HostGator Video Review
HostGator is a web hosting company founded in 2002 and based in Houston, Texas. The company has won numerous awards for its web hosting. In 2019, the company launched a website builder to help individuals and small businesses create their own sites.
The HostGator website builder is impressively flexible and easy to use. It’s also one of the most affordable options for small businesses, especially when you consider the range of marketing and selling tools included. While other website builders might be better for online stores looking to scale up, HostGator’s platform is ideal for new online businesses or established businesses looking to get online.
How HostGator Works
We were extremely impressed with how easy it is to use HostGator’s website builder. The back-end dashboard is neatly laid out and makes it easy to move between designing your site, managing your online store, and launching marketing campaigns. The drag-and-drop site editor is also easy to use, and we loved that there’s an AI design option that can help you get online right away.
HostGator Features and Tools
Unlimited Web Hosting
All HostGator website builder plans include free hosting with unlimited storage and bandwidth. HostGator is an award-winning web host, so this service is very high quality. All sites also come with an SSL certificate and a free custom domain for 1 year.
If your business doesn’t already have a logo, you can use HostGator’s logo builder to create one. Simply enter your company’s name and choose from a series of starter designs. Then you can customize your logo’s shape, colors, fonts, and more.
How to Create a Website with HostGator
HostGator offers 2 paths for creating a website. You can either go through a more traditional design process, or use an AI design tool to build a customized site for you.
With the AI designer, all you have to do is enter a few details about the site you’re trying to create. Based on that, the designer will suggest a few options to get you started and then take you to your new site.
If you choose this route, your options for customizing your site are moderately limited. You can add page sections, including text and images, but you don’t have the option to drag and drop individual elements on your pages. We were quite pleased with the selection of page sections, however, and think this editor will suffice for most basic websites.
If you want more control over your site’s design, you can choose the more traditional design process. HostGator offers more than 220 templates, all of which are mobile-responsive, to choose from.
The drag-and-drop page editor lets you add individual content elements to your site, giving you a huge amount of latitude when presenting your content. We especially liked that elements auto-align using a series of semi-transparent gridlines. This speeds up the design process and ensures that your site layout looks professional.
The only issue we ran into with HostGator’s editor is that you can’t change templates. With so many customization options, we don’t think this is a huge deal. But it can be frustrating if you get deep into the design process and decide you don’t like your template, as you’ll have to restart. It’s also worth noting that you can’t migrate your site to another platform, though that’s often the case among website builders.
Adding Multimedia to Your HostGator Website
HostGator enables you to add images, videos, audio, text files, and even Flash designs to your website. All of your files are stored in a multimedia library, which you can organize into searchable folders.
You can upload multiple files from your computer simultaneously, which we liked, but the library doesn’t allow you to import images from social media or cloud storage. HostGator also offers thousands of free stock images from Unsplash.
Overall, we found the process of adding multimedia to be simple and seamless. Integration with cloud storage platforms and social media would also be nice, but it’s not essential.
Marketing Functionality with HostGator Websites
All HostGator websites include a very capable email marketing suite. Anytime a visitor fills out a form on your website, their information is automatically imported into a contact database. You can segment your contacts or download the database if you want to use third-party email marketing software.
HostGator’s email marketing tool lets you launch campaigns around product announcements, sales, events, and more. You’ll customize your emails using the same section-based page editor you use when building your site with the AI designer, so it’s fairly easy to build professional-looking email campaigns. Just note that the number of email campaigns you can send per month is limited to 3 with a basic subscription and 10 with HostGator’s top-tier plan.
To analyze your marketing performance, HostGator enables you to track how many people open your campaigns. However, you can’t re-segment customers based on this data or set up personalized coupon codes.
SEO Functionality and Add-Ons with HostGator Websites
The one spot HostGator falls short of the mark is SEO. You can edit the meta title and description for each of your pages, and it’s easy to set up a blog for any HostGator site. However, the platform doesn’t allow you to add alt text to images, and it doesn’t have any tools for analyzing your site’s SEO and suggesting improvements.
That said, we were happy with HostGator’s analytics capabilities. You can connect Google Analytics to any website. Or you can use the platform’s built-in traffic analytics tool, but you need to upgrade your plan to see details like where your visitors are coming from and which pages they’re viewing.
All HostGator websites support Ecommerce, and the platform works well for small or relatively new online businesses. You can sell digital downloads, accept online bookings, and easily set up coupons and sales. Plus, HostGator provides tools for managing inventory, shipping, and taxes.
However, HostGator lacks some more advanced features that growing stores will likely need. For example, you can see abandoned carts, but you can’t set up automatic emails to try to convert those abandoned carts into sales. You also can’t sell gift cards online or enable in-store pickup as a delivery option.
HostGator Customer Support
HostGator offers 24/7 customer support by phone, email, and live chat. The platform also has a detailed online knowledge base with hundreds of articles. It covers not only how to design your website, but also how to use the email marketing suite and online store tools.
Pricing & Special Offers
HostGator offers 3 plans: Start, Site, and Store. All plans include hosting, email marketing, analytics, and Ecommerce. However, they differ in how many campaigns you can send, what data you can analyze, and how many products you can sell.
HostGator offers introductory pricing for up to 2 years for new customers. After that, you can get a 25% discount for signing up for another 2-year plan.
How HostGator Compares to Other Website Builders
HostGator vs WordPress.com
WordPress.com is one of the best website builders for bloggers because it enables you to sell ads on your blog posts. However, the WordPress.com site builder isn’t as easy to use and doesn’t offer as much flexibility as the HostGator builder. For everyone other than bloggers, we recommend HostGator.
HostGator vs GoDaddy
The HostGator and GoDaddy website builders are very comparable in price and features. We think HostGator’s website builder offers slightly more design flexibility, and we like that it has more than twice as many templates available.
HostGator vs HostPapa
HostPapa’s website builder is relatively basic and is best-suited for small websites, such as one-page portfolio sites. HostGator’s site builder offers far more in terms of design options and marketing tools, and we’d recommend it over HostPapa for most website creators.
HostGator’s website builder is easy to use, flexible, and highly capable. We love that you can choose between a traditional drag-and-drop editor or a simplified AI design process depending on how much time you want to spend creating your site. We were also impressed with the overall ease of customizing a site and the simplicity of HostGator’s back-end dashboard.
What really makes HostGator stand out is its support for email marketing and Ecommerce with all plans. It’s one of the most affordable website builders for creating a fully functional online store. While HostGator has a few shortcomings that can hold back a rapidly growing business, it’s ideal for individuals and businesses that are getting online for the first time.