SITE123: Review and Expert Opinion
“SITE123 does what it says on the tin: makes it incredibly easy to create a website. I found it great for completing small projects, but lacking for more complex sites. If you want endless customisation options and complete design freedom, I’d recommend checking out my review on Wix. If it’s simplicity and minimal fuss you’re in the market for, I think you will be happy with what SITE123 has to offer.”
August 22, 2020
The SITE123 website builder is all about convenience, quickness, and minimal fuss. If you are looking to create an online store with a few products, a simple site for your new company, or a personal website, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend SITE123. It is a user-friendly platform, with a good set of features, including everything from e-commerce to mobile-responsive templates.
Some quick SITE123 facts and figures
- SITE123 was founded in 2015
- The company is based in Israel
- There are more than 29,000 websites using SITE123
- More than 14,000 of these websites are based in the United States
- The UK and Israel are also two popular areas for SITE123
The most basic version of SITE123 is free to use, but in order to access all features, a paid plan is needed. I’ll give you the lowdown on all of the different plans later in the review.
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Is SITE123 Really Easy to Use?
So, let me talk you through my experience with SITE123. As the name indicates, I was able to create a website in just three steps. I’ll outline these below.
Firstly, SITE123 asked me what sort of website I was looking to create.
These are the three steps you will need to fulfill in order to create a website. Simple, right? I thought so too! Needless to say, you’re not going to have a website ready to publish by the end of this, but what you will have is a template of a website that you can then tweak until you’re happy.
So, clearly, I was given a template to work with. From here, I was then able to change the layout, fonts, and image, as well as adding different elements to my site. Of course, I’ll be talking you through all of the features, apps, templates, and such like that are available, as well as revealing some of my favourites! But as you can see, getting started is pretty simple.
Understanding how the SITE123 website builder works
SITE123 is not a drag-and-drop editor. Instead, you’ve got a simple editing bar, where you can edit everything from the general design of your website to the navigation and content. Yes, I did miss not being able to drag and drop items, like you can with Wix and Squarespace! You’re not going to have the freedom to simply place elements anywhere on your webpage, but SITE123 really has been designed to focus on quick building, rather than complete creative freedom.
You will find all of the editing options on the left-hand side of the screen. Simply click on a category, and then all of the customisation options will present themselves. Here, you can add call-to-action buttons, change colours and fonts, change your site from a single-page to a multi-page, add an e-commerce block for products, and upload videos and photos. You can also add, delete, or edit website pages, as well as adding new blocks to any page, such as testimonials, galleries, and FAQs.
Scaling your SITE123 website
There are a lot of SITE123 features that will help your website grow. This includes mobile responsive templates, as well as e-commerce and blogging features. However, if you’re looking to become the biggest player in the game, I’d advise looking for a website builder that is more comprehensive.
While I was impressed with the number of features SITE123 has, a lot of them are limited in their capabilities. For small business and personal websites, SITE123 is excellent. But if you’re really looking to take your website to huge heights, you will want something that is going to be easier to scale up.
Considering the simplicity of SITE123, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that there are more than 180 website templates to choose from. I don’t think you will have too much trouble choosing a suitable template for your website.
With hundreds of templates available, you don’t have to worry about scrolling through them all (unless you want to!). SITE123 has categorised their templates, splitting them up into the following categories: online store, landing page, CV, creative arts, restaurant, event, music, photography, blog, and business.
There is one major drawback I need to tell you about though! Once your site has gone live, you can’t switch your template. So, when choosing a template, please don’t rush into it. Take your time and consider all of your options.
Even if you start up on a free plan, and you move onto one of their paid offerings, you’re not going to be able to change to another template. You would need to start again.
Back to the positive; one thing that is great about the templates on SITE123 is that while you’re browsing you can see mock-ups of how each template will look on smaller devices and computer screens. Once you click on a template, you can preview a working version of the template in both formats. This can really help you to make the right decision for your brand.
As you can see from the screenshot below, you can switch between phone, tablet, and computer view by using the icons in the top left-hand corner.
Quick Tip!You can adapt your mobile menu design so it’s more user-friendly. Head to the ‘publish’ tab on the left-hand menu. You can then choose from different font sizes, menu types, text align, and colours.
I found there to be a good selection of features offered by SITE123, from adding forms to audio and video. However, most of these are reserved for the paid subscriptions, so do keep this in mind! I’d say it’s worth making the investment, though, especially if you’re opening an online store.
With the premium plans on SITE123, you can connect a domain for free for the first year, but don’t forget that you will be paying after this! I had no trouble finding the right domain for me, with more than 130 extensions to choose from. If you already have a domain, you can direct it to your website as soon as you have upgraded your plan.
