While V7 may alienate some existing customers, it also puts GoDaddy firmly in the right direction.
In the past, I’ve been very critical of GoDaddys website builder and its lack of coherence, painful navigation and obnoxious sales tactics.
The new GoDaddy website builder, version 7 (v7), is an attempt to address those issues. With v7, GoDaddy has done a complete redesign. In some ways this feels like the first version of an entirely new product (rather than the 7th version). V7 is a big improvement and a firm step in the right direction for GoDaddy.
The v7 website editor
The v7 website editor is a blank canvas editor, which means that you can drag any element, to any spot on the page.
Having a blank canvas editor can create some frustrating scenarios:
For example, if you need to add an element at the top of an page with existing elements, you will have to move each element down the page in order to make space up top:
It can also be difficult to align items perfectly on a page and often requires constant adjustment after slight changes:
No one likes to feel constrained- and that’s why blank canvas editors are an easy to sell to customers. But the customer is not always right. In this case, applying limitations and structure is a preferred way to edit websites in the long run (consider for example that many don’t know what the conventional width of a website is).
That being said, GoDaddy is aware of issues with blank canvas editors and does add a few clever features to address some of the other usual issues.
For example, you can turn on grids to help guide element alignment:
They’ve also added a handy lock position to elements to keep them in place:
Sometimes, the footer responsively moves down the page as you add text. But unfortunately sometimes it does not:
I did notice a few bugs throughout the editor. Elements would inexplicably move, message prompts would fail to hide after closing them and the footer would sometimes fail to automatically contract and retract.
Bugs are inevitable when launching a new website editor, but it felt like there were more than usual.
v7 is a dramatic change for GoDaddy. In some ways, it is a reset in which everything was rebuilt from the ground up.
The new text editor feels great. It is laid out thoughtfully, includes appropriate formatting and even has a clever option for placeholder text, which are dynamic fields such as your name and address (this is handy because consistent formatting for your address can have local SEO benefits).
Standard elements also feel great. The photo gallery looks crisp and operates smoothly. Maps automatically expand and contract with ease. Strong social widgets for Facebook and Twitter are included.
There is also an excellent form builder. You build forms by combining a variety of different fields (text, file upload, email address, phone, address) and customizing these fields as needed (make required fields, add supporting text, customize the submission process):
One element that didn’t work so well was a menu builder (for restaurants) called Locu. For some reason Locu required you to sign up with a third party, and build a menu there. It didn’t feel as thoughtful as the other elements and made me think GoDaddy was more interested in promoting Locu than providing a great website building experience.
The Downside of v7: Alienating Existing Users
v7 is an ambitious redesign where a lot has changed. This dramatic shift is necessary because past GoDaddy website builders were so bad they had to be rethought completely. But because of this, some customers have complained that v7 is not perfectly backwards compatible with older GoDaddy websites.
These customers do have a right to be upset. If GoDaddy had just built a great website builder from the start, they would not have to undertake such ambitious redesigns.
One welcome change with v7 is that GoDaddy has included a mobile version of your website:
Unfortunately, the mobile version is not customizable in any meaningful way (for example: changing theme colors) nor is it responsive. Instead, it automatically creates a mobile version of your website by stacking page elements (you can also hide certain elements on mobile).
GoDaddy has included a wide selection of solid themes in v7 across a variety of categories. Here’s a few examples:
One of the difficulties with blank canvas editors is that you can’t change your theme once it is set (the lack of structure in a blank canvas editors means that themes can’t simply be swapped for one another). So be sure you like the theme you choose- you’ll be stuck with it.
I can’t make up my mind with how GoDaddy treats fonts. On one hand, they include inline styles with each theme that are special fonts particular to that theme. This works really well because you don’t have to search for a font that “suits” your theme. Instead, GoDaddy has already picked them out for you. But unfortunately, other than a few inline styles, GoDaddy limits your font choice to system fonts (Arial, Impact, Times New Roman). It’s a bit of a head scratcher- why not let users choose from the whole library of fonts?
I would still characterize GoDaddy as a middle of the pack website builder. They are not the best, but they are no longer among the worst.
GoDaddy’s newfound commitment to customer experience is welcomed. You only need to read my last review of GoDaddy to see that this is a step forward for them.