Designs and themes
HostGator is a drag and drop website builder, similar to the likes of Wix and Squarespace. You can choose from more than 200 design templates to get you started, then make tweaks and changes to aspects like colors and fonts once you’ve made your choice.
The selection isn’t as large as some larger website builders, or the thousands of themes you’ll find over at an open-source program like WordPress, but HostGator still has some sleek looking options.
The good news is, if you're not happy with the templates, you can import a WordPress website design.
Apps and add-ons
While the web builder is incredibly easy to use, apps and add-ons are a little thin on the ground, and you’ll only find around 75 apps to choose from.
You’ll also need to purchase the top tier plan if you want to incorporate an eCommerce store into your site.
HostGator is aimed at those starting out, and freelancers that need a good looking website that’s simple to manage and easy to build.
While the store itself might have more basic features when compared to competitors, it’s more than enough to get you up and running, and includes:
- Tax and shipping calculators
- Inventory management
- Coupon codes
You’ll also be able to integrate apps like WordPress, Joomla, and Magento into your site, so you won’t be limited to the core features.
However, you’ll need to have some developer skills if you want to start customizing your site.
You can currently only use it in English.
Social integration and sales channels
You’re able to integrate all of your social media accounts into your site quite easily. While you’ll be able to accept payments via a number of processors, such as PayPal and Stripe, you won’t be able to link to stores such as Amazon and eBay using Hostgator’s eCommerce solution.
Alternatively, you can host a WordPress site which has the functionality to link just about every major seller to your store.
You’ll be largely left on your own to figure out SEO needs, unless you sign up to one of the separate SEO packages.
HostGator offers tailored SEO services that cover areas like page optimization, keyword ranking reports, marketing recommendations, and monthly reports on how well your site is performing.
The host doesn’t list its prices for this service; instead, you’ll need to get in touch for a quote.
If you have some SEO experience, you’ll still be able to cover the basics yourself such as adding meta tags and titles and optimizing URLs via the web builder tool.
The eCommerce store is relatively basic, and it no longer offers the option to create your own custom forms on checkout.
However, if you’re hosting a WordPress site, and are familiar with coding, you should be able to add custom fields. In addition, you can connect other open source eCommerce sites, such as Magento, to your store which provide more customization options.
Your site will be integrated with Google Analytics, and you’ll get basic information such as daily and weekly visits, countries where visits are originating from, and the duration of the visit.
To get detailed statistics on your store and how many sales you have will depend on which platform you’ve connected to.
You’ll need to have a third party store, such as Magento or WooCommerce, and you’ll be able to access the reports available with those tools.
The basic store doesn’t offer any sort of email campaign functionality. You’ll need to build a store using another type of open-source software that offers email campaign add-ons, such as Magento, then host via HostGator.
Importing and Exporting products
You can upload products in bulk to your store via Excel and CSV, or add products manually. However, the headings you can use are limited to just product name and price.
Other platforms offer a much higher degree of customization.
Starter Plan - $3.84 per month
The basic plan gets you a free domain, basic website analytics, and access to customer support. Bear in mind, at this tier you won’t be able to put any sort of eCommerce store on your website, this is a site builder package only.
Premium - $5.99 per month
This will get you everything in the starter package plus priority support for customer service issues. As with the starter package, you won’t be able to have a store on your site.
eCommerce - $9.22 per month
Everything in the first two tiers is included, plus you’ll now have access to your own online store including inventory management, tax calculations, and $200 in ad vouchers.
All packages come with live chat, phone, and email support. In addition, those on the Premium or eCommerce packages will receive priority responses to their questions. Support is open 24/7, 365 days per year.
You can also find a number of FAQs and troubleshooting articles for common issues via the help center.
All HostGator sites come with a free SSL certificate.
In the default store, all shipping is offered via the US postal service, and shipping prices are calculated based on the state being delivered to. If you’d like more shipping options, you’ll need to develop a store with more functionality using a third-party platform and host it on your site.
The basic store only accepts payments via credit/debit card and PayPal.
You’ll get an auto tax calculator that’ll work out sales tax across all 50 states.
Yes, dropshipping is supported in the eCommerce package.
Abandoned cart recovery
You won’t find abandoned cart recovery options with the basic store. If you want this level of functionality, you’ll need to integrate another store into your site.
Managing store on a mobile device
You can manage all aspects of your website development via the app.
What is Easy for Users at HostGator
- HostGator is great for building a good-looking website quickly. It’s designed for those that don’t have the time and skills to code their own site or don’t have the budget to pay a web developer to do it for them. With its drag and drop interface, and ready-to-use store, you’ll have a site set up in no time
- It has great customer service options, meaning you can rely on the qualified staff to keep your site running, while you focus on your business
- The host is incredibly cheap and great for those looking to build a website on a budget
What is Difficult for Users on HostGator
If you’re looking for hundreds of features and customization options, HostGator won’t be for you. The eCommerce store is basic, but only does what it needs to do. If you’re running a complex, multi-product stream business, you should try an open-source software option
Best HostGator Stores
Given 3dcart’s packages are focused on smaller businesses, it can be difficult to find examples of websites that use the platform. However, below are some examples of its enterprise clients:
Alternatives to HostGator
While there are some decent templates and features on offer, the program won’t be for everyone. Some might want a more modern look, while others are looking for more customization.
Here are some alternatives:
SquareSpace - this is similar to 3dcart and is also a template website builder. However, Squarespace has thousands of modern templates on offer and a wider variety of add-ons.
Magento - This is the ultimate in eCommerce customization tools. This open-source code has 1000s of integrations and modifications available, making it a web developer’s dream.
Bigcommerce - Get your hands on a huge variety of website building features.