SITE123 review - key features explored
SITE123 is focused on simplicity above all. It manages to put a solid website builder, eCommerce, SEO, and marketing tools in one simple package that takes virtually no time to master.
But of course, that's what every website builder in the world would have you believe. No one's selling a "complicated website builder", right? So, is there anything that makes SITE123's claims actually legit?
SITE123 offers a website builder system that entirely removes the human failure factor. Instead of dragging and dropping various elements, SITE123 gives you a preselected list of options you can choose from to customize your website.
And while that removes a lot of the freedom of choice, it also makes building an extensive website incredibly simple.
The real question is: is that too far? Is it really worth sacrificing choice for the sake of simplicity?
To find that out, for this SITE123 review, I signed up for the platform and made my own website (stick around, and I'll show it!). And overall, I think that certain people will actually quite appreciate the platform's approach.
I enjoyed how simple was it to build my SITE123 website, and manage everything around it. At times, the editing options might feel a little limiting. But if you're a beginner, this is a price worth paying.
This is a pretty big review – so, you can read the full conclusion here.
|Ease of use||Very easy to use and manage|
|Templates||160+ simple templates|
|Business features||Simple first and third-party features|
|Current deal:||Make an excellent business website for $12.80/month!|
SITE123 pros and cons
- Easy to use platform
- Excellent performance
- Pretty good in-house business features
- Excellent 24/7 customer support
- Limited customization options
What website to use SITE123 for?
SITE123 is a decent option for building a wide variety of websites. Here are the main features of the most popular types of sites that you might be curious about:
|Website type||Website benefits||Website limitations|
|Blog||Good SEO and marketing tools, great for optimization||Could have more content-based tools|
|Portfolio site||Visual-focused templates and content blocks||Limited amount of customization|
|Business site||Tools for selling online, email marketing, solid plugin library||The tools offered are pretty basic – they get the job done but leave a lot to be desired|
|eCommerce site||Offers good simple sales features for beginners and solid SEO and marketing tools||Only the Professional and Gold plans offer a decent eCommerce experience – they let users accept more payment gateways|
SITE123 for blogs
SITE123 is an affordable solution to creating a beautiful and fully functional blog. There are enough server resources to go around, and you can always scale it up if necessary. It may not be the best blogging platform, but it gets very close.
It’s super easy to use, your blog can go live in just a few minutes, and you have the possibility of monetizing your blog.
SITE123 for portfolio websites
SITE123 is a good option for people looking to build a portfolio website and that are looking to craft basic websites and aren’t too concerned about building something truly unique.
It’s very easy to use and it also offers extremely good optimization performance. SITE123 also options a variety of templates that could elevate your portfolio – read the full template section here.
SITE123 for business websites
SITE123 offers email marketing, as well as a solid array of plugins, which add a ton of functionality to your business site. While some of the tools that SITE123 offers aren’t too fleshed out, they get the job done and give you all the basic features that you might need for business.
The tools offered are explained in detail in the business feature section, which you can read here.
SITE123 for online shops
The features for online shops that SITE123 offers are pretty decent. They’re simple and accessible – you can utilize SEO and marketing tools to optimize your online selling experience, and the eCommerce editor offers a simple interface users won't waste time mastering. Read more about the eCommerce editor here.
However, to have a pleasant ordeal with eCommerce, you have to purchase the more expensive plans – either the Professional or the Gold. These plans offer multiple gateways and allow to add more products to your site than their cheaper counterparts. Read the full pricing section here.
SITE123 video review
SITE123 offers one free plan, and four premium plans, ranging from $12.80to $34.80 a month. On first sight, this appears to be a bit more expensive than most other website builders.
Let's see at these options in detail.
|Free||Plan for testing the platform||$0.00|
|Basic||Good basic business package: Make an excellent business website for $12.80/month!||$12.80/month|
|Advanced||Multilanguage and email capabilities for a more efficient business||$19.80/month|
|Professional||Accepting credit cards and offering more multilanguage and email options||$28.80/month|
|Gold||All eCommerce, and marketing tools, as well as 270 GB of storage||$34.80/month|
Right from the start, there's one thing I want to note. If you just went to the SITE123 website, and looked at the plans, however, you'd see an entirely different look. With one free, and one premium plans.
