'll need for a website. If you're setting up a basic site like a personal blog or corporate site, the Starter plan is enough.

  • Premium
    Like the Starter plan but adds Priority Support. According to the website, this allows you to access support faster by skipping the queue. We can't say how good this is, but if it's important to keep your site up, then this service might be worth it.

  • eCommerce
    This plan adds features for an online business. This includes things like inventory management, shipping and tax calculator, and coupons.

Once you've chosen your plan, you'll have the option to buy a new domain name or register an existing one. After that, simply choose your billing cycle.

Gator's low advertised prices are for their longest cycle, which is two years. The prices increase slightly if you choose either the yearly or the monthly cycle.

Once you've selected your billing cycle, just fill in your billing info and you're good to go!

Once your account is created, choose a template, follow the 15-second guide, and you can start designing your site.

Gator Website Design is a good drag-and-drop builder offering low prices and decent features. However, there are still a few things you should know before signing up. We discuss these below.

Reasons To Use HostGator Website Builder

  1. Quick and Easy Setup
    HostGator's best feature is how easy it is to set up and get it running. Other site builders might leave you confused or hanging at a certain step, but Gator makes it easy.

    All you need to do is pick a plan and choose a theme, and you can start designing your site.

    Gator provides a 15-second tutorial to help you get started.

  2. HostGator Provides an All-in-One Solution
    HostGator provides everything you need. From hosting to domain registration to basic site features—Gator has it all.

    If you're new to site-building, you won't need to look outside of Gator. You won't have to figure out if an app extension is compatible with your site. Even things like analytics are already built into the platform.

    Having everything you need on one platform makes it easier for beginners, and people who need to get a site running fast. You can spend your time doing other more important things, like content, design, and marketing.

    Also, since Gator is part of HostGator, you'll have the option of upgrading your hosting plans if you want to expand your site in the future.

  3. Simple Drag-and-Drop Builder
    HostGator web builder is great for beginners. You don't need as much technical knowledge as you would with other Web builders like WordPress, for example.

    With Gator, all you'll need to do is pick one template from over 200 design templates. Once you've chosen a template, simply drag-and-drop the buttons and/or pictures you want on your website. Because it's so simple, you can get your site up and running quickly.

    This makes Gator a great choice if you want to launch a basic website fast.

    However, if you'd like a complex website with a lot of custom features, then consider other builders like WordPress. Gator simply doesn't offer as much customization and features as WordPress does.

  4. Lots of Template Options
    HostGator's templates are what make building a website easy—you don't have to start from scratch. Gator offers hundreds of templates to choose from.

    All of Gator's templates allow for easy customization with the drag-and-drop feature. You can change the colors, add or remove sections, change fonts, and modify plenty of other features to suit your tastes.

    The best part is that you can also customize how your site would look like on mobile. Gator also offers a mobile responsive template for you to edit. This saves you the hassle of designing a separate mobile-friendly version of your site.

    The downside is that Gator's templates tend to be basic and repetitive. For better templates, consider Wix—they have over 500 templates that are unique and have better features.

  5. They Have a Library of Stock Photography
    If you don't have your own images, Gator offers a library of stock photography. It has a collection of high-quality images that are license-free, which means you can use them however you want.

    However, it's important to note that these stock photos are from Unsplash. Unsplash is a stock photography website that already offers all their images for anyone to download, license-free. If you want original images for your site, then this isn't much of a plus.

    The upside is that Gator integrates Unsplash into their builder, so you don't have to manually search, download, and re-upload the image again.

  6. They Have Integrated Website Analytics and Tracking
    HostGator offers their own integrated analytics. On your dashboard, you can see all the data for your site from the past 30 days. This includes unique visitors, total visits, page views, and bounce rate.

    You can also open the full traffic page for more information. It tells you how each page on your site is doing. You get to see how many visitors each page gets and identify weak points. You also get to see the average time your visitors spend on your site, and where they come from.

    Gator can also tell you whether your visitors are first-time or returning, their languages, which devices they used, and which browser. There's even an option to separate traffic by mobile and desktop.

    If you want to see the stats for your online store, however, it won't be on the main stats page. You'll have to go to the Store editing home page. You'll get to see visitors, orders, and revenue, but not details like abandoned shopping carts.

    If you want, you can also use other tracking methods like Google Analytics. Gator allows you to insert the tracking code in the "manage site" section.

  7. Integrated Social Media Account Management
    HostGator allows you to connect your live feeds from social networks like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. You can add media features like social links, sharing icons, Like buttons, Follow buttons, and others too.

    Connecting your social media networks will establish your presence online and lets you engage with your customers.

    If social media is important to you, Gator also offers My Social Suite, which is an add-on service to manage your social media channels. It makes social media marketing easier by combining all the social media profiles on one dashboard.

  8. Free SSL Certificate
    Another good thing about Gator is that they give you a free SSL certificate. You know that padlock icon you see with the URL bar? That means the site you're visiting has an SSL certification.

    Having an SSL means that the information being transmitted on the site is encrypted, and therefore more secure. It's important especially if your visitors are submitting personal information like their banking details or address. Hackers who try to intercept that data won't be able to read it.

    SSL certifications are becoming the norm. In fact, Google actively warns users against visiting sites that don't have an SSL certification.

  9. HostGator Offers Features for an Online Store
    Setting up an online store is easy with Gator. However, you'll need their most expensive plan, the eCommerce, which has all the features for an online business.

    The eCommerce plan allows you to sell physical goods or digital products. For digital products, Gator allows files up to 1GB. You can set the download to be time-limited or have a maximum number of downloads from one purchase.

