Two years ago, I was talking with a product manager for GoDaddy’s website builder. He explained to me that GoDaddy had recently completed a survey of users and discovered that users thought building a website took too long. Because of that, GoDaddy decided to focus their website builder on letting people build websites in less than an hour.
But here’s the thing, of course users wish making a website didn’t take so long— but that doesn’t mean it’s possible. GoDaddy’s new Website Builder 8 shows why it's unrealistic. Website Builder 8 is a radical redesign that unfortunately is also a major step backwards from Website Builder 7— the new version is just far too simple and lacks important features. So while users can theoretically get a website up quickly, they will almost certainly find GoDaddy’s limitations frustrating.
Pages are built by stacking sections on top of one another. Unfortunately the sections are cookie-cutter— you simply add your content into pre-built templates. These templates lack meaningful customization. Even the content section (the closest thing to a ‘blank’ section) is hopelessly cookie-cutter. You can’t add new headings, images or paragraphs.
Not being able to meaningfully customize sections is especially frustrating because of how few layout options there are for each section. For example, there are just 4 options for the Photo Gallery section.
This lack of customization plagues the entire website builder. Here’s another example: you can only choose from 30 preset colors if you’d like to customize the colors of your theme. There is no option for choosing a custom color. This means if your business has a specific brand color, you’re not able to apply to your website. Yikes!
You can’t build a blog on GoDaddy. (Don’t be confused by their Blog section— it’s not an actual blog where you can write and publish posts. Instead it’s just an RSS reader that aggregates posts from other blogs.)
GoDaddy has a simple store builder that covers the basics of ecommerce: run sales, set product options (with variant pricing), calculate shipping costs and integrate with Stripe or Paypal. There are not many features for more sophisticated stores— for example you can’t create gift cards or customize the emails your customers receive. Show Screenshot
No form builder. GoDaddy includes a Contact section that has an email form but it doesn’t include a form builder that lets you add or remove fields. Existing GoDaddy users may find this frustrating as older versions of the website builder included a full form builder. Show Screenshot
No. Images looked blurry on Retina screens (such as new iPhones, MacBooks etc.).
You can collect email addresses for a mailing list but those email addresses can only be integrated with GoDaddy’s newsletter software. You can’t export the email addresses you collect. This is not ideal. I’ve never used GoDaddy’s newsletter software but most small businesses use a 3rd party email marketing provider such as Mailchimp, Constant Contact or Campaign Monitor. Show Screenshot
No. Theoretically you can delete your elements and start a design from scratch, but practically speaking it’s a mess. Two major problems stand in the way: (1) there is no way to set centralized styles, so you’ll spend way too much time individually styling elements in order to have a unified look. (2) Your mobile theme will simply not work as expected. I encountered many strange hiccups where my custom designs were a mess on the mobile site. If you do design to ignore my warnings and start from scratch you’ll want to make sure Snap to Other Elements is turned on (it’s under Show Grid/Guides).
No. Your website is limited to one language.
There is a Menu section that lets you create simple restaurant menus (there are two layout options). It’s actually quite easy use. You can add items and simply group them into categories. One neat trick is that you can click an individual item on the page to edit it— which is a handy timesaver. Show Screenshot
No. You can add a Paypal donation button but this is not a full donation system— it sends visitors to checkout on a different website and doesn’t allow you customize email notifications. Show Screenshot
No audio player. There is an Audio section that lets you embed Soundcloud but no official audio player. (Furthermore, it’s not even an integration with Soundcloud. Instead it’s just— and this getting a bit technical— a simple embed code.) Show Screenshot
This is a huge disappointment. There is really only one layout for every GoDaddy website. There are 7 “themes” you can choose from but they just let you change 1 colour on your website and choose fonts. (There is no structural difference between themes)
The one upside? The themes are responsive so they work on mobile phones. (Though most website builders offer responsive themes too.)
Customizing themes is a joke. You really can’t customize much of anything. Want to change the link color in your navigation? Nope, they can only be black. Want to change the color of your headings? Nope, the also can only be black. Want to increase the font size of anything? Nope, can’t do it either. You will almost certainly find the lack of customization to be frustrating.
You are able to cancel GoDaddy using a web-based interface. You're also now able to try the website builder without a credit card— something you couldn't do for a long time.
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Keep in mind that GoDaddy may have changed since then. If you believe something is out of date in my review, please let me know.