GoDaddy’s GoCentral website builder is a recent addition to its lineup, allowing users to quickly craft a site without any web design knowledge. The company is better known as one of our best web hosting providers and domain registrar (it’s even the number one domain registrar in the world), and probably for good cause: while not bad, there are better website builders out there.
When compared to our other best website builders, the Godaddy website builder just doesn’t have the punch the others have, though it’s pricing is at least fair, it’s easy to use and offers great support. Some users, however, may prefer it for exactly these reasons.
Without further ado, let’s take an in-depth look at GoCentral, or you can click on our GoDaddy review if that’s where you were meaning to be in the first place.
Alternatives for GoDaddy GoCentral
Strengths & Weaknesses
- Easy to use
- Excellent support
- Blog integration
- Built-in SEO tool
- Limited amount of features
- Few design options
- Only one ecommerce plan
GoCentral feels a bit tacked on to the rest of GoDaddy’s services. That’s a trend that’ll continue throughout this review, making its first appearance in the feature set. However, while the builder itself doesn’t offer much, there are still plenty of features around it.
Starting with the builder, though, you get access to a few versatile tools for building your site. Sections such as appointment scheduling, menus, an event calendar and OpenTable reservations make the features feel pretty well rounded out of the gate. Even so, there’s an issue.
The list you get from the start is all you get. There is no app center, premium sections or any other business outside of the base lineup. What you see is what you get. The lineup isn’t disappointing by any means, but being locked into it is. If your site moves out of the boundaries set by GoDaddy, there is no simply no solution.
If you do draw within the lines, though, you’ll find quite a dense list of features. For instance, scheduling appointments is as easy as ever. Your customers simply fill out a form on your website and the appointment syncs to an online calendar.
Online stores have quite a bit of power at their disposal as well. You can add up to 1,500 products, accepting all major credit cards, PayPal and even Apple Pay. GoDaddy also gives real-time shipping rates and purchase reminders in case any customers abandon their cart.
Since GoDaddy does much more than just web hosting, you have some additional features surrounding the builder. This includes everything from website security with malware removal to online marketing with SEO experts. Sure, you can find these features elsewhere, but there’s something to be said about having everything under one roof.
You can do a lot with GoCentral. There are plenty of features for building your site and running your business, but the limited selection means your options fizzle. The list is powerful, but some sort of app center would go a long way in diversifying the types of sites built at GoDaddy.
The pricing model is a bit confusing at GoDaddy. While the base plan lines up nicely with Wix (read our Wix review) the others are difficult to evaluate. As mentioned in the section above, there is no app center at GoDaddy, meaning that the higher tier plans end up with a higher price for features that come free with other providers.
Starting with a personal plan, though, you get access to the basic website builder, blog support and full web hosting. It’s not a particularly exciting plan, but one that gets you up and running without too many problems. The price matches Wix and Weebly (read our Weebly review) as well, so the value is certainly there.
The business plan comes at nearly twice the cost for only a few extra features. You get an SSL certificate at your domain, PayPal donation buttons and access to the SEO tool which we’ll talk about in the section below. Unfortunately, at double the cost, the features don’t seem all that worth it.
Before moving to the latter half of the lineup, it’s important to note that these few features are all you get. For instance, any sort of ecommerce isn’t supported on the first three plans. You could try and jerry rig the PayPal button for a single product, but that’s about it. Even a stripped down ecommerce feature set, such as limited products and higher transactions fees, would help immensely.
A slight upgrade, “business plus” adds again a few extra features over the core business plan. This includes email marketing, social media integration and a business listing on Google. However, it’s most interesting feature is online appointment booking, one that syncs across any major online calendar.
Rounding out the list is the ”online store” plan. It’s a fitting name, as this is the only plan that allows you to build a full-fledged ecommerce front. It’s not too expensive of a price tag either, coming in a few dollars cheaper than a store with SquareSpace (read our SquareSpace review).
However, unlike SquareSpace, you don’t have access to that many features. A dedicated storefront such as Shopify is a better choice in nearly any case, but the lack of features at GoDaddy doesn’t even put it in the running. Sure, you have abandoned cart recovery, discount and promotion support and product reviews, but there’s not much outside of that.
We’ll discuss how these limitations impact the experience in the next couple of sections. As far as pricing goes, though, the features may seem too niche to justify the cost. For instance, appointment booking with a Business Plus plan is useful, but only to businesses that care about booking appointments.
Even so, the plans’ prices feel fairly justified. However, the omission of any sort of app center makes each plan feel more limiting and, thus, less valuable when compared to other builders.
Design & Tools
The builder is limited at GoDaddy, to say the least. Clearly, it was an addition to the established web hosting and not the other way around. While you can get a site online, it won’t look much different than any other site put through the builder.
Particularly, this is because of theme selection. GoDaddy gives you a selection of only eight total themes and they’re not much different from each other. Changing the theme only messes with the color palette and fonts. You can change these settings later too, which brings into question the point of themes in the first place.