    If you already have a product catalog, you can import it to Gator, too. Use various formats like Excel, Google Sheets, ecwid, and CSV. But if you only have a few products, you can input the data yourself.

    The downside is that you don't have much control over how your products are structured and displayed. Much of the work is in entering product details and stuff like address, preferred currency, and so on.

    You'll start by uploading an image, with some formatted text and price. Gator allows you to add things like size and color. You can also organize your products by categories, like shoes or accessories.

    For physical products, Gator allows you to input weight, which can also automatically calculate shipping charges.

    Another handy feature is the coupon feature, which allows you to give discounts to first-time customers or anyone with a code.

    Gator also supports several payment options for your site. You can choose Cash on Delivery or integrate Stripe or PayPal for payment.

    Overall, Gator offers a simple and affordable way to set up an online store. It won't rival specialized ecommerce providers like Shopify, but if you just want a simple store, Gator is for you.

  10. User-friendly Features
    HostGator is packed with plenty of useful features for site builders. These include:
    • Connect social accounts for all major platforms (My Social Suite)
    • Integrated website analytics
    • Connect Google Analytics for visitor stats
    • PayPal integration
    • Set up page redirects
    • See your save history and go back to an earlier version
    • View your form submissions and mailing list
    • Add basic SEO meta tags via the "Advanced" option
    • Free domain name
    • SSL certification
    • Mobile responsive templates

    These are more than enough for a beginner to start their own site. If you're inexperienced and just looking to build a simple site, Gator is an excellent builder to start with.

Reasons To Consider Other Web Builders

  1. Lack of Advanced Features
    Gator's all-in-one platform is great for the beginner. However, it's not so good for those looking for more advanced features.

    Gator lacks the support and ability to add third-party apps, extensions, and advanced marketing tools. You could add some apps and extensions like G Suite integration, but that's about it.

    Also, Gator is quite limited in terms of HTML. You can edit the site HTML and insert HTML into your page, but you can't edit specific sections of code.

    These work as a double-edged sword. Everything works, but you won't have as much control or as many options as other web builders.

  2. Not So Transparent Pricing and Upsells
    At first glance, HostGator's pricing may seem competitive. However, the low prices advertised are only for the initial term.

    If you decide to renew their services, the regular rates kick in. This could be more than twice the promotional rate!

    For best savings, it's better to get the longest term possible during signup. But be warned—if you decide to renew, the price increases by a lot.

    Also, Gator's upsells can be confusing. During the checkout phase, it seems like you must buy a domain name. However, you can also buy a domain separately, and redirect it to HostGator's servers.

  3. Disjointed Blog Functionality
    HostGator does have a blog integration that you can add on to your website. However, it's not part of your theme. The blog is more of an "add-on," and you'd have to choose a new theme for it.

    Choosing a separate theme makes it seem disjointed, and more like an afterthought. If your main purpose is to set up a blog, this may be a deal-breaker for you.

Other Web Builders To Consider

Wix
Like HostGator, Wix is also a drag-and-drop builder. It has over 500 templates, which cater to almost anything you can think of. Here's a list of things Wix has templates for:

  • Small businesses
  • Cafes and restaurants
  • Hotels and hospitality
  • Musicians
  • Photographers
  • Graphic designers

Although Gator has plenty of templates, they're not as well-designed as Wix's. Wix's templates are dynamic—they use video elements and scrolling effects to make it an interactive experience.

Also, Wix's templates are unique—no two templates are identical (unlike Gator's, which can be similar).

Overall, Wix is a better design tool that offers more control over page layout. Wix also has better-designed web templates, which are a step above Gator's static websites. If you're a little more experienced than a beginner and want more design options, then Wix may be for you.

WordPress
To be accurate, WordPress isn't exactly a site builder. It's a content management system (CMS).

The difference is that a CMS like WordPress doesn't use a visual interface. You'll have to use forms and edit code for something to work. This is challenging if you don't have experience building a website.

It takes more technical skill to build something with WordPress, but the extra effort gives you a lot of flexibility.

With the nearly endless themes and plugins available, you can customize your site and add any feature you want.

However, WordPress plugins need to be configured to work with your theme or site. This involves tweaking the code. If you're not experienced with coding, then WordPress isn't for you.

Website builders can't match the number of features or plugins available on WordPress. But on the upside, every "plugin" on a website builder will work. You don't have to configure anything.

If you're experienced with web building, or you want more advanced features on your site, then WordPress is a better fit for you.

Bottom Line

The best things about the Gator Web Builder is its simplicity and pricing. With Gator, you won't need any technical skills to build a website. Simply drag and drop what you want onto the template.

Also, Gator's all-in-one solution makes things simple. Unlike WordPress, you won't have to look for a plugin and then tweak it to match your site. Everything that's available on Gator will work.

However, Gator's strengths are also its biggest weakness. Because of how simple it is, you won't be able to get more advanced features. It's great for basic sites, but if you want something more, it's better to look elsewhere.

While Gator does advertise rock-bottom pricing, bear in mind that it's only for your first term. When you renew their service, regular rates kick in, which can be more than twice what you were paying before. This might be a deal-breaker for those looking to set up something long term.

In short, Gator is perfect for beginners who want to get a basic site up and running quickly. With its streamlined process and drag-and-drop designing, you can get a site going almost instantly—no technical knowledge needed.

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author's alone. Please support CreditDonkey on our mission to help you make savvy decisions. Our free online service is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content.

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