|Key Strength||Ease of Use||Full-featured builder|
|Key Complaint||Limitations on functionality||Lack of advanced features|
|Best for…||Simple websites & GoDaddy customers||Current GoDaddy customers|
|Current Promotion||Get Current Promo||Get Current Promo|
First, a bit of background. The process of building a website has changed radically since the early days of the Internet. Even though the core job of a website – HTML rendered in a browser – has not changed, the technology used to produce the HTML has. While you can still produce a website with nothing but a text-editor – most people choose a technology that makes the process of building and managing the website much easier and more accessible.
All-inclusive website builders have been particularly interesting. Companies like GoDaddy’s Website Builder and Wix have brought websites to everyone regardless of coding skills with their drag & drop and/or customizable templates.
There is a wide variety of website building solutions, and they all live on a spectrum with a tradeoff between control & convenience. I’ve written a full explainer on website builders here, but here’s how I think about it –
On the 100% control, but 0% convenience end – you have solutions like a text editor and server space that you purchase separately. It’s a bit akin to buying raw land to build your house for shelter.
On the 0% control, but 100% convenience end – you have solutions like Facebook and Twitter that provide no control (not even domain name control), but are highly convenient.
In the 50/50 middle – you have solutions like WordPress that live on your own server at a web host, but help you manage & build your website with WordPress themes and various plugin options. It’s akin to buying a house that you own – you are responsible if anything breaks, but you can do really whatever you want.
Towards the convenience end, but with more control all live “hosted” website builders like Wix and GoDaddy’s Website Builder or close competitors like Squarespace. They offer more convenience by bundling web hosting service, design, site builder software, an SSL certificate, domain names, etc, but trade some control.
Using a website builder is sort of like leasing and customizing an apartment in a really classy development instead of buying and owning your own house. You’re still in control of decor, cleaning, and everything living-wise – but you leave the construction, plumbing, security, and infrastructure to the property owner. That point is key because there’s usually a direct tradeoff between convenience and control.
In the long-term, it affects your versatility, functionality, and, of course, your brand. In the short term, it can certainly add/take away a lot of headaches. That said, just like choosing a physical house or office, there is no such thing as an absolute “best” or “top” choice. There’s only such a thing as the right choice relative to your goals, experience, and circumstances.
GoDaddy Website Builder and Wix as a group compete with options like WordPress (which provides the free software to build a website that you own & control on your own hosting – see my WordPress setup guide here) all the way to options like typing actual HTML code into a text file.
*confusingly, GoDaddy also offers hosting plan options, where you can install website software like WordPress. This comparison will focus on GoDaddy’s Website Builder that bundles hosting. You can find GoDaddy hosting alternatives here.
Make sense? Awesome, let’s dive into the comparison.
Otherwise, we’ll look specifically at pricing, onboarding/user experience, design features, technical features, marketing features, customer support & company structure.
Comparing pricing among GoDaddy Website Builder and Wix is tough because their tiers are completely different. GoDaddy bases their tiers on service upgrades (like “Globally Optimized Speed”). Wix has several tiers based on a wide range of factors.
Both have a free plan option and an ecommerce plan for an online store.
Wix is competitive with GoDaddy’s Website Builder depending on use case. If you need a cheap, basic plan without a ton of features, then GoDaddy will be a better choice. But if you include all of Wix’s functionality and look at premium plan options above $10/mo – then Wix is more competitive.
*Reminder – these costs are all very different than if you are looking at building your own site with WordPress or a something else. Part of the point of website builders is the bundled pricing. It’s possible to get a custom website with unlimited functionality for much cheaper if you build it yourself.
Onboarding & User Experience
No matter how intuitive and simple a piece of technology is, there’s always that moment of “what am I looking at and what do I do now?”
Onboarding is how products get you past that point. It is how companies move you from being a new customer to an active customer. And since website builders have a bundled product – in theory, they should have a huge advantage on this point.
Onboarding’s close cousin is “user experience” which is software jargon for how easy something is day to day.
But on a measure of how quickly you get from your first click to a live website – GoDaddy wins. But it has a bit of a caveat.
Wix does a lot of initial triaging to find the right template for you from the get-go. Their backend is straightforward, but requires some clicking and strategizing to decide what to do next – especially because they have the most features among the three. Wix can run into trouble if you don’t start out with the right template.
Like I said earlier, GoDaddy’s website builder is fastest from start to finish. But part of that is due to the fact that they have far fewer features, fewer templates and fewer options in general than Wix. This is especially true when you factor in DNS records and domains. Many people already have a GoDaddy domain in their GoDaddy account.
That’s not a good or bad thing – it all depends on what you’re looking for. But GoDaddy’s setup is much more akin to setting up a Facebook or Twitter profile than designing a website. This will crop up in the next few sections, but for now, it’s actually a huge advantage.
And since so many people use GoDaddy for their domains – they make it seamless to connect your domain to your website.
They also do plenty of segmentation and pre-filling templates.
Part of the overall value of website builders is design.
