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Site123 review: It’s free and fast, but limited

Site123 was launched in 2016 and is an independently-owned, fast-growing website builder. It is based in Israel and the founders and owners were trying to scratch their own need: They wanted to build an easy solution so that their parents can build and launch a beautiful website.

The founders have positioned Site123 to be a one-stop solution for anyone, even the least technically minded among us. It claims to be “by far the easiest website builder” and also that a website is “built in 3 easy steps”:

  1. Choose your design
  2. Add content
  3. Then go live

Hence its name Site123.

It’s going for private Internet users and small to medium-sized businesses worldwide. Since their mission is to make creating a website as easy as possible, they offer everything from one hand: From design, website structure, to selling domains, and hosting.

Following the example of other website builders, it also offers blogging and ecommerce.

Pros and cons of Site123

TL;DR Site123 is a very straight forward website builder that takes out all the work of designing and building a website so that people lacking the web development skills or time can create simple websites.

Pros

  • Ease of use
  • 24/7 customer support
  • Multi-language (available on the premium plans)
  • Solid eccommerce functionality for a budget-friendly tool
  • Email marketing

Cons

  • No export function
  • Cookie-cutter templates
  • Limited design customisation

Who is Site123 for?

Site123 is a solid choice for anyone be it an individual or a business to create a website fast and that with minimal fuss. But, its approach is different from the traditional drag-and-drop website builder, let’s say Squarespace for example.

Compared to these, Site123 focuses on speed and ease by providing done-for-you templates so you can just work on your content. To give you the most suitable template, you select your industry (category or niche) and you fill in your content. This is its approach to save you time while preventing you from making beginner mistakes – maybe even against your will.

“My father, for example, is quite a busy person, very far from being an internet aficionado. Plainly speaking, he has no idea how to create a website. Give him a conventional website builder and he will waste tons of time and end up with something that one would be happy to delete permanently from the web. So, we decided to develop a perfect time-saving solution that would forcefully prevent users from making beginner mistakes and coming up with another junk site.”

Naom Alloush, Site123 owner and lead developer

How easy is Site123 to use?

The signing up is a 3 step process (its name again) starting with you picking your category, entering your name, and lastly your mail address and password. You’ll be taken to the editor that looks like any other website builder editor with the controls and options for your site in the left-hand sidebar and the main window displaying how your site looks.

site123-categories
Site123 choose your niche

You click on the element you want to edit and the left-hand sidebar slides out. You’ll be able to customise your website’s layout, color theme, menu style, header, footer, buttons, fonts, and add your content.

site123-editor
Site123 editor

Your site will be automatically populated with background images and content according to the selected niche. Site123 includes a free image and icons library so that you can easily find images that suit your needs and change the prepopulated once.

Since the tool wants to prevent you from making mistakes, the editor doesn’t give you much design freedom. As a result, even if your site looks professional, it can look quite similar to another site that was built with Site123.

Setting up a website gives us the impression of painting by numbers.

Site123 design and templates

The design of all templates is responsive and your website will maintain an acceptable look/design no matter what you do to the design options.

Once you’re working in the editor, you can still change the template but it will reset your content.

How easy is it to manage your ecommerce store in Site123?

Should you not have chosen “Online Store” as your industry, you can still add an online store to your website as a new page. A click on “Edit” when you’re on your store page takes you to the ecommerce feature. Here you manage products and orders, adjust your store’s design, and handle store inventory, among other tasks needed to operate a store.

site123-ecommerce-feature
Site123 online store feature

Site123 ecommerce feature offers the following options that are not normally on the feature list of other website builders:

  • Create and manage coupons
  • Custom product pricing according to variants like color and size
  • Set shipping and taxes according to your customer’s location
  • Automatically or manually track product supply with its inventory system
  • Ecommerce wishlist (only with the Gold subscription)
  • Abandoned Cart (only with the Gold subscription)

Site123 integrations

Site123 offers additional features through plugins so you can extend your website’s functionality. The plugins can be classed as

  • Analytic tools
  • Live support chat
  • Marketing tools
  • Webmaster tools

What marketing and SEO tools does Site123 have?

SEO

You get some core SEO features to help you rank on search engines. You can add meta tags like editing a meta title, meta description, keywords, and image meta tags.

When you stop working in the editor and exit to the dashboard, there’s an SEO Adviser (their spelling not ours) that you find hidden under the dashboard settings. It will help you optimise your SEO settings, without Gold, the highest subscription, it will only scan up to 3 pages.

Blogging

Adding a blog is just the same as adding a store. Writing new blog posts is just the same as adding a new product to the store. What’s missing is post categories but it can display comments and you can monetise your blog with advertising in the premium subscriptions. It also has an inbuilt statistics tool to show you how many visitors read your blog.

All in all, it doesn’t compare to a tool like WordPress but it also doesn’t feel like an afterthought “just because” blogging is needed for marketing.

Email campaign

To help you build and maintain a relationship with your audience, Site123 lets you build subscribers for your email newsletter. There is a set of mailing list templates to choose from and The email marketing editor looks and behaves like the website builder editor

Social media

You can add as many social profiles as you want in the editor and it will show up in the header of your site.

Payment options

Integrated into Site123 are PayPal, Amazon Pay, Stripe, 2CC, Braintree, Square, Tranzila, Pelecard, and CreditGuard. These are only available with the 2 highest plans.

You can however configure to accept your payments with offline methods such as bank deposit.

Site123 security

All projects that you build with Site123 are secured with an SSL certificate and fully PCI compliant. There’s no dedicated backup function, but you can still keep a security backup by duplicating your site.

Site123 customer support

When you’re working away in the editor, help is never far away. You’ll find in the lower right-hand corner the button “Need Help?” which opens a chatbox. The support team usually answers within minutes. It also has a support centre and a learning centre. Both are well organised.

Pricing

At first glance, you might think Site123 just offers a free and a premium plan. Once you’ve set up your site or want to use the SEO Adviser, you need to upgrade and then discover the 2 plans grew into 5. All plans include free SSL certificate, and the higher the plan, the more features you’ll get.

Site123 pricing at the time of writing

The free plan has heavy limitations and will display Site123 branding.

Is Site123 the right website builder for you?

Site123 is a good starting point for someone who has never built a website before since it makes building a website even more straight forward than the traditional drag-and-drop website builders. You won’t face any surprises, since it explains its features and customisation options well, and you surely won’t have to do coding.

If you aren’t too fussed about pixel perfect in-depth customisation or advanced features, you’ll be quite happy with Site123.

Site123 ease of use and simplicity can be both a boon and a snag: It’s easy to build a simple, clean-looking site. More than that and you’ll be struggling with its limitations.

If you enjoyed reading this review about Site123, we’d be delighted if you could hugely grateful if you could create a link to it on your website or blog.

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