GoDaddy (GoCentral) Website Builder Review
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- Date Established
- Scottsdale, AZ
- Easy to use
- Mobile responsive
- 1-month free trial
- Good eCommerce for Online Store subscribers
- Limited template customization
- No free plan
- No free year of domain service
- No true blogging tool
- No image editing
Ah, GoDaddy: the domain registrar and web hosting company with a 10-point list of controversies in their Wikipedia entry. With a brand image that evokes professional wrestling, the Super Bowl, cleavage, and auto racing crashes, it is perhaps the most existentially American of tech institutions. Founded by Bob Parsons in 1997 (and led since 2013 by CEO Blake Irving), GoDaddy now serves more than 18 million customers. In addition to its registrar and web hosting services, GoDaddy also offers its own website builder named GoCentral — the subject of my review.
Backed by the world’s largest domain registrar and offered in 53 different languages, GoDaddy’s website builder, like Danica Patrick’s racing career circa 2005, would seem to have unbounded potential. Does GoDaddy take advantage of its resources and marketing prowess to facilitate an enjoyable and productive website creation experience, or are they best relied on for providing 30 seconds of light entertainment in-between watching doomed men administer brain damage to one other? Let us ponder this question over a box of Chicken McNuggets in the back of my monster truck.
In the summer of 2017, GoDaddy released an updated website builder, referring to it as GoCentral. At the time, GoDaddy described GoCentral in the following way:
GoCentral promises to simplify the process of creating a website, which can be done in under an hour, and the website builder can even be used on touchscreen mobile devices so that business owners can tweak the layout and content on the move.
Given that GoDaddy’s previous builder had fallen behind the times — for instance, it was not mobile responsive — I was glad to see an update. And in the year that has followed, GoDaddy has made a number of significant feature updates to the product, including Google My Business integration, improved eCommerce functionality, a proper blogging tool, and more.
Let’s see how it all works.
Table of Contents
GoDaddy has revamped and simplified its subscription offerings. Where once there was staggered pricing (a cheap first year with the regular price kicking in afterward), monthly charges varying by subscription length, and free-for-the-first-year Office 365 subscriptions, there are now four plans with straightforward pricing. All plans are free for the first 30 days, after which you’ll have to buy a subscription.
- Responsive design
- Website hosting
- 24/7 support
- Blogging tool
- All of the above PLUS:
- PayPal integration
- SSL security
- Search engine optimization
- All of the above PLUS:
- Email marketing
- Social media integration
- Globally-optimized speed
- Google My Business
- Share content to Facebook
- New Online Appointment features:
- Accept credit cards via Square and PayPal for appointment bookings
- Text and email notifications for you and your customers
- Two-way calendar syncing with Google, O365, Outlook and iCal
- Client management tools for contact info, appointment and payment history and more
- All of the above PLUS:
- Full featured online store w/ fast checkout
- Accept PayPal, credit cards, Apple Pay & more
- Manage products, inventory, and orders
- Configure shipping and tax rates
- Offer discounts and promotions
- Product reviews and social referrals
- Abandoned cart recovery
- Text notifications when orders are placed
Most website builders include a year’s worth of free domain service with a website builder subscription. Despite their status as the world’s largest domain registrar, GoDaddy doesn’t. If you want a custom domain (one that isn’t [yoursite].godaddysites.com), you’ll need to buy one, either from GoDaddy or from elsewhere. With GoDaddy, domains run upwards of $12 per year.
For payment, GoDaddy accepts all major credit/debit cards (Visa, MasterCard, AmEx, Diner’s Club, UCB). They also accept payment through PayPal, gift cards, and directly from your checking account.
Web-Hosted Or Licensed
GoDaddy’s website builder is entirely web-hosted.
Hardware & Software Requirements
There are no hardware requirements per se. Software-wise, GoDaddy is compatible with all the major browsers.