Design is hard. And it matters – a lot. A lot of people can spot a good looking website but have a harder time figuring out how to get there. Using a template for a foundation and then customizing it is a good way to get the site you want without paying for a custom design.
Like I mentioned in the onboarding section, GoDaddy not only has plenty of templates, but they do an excellent job of pre-filling the templates with solid imagery.
On the flip side – GoDaddy has very limited actual design options.
They do not have drag and drop. You can add “sections” – but the color, typography, and layouts are pretty set. Their templates are fine, but certainly not groundbreaking or beautiful.
Wix’s designs are the best between the two. They’ve improved a lot over the last year. The Wix editor doesn’t allow any CSS customization, so you have to use their editing tools, which in fairness are still better than GoDaddy. They have invested not only in better templates, but in advanced tools like the Wix ADI (artificial design intelligence).
Wix is solid on website design in my experience. They have solid templates and allow for customization if that’s your thing. Wix does better ensuring that your site always works across all devices & browsers. If you want to deliberately limit yourself to a pre-filled template that does the job – then GoDaddy’s route is certainly an option.
Technical features are all the web development best practices that don’t really matter…until they matter a lot. I’m talking about generating clean URLs, editable metadata, allowing page-level redirects, etc.
Wix is fine with permalinks and well-coded HTML, but not a professional developer or marketer’s ideal. They use an HTML5 / AJAX engine to build and serve their pages with Wix code. Most professionals who are adept with HTML/CSS are not fans of the setup. However, the setup is built with DIYers in mind.
GoDaddy makes sites that work…but are very limited from a technical perspective.
With GoDaddy – what you see is what you get. It creates clean URLs and renderable HTML. It is not suitable for a long-term project where you will want to upgrade and add features.
In Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner’s character famously says “if you build it, they will come.” Sadly, that is not true about websites. Just like any business, you have to actively promote and market your website for anyone to show up.
Marketing features like custom metadata, open graph information, Schema markups, email signups, share buttons, landing pages, etc all make marketing your site a lot easier.
For marketing features, Wix does well when you factor in their proprietary marketing tool set with plenty of plugin options in their app market along with built-in marketing features for social media, SEO, etc.
But again, here Wix is a bit more nuanced. They use a lot of proprietary apps to provide access to tools. From a DIYer’s perspective, that’s great. It’s not complicated or technically-daunting. And it works, especially for websites that do not depend on 100% online generated traffic. From a professional marketer’s perspective, I don’t prefer having to get locked-in / limited by Wix’s toolset. For example, their SEO wizard is fine as far as an SEO tool goes. It’s convenient and easy. It works for a small site. But it also doesn’t compare to the suite of SEO tools that I would use to drive traffic to a huge site.
GoDaddy is, again, what you see is what you get. It’s simple but very limited. In fact, GoDaddy uses some marketing features as an upsell, while thoroughly miseducating their customers. Here’s an example of how they do this with “SEO” – you can read the full context in my GoDaddy Website Builder Review, but basically they create a non-issue with SEO and then sell the “solution.”
The issues here are that first, while all too common – the idea of “ranking higher” is misleading. Second, they put way too much emphasis on things like title tag formatting that sort of matter, but do not matter nearly as much as having a good keyword map with good content that targets an achievable theme of keywords.
Or – things like mapping out an effective marketing strategy.
If you simply need an online presence, both will work. But I totally understand & could work with a Wix site.
Support & Service
Both have knowledge-bases and customer support. Both do phone support during business hours, in addition to email tickets and customer forums.
Since they both run on proprietary platforms, it’s usually straightforward to find a solution (ie, they built the software, so they can fix it). They all have anecdotal horror and success stories around the Internet. While I’ve never had a bad experience with any, it’s also unfair to judge any based on anecdotes.
They all offer good support channels, but they also all view customer support both as an investment and as an opportunity to upsell. GoDaddy offers phone and the most direct options. But either way, be sure to be direct and forthright about your problem and watch for upsells. But there’s no real advantage/disadvantage between these three on support.
I’ve been looking at web services for years now. And while features & marketing materials change frequently, I’ve found it useful to understand a company’s structure to see where they are going. Here’s how each company is structured and what that means for you over the next few years.
Wix is a publicly-traded company. You can go buy their stock right now. Additionally, their website builder platform *is* their thing. That’s how they make money. The upside is that Wix’s website builder gets *all* their attention. They are constantly developing the product and customers can expect to see more development & focus. The risk for Wix customers is that they have all the downsides of any public company. Their job is to make a profit. Right now they are rapidly growing, but that could change.
GoDaddy is also a publicly-traded company. But unlike Wix, their website builder is only one of a whole suite of products. The upside is that GoDaddy customers benefit from a whole slew of integrations and cross-subsidies. You get all the benefits of bigness. The risk is that GoDaddy changes the product or starts requiring integrations or generally starts to neglect the product. I don’t see that happening because it complements their products so well, but it could happen.
Wix & GoDaddy Comparison
If you decide that using an all-inclusive website builder is right for you, then either could be a fit depending on your goals & resources.
If you’re interested in building your own website on your own hosting (including on GoDaddy Hosting), check out my step by step tutorial here.