HostGator’s website builder, Gator, is available on all paid hosting plans, but it can also be purchased as a standalone tool to help you build a website. The platform is inexpensive, beautiful and geared toward less tech-savvy users, so beginners should have no problem getting into it.
That said, Gator sacrifices customizability to accommodate newbies, specifically in terms of the variety of elements and depth of features. Granted, you can create something great with it, but it lacks the depth to make our best website builders list.
Strengths & Weaknesses
- Easy to use
- Limited customization options
- Lacking knowledgebase
Alternatives for Gator
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Gator’s features are not deep, but they’re not shallow, either. The basics are accounted for, but some of the more niche features don’t show up.
Blogging with Gator
Blogging with Gator is easy. First, you set up the feature by choosing from Gator’s blog templates. They’re all beautiful and responsive, so no worries there. All you have to do is pick one that looks nice to you.
Adding a blog post is just a matter of setting up a blog page and adding a new post. Plus, you start with a few posts already written, so you can start by editing those. You can format them with the usual fare — text size, weight, color — but other than that, there isn’t much customizability.
You can only insert images, videos and text. Though that’s enough for a regular blog post, if you want to do something different, such as special graphics or carousels, it won’t work unless you know your way around Flash files.
It’d be nice if you could edit the page as you would a regular one, with widgets and elements, but that’s not possible. If you want a website builder that can do that, check out our Voog review.
Other than that, it’s nice that you can set metadata for indexing. It’s also a big plus that you can assign tags and integrate with Facebook for comments. That helps increase interaction with your content, which is a good thing in Google’s eyes.
All in all, the blogging system is above average compared to other website builders, but it’s inferior to what you’d get with a full-fledged content management system, such as WordPress. If blogging is important to you, read our beginner’s guide to using WordPress.
E-commerce with Gator
Selling online with Gator is straightforward. You start by setting up back-end information about your store, then you can products. The first time you use the feature, a wizard will guide you through the process. To add a product, you choose images, write a description and set a price. After that, you’re, technically, done.
For better indexing, though, Gator supports product categories and variants, which can help user navigate through your site and find the products they need more easily. Furthermore, Gator’s e-commerce system supports digital products. Users can even download the product through the platform, which gives you a lot of flexibility.
When it comes to appealing to customers, Gator excels. Not only can you add discount coupons and sales, but you can also accept payments through PayPal, Stripe or cash on delivery.
It’s a decent store feature, but it pales in comparison to what you could achieve using Shopify. If e-commerce is important to you, give that platform a try, but not before reading our beginner’s guide to Shopify.
SEO with Gator
Gator doesn’t come with a dedicated search engine optimization tool like Wix does. Rather, you can make changes to the metadata of each page when managing sections.
Besides that, you get a SSL certificate with the cheapest plan. Not only will that make visitors trust you more, but it’s also a big plus for Google. Another thing Google likes is responsiveness, which Gator is good at, with elements automatically resizing to fit on mobile screens.
Gator helps with being indexed and ranking higher, but if you plan to rank first for a lot of keywords, you should look elsewhere. Wix has a great SEO tool, so read our Wix review before choosing a website builder.
Gator Features Overview
|Vector Art Gallary|
|Drag and Drop interface|
Gator isn’t bad when it comes to price, but the lack of a free plan holds it back when compared to Wix or Weebly.
The Starter plan is inexpensive and suitable for most online needs. Unless you want to get into e-commerce, it has everything you need to build a beautiful website. Besides the editor, you get a domain name, SSL certificate and free hosting.
Up the chain, the Premium plan is pricey for what it offers. For almost double the price, the only benefit over the Starter plan is priority support. For a bigger enterprise that has employees working on the website, that could be a benefit. That said, because the Starter plan already has 24/7 support, it’s not that important.
Lastly, the eCommerce plan is only a good choice if you like Gator and want to set up shop online, as well. The upgrade is expensive, but as we’ve discussed, the e-commerce platform is powerful and suitable for all businesses.
Gator doesn’t offer a free plan or free trial, but it makes up for it with its 45-day money-back guarantee. That’s better than the market standard 30 days for requesting a refund, but it’s not applicable in all cases.
You won’t be eligible for a refund if you asked for dedicated servers, custom software or a custom domain. That’s important for Gator’s hosting plans, but less of a concern here.
Plus, you won’t get a refund if you pay with a check, bank wire transfer or money order. Though there are limitations, they’re not excessive, so just make sure you pay with your credit card or PayPal account and you should be fine.
Design & Tools
The design of the Gator website builder is beautiful, and its tools are easy to use. To kickstart your editing process, when you first open the tool, you’ll be presented with a short tutorial that highlights the main tools of the software. It’s not exhaustive, but it gives you a good idea of what you need to do to get started.