But all the plans I mentioned are available – you just have to be already registered with the platform. An unusual approach, but it makes sense for the company to try and sell you other plans, only after you had an opportunity to use the platform, right?
And then, there's another interesting thing to note about these plans:
All the prices here are displayed for a 12-month period. If purchased for 3 months, the $12.80 plan will cost $19/month. Same way, if you purchase the plan for a whopping 10 years, its price will drop to $5/month.
So yes – the plans do appear expensive, but there are ways to get them for cheaper.
Let's have a look at all of these plans and their features in detail.
Free plans are often just meant for messing around: the same is very much true with SITE123.
First of all, the storage and bandwidth are rather limiting: at 250MB each, it doesn't take many visitors for your website to hit the limit and close down.
Secondly, when you publish the site, you'll be given the most unmemorable subdomain in recent memory. Some other builders may let you pick a subdomain, but I was just assigned one: 60793897c4af8.site123.me (just rolls off the tongue, that one).
Also, at the bottom of my site, there was also a massive SITE123 ribbon. It looked pretty distracting.
Long story short – don't plan your business around this free plan. Just like with most things in life, if you want the good stuff, you have to pay.
Basic plan (also known as Premium if you're not logged in) costs $12.80 a month and unlocks most of the classic website-building features we want and love.
Storage and bandwidth are increased significantly (10GB and 5GB respectively), so you can have run a pretty big and popular page here. You can also connect your own domain, and even get a free one for the first year. The massive ribbon at the bottom of your page is gone, too.
There's also a feature allowing you to do 100 mail messages to your email list, opening some, even if very small, email marketing capabilities.
And oh, there's eCommerce, too! But...I suggest against using it.
The Basic plan includes eCommerce – but it's only for up to 10 orders per month, and only via PayPal. In fact, this feature is so limited, SITE123 doesn't even talk about it on their own plan list.
But if you're a personal user, looking to make a portfolio, or a similar small website, this is an option to go with.
If you are running a small business, the Advanced plan for $19.80/month might be an even better pick. It gives even more storage and bandwidth (30GB and 15GB respectively), and also adds mailboxes, allowing you to send and receive emails. There are also tools to make your website multilanguage.
Mailing list messages increase to a respectable 1,000. The eCommerce is still done via PayPal. The monthly order limit is increased to 50.
Now we're reaching the territory of plans you should pick, if you want to use SITE123 for business.
The Professional plan costs $28.80/month and gives 90GB of storage as well as 45GB of bandwidth. You'll also get website statistics, the mailbox limit will be increased to 5, you'll be able to add 3 additional website languages, and increase eCommerce orders to a respectable 500 a month.
Plus, payment gateways will let you accept credit cards, not just PayPal.
The Gold plan, well...as the name implies, is the gold standard of everything SITE123 can bring. At $34.80 a month, it's the most expensive one out there.
But you'll also get a massive 270GB of storage and 135GB of bandwidth, up to 10,000 mail messages, 10 mailboxes, and 5 additional languages.
eCommerce features will also be pretty broad. You'll get unlimited eCommerce ordering, advanced statistics, a chance to implement a wish list, reviews, and even abandoned cart recovery.
The last one is extremely interesting: it will let you to try and bring back the visitors who added an item to the cart, but left without purchasing.
Which one would I recommend for you to buy? Well, it depends:
For personal users, Basic plan will offer the best value for money. On the other hand, a long-term deal for a Gold package might be a great value for many small businesses, who want to pay once, and forget about it.
And if you're looking for a cheap website builder, while SITE123 prices may seem to be on the bigger side, it's important to remember that the $12.80-$34.80 range isn't final. The longer you sign up for, the better deal you'll get. So, there's still money to be saved.