Quick Tip!Use the 301 redirect tool to redirect your old site’s URL to your new one.
Marketing & SEO
There are a number of core search engine optimisation tools that are included with SITE123. You can add alt text to images, customise URLs, and edit the meta descriptions and titles. There are some great guides on the site as well if you’re a rookie.
Display your website in numerous languages
Reaching a global audience is made a lot easier with SITE123. There are more than 100 different languages to choose from, and you can display your website in up to five of them. You also have the option of using the website builder itself in 21 different languages.
Social media integration
You can link out to 25 different social media platforms on SITE123. You can’t embed any live social feeds at the moment. Instead, they will be displayed as an icon as part of the footer of your webpage.
There are a number of different e-commerce options that are included with the SITE123 online store builder. This includes the following…
- Support to sell digital products
- Set taxes and shipping according to the location of your customer
- Multiple image uploads for products
- Display related products
- Product categories
- Store inventory system for manually and automatically tracking product supply
- Custom product pricing in accordance with variants like size and colour
- Create and manage coupons
- Numerous payment options, such as wire transfer, PayPal, and integration with credit card processing systems
Instead of needing to use a third-party service for email marketing, there is an in-built tool for this on SITE123 that enables you to keep in touch with your users via newsletters and such like.
Of course, analytics are a vital part of any website. I was happy to see that SITE123 uses Google Analytics for this. You don’t need me to tell you about how tried and trusted Google Analytics is, so you’ve got nothing to worry about here!
Quick Tip!There are some great social media tracking plug-ins. Integrate Twitter Conversion Tracking, Facebook Pixel, and LinkedIn Ads.
SITE123 App Market
I had a lot of fun exploring the app market on SITE123, but do note that you will only be able to do the same if you update to one of the top two subscription plans. As is the case with most website builders, though, there are some apps that you are going to have to pay for no matter what. The apps that are available include social, galleries, forms, marketing, and analytics apps. Here are some of my favourite apps from the SITE123 app market…
Security of SITE123 Websites
One area I don’t think enough people pay attention to when choosing a website builder is security. SITE123 uses a secure SSL (Site Socket Layer) encryption protocol in order to protect your site. Basically, this means that it is going to make your site fully confidential. Modern security procedures are used to protect your data. This is done 24-hours per day, in real-time, giving you great peace of mind.
Back-ups and restores
If you have ever lost a project because your computer has crashed, you will know just how devastating this can be! Luckily, there is a helpful autosave feature with SITE123, so you don’t need to fear losing all of your website content. It only takes a few seconds to restore your website back to the latest autosave as well.
I was happy to discover that SITE123 recently added two-factor authentication to their site. With this, you can ensure that it is more difficult for unauthorised people to access your SITE123 account, as a password and a mobile phone code will be required to log-in.
When testing out the support offering from SITE123, I was more than satisfied. In fact, I think this is one of the best things about the website builder! You’re supported all the way through the building process. While creating my website, I was offered help via social media, email, and the SITE123 knowledge base. Yet what really impressed me was the live chat feature.
Live chat is accessible 24/7, and you can easily access it on the same page as the one you are editing on, enabling you to get quick and insightful responses without needing to leave the page. This means I was able to edit while getting answers from the live chat agent. This really made it easy for me to keep my project going, even when I hit a stumbling block or do. And, it was actually a live chat agent, not a bot! Your conversations are saved as well, so you can look back over the help. Plus, 16 languages are supported on chat!
Is SITE123 Right For You?
While there is a lot to like about SITE123, I don’t believe it’s the right site builder for everyone. Below, I’ll give you my view on some of the main website types and my thoughts on how SITE123 shapes up…
In my opinion, SITE123 is one of the best website builders out there for personal sites. This is where it really comes into its own. The support is excellent and SITE123 is really easy to use. Plus, you can expect great value for money too. For online CV sites, band websites, or a site for your photography, I think SITE123 will have everything that you are searching for.
Creating a blog on SITE123 was easy enough! Plus, there are a lot of solid features that make this website builder a good choice for blogging. This includes an RSS feed, search feature, social bookmarking, and analytics. However, there were a few things I felt was missing, including archiving and display categories.
Quick Tip!Check insights relating to your blog comments. Head to your dashboard, click on your blog. Choose insights, and understand your blog comment traffic better.
