Gator, a brainchild of HostGator hosting company, is a low-priced website builder that puts all the essential features in one simple package. It’s a great pick for beginner users, looking for something on a budget.
When people think of HostGator, they probably think not about a builder, but about the platform’s hosting and domain services, well known all around the US for the last two decades.
But times change. Trying to adapt to the market’s changing tastes, HostGator released the Gator website builder. And when for this review, I bought a Gator plan and made my own website, I thought that Gator was…
…actually quite excellent.
It’s cheap, and has all the main features required from a website builder: I loved that eCommerce, blogging, analytics, and marketing are all included with each package.
Gator website builder is not a weird bonus, thrown in next to hosting. It’s not some programmer’s weekend project, haphazardly put together with a glue stick, just so HostGator can say, that they “have a website builder”. It’s a completed, solid business option.
And with the new updates, I actually quite endorse it. Especially the new “Express” site editor, which focuses on building completely custom websites as quickly as possible. You don’t get a whole lot of design freedom. But instead, you get efficiency.
In just a few minutes, Gator helps anyone make an entirely original website, suited to their niche. And in just a few more, anyone can start selling and blogging on this platform – because it’s just that simple.
You can read the end of this Gator website builder review – just click to read the full conclusion here. Alternatively, follow one of the links in the table to go to the part that interests you the most:
|Overall score||4.2★||Great for small businesses and beginners|
|Pricing||★★★★||Incredibly low starting price, made a bit worse by renewal fees|
|Ease of use||★★★★★||Very easy to use all facets of the platform|
|Templates||★★★||Existing pre-made templates not good, Express editor uses a different system|
|Business Features||★★★★||Fairly minimalist, but still robust options for business|
Pros and cons of Gator builder
- Very easy to build a website with
- Simple-to-use business features
- Lightning-fast performance
- Excellent introductory prices
- Limited design flexibility
- Pricing increases after the introductory period
Gator website builder pricing
HostGator website builder plans range from $3.84/month for the Starter plan to $9.22/month for the eCommerce plan. Compared to other website builders, these prices are genuinely really low. Often, you’d pay several times that to get similar features! But of course – there are still a few things to consider.
Let’s begin by having a look at the three premium plans:
|Starter ($3.84/month)||Free hosting, SSL certificate, domain name, drag-and-drop editor, and customizable templates.|
|Premium ($5.99/month)||Priority support from HostGator.|
|eCommerce ($9.22/month)||eCommerce capabilities including inventory management, coupons, and shipping calculators.|
Gator website builder does not offer a free plan or a free trial of the platform. The best way to test the platform out is to buy the plan in full, and later use a rather generous 45-day money-back guarantee. That’s a bit unusual, but honestly – it’s a common practice, and I’ve never had any issues getting my money back from HostGator or any other similar companies.
With that out of the way, let’s check out these three plans in detail:
The Starter plan ($3.84/month) includes all of the main website-building features: on top of a free domain, free SSL, and full access to the platform, this also means email marketing and even eCommerce!
However, I would still mostly recommend this plan to personal and portfolio website owners. That’s because the features of this plan are as follows:
- 3 email campaigns per month with 250 unique emails
- 3 products on online store
- 3% eCommerce transaction fee
- No options for bookings and appointments
Really, this plan isn’t a way to run a business. The email and eCommerce features serve really as trial versions of what the other plans have. And there’s no way to do booking and appointments here, too. So, really, this plan is best if you don’t plan to use any advanced features on your site. Instead, you’ll just get something simple.
The Premium plan ($5.99/month) improves on the Starter plan: but not by a lot. It’s still mostly tailored for personal users, but there are few extra features small businesses might end up enjoying:
- 5 email campaigns per month with 500 unique emails
- 10 products on online store
- 3% eCommerce transaction fee
- Option for bookings and appointments
- Priority customer support
See what I mean? The Premium plan barely lifts up the email and eCommerce limitations set by the Starter plan. However, it adds bookings, and also throws in priority customer support.
Is it worth paying extra for that? I mean…if you need booking features on your website, and you don’t plan to take payments directly from your website, then this plan is pretty much perfect for you. On other, much more common cases, I recommend either going down or up.
The eCommerce plan ($9.22/month) includes all of the top features available on the platform, making this a good option for both personal users and small businesses. It offers all the features available on the previous plan, plus this:
- 10 email campaigns per month with 1,250 unique emails
- Unlimited number of products on online store
- No eCommerce transaction fee
- Advanced shipping management
Now that’s certainly a plan I endorse if you’re planning to sell online. No transaction fees, no limits on products, and pretty respectable email marketing features give this plan just about enough to be cheap, but a solid option for businesses.