The interface is straightforward. The left bar is the one you’ll use most. The “elements” tab lets you add premade blocks and elements to your website. They include icons, Google Maps pins, contact forms and even Flash files.
All in all, there’s a considerable variety of blocks to drag on to your page, so you should have no problem customizing sections as you see fit.
Gator’s Pages Tab
The “pages” tab lets you manage your website’s pages, which is a common thread among website builders.
What’s great about Gator’s “pages” tab is that you can make changes to the page you’re editing by using the icons at the top of the toolbar. On top of that, all pages start with a predefined set of sections, which helps with breaking up the work you have to do, enabling you to build your website more efficiently.
Gator’s Sections Tab
The “sections” tab lets you edit sections on a particular page. Any one page has a header, a footer and some sections with dummy content, as long as you don’t choose to start with a blank page.
Each section comes with its own predefined blocks and layout, similar to PowerPoint slides. That makes editing your website on the go much easier. Plus, you can hide sections from showing on different platforms. For example, if a section you’ve built doesn’t look good on mobile, you can set it to only show for desktop visitors.
The “design” tab lets you modify the look of your website. You can edit the color palette, fonts and text style, but that’s to be expected from a website builder. What’s great is that you can add premade website backgrounds, and if nothing there piques your interest, you can create your own.
The “blog” and “store” tabs aren’t complex, but that’s for the better. Because of the simple interface, you can easily navigate through such complex systems, which makes your job go smoother.
The “stats” tab shows basic analytics for your website. Though not as complex as Google Analytics, it helps if you want quick updates on how your website is performing, especially if you’re running a paid campaign or want to check organic traffic over time.
For advanced stats, you can integrate with Google Analytics. It’s easy to do so. Just paste your Analytics ID into the designated field and Google will start gathering information.
Managing Gator’s Backend
Lastly, the “manage” tab lets you deal with the back-end stuff. You can access a full revision history, check form submissions, update your favicon and even manage your social links. That’s not an impressive tool list, but it’s necessary to help you build a decent website.
What’s great is that you can add links to your social media from the “manage” section, then just drag the respective element to integrate with your Facebook page or YouTube channel in an instant.
Besides those left bar mods, you can do on-page edits, such as resizing elements, changing the color of a published element and the like. That’s important because whenever you drag an element, it won’t automatically be placed inside a section and aligned with all the other blocks. Though that means more work whenever you add something new, it also means more customization options, so we’ll count it as a plus.
Besides those editing options, a lot of the grunt work associated with creating a website is diminished by Gator’s templates.
They’re beautiful and optimized for mobile, as well as broken into categories of businesses. That makes for a great jump-start into the process of creating your website, because you don’t start with a blank canvas and you can choose to only browse templates from your industry.
Though the templates are easy to work with, they’re not as varied as, say, Squarespace’s. If you want a large palette of website layouts to choose from, check out our Squarespace review to learn more about it.
Ease of Use
Using Gator is as easy as using most website builders. Once you sign up, you pick a template from the ones discussed above and you’re off to editing.
If it looks like a steep learning curve to you, don’t worry. Before you start dragging and dropping, you can go through Gator’s onboarding tutorial. It’s a short, 15-second walkthrough that shows you what each tab does and where every important button is.
After that, you can start using the editor. Editing text and images is as straightforward as writing a Microsoft Word document. You may run into issues if you want to insert, for example, a testimonial carousel Gator doesn’t have such a premade block, but the tools it does have are easy to use.
Gator’s support isn’t stellar, but it’s well-rounded. The help center is well-made, featuring eight categories of tutorials, Q&As and explanations. It’s not just text, either. Those categories feature videos and images to showcase what you must do in each case.
If you don’t find your answer there, don’t despair. Regardless of your plan, you get 24/7 support via chat, email or phone. Gator’s support agents are kind and helpful, but there’s a catch. HostGator is a big platform, and its agents may get overwhelmed at times. That’s when priority support might come in handy. It doesn’t help that there’s no forum support, either.
You have to decide for yourself whether the difference in price between the Starter plan and the Premium plan is less important than knowing you’ll get priority support whenever you need it. If it is, go for that plan and rest assured when problems arise.
Gator is a great tool. It’s easy to use once you get the hang of it, inexpensive and has decent features. The tool is up there with our best website builders, even if the customization options are limited at times and you don’t get the best support.
If you want a better blogging platform, read our best web hosting guide. We recommend WordPress, but something else may suit your needs. Before you choose WordPress, though, read our best web hosting for WordPress guide.
Did you have a different experience with Gator? Let us know in the comments below, and thanks for reading
- Gator has multiple templates for blogs, small businesses, portfolios and more. These temples are mobile-friendly, too, meaning they’ll automatically adjust to the device they’re own without any coding.
- Yes. You’ll receive a free domain whenever you sign-up for a Gator account. If you already have a domain, you can transfer the domain to Gator free of charge.