E-Commerce & Business
There isn’t a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to whether or not SITE123 is good for businesses and online stores. For me, it all depends on your needs. If you’re looking to create a small store or business website, which has a clean-looking appearance and is easy to create, I think you will find SITE123 just fine. There are email marketing capabilities and you can use CTAs. However, this is about as far as it goes. There are some great e-commerce add-ons with the premiums plans. But if you’re looking to create a comprehensive online store or business site and you want a full catalogue of financial and marketing tools, I’d suggest looking for something more in-depth and comprehensive.
As I have touched upon a few times in this review so far, there are different subscription models for SITE123. Aside from the free package, there are four upgrade options: Basic, Advanced, Professional, and Gold. As you can see from the screenshot below, SITE123 will try to tempt you with some tasty offers, so it’s worth keeping an eye out for these.
Quick Tip!If you can afford it, pay for 36 months up-front. You will be able to lock in some mega discounts!
So, let’s take a look at the different premium packages…
Basic – For Personal Use
Firstly, we have the Basic package, which will give you 5GB bandwidth and 10GB storage. You are also able to connect your own domain, remove the SITE123 floating tag, and you will get 100 mailing list messages.
Advanced – Small Business
Next, there is the Advanced package, which provides 15GB bandwidth and 30GB storage. You are also able to connect your own domain, remove the SITE123 floating tag and the footer tag, and you will get 1,000 mailing list messages. You will also get one additional site language and two mailboxes.
Professional – Business & E-Commerce
If you are looking to create a small store or business website, I’d recommend the Professional package, which provides 45GB bandwidth and 90GB storage. You are also able to connect your own domain, remove the SITE123 floating tag and the footer tag, and you will get 2,500 mailing list messages. You will also get three additional site languages and five mailboxes. You are also going to benefit from the SITE123 e-commerce package. This means you can have access to website statistics, credit card gateways, and you can make 500 orders per month.
Gold – All Features Included
Finally, there is the Gold package, which is the only solution if you want to be able to take an unlimited number of orders. This provides 135GB bandwidth and 270GB storage. You are also able to connect your own domain, remove the SITE123 floating tag and the footer tag, and you will get 10,000 mailing list messages. You will also get five additional site languages and 10 mailboxes. You are also going to benefit from the SITE123 e-commerce package. This means you can have access to website statistics and credit card gateways, like the Professional package, but you’re also going to get e-commerce reviews, e-commerce wish lists, and advanced e-commerce features.
It’s worth noting that you’re going to have the option of paying for three months, 12 months, 24 months, or 36 months. If you do go for the three-month option, you will miss out on the free domain for one year, which is offered with all of the premium packages.
Is it ever worth going for the free package?
While anything that is free is tempting, I found the free solution to be very restricting. For example, you have access to all of the templates, but not all of the features. As a standard, you are going to get 500MB storage, 1GB bandwidth, a subdomain, and access to all of the basics on the site builder.
This may be justified if you’re building a small personal site, for instance. Personally, though, I’d recommend looking into one of the premium offerings. Plus, one of the major drawbacks is you can’t use your own domain. Look at the free domain I was offered below. I don’t think “http://5eb022f98b8a0.site123.me/” would work well for my brand, do you?
You don’t need to have any design skills to use SITE123, nor do you need to purchase any design software. SITE123 comes with readymade layouts and websites, so a personal website can be established within a matter of minutes. All you need to do is upload your contents and select the right mock-up for each tool. That’s what’s so great about a website builder like this; you cut out the huge expense and hassle that can be associated with using the services of professional website designers.
This is a question I get asked a lot, and it is an important one. After all, the storage location of your site impacts a wide range of things, from security to loading time. With SITE123, websites are stored on a content distribution network (CDN), with servers all across the world. This is something that I was certainly pleased to discover, as, in theory, it means visitors are going to see your site in the quickest possible way, helping to deliver exceptional performance.
If you head to the updates support section, you will be able to find out about all of the new updates added to their website. This includes everything from the latest e-commerce updates to new SEO tools. It is a great way to keep track of everything that is going on at SITE123.
There is a web wizard that comes with an integrated image bank that contains hundreds of quality pictures. These can be used to help you make your site more attractive and there are no limits on them.
You can create as many websites as you want under the one account; there is no limit. If you have numerous websites, you can manage them with greater ease through using a single admin username.
In my opinion, it has to be the help and the support. You are never going to be stuck on the site for more than a few minutes thanks to the live chat feature, which is always there for you. The response time is quick and the answers are always clear and concise.
I hope that this review has helped you to understand the SITE123 website building platform and everything that it has to offer. If you are looking to create a small-scale website – be it a personal website or a small business site – SITE123 is incredibly easy to use and you can have a site created in a matter of minutes. For a more complex and bigger scale project, why not check out the other website builders I’ve reviewed?