But there’s one more thing to remember about the cheap Gator website builder pricing. In fact, no – there are two:
- They are valid if you purchase the plan for 24-months in advance. For example, the Express Start plan costs $3.84/month when paying for 24 months, $4.61/month when paying for 12 months, and $4.99 when paying monthly.
- These are the introductory prices. Once your initial plan period (1, 12, or 24 months) expires, you’ll be charged double of what you paid when you signed up.
So, I guess…ta-da? Here’s a secret of how the HostGator builder is so cheap. In long term, you’ll probably end up paying more than 4 bucks a month. I’m sorry!
To be completely fair though, even with this pricing structure, Gator pricing is still really good. You can get a solid website builder option with email marketing features and eCommerce for less than $10 a month – and you can just think of the first two years as a 50% discount.
Sounds so good, you can almost forgive them for having no free trial.
Gator's Starter plan is best for personal users, and eCommerce is best for businesses. And while they're cheap now – they can be even cheaper. In order to find the best price, we keep acquiring the best coupons and discount codes. See, if there's a discount for you.
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Is Gator website builder easy to use?
- Setup process – pretty simple overall. Everything can be set up in just a few minutes.
- Building the website – there are two website building options, and “Express” is the way to go. It’s much more modern and intuitive.
- Managing the website – the dashboard is straightforward and simple to understand.
On this part of the Gator website builder review, I took a look at the platform’s overall ease of use. And honestly, I was impressed: Gator did a very good job at streamlining both the onboarding and website editing process.
While all website builders claim to be easy and customizable, not all of them are. Here – it was the name of the game. Everything, from the very beginning of the setup to fine-tuning the smallest things on the page, was easy to understand.
Here, on one of the options, I managed to make a fully customized website, suited for my preferred niche in just a few minutes. Here it is – you can also click on the image to see the page in full.
Here’s how it all went down:
Getting started with Gator
Once I picked my plan, and added all of my personal and financial details, I was given an opportunity to choose between the two building options: Express and Traditional.
Here’s what happened after trying out to get started – both of the ways.
Getting Started with Express
Once I picked the Express option, I was offered to add information about the future website – what it’s about, and what did I want it to have.
Then, I was asked to write down the name of the future website, and given an option to select the cover image – either by uploading an image of my own, or selecting one from free stock images, related to the previously selected niche.
Then, I got to pick out a preferred font for my website. There were only 6 total options – wish there were at least a few more.
Then, I got to pick out your website’s color scheme…
And navigation style…
One important thing to note is that the Gator website builder doesn’t play the “AI website builder” card. This isn’t “smart website building”, it’s “fast website building”.
All the design changes here will be done by you, and you only. This gives you an opportunity to build the website just the way you want to.
Same way – even with such limited customization, you can still make your Gator website look a little bit ugly…so beware.
After all these design options, I was asked to type in some regular business details, and – here we go! I found myself in the website editor.
This is where I could finally edit all the main facets of my website. Overall, everything was pretty simple!
Getting started with Traditional
When choosing to get started with Traditional method, I was immediately transferred to a template selection screen. Here, I could choose whatever of the available options I want to use as the base template for my site.
And then…that was it! Moments after, I was teleported right into the site editor. Luckily, there was a small start-up guide, that quickly explained where everything was and what I could do with the platform.
But now, there’s one thing some might have noticed already.
Gator website builder uses two different website editors. The Traditional option keeps Gator’s old website-building system, while the Express option uses a new one.
They are a fair bit different. And overall, to make a (very) long story (rather) short: I liked the new version much more than the old. By comparison, here’s the Express version again: there are plenty of things you can edit, and there’s a good number of elements available.
Meanwhile, the old builder is…alright. You can stuff with it…I guess?
The truth of the matter is, this builder is much less powerful and customizable than the new one. The sections, for example, are limited to just various combinations of text, images, and buttons.
So, for this GoDaddy website builder review, I will use the new Express editor as the default editor option. It’s newer, it’s better looking, and much more powerful. Why settle for something worse, anyway?
Overall, getting started with Gator is rather simple. I did have to pick on my preferred editor option and insert a lot of information to get going, but this will only make my future editing a lot easier.
Gator site editor
The editor looks pretty congested. That’s because it certainly is – on the left, there are all the options for editing and managing the site. On the right – there are all the settings of a specific part or feature that you can edit.
Whatever space is left in the middle, will be dedicated to the preview of your website.
You can edit sections by simply clicking on them on the preview. They can be moved up or down and deleted.
The menu on the right lets you choose from one of the pre-made layout options, and a selection of toggles lets you either quickly move, or quickly add/remove various elements from the section.
It’s important to note that Gator isn’t a drag and drop builder. You can’t freely throw the elements and all the things within them around. You’ll get to place which element goes where, and then pick the layout that you like the most.
