IONOS Website Builder Review: Great Support, Basic Design

Our in-depth research found IONOS (formerly 1&1) is a snappy yet somewhat basic business website builder. With an overall score of 3.2/5, we weren't blown away by its design features but found it best suited to busy entrepreneurs who need to get online fast.

With plans costing between $1 and $50 (plus tax) monthly, it’s a relatively affordable option particularly well suited to local businesses.

Our in-house team of specialist researchers scored IONOS’ website features, design functionality, value for money, customer support, and ease of use. We picked these knowing they're the priorities of a small business leader with a to-do list longer than LeBron's arms.

Let's find out whether IONOS is right for you. 

What kind of website do you need? Choose an option to try IONOS on for size

IONOS Website Builder at a Glance

We reviewed IONOS against objective criteria that we use to score the best website builders on the market. Unfortunately, its performance didn't shine in most categories.

All scores are out of five:

Website FeaturesDesign FunctionalitiesValue for MoneyHelp and SupportEase of UseFinal 

Score

2.02.93.14.52.83.2

We'll go into more detail about the strengths of weaknesses of the IONOS website designer below. But, for now, here are the main features which all price packages include:

  • Drag-and-drop visual editor
  • No code needed
  • Hosting included
  • Email inbox as standard
  • Customer support (phone, email, web chat)
  • No IONOS adverts on your website
  • Royalty-free image library
  • Separate mobile design view
  • SEO tag editing and speed optimization

That's more than enough to set you up with a professional website – with surprisingly little effort required. The only reason its score seems relatively low is because website builders are an extremely competitive market right now. That's great for the likes of you and me because it means the standard is high.

IONOS pricing plans listed in a grid
IONOS pricing is a bit complicated because your first year is discounted.

IONOS Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Quick editing process
  • Stellar customer support
  • Email inbox included

Cons

  • Just one website
  • Can't precisely position images
  • Very few templates

Pro: Quick Editing Process

You don't need professional design skills to create an appealing website with IONOS. Handy on-screen hints pop up just when you need them to, so you can get creating without reading through long instruction guides.

That's extremely useful for anyone intimidated by creating a business website. What you need is a website that works well and looks good. IONOS delivers this – fast.

There's even a stock image library to save you time searching for royalty-free pictures elsewhere.

red box around a text prompt that reads "click thumbnail to select" in one square of an image gallery
Text hints appear precisely at the moments you need.

Pro: Stellar Customer Support 

Website builder support is often patchy on lower cost products. Not so with IONOS – you'll get 24/7 assistance from a real person, no matter what you need. While some website builders like Wix and Squarespace make you jump through some hoops before you can reach a real human, IONOS clearly displays its contact number.

This perk is available on all of IONOS’ plans, even if you stick to its basic tier, Starter. Providers like Wix make you upgrade to a higher tier before you can access better customer care.

 

Pro: Email Inbox Included

As a hosting provider first, IONOS excels at core web services such as uptime guarantees and domain name provision. But a key reason for getting a website is to gain access to a professional email inbox – yet this is often forgotten about at the product comparison stage.

Most providers will charge extra for a Google or Microsoft email inbox, for instance. But IONOS includes an email inbox with a minimum of 2GB storage. That gives customers a chance to get in touch with you, meaning you're less likely to lose out on sales leads.

 

Con: Just One Website

It's easy to miss this, but you won't be able to edit and publish multiple websites from your IONOS subscription. If you want to use the drag-and-drop visual editor, you get just one website.

If you really want to publish multiple websites with IONOS, you can subscribe to a hosting package. But you'll need to use a content management system like WordPress or Joomla to edit them.

Wix, Squarespace, Shopify, Square, GoDaddy and Jimdo (yes, even Jimdo) all allow you to edit and publish more than one website from a single subscription.

 

Con: Can't Precisely Position Images

IONOS designs are fairly restrictive, so you can't just drag-and-drop an image to anywhere on a web page. You have to edit pages within sections, which have certain layout limitations. So if you're a burgeoning Jackson Pollack, you're going to have to learn to design within the lines.

 

Con: Very Few Templates

Website builders vary in their range of template offerings, but IONOS is at the stingier end of the scale. While Wix has over 900 ready-made web designs, IONOS offers… around 20.

How Much Does IONOS Cost?

There are seven price plans: three to build a website without a store, and four with an online store. We've gone into more detail about IONOS pricing in a separate guide, but here's a handy overview:

Swipe right to see more
0 out of 0
Price (Paying Monthly)

Starter

Price (Paying Monthly)

Starter (with an online store)

Price (Paying Monthly)

Plus

Price (Paying Monthly)

Plus (with an online store)

Price (Paying Monthly)

Pro

Price (Paying Monthly)

Pro (with an online store)

Price (Paying Monthly)

Expert (with an online store)

Price (Paying Annually)

$9/month (paying annually)

Price (Paying Annually)

$19/month (paying annually)

Price (Paying Annually)

$15/month (paying annually)

Price (Paying Annually)

$25/month (paying annually)

Price (Paying Annually)

$25/month (paying annually)

Price (Paying Annually)

$50/month (paying annually)