A longer buying term isn't the only way you can get SITE123's Personal and Gold packages at a lower price. We also do our best, finding the best special deals by acquiring the best coupons and discount codes. See, if there's a discount for you.Check SITE123 price NOW
Is SITE123 easy to use?
- Getting started – The beginning of the SITE123 journey was straightforward. One registration, a couple of questions, and I was good to go.
- Designing the website – As you answer the questions, you get a base theme picked for you, and then, you can change themes and styles from the dashboard.
- Managing the website – The dashboard minimizes the amount of work you have to put in. A lot of the stuff is already premade and set up for your convenience.
While researching for this SITE123 review, this part impressed me the most. Everything from top to bottom is meant to be as simple as possible, and is as good or even better than many other website builders I tested.
No exaggeration – you can comfortably build and publish a website in less than half an hour. With a coffee break included.
In fact, I made my own website. Here it is: you can click the image to go and see everything in action.
Let's have a look at how did I do with making my very own website for this SITE123 review.
Getting started with SITE123
The gig here is simple. I followed the link to the SITE123 website, and clicked on a massive button to get started. Then, I was asked the main question.
Once I picked what I wanted, I was asked to type in some of my personal details, and...that was it!
I was transported to the dashboard where my new website was waiting.
SITE123 site editor
The editor was rather straightforward. The main things about the website are edited by picking an option from the top menu.
Once I did so, a menu on the left-hand side appeared, and I could insert whatever information I felt like adding.
In such a way, I could add new pages, change the site's color scheme, menus, and even the finer things, such as how will it look on mobile devices.
Or even search for some fun domain options.
Now, let's talk about editing the site itself.
SITE123 websites are made out of "pages". They are sections, including specific type of content, you can then mix and match to make a website that suits you.
I did some counting, and found over 160 first-party pages, separated in 19 distinct themes.
Depending on the niche of your website, it's going to come preloaded will several of such sections. So did mine – it already had a title section, blog, and a contact form.
The information in these sections can be easily changed and replaced. By clicking "Edit", I could also easily change my information, such as name, phone, email, social media links, and so on.
And this right here is where I can finally show you the most unique thing about SITE123's editor.
Let's take the same section I just added – the "Contact Us" form.
On the left, you'll see several different layout options. I could only change the layout by choosing the section closest to my desired look.
This is true for all types of sections: everywhere, I was given at least some alternative layouts for the options that I picked. But crucially, there was nothing I could do myself. And this is the big thing about SITE123.
You will not be given the freedom to move things around as you wish. Instead, you have to mix and match the sections, and choose from your preferred options to build a good-looking website.
For example, in the title section of the website, I was asked to pick a "goal". What it was, was a selection of premade templates, all of them possibly helping you to fulfill a certain goal.
Once again, no free moving, but it does offer section-based editing – that’s how this builder earned a spot on our best drag and drop website builders list. This type of editing is quite unusual, but it guarantees simplicity.
But in a way, I quite like it. Instead of doing difficult design decisions yourself, you simply trust the platform.
That, in itself, is an epitome for "ease of use". I didn't take long to master the platform. And I reckon, that neither will you.
SITE123 dashboard & navigation
The SITE123 dashboard is the place where you have an overview of all your sites.
And if you have only a couple of them, as I do, everything's going to look a little bit...barren.
Once you go to the menu of a specific website, everything starts looking just a bit more busy.
This is where you can do some blogging, check on your mailing list, connect the domains, and do any other basic business management.
The settings will also let you access statistics, set website access to specific people only, or set a password, manage your SEO, and similar.
Overall, I found the dashboard to be pretty simple to navigate, and everything was quite intuitive. Full marks here, and no issues to report.
SITE123 customer support
For a beginner user, good customer support can be all the difference between a good day, and a bad day. Actually, who am I kidding? Beginner or not, it's great to have some help next to you at all times.
And SITE123 provides that really quite well, with a 24/7 live chat service.
You can access it the same way I did – while working on the SITE123 website, I found this button on the bottom right corner.
What it leads to is this – a customer support section, that can help to either find some help in the documentation, or chat with the agent.