Business Types Supported
With GoCentral, the latest iteration of GoDaddy’s site builder, you aren’t given a list of templates to choose from based on your field or industry. In fact, there are no templates at all. Instead, GoCentral has joined other new-school responsive builders and given us an editor based on modules. In the site creation process, you’re prompted to enter the sort of business you’re in, and GoCentral then generates a site for you, complete with images relating to your field and content sections that fit your industry.
Once you’ve seen the site created for you, you can then change up the layouts, fonts, and colors by choosing another “theme,” meaning another page arrangement. Several different “themes” are available depending on which industry you entered during the site creation process.
Beyond that, you can swap out the images for ones of your own, rearrange the section modules to your liking, and create new content modules. The editor’s appeal is universal and can be used to support any business under the sun. Given the new mobile-oriented focus, however, restaurant/event sites will have particular reason to appreciate the new editing system, given the demographics of their clientele.
Ease Of Use
One of the most appealing aspects of this sort of website builder is their extreme ease of use. The content modules provided cover just about everything the typical business website would need, and in building the pages that comprise your site, you essentially stack these content modules like bricks. To add one of these content sections, hover your mouse over the seam between two of the existing sections, then click the + button that appears on the right of the editor. You’ll see the following content options pop up (among others):
- Contact Us
- Content (testimonials, FAQs, etc)
- Files (attach files like PDFs etc)
- Photo Gallery
- Menu / Price List
- Sell Online
- Subscribe (collect email subscribers)
- Reservations (accept reservations with OpenTable integration)
- Logos & Badges
- MLS/IDX Real Estate Listings
- Restaurant Online Ordering
- Zillow Reviews
Once added, each section is customizable. For example, the Contact Us form and the Photo Gallery both have multiple layout options to choose from. And though you’re not working within a “template,” you can still change the fonts and colors used throughout your site by clicking “theme” along the right of the editor and choosing new ones.
GoDaddy’s new website editor is in keeping with modern trends in DIY website builders and facilitates the easy creation of functional, professional-looking websites. You don’t really get the opportunity to customize the layout to your specifications, however, since you’re limited to making pre-determined changes to your sections and changing the fonts and colors used throughout the site. This keeps things simple, but at the expense of the ability to create anything distinctive or unique-looking. I made the following mock-site using GoDaddy’s old site editor:
Admittedly, it’s silly and looks rather primitive, but I had fun making it. The current editor is more practical, but it doesn’t give you that same sense of creative freedom. Plus, this editing model doesn’t give you undo/redo buttons. Once you’ve made a change, by God, you’ve made it. You can’t make edits with the confidence of knowing you can revert to a previous state whenever you want. Boo.
When you enter Preview mode, you’ll see that you can view both the desktop version of your site and the mobile version at the same time. GoDaddy’s mobile sites have improved in the new GoCentral iteration, so it’s good to see GoDaddy paying more attention to the mobile experience.
GoCentral also lets you sync your website theme to that of your Facebook profile. It’s a cool feature, relieving you of the need to create your business’s Facebook page yourself.
GoDaddy’s website builder has never been known for providing an overabundance of features. Let’s see what they offer the aspiring website jockey.
- Blogging: Back in my initial review of GoCentral in 2017, all you could do blogging-wise was display posts from an existing blog in one of three layouts (you can still do this). It’s nice to be able to integrate your Tumblr or WordPress blog into your GoCentral site, but that’s no replacement for a real blogging solution. Thankfully, GoDaddy has rectified the situation and added an in-house blogging tool. The company has updated the blog for functionality recently — it now features the ability to organize your blog posts into categories, thus allowing you to display certain blog posts on one of your pages and display a different set of posts on another page. However, you still can’t add videos or allow for multiple authors.
- Image Editor: One of the highlights of GoDaddy’s old website builder was its powerful and versatile image editor. It gave you plenty of Photoshop-like options for fine-tuning your photos. Sadly, this has been taken away. Now, all you can do with your images is zoom in/out and set the focus point.