Price (Paying Annually)

$75/month (paying annually)

Best For

Basic business website

Best For

A very small online store

Best For

Business site with a blog

Best For

Growing online store

Best For

Large websites (community forum, blog, portfolio)

Best For

Businesses with physical store

Best For

B2B selling

Key Features
  • 10 webpages
  • Email inbox (2GB)
  • Free domain (1 year)
  • Limited design editing
Key Features
  • List 500 products
  • Email inbox (2GB)
  • Free domain (1 year)
  • Live shipping prices
  • No POS synch
Key Features
  • 200 web pages
  • Online bookings
  • Design flexibility
  • Email inbox (12GB)
  • Free domain (1 year)
  • AI text generator
Key Features
  • 5000 products
  • Google Ads
  • Shipping options per product
  • Lightspeed Retail POS
  • Store management via app
Key Features
  • Unlimited pages
  • Unlimited storage
  • Advanced analytics
  • Search engine tool
Key Features
  • Sell 10,000 products
  • Manual order editing
  • Shipment tracking
  • Precise inventory control
  • Wish lists
Key Features
  • Unlimited products
  • Volume discounting
  • Marketing on Amazon and eBay
  • 3x POS options

For as low as $1 for the first 12 months, you can subscribe to IONOS Plus. This plan allows you to enjoy five times the storage (50 GB) of its entry-level tier, Starter. Moreover, it includes bonus resources and website features that you can use to improve your professional website, like SiteAnalytics, which tracks how long visitors stay on your site, their location, browser type, and other related data.

However, its comprehensive plan, Premium, offers more flexibility. It has an advanced SiteAnalytics Plus tool, allowing you to generate and export PDF reports of the key metrics of your site. You also unlock active syncing on your professional email to boost your efficiency.

However, IONOS’ limited website features and design functionality could be a deal-breaker. Squarespace, which scores 4/5 for pricing, may cost more (starting at $16 per month), but it does offer a far richer web design experience than IONOS.

Like IONOS, it also provides a free domain for the first year of subscription. So, if you’re willing to pay more to unlock a more comprehensive set of website-building features, Squarespace pricing could prove better value for you, personally.

How Does IONOS Compare With Other Website Builders?

Website Features: Basic Betty

IONOS only scores 2/5 in our website features analysis. Although it has all the basics, it has its limitations. Like GoDaddy (3/5) and Jimdo (2.6/5), IONOS doesn’t have an app market. But it also sadly lacks inbuilt features which would compensate from the paucity of external integrations. 

For instance, there are very few social media options. While Squarespace and Wix already have their own social media post creation tools, the most you can do with IONOS is… link to your social media profiles. Which we've been able to do since, you know, 2001.

Instead, we’d recommend Wix, which scores an excellent 4.8/5 for website features. It has an app market that offers plug-ins and apps to boost your website’s functionality and efficiency. It also integrates with Google Analytics, the gold standard for SEO analysis.

Design Functionalities: Snappy but Limited

IONOS scores a 2.9/5 in our research for design functionality. That's lower than Wix, Squarespace, Shopify and… most of the other top website builders, in fact.

IONOS web design editor is not difficult to use, but it's a little limited. For instance, you can easily crop or re-size an image, and we particularly like the right-click menu options to rearrange image layers. This is a feature you'll be used to using in PowerPoint, Word or even Paint.

close-up of editing options menu on an image in website editor
Easily replace, reframe, and rearrange images on your web page... within strict limits.

But you can't position images exactly where you'd like them on the page, because you have to stick within the section design limits. You may find this curbs your creative ambition – although you won't lose hours perfecting every detail because the design process is rapid overall.

red grid appears behind image outline on web page design editor
IONOS provides a grid layout for images which isn't as versatile as Squarespace's.

The “new flexible editing experience” IONOS launched this year does not offer the flexibility of the equivalent feature in Squarespace. With the latter, you can situate an image anywhere at all on the page.

red box outlining new feature announcement within IONOS web designer
IONOS is releasing new features which competitors have done better and earlier.

For a better design experience, we recommend Wix, which scored 4.3/5 in design functionality, the highest of all website builders we tested. Wix has hundreds more theme options than IONOS, and supports more image editing options.

However, it’s worth mentioning you cannot switch themes with Wix after you've started editing – you can only choose a different one and build it from the ground up once again. This isn't the case with IONOS.

Ease of Use: Simple and Straightforward

Despite being an excellent option for small businesses, our research found that IONOS is not the most user-friendly platform we’ve explored, scoring an underwhelming 2.8/5 for ease of use. Its interface is straightforward to use, though it feels – in the words of one test user – “clinical”.

Factor in its limited theme options, and you’ll grasp the idea of how much IONOS has to improve in terms of user experience. Users also report how slow the backend is, making it harder for them to complete tasks.

If you’re wanting an intuitive platform with wider customization options, Wix will suit you best. As the front-runner in our analysis, Wix allows you to freely explore the platform – you can choose from its multiple element options and themes as well as customize your page as much as you want.

Help and Support: Rapid and Helpful

IONOS punches above its weight and redeems its score with a solid 4.5/5 score for customer help and support. Unlike almost all other similar platforms, IONOS allocates a single web design consultant to your account. 