It’s a bit of a misused term here. The themes act more as suggested starting points and not complete redesigns of your website. There are a few changes between them such as header placement, but it’s still a dismal amount of difference, making the builder feel a bit like the MS Paint of web design.
To add to the confusion, there are unique premade themes available, just not within the builder. GoDaddy calls these “templates” and not “themes”, a distinction that’s apparently important here. What’s mind boggling is why there’s a difference in the first place.
You should be able to pick a template from the start instead of fussing around with the mediocre array of themes. Templates are far more suitable starting points, ones that will, unfortunately, usually be uncovered later in the design process.
GoDaddy locks the basic look of your site away, but you still have options to work within the parameters set forth. You edit your site through an interactive interface, stacking new sections on top of one another. It’s not a drag and drop interface, but feels just as intuitive.
Mousing over a top of a section allows you to add another, building out the page in a linear fashion. While we would like to see more in the way of customization, there are plenty of ways to build a unique page from the limited amount of options.
Settings wise, the selection is limited, but surprisingly suitable. For example, GoDaddy includes an SEO tool that walks you through editing your meta title and description right within the settings panel. We tried to break the tool by ranking for the keyword “cupcakes” for our mock computer store “Computers McGee” and it worked quite well.
You can optimize any page on your site, and while the tools performs only basic SEO functions, it’s a very nice starting point for those who are clueless about search rankings.
Despite lacking in options, you can still create a good looking site with GoDaddy. For many, a few tools is all that’s required, especially when ease of use is on the line. However, for those that want more control, it’s best to look elsewhere.
Ease of Use
There is an upside to the limited toolset, though. You can’t do much in the builder and, because of that, the process for building your site is extremely easy. However, getting to that point is a bit of a hassle.
This is mainly because of the segregation of themes and templates. These two terms would easily be interchangeable with any other website builder, but there’s a distinction between them here. Themes refer to the color scheme and font selection and templates are unique starting points.
As mentioned above, the template selection is quite large, with plenty of options for just about any site. GoDaddy should use these templates as a baseline for users. Breaking up the two just adds confusion to the process and often means you spend a bit of time designing before discovering a more suitable starting point.
After that distinction is made, though, GoDaddy is as easy as can be. The main builder page gives you three options: theme, pages and site settings. The first is pretty straightforward. You simply choose one of the eight “themes” or select the fonts and color scheme yourself. Pages is just a simple page hierarchy which is pretty straightforward.
The power of the builder comes through the last option. The settings menu manages all the internal workings of your site. Here, you’ll find broad options like social media linking and ad placement, but there are niche options as well. Some of note are a cookie disclaimer for visitors, the built-in SEO tool and automatic translation with Google Translate.
None of the tools here deal with the design of your site, though. You handle that through an interactive editor. As mentioned above, mousing over any section allows you to add another. There are a limited amount of options, but modules for custom HTML, MLS real estate listings and OpenTable reservations give you enough flexibility to create a site for your needs.
From the limited selection, the ease of use clearly shines through. For many, creating a website with GoDaddy is easy, with plenty of options to tune the site for your needs. However, if you don’t find what you need from the included list, you’re sorely out of luck.
This domain registrar turned web host turned website builder has quite a few years under its belt. Because of that, GoDaddy is no stranger to support, and while it feels lacking in other areas, the support section feels fully realized.
Support is broken up into three distinct sections. You have tutorials, a forum and, of course, support staff. Tutorials are again broken up into videos and articles, both of which are among the best we’ve seen.
You can search for articles as you would in any knowledge base. However, GoDaddy also includes a list of “dive in” articles, a collection set to get you started with different areas of web hosting. For instance, the essential articles for SSL certificates include verifying your certificate, downloading it and troubleshooting it.
There’s even a list of videos specifically for the website builder. As GoDaddy is a company with a diverse product range, adding a specific section for the website builder is extremely helpful for finding support quickly.
At the bottom of each article and video are a few related topics within the forums. Here, you’ll find sections for every area of service GoDaddy offers, including the website builder. It’s entirely community driven, with the exception of moderators, so most answers won’t come from GoDaddy directly. That’s not too painful, though, considering GoDaddy hosts AMAs with different team occasionally.
If you can’t find an answer between the forums and knowledge base, direct support is available 24/7. GoDaddy offers live chat and phone support exclusively, meaning any email contact is off the table. Companies like Bluehost (read our Bluehost review) have moved away from email support as well and, while it’s slightly disappointing, the lack doesn’t hurt the overall experience.
Even so, GoDaddy shines with DIY support. The knowledge base is robust with information and the forums provide a connection to the community. Live chat and phone support suffice, but the direct line feels slightly disappointing with the lack of email support.
GoDaddy is certainly pushing its product line past basic web hosting. Even so, the current iteration of the GoCentral builder falls short when put up against other website builders. It’s a functional piece of kit, but certainly not an ideal one.
It seems the best use of this provider is strictly web hosting. The support and ease of use are top notch, with decent response times to boot.
What do you think of GoDaddy? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.