- Social Media: When you add a Social section to your site, you get a set of icon links displayed horizontally across your page. There’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, Youtube, and Yelp. You can’t customize the layout of these icons in any way, nor can you remove any of them. This really blows — who among us has a Google+ page? Furthermore, GoDaddy’s old builder let you display your Facebook/Twitter feeds on your site. You can’t do this anymore.
- Contact Form: GoDaddy’s contact form is a decent tool. Sadly, it’s another tool that isn’t as robust as it was under the old editor. GoDaddy used to give you five different pre-arranged forms available to choose from: Appointment Form, Contact Form, Mailing List, Quote and Registration Form. Now, you get five different layout options, but the form fields are the same in each — you have to manually add more and/or alter the existing ones to get the kind of form you need. They’ve also eliminated the ability to have users submit a file for upload.
- eCommerce: GoCentral’s eCommerce is only available to Online Store subscribers — a $19.99/month package. You get a healthy number of features for your online store — you can set color and size options on your products, get a healthy set of shipping and inventory options with UPS and USPS integrations, and even send out promotional emails to your contacts promoting your store. Thankfully, GoDaddy has added the ability to sell digital products, thus making GoDaddy’s online store a better value proposition for musicians and graphic artists. Recent feature additions include the ability to allow your customers to pay using Square and/or Apple Pay.
Other GoCentral features include access to Google Maps, audio from SoundCloud, video from YouTube and Vimeo, and restaurant reservations from OpenTable. There’s also a nifty online appointment feature that accepts online payments and syncs with your calendar.
Another nice feature — a recent addition — is Google My Business. Available only to Business Plus and Online Store subscribers, Google My Business lets you display your business hours, phone number, and location in Google Search and Maps results. Only certain businesses qualify, however. For instance, your business must have a storefront and a local service area.
Web Design & Editing
- Templates: With GoCentral, the site creation process doesn’t direct you to choose from different categories of prefabricated templates. Instead, based on the sort of business you specify at the beginning, GoCentral puts together a site for you, with content sections matching what your business is likely to require. A stock image relating to your field is also inserted into your header.
- Mobile Editor: GoDaddy has no mobile editing apps, though I will say that GoDaddy’s mobile sites look much better than they did under the old editing regime. Unfortunately, there’s no way to customize them at all.
Integrations & Add-Ons
GoDaddy’s website builder integrates with Google Maps, Google Analytics, Google My Business, YouTube, Vimeo, OpenTable, and SoundCloud, as well as Square, PayPal and Apple Pay for payment processing. Unlike Wix and Weebly, GoDaddy doesn’t have an extensive collection of third-party apps on offer to fill in any feature gaps.
Customer support comes in the form of a 24/7 phone number, live chat, a community forum, and a knowledge base. I found the direct support helpful and fairly quick.
Negative Reviews & Complaints
GoDaddy’s website builder has been taken to task by professional reviewers for the following:
- No External Code Adding
- Only One Level of Navigation — No Sub-Menus
- No Image Editing Tool
- Poorly-Featured Compared to the Competition
- SEO Settings Are Too Basic
Complaints regarding the lack of theme customization options abound.
Positive Reviews & Testimonials
On the positive side, GoDaddy’s site builder has been lauded by reviewers on the following points:
- Easy To Use
- Generates Nice Mobile Sites
- Introductory Tutorial Videos Are Helpful
GoDaddy’s customers, with some exceptions, tend to praise the quality of the live customer support.
As the world’s largest domain registrar, GoDaddy is a company with plenty of resources at its disposal. As such, I’m glad to see that GoDaddy has invested in improving the functionality of the GoCentral website builder. With a basic blogging tool, eCommerce improvements (such as the ability to accept payments with Square and online appointment booking), and Google My Business integration, GoCentral is ahead of where it started out in 2017, which is why I’m improving GoCentral’s rating to 3.5 stars.
Unfortunately, GoCentral’s shortcomings — no image editing, limited template customization options, a very limited form builder, a rather basic blogging tool — currently hold it back from encroaching on 4-star territory.