You can choose from all the sections by clicking a blue Plus icon on the preview.
There are over 30 different types of sections, each including several different layouts. Most of them will try to adapt to a color scheme you picked on the preview.
The color scheme can be quickly changed by going to a “Theme” section on the menu.
I was given several pre-made options, as well as allowed to make literally any color combination that you want.
The Pages menu is there for adding and removing pages, as well as setting hierarchies between them.
And it’s the settings menu, where you’ll get a chance to update your site and business data, as well as your social accounts, analytics, legal info, and, surprisingly – do an HTML injection, allowing you to edit Head and Body end HTML.
Other parts of the menu will be focused on specific tools, such as an online shop, booking, blog, or seeing the site’s overall statistics.
Overall, I found the editor to be quite easy to use. Despite the lack of conventional design freedom, there’s still a lot you can do within the platform. Once you get used to Gator, and give it some more time, it certainly delivers.
Gator website builder dashboard is quite simple. On your left, there will be the main options, and a site swapper (if you manage more than one page). At the top, you’ll see your site’s actions, and down below, there’s a helpful guide on what should you consider doing next.
On the dashboard, you’ll be given all the required tools to manage a blog, do email marketing, as well as social media advertising.
There are also links to the App Market, which has several third-party themes, and LogoMaker – which can help you quickly make a logo.
The dashboard is also where you’ll be able to connect to HostGator’s support team – either via a knowledge base, 11AM to 9PM phone line, or a 24/7 live chat.
I actually gave the live chat a spin. I ended up being quite impressed by how quickly the Gator website builder support responded to and solved all of my problems.
It took less than a minute to get connected, and while at first, I received an article from the knowledge base, it didn’t take long for the agent to look into my problem, and offer a specific fix. Full marks there. For both the dashboard, and the customer support.
Overall, my entire experience on this Gator website builder review has been quite positive so far. The platform is very easy to use. It’s a bit unusual, and you’ll be sacrificing freedom for the sake of simplicity, but overall, I found very little to complain about.
Gator website builder templates
Templates, as we know them, are pre-made websites following a specific theme, which the users can them edit to fit their specific needs.
Gator offers some templates – but only for the inferior Traditional version.
And honestly, I’m not overly impressed. Some of the themes look just quite alright.
And others make me think of the days when nu-metal was still a thing.
And it’s not like you can filter out the bad apples. There are fifteen options available. Fifteen! So, really, I can’t recommend you go with the Traditional approach and its merry gang of old school templates.
On the other hand, the Express approach doesn’t use conventional themes. Instead, it takes your niche, and then offers a design solution suited for it – and that includes free stock images.
Then, you can edit all other theme-related things, such as fonts on your website, a color scheme of the site, or how the menus will line up.
The Express editor doesn’t have pre-made themes – instead, it lets you easily make some of your own.
So – I won’t be too tough on Gator templates. While the existing Traditional options are both few, and pretty bad, there’s clearly an attempt to do something very different here. By moving away from templates, Gator has basically saved this Templates section.
Nature’s funny sometimes, isn’t it?
Gator business features
Gator offers a good selection of business features including eCommerce, analytics, social media integration, and SEO. Let’s have a quick look at them – and see if they’re worth your time, effort, and money.
Gator website builder offers eCommerce of all plans – and to start an online store, all you have to do is to go to your website edit page, and pick “Store” from the menu.
There, you’ll be given a quick startup guide, that will cover all the main things required to start selling online.
Once everything is set up, you can start adding your products – the builder accepts allows you to both insert a CSV file and move from another platform, and to add all items manually.
And then, there’s the Advanced Features section, which allows you to use Gator website builder to do integrated shipping, do various discounts and discount codes, and offer global variants as well as various product categories.
Overall, Gator website builder eCommerce is rather basic – but it does the basics quite well. The most expensive sub-$10 eCommerce plan might be the cheapest way to get a proper online shop with no additional transaction fees.
All Gator plans include free email marketing: so it would almost be a sin not to give it a spin, right?
Well, I enjoyed how Gator set everything up. Straight from the dashboard, I could make a campaign in just a few clicks. Several pre-made mail options were already there for me to pick.
And then, there was a very simple way to edit everything – it’s extremely similar to the way you would be editing the site! I liked it. In fact, I think it works even better here, and you can make functional, good-looking emails with no fuss.
Overall, I’m a fan of how HostGator website builder deals with emails. And remembering the campaigns are included in all plans, it’s certainly something worth trying.
HostGator website builder offers a pretty extensive analytics suite. Here is where I’d show you my visitors…
But even on a pretty empty dashboard, I could see that there’s plenty to enjoy. A combination of unique visitors, bounce rate, and session time is a great way to test your website’s performance. You can see daily website performance by visitors, bounce rate, page views, or visit duration. There’s even a map that shows where your visits are coming from.