I decided to entertain my right to a live chat agent.
I've had several conversations (for example, when I tried to get more information about pricing – you're welcome!). During all of them, the support agents took almost no time to respond. There was a bit of a gap while they tried to find the right piece of information for me, though.
What I happened to find interesting as well, was the fact they commonly use pre-made answers to try and offer you a curated solution to the problem.
Sometimes that gets executed perfectly.
Sometimes, not so much.
But overall, I got answers to the questions I had. You probably will, too. And everything went very fast.
So, SITE123 customer support is fast. It could improve, sure, but overall, I found the experience to be satisfactory.
Same goes for SITE123 ease of use. I thought that the platform is very smartly angled towards complete beginners. For them, it's going to be excellent. For pros and designers, not so much.
- How many templates are available? – SITE123 counts over 160 templates.
- How do they look? –From one another, the templates differ in hero section layout, menu, fonts, and color scheme. So, they'll all be rather similar, and serve more as inspiration for your website.
- What is their price? – All templates are available for free and can be used on a free as well. There are no additional fees for using them.
SITE123 has over 160 templates to choose from. However, you won't get to choose a template when starting the site. Instead, the platform's going to ask for "what kind of website you want"...
...and then make a website based on that answer.
I don't find the stock templates to be all that impressive though. Here's how the website looks if you choose a "Business" template.
And here's the template for "Online store".
If you have a specific idea of how you want your website to look, you'll need to go a bit more custom.
On your site editor, there will be a "Templates" button, which you can use to summon the entire available list. This is where you'll find some of the more intricate options.
The themes look pretty nice. Nothing super modern, nothing mindblowing. Some options focus on images, others include solid color backgrounds and illustrations. Design-wise, you'll probably find an option that suits you and your goals.
However, there's one thing I really enjoyed. All of SITE123's themes are fully responsive and will look good on all modern devices. Despite being rather simple, they are fully modern and supported on the latest browsers as well.
Although, it's worth mentioning that the templates differ only in menu, top section elements, fonts, and colors. The other sections you could add just the same with every theme.
So it's going to be your job making sure that the rest of the page suits the top.
And there you have it: these are the SITE123 templates. Simple, yet practical. Overall, the platform sees its templates not as a "complete remake" of a website, but rather as a facelift and a design direction to follow. All the sections and pages are still in your control.
SITE123 business features
- Selling online – the eCommerce platform is very simple, but also very simple to use.
- SEO – the Adviser tool is a great tool for beginners looking to fix their major SEO problems. Advanced tools are available only for Gold plan users.
- Email marketing – rudimentary, but entirely functional email marketing system.
SITE123 has some baked-in business features, that make this builder a pretty solid option for a beginner entrepreneur. eCommerce, SEO, and email marketing are all available and easily accessible, and there are also some third-party sections and plugins that help do even more.
SITE123 comes with eCommerce available on all of its premium plans. Sadly, I don't recommend you use the Basic and Advanced plans. They're extremely limited in terms of orders allowed (10 and 50 a month respectively) and only let you use PayPal for checkouts.
It's the Professional and Gold plans you should go for, if you wish to sell online.
That being said, SITE123 has its own eCommerce system and just like most things on this platform, it's really easy to use.
eCommerce can be accessed from your site editing menu. This is where you'll be able to add products, see the orders, read reviews, and so on. It's a neat little mission control center. Entirely uncluttered, it's even easier to use than some established eCommerce platforms!
Its pretty easy to add a store on your website, too. My little mock store, established entirely for this SITE123 review, was made live by just picking to add a new section, and choosing "eCommerce". That's it.
You'll only get one type of look – this. But you can edit it by returning to your eCommerce menu, and clicking a "Design" tab.
Overall, I had very few complaints with now everything looks and works. I do wish you could edit your store's design the same way you can edit everything else on SITE123 (right from your site edit screen), but other than that, it's a simple interface small businesses and personal users will have no issues mastering.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Available to reach from your website's settings menu, the SEO Adviser tool analyzes the website. It also gives you information on what could be improved, so that your online store ranks better in the search engine’s results.
