I believe GoDaddy’s site builder is the right choice for most small businesses.
Using WordPress is difficult.
I know it seems like a silly statement to anyone who has used WordPress for many years or who has technical skills. But most small business owners don’t have these skills. When they want to build a website, they need something simpler than WordPress.
I recently volunteered to help organize the annual Founders Tournament pickleball tournament in Bainbridge Island, Washington. I encouraged the group to get its own domain name and website. This wasn’t an easy sell; the volunteer group was worried about the added drain of running a website in addition to planning the tournament.
I decided to sell them by mocking up the site in a website builder. Having tested the three leading independent site builders, as well as GoDaddy’s previous site builder, I started to create a site on Squarespace.
Squarespace is a great site builder if you’re a consultant or photographer. But the designs and default templates fall short once you go beyond that—ditto on Wix and Weebly. I tried creating the pickleball tournament site on these builders but was stymied. It was going to take a lot of work to convert their framework into a site for an event.
So I tried GoDaddy’s latest site builder which it recently re-introduced as GoDaddy Websites + Marketing. And boy, is it a great solution. Instead of asking me which template I wanted to use, GoDaddy’s setup first asked me what I was creating a site for. I started to type in ‘event’, and there it was: a wizard to create an event site.
Now we’re talking.
It was almost magical what I could create in about an hour. I mocked up a quick site including the pictures, menus, a placeholder schedule, etc. to show the other volunteers. The sample site looked good, was mobile-friendly, and helped show how easy it would be to have an event-specific website. The other volunteers were sold.
What I like about GoDaddy Websites + Marketing
The learning curve to create a basic web presence on GoDaddy’s tool is low. That’s key for any website builder.
That learning curve is aided by GoDaddy’s site builder wizard that is pre-designed for so many types of businesses. Whether it’s a plumber, restaurant, or pickleball tournament, it’s possible to create a decent website in about an hour.
That’s not the case on competing services unless you fit into their mold. If a friend wants to start a consulting firm, by all means, they should create a website on Squarespace. A photographer wanting to show off their portfolio? You can get a beautiful design on Wix or Weebly.
But something else?
Wix calls its templates “stunning” and I agree that they look nice and modern. They just aren’t always practical.
GoDaddy Websites + Marketing, on the other hand, works out of the box for just about any type of business or topic.
It also has the basic features you’ll likely need when you customize your site.
Even the eCommerce system was easy to get started. I wanted to add two items that people could pay for on the site. It took me about 20 minutes to figure out the eCommerce system and add these items.
It’s still a work in progress
While GoDaddy has created a great out-of-the-box experience, some things need to be improved. Like anything, the more you dig under the hood, the more issues you run into.
Customization: In many ways, the simplicity of the experience leads to some of the problems. When you edit a site, you drag blocks onto your pages, such as an image block or text block. Or an image and text block. I wanted to insert a small image inside a text block, but this required changing the entire block. And you can’t customize this to your liking; I wasn’t able to shrink the image to the size I wanted.
Some other customization issues should be fixed. The “schedule” block only shows five event items at a time before it paginates. We wanted to display six, so we ended up combining two of them.
Shared Access: GoDaddy’s typical customer is a small business owner who creates a website on their own. In my case, I wanted to share access with another volunteer. While GoDaddy lets you grant access to specific domains, there’s no way to invite another user to collaborate on your website. I had to move the site out of my main GoDaddy account and into another one to share access.
Email: While the site builder and eCommerce platform were intuitive, I can’t say the same for email marketing. The user interface is poor and I couldn’t even figure out how to send a test email before sending it to the entire list.
Brand: This might seem like an odd critique. GoDaddy changed the name of its site builder from GoCentral to just Website Builder to now Websites + Marketing. I guess the idea is that GoDaddy is the brand and it’s the company’s website builder. That’s fine, but it creates a problem when you search in GoDaddy’s help pages or on Google for support. “GoDaddy Websites + Marketing” is so generic that search queries might send you to support pages for GoDaddy’s previous website builders, such as Website Builder. (See how those names can be confusing?)
My first choice for many users
It’s difficult to say which website builder is best. It depends on who is using it. But I’m comfortable recommending GoDaddy Websites + Marketing to most users, especially ones that don’t fit into the generic bucket that other site builders target. I also feel comfortable referring people to GoDaddy’s site builder because I know that they can pick up the phone and call GoDaddy for support…rather than asking me for help.