Also, you can filter visitors by devices, browsers, languages, and other narrow statistics.
For a regular user, HostGator analytics could be all that they ever need. For more advanced users, a big question probably comes to mind: what about Google Analytics?
Well – there’s no HostGator app to have Google Analytics on your website. However, you can add custom code to your website. And so, by doing that, you can also connect your website to a Google account and use the Analytics dashboard there.
So overall, no complaints here: pretty good analytics capabilities, on both first and third-party solutions
On this Gator website builder review, I also had a look at blogging: and what I really liked, is that it’s separated from the whole website builder. That means you’re getting a clean interface, free from any distractions.
It’s a pretty minimalist system, you don’t get to do overly much, but the basics are there. Adding media, doing basic formatting, all is there. You can choose a cover image from many free stock images, too – so you make your posts just a little bit more pretty.
There’s also an SEO settings section. In it, it’s very simple to edit the post, on how it will look when found on search results, and posted on social media. Title, description, and URL are the available editing options.
Overall, blogging and content SEO on HostGator website builder are both quite basic, but entirely capable. There won’t be any WordPress-level hardcore editing, so it’s maybe not the greatest option if you want to make a blog-only website. However, if blogging for you is just a side gig, and something you won’t do constantly on your site, this is a solid pick.
Gator website builder performance
Website builders aren’t very fast – but considering Gator’s pedigree in server hosting, I was expecting something pretty good.
And something pretty good I got: this platform is extremely fast. To find that out for this Gator website builder review, I put my test site on GTMetrix, which measures the platform’s optimization, and page’s general speed.
This is what I saw:
All in all, looks pretty good. While the site take a while to load, it actually takes only one second to load the biggest visual elements on the site, and even less for the site to become interactive. GTMetrix also spotted no major problems on overall site optimization. If you really care how fast your website is – HostGator website builder is the pick for you.
Gator website builder alternatives
This Gator website builder review may have made you interested in the platform – but also, maybe not. Hey, I get it: different platforms suit different people and different needs. If this builder isn’t for you, check these out instead:
Honestly, Wix rules. You can build any kind of website with it: so as you can imagine, it’s super simple to recommend. 700 templates are more than enough to pick out the best option, and just like Gator, Wix also has two types of editors. The classic editor is for all the pixel-perfect editing. And the ADI Editor includes a quick questionnaire, that later uses some AI magic to build a website suited to you and your business. Pretty nifty.
Squarespace offers some beautiful modern themes. And on top of that, the platform also has a baked-in eCommerce and marketing system, which is very easy to use and master. If you simply want a quick way to go online and run your small business, Squarespace a terrific pick.
Zyro offers a similar pricing structure to Gator: but it also manages to be even cheaper! With several great templates and a grid-based drag-and-drop builder, it’s a more classical approach to website building. If you’re looking for that, but also wish to stay on budget, Zyro is far and away the best option.
HostGator website builder review – final verdict
I won’t lie – to this Gator website builder review, I came with pretty low hopes. While the builder is backed by a massive company, it’s not very well known. And for me, a lack of a free plan signaled a lack of confidence in the product itself.
But I was totally wrong.
Gator website builder is fast, cheap, and super easy to use. $9.22 a month for two years of solid eCommerce is excellent. $3.84 a month for a premium website builder is excellent, as well. Sure, the pricing increases a year or two after you start using the product, but even then, it’s still really good value for money.
As far as the two editors go, I didn’t like the old system too much. The “Traditional” approach had a limited website builder, and pretty awful themes. But if you choose the “Express” editor, you’ll have a big modern, completely custom website made in no time.
I can’t suggest this for everyone, of course. If you’re really interested in deep design editing, and have a specific vision of a website, Gator won’t let you reach it. What it will do, is offer a quick way to build something that works…
and works fast.
Gator website builder offers a straightforward way to get a fast website with all the crucial features, for just a few dollars a month. If you want a website, and you want it now – this is the choice.
This concludes the HostGator website builder review – but don’t forget, you can make one of your own. There’s no free plan for you to use, but there’s a 45-day free trial, that you can safely use and see if this builder is for you. So, if you’re interested, give it a shot.
Gator website builder FAQs
Is HostGator website builder good?
HostGator website builder is surprisingly good. It’s simple, inexpensive, and the website made with it are really fast.
How do I change my HostGator template?
If you’re using the new Express editor, you don’t have an opportunity to change your theme. Instead, you can edit fonts, sections, and layouts of the page to make an entirely custom website. On the Traditional editor, there’s a simple way to change the theme on the main website editor.