If you’re new to website building, a user-friendly website builder is a good place to start. They make it easy to create a fully functional, responsive website with no prior experience, and usually offer hosting and domain name plans— a one-stop shop for all your website needs, so to speak.
Not all providers have the same features, though, and the plans can differ significantly. In this article, we’ll pit three popular website builders against each other - Hostgator vs IONOS vs GoDaddy. We’ve compared plans, features, performance, and more, so you can decide which is best for you.
HostGator - great templates and generous support
Popular web hosting provider HostGator's Gator Website Builder uses a drag-and-drop interface to generate simple, mobile-friendly websites. More than 200 templates are completely customizable, allowing for endless personalization, while a generous support package alongside free analytics provide further functionality.
One of the largest providers of web hosting services in Europe, 1&1 IONOS' website creator - available via MyWebsite Now or MyWebsite Creator - features a wide array of templates and great functionality for businesses of all sizes, with the drag-and-drop builder featuring a built-in targeted content system.
The web hoster's built-in website creator is simple and easy to use, with no third-party app market or add-ons meaning in-house features provide complete compatibility and security. Excellent support and powerful analytics allow for beginners to focus on important elements via the customizable drag-and-drop builder.
We looked at some of the most important features needed to quickly and easily build a functional, professional-looking website. Each builder has its own strengths and weaknesses, so be sure to check which offers the features you need the most.
For many professionals, the ability to sell their products or services online is an essential feature—the whole reason they’re building a website in the first place. Of the three, HostGator has perhaps the most limited e-commerce features: you can choose a template and set up a simple online store, manage products, accept payments and integrate with Shippo shipping, but that’s all.
GoDaddy and IONOS offer more features and finder control. Both have a selection of templates to get you started and make it easy to sell products, services, and digital goods. Each syncs with your Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, Etsy, and other online marketplace profiles, which is a very convenient feature and will help those with little social media experience.
Both enable you to set up newsletters to increase engagement, although IONOS comes with built-in discount and coupon functions, which paired with newsletters makes for a simple but powerful marketing tool. IONOS also has a great mobile app, so you can add and modify products from a smartphone or tablet, as well as track your sales.
On the flip-side, GoDaddy offers online appointments, which will appeal to a wide range of service-based professionals. It’s also quite a bit cheaper than IONOS. Its $24.99 a month plan includes all features, whereas IONOS makes you pay $45 a month for Amazon and eBay integration.
In our opinion, GoDaddy offers the best e-commerce experience at a fair price that includes all its features—although if solid mobile access and discount and coupon features are important for you, IONOS' $25 a month plan will serve you well.
SEO and templates
SEO (search engine optimization) is important for making sure people can find your website easily, by ranking you higher on search engine result pages.
All three companies offer paid SEO help, and if you’re completely unfamiliar with SEO or why it’s important, this may be a worthwhile investment for you. The cheapest by far comes with HostGator, as SEO tools are part of its Business Plan. With introductory offers and a 36-month plan, offers go as low as $5.95 per month. Otherwise, GoDaddy offers SEO tools at $6.99 per month, although they’re more of a self-service deal. Same with IONOS' rankingCoach, which at $10 per month is the most expensive.
All three offer you the ability to do your own SEO work though, such as editing meta descriptions and title tags, so if you have a decent knowledge of SEO (or plan on teaching yourself), you can forego these add-ons. That said, since they come free with HostGator’s Business Plan, you might swing this way if you’d like the helping hand.
Most individuals creating their first website with a website builder will not want to start entirely from scratch. A wide array of customizable templates is thus a big help for beginners. Simply choose a template that fits your style and sector, and edit it as needed.
IONOS offers 400+ templates, which is a good start, although they aren’t categorized, which makes it a bit difficult to find the right style.
GoDaddy also has hundreds of templates, this time organized into categories like fashion and beauty, home services, and professional services. The designs are elegant and tend to be simplistic (read: manageable).
HostGator beats both with over 4,000 templates grouped into more than 50 categories. That said, we found the templates to be of generally lesser quality, busy, and dated. GoDaddy comes out on top for its wide array of truly stunning templates.
- Read our guide to the best website builder with ecommerce
An intuitive, responsive, powerful interface is what we’re looking for in a website builder. GoDaddy is the most basic of the three, although beginners may find this a boon. You can choose a template, rearrange your elements, and customize your content. You can also change colors globally or for each element, but ultimately, it’s a fairly limited tool.
IONOS provided for somewhat greater control. It’s still a classic drag-and-drop interface, which we prefer for ease of use, but the end results are still heavily influenced by the original template.
HostGator’s Gator Builder is the most powerful of the three, enabling you to personalize almost every aspect of your website. You can add and remove a wide array of elements, and modify them at a very fine level. That said, some users may find the experience less user friendly, and the fact that the templates aren’t all that snazzy to begin with means you need a far stronger sense of design (and more time on your hands) to make it all work.
For beginners and pros alike, it’s not uncommon to need to contact customer support. When that happens, you want support you can count on.
IONOS offers live, 24/7 phone and email support, although it has no live chat, which is a feature we’d love to see added. Its knowledge base and IONOS guides are quite comprehensive, and well organized into sections, sub-sections, and articles. Some of the articles are a bit short, but overall, it’s a quite good resource, as is the user forum.
GoDaddy offers 24/7 live chat and phone support. It has no email support or email follow-up, which can make it difficult to get help on the same issue at different times (by referring to a ticket number or past conversation, for example). It has a wide range of tutorials and good documentation, plus an active community forum.
Finally, HostGator, like GoDaddy, has live chat and phone support, but no email ticketing options. It does have a very impressive knowledge base though, and we found its support staff to be friendly and knowledgeable.
Pricing and plans
HostGator has some enticingly cheap plans, starting at just $7.68 a month with hosting, domain name, drag-and-drop builder, templates, analytics, SSL certificate, and classic support. For $11.99 a month, you get priority support, and for $18.44 a month, ecommerce functionality. Even at the most expensive plan with website builder access, then, it’s among the cheapest.
IONOS’ Now and Creator plans are both $5 a month, and include the visual editor, lifetime domain, SSL certificate, and five professional emails. The $20 a month Online Store plan includes e-commerce functionality and increases the number of emails to 10. Now and Creator can be trialed for one month for free, and Online Store for three months.
GoDaddy offers the greatest range, with four plans starting at $9.99. Its Ecommerce plan, at $24.99 a month, is the most expensive option from all three companies. Business email addresses are also only free for one year, although SEO, guidance, and analytics are also included at this rate. If you don’t need an online store, the Premium plan at $19.99 a month offers plenty of features, including appointments, email marketing, and unlimited social posts.
- View our list of the 10 best cheap website builders
You’ve probably understood by now that your choice will depend a lot on what you’re looking for.
If you just want the cheapest possible solution and are comfortable with a powerful but somewhat less user-friendly website builder, go with HostGator. The price can’t be beaten and, while the templates aren’t quite as chic, there are a huge number of them. You can also tweak to your heart’s content.
IONOS offers a fantastic e-commerce experience, and its $20 Online Store plan is just a bit cheaper than GoDaddy’s equivalent. The simplistic website builder is well-suited to beginners, and while it has the fewest templates on offer, we found them to be quite attractive.
Finally, GoDaddy comes with excellent e-commerce functionality, gorgeous templates, and great user support. While its Ecommerce plan is the most expensive, it includes a lot of attractive features. If you don’t need an online store, the intuitive website builder and beautiful templates make it very easy to set up a simple website, and you won’t need much more than the $14.99 standard plan.