They'll be accessible via email, live chat, or phone for guidance, ensuring a single point of contact throughout your web build journey. When we contacted IONOS web chat with questions about using the website builder, the response was almost instant – even though it was 18:30 in the evening.

For a quick comparison: a simple question to Jimdo took weeks to get a response – with several email requests asking for confirmation that I even wanted a response. And after all that, the answer finally came: “Sorry, we can't help you”.

Need thoughtful, speedy customer support on your website journey?

What Kind of Business is IONOS Best For?

IONOS is handy for newbies to website creation, as its uncomplicated interface is unlikely to feel overwhelming to most.

IONOS also offers a variety of themes tailored to many industries, from gardening, to architecture, to art, culture, and design. To ensure expand your reach overseas, IONOS allows you to translate your content into 60 different languages, including Spanish, Mandarin, or French! This feature makes it a great choice for small businesses that also want to expand their reach globally. 

Unfortunately, it's not best suited to ambitious online merchants. If you're keen to expand a retail business, you should check out our guide to Shopify pricing instead.

Does IONOS Have Good Customer Reviews?

IONOS scores an average 3.2/5 in our customer score analysis. Users compliment its attentive and helpful personal consultants, which proves to be one of its unique selling points when it comes to customer service. 

However, some users wanted more from its website functionality, with a few reporting that it proves to be much slower than its competitors. 

Great Customer Service!

“Brian John Monteclaro was very good at understanding my needs and what needed to do with my Domains that I have with IONOS. He took the time to explain how my new contract would operate whilst I put a pause on my business. Super friendly and helpful. IONOS provides so many options to make your business run smoothly.” (sic)

S. Jermy,
- March 3, 2023
Customer review

“I've been using IONOS for a few years, which hosts many of our client's websites. The service has always been fantastic especially recently where Martin Mills has spent almost 2 full working days helping us with something we needed urgent help with and was a huge task.

The rest of the team, like Sam Brown, my account manager, are always available to help, always friendly, and nothing is ever a problem, even those times where we sometimes end up calling about multiple things in a day.

We will continue to use IONOS for their great services and support.” (sic)

Dom Jackson,
- February 22, 2023
Verdict

Overall, IONOS provides a straightforward website building experience, scoring 3.2/5 in our research. Simple enough for the anyone with the vaguest grasp of editing software, IONOS is a good choice for first time website creators.

Its pocket-friendly price plans, which cost as little as $1, and free one-year domain package will help customers find and favor your business. A highlight not to be underestimated is the email inbox included as standard.

However, IONOS still has much to improve when it comes to website features and design functionality. Although it offers solid tools for building your online presence, it has limited theme options and lacks plug-ins that expand what your website is capable of.

FAQ

How much does IONOS website builder cost?
  • IONOS Starter (no store) costs $84 + tax for the first year, then $108 + tax per year thereafter.
  • IONOS Starter (with a store) costs $144 + tax for the first year, then $228 + tax per year thereafter.
  • IONOS Plus (no store) costs $12 + tax for the first year, then $180 + tax per year thereafter.
  • IONOS Plus (with a store) costs $12 + tax for the first year, then $300 + tax per year thereafter.
  • IONOS Pro (no store) costs $240 + tax for the first year, then $300 + tax per year thereafter.
  • IONOS Pro (with a store) costs $450 + tax for the first year, then $600 + tax per year thereafter.
  • IONOS Expert (with a store) costs $660 + tax for the first year, then $900 + tax per year thereafter.

Minimum contract term is 12 months across all plans (except Starter), but billing is monthly. There's a 30-day money back guarantee on all plans.

How many domains can you have for one website?
You should stick to one domain for your website so that your customers and search engines know where to find your content.

When moving a website across from an old domain, make sure you carefully set up a 301 redirect from each of the old URLs to the new URLs. If you don't, then you're going to cause confusion, lose traffic, reduce your domain authority, increase maintenance costs, and create more work for yourself.

If you really need a separate section for your website – perhaps for checkout pages or company blog – consider creating a subdomain instead. For analytics purposes, Google will consider your subdomain a separate site. But users will infer that it's still part of your main website, and, therefore, trust it.

What are the benefits of IONOS?
  • Hosting and email inbox included with website builder plans
  • Drag-and-drop visual editor
  • Free domain for first year
  • Human web consultant contact by phone, email or chat
  • Wildcard SSL (secure multiple subdomains)
Written by:
Laurice first fell in love with words at seven years old. Today, she drives her passion by writing informative content about fleet management systems and vehicle tracking solutions for Expert Market. When she’s not writing, she’s indulging her profound love for all things pink or caffeine-infused.
Reviewed by:
Sabrina Dougall
Sabrina is a business journalist whose career began in news reporting. She has a master's in Investigative Journalism from City University London, and her work has appeared in The Times, The Daily Express, Money Saving Expert, Camden New Journal, Global Trade Review, and Computer Business Review. She specializes in writing about SEO (search engine optimization). Having run her own small business, Sabrina knows first-hand how critical digital marketing is to building a client base and local reputation.