You can find a brief explanation of what each element represents and how it should actually look. The final score (out of 100) is a simple to understand, user-friendly metric.
You'll also get your score through an SEO Page Audit, which will check on your titles, meta tags, and desired keywords.
Sadly, the full audit, showing you all pages and all of their information, is available only with the most expensive Gold plan.
If SEO features is one of the main things you're looking for in a builder, check out other options in our review: Best website builder for SEO – top tools for top rankings!
SITE123 email marketing
Found on your website's dashboard, mailing list lets you to easily import your subscriber list, and send them marketing messages.
The design options are scarce – but if you care more about your message, and not how it looks, this is a practical way to reach your clients.
SITE123 extra features
What SITE123 couldn't or wouldn't build itself, it outsourced to third-party platforms. When adding sections, you can choose from 16 different add-ons, that add a little something extra to your site.
There are options for adding polls, charts, embed videos, insert a donate button, or even connect Ecwid – a different eCommerce platform right to your site.
There's also a plugin store, available from your site's dashboard Settings menu.
There are picks for analytics, live chat support, marketing, and webmaster tools. Overall, the selection is not massive: but between the third-party sections and plugins, I found no glaring omissions.
Overall, SITE123 business features once again follow the trend of simplicity. There aren't multiple massive options, but the basics are there. And on top of that, they're simple and accessible.
Website builders are not known for good performance. Clearly, someone forgot to tell that to SITE123, which is easily the fastest website builder I've tested.
In order to see how good or bad the platform was, I put the page I made for this SITE123 review to GTMetrix. It's a platform that measures site's loading speed and overall platform optimization.
Here's what I got:
With the majority of the website loading in under a second, and no major optimization issues, this is as good a result, as you can expect from a website builder.
Is this is a byproduct of limited customization? Maybe it is, maybe it isn't, but the matter of the fact is that everyone loves websites that load fast. And SITE123 load their faster than you can say "1, 2...".
This platform might not be your piece of cake. Maybe the only thing you learned on this SITE123 review was the fact, that you don't wish to use it. That's alright! I've come prepared with some options that may be interesting instead:
Wix offers all sorts of website-building experiences. There's Wix ADI, which essentially makes the website automatically, based on your answers and business information. And then there's the classic Editor, offering over 700 great templates, and pixel-perfect editing. And then there's a massive app market, full of tools that can morph your Wix website into virtually anything.
Want more freedom of choice? Go with Wix.
GoDaddy Website Builder
GoDaddy website builder focuses on small businesses. There are plenty of extensive in-house marketing tools, more refined than what SITE123 has. And it still follows similar design principles to SITE123, meaning that making a website with GoDaddy website builder is still going to be simple.
Want more business features? Go with GoDaddy.
SITE123 review - final verdict
To sum it up, I had fun building a site with SITE123. This builder is a great option if you're not at all confident in your designs skills, but still want a fully custom website. Each tool the platform provides is very beginner-friendly, and the learning curve of mastering this platform was virtually non-existent.
On top of that, the prices are quite flexible, too. While the $12.80/month for the cheapest premium is actually just about as expensive as Wix and Squarespace, you can get a discount if you opt for a long-term plan.
Sure, there were some issues, too. The lack of customization can be seen as a positive – but for many, it will be a big negative. And the themes, while plentiful, couldn't match the modern options from some other providers.
SITE123 is a busy person's website builder. It's a simple pick, that's going to save both your time and nerves. If you value these more than "design customizability", SITE123 should be your top pick.
And that's the end of this SITE123 review! If you're interested in how it works for you, give the free plan a shot.
Is SITE123 free?
SITE123 offers a plan that’s completely free to use. Although, for a custom domain name, more resources, and better features, I recommend going for a premium plan.
What are the main advantages of SITE123?
Can you add analytics to SITE123?
You can add analytics to your SITE123 site, but you have to be on a paid plan. You can use the platform's in-house option, as well as use services from Google, Facebook, and Bing.