SITE123: Website Builder Review 2022
Perhaps as a very young Michael Jackson swooned, "A-B-C, as easy as 1-2-3, or simple as Do-Re-Me" in 1970, SITE123's creators were listening in on their parent's radios or record players, with the uber-catchy chorus leaving a lasting impression. Of course, anyone would be hard-pressed to create a website in three seconds, however, thanks to its limitations on design freedom, the Israeli website builder certainly makes the process much quicker and simpler than many of its competitors. In this review, we'll explore whether these limitations restrict usage of the service, and what SITE123 is capable of.
What Is SITE123?
SITE123 is a website builder clearly designed with beginners lacking programming knowledge in mind. Rather than relying on design by dragging and dropping and according to the "what you see is what you get" (WYSIWYG) principle, SITE123 offers ready-made layouts. To launch a professional-looking website, users will simply have to input their content. In this review, we took a closer look at what SITE123 can do.
Pros and Cons
Well-organized and easy-to-use editor
Excellent customer support, including live chat
Solid blogging and e-commerce features
Little room for customization
Confusing pricing structure
Configuration and Usability
Only three steps separate prospective users of SITE123 from the site builder's editor and dashboard. To register, first indicate the kind of site you're making: Business, Online Store, Restaurant and Food, or Technology and Web (as well as 12 other options). As SITE123 points out, you can adjust your selection later on. Next, you'll be asked for your site's name, and in the final step, prompted for an email address and password, or alternatively, a social login (as of the time of writing, Facebook and Google are offered).
When getting started with SITE123, you'll first be asked what sort of website you intend to set up.
Chat support - From the comfort of the editor
Once in the editor, you have the option to watch a brief video tutorial that introduces you to the tools you'll be working with. From the first moment, SITE123 distinguishes itself from its competitors: In the lower right corner of the screen, a chat window opens, which you can use to directly contact the support team at any time.
As readers of our comparative evaluations know, we greatly value live chats, however, to date, few website builders have offered them for reasons unbeknownst to us. SITE123 bucks that trend by incorporating it directly into the editor, and we heartily commend them for doing so.
With SITE123, chat support is integrated directly into the editor.
No drag and drop
Unlike those of most of its competitors, SITE123's editor lacks intuitive drag and drop functionality. This means that you'll be tied to the templates and unable to freely move individual elements around.
For text, a small formatting menu opens, allowing you to make adjustments directly in the window. To access additional options, such as integrating animations or changing the font, you can do so via the toolbar off to the left.
SITE123's editor lacks drag and drop functionality, however, adjusting most elements is made fairly simple.
Other elements are modified not on the page itself, but rather, in a pop-up window that opens when you click on its "Edit" button. On the "About Us" page, you'll find a text editor and a space for uploading images. Clicking on "Layouts" next to the "Edit" button loads a series of designs available for that particular section or page.
Sections and sub-pages are edited in a pop-up window.
SITE123's ease of use is refreshing, even though it considerably limits the freedom other site builders afford their users. The ready-made components and elements on offer are customizable, albeit to varying degrees.
Setup tutorials, a video introduction, an embedded support chat, and the somewhat limited editor all make SITE123 very cozy for anyone just getting started with site building, or, looking for a more padded experience. Of course, there is a trade-off between creative freedom and simplicity, but so long as you accept this going in, there won't be any nasty surprises in terms of configuration or usability. Our only major criticism concerns the number of ads in the free version.
Score: 4.7 / 5
SITE123 provides users with access to the most important site-building features, however, these appear to be less developed than those which the platform's competitors offer. Whereas other site builders make complicated code sequences easily modifiable using brushes and other tools as part of their WYSIWYG systems, SITE123's editor treats various elements like puzzle pieces that can be colored, but not really shaped.
Pages & Sections
As such, text and elements aren't edited directly on the site, but rather, through separate windows. Under Settings, you'll be able to set whether your site will have a single page or multiple pages.
Multi-page sites are ideal for those featuring lots of content.
Each "Section" in SITE123 is really a page and can be displayed on your website's main navigation menu (but doesn't need to be). Depending on what sort of website you've selected, visitors will either click on the corresponding item in the menu, opening a window with its content in the process, or a new page.
You can add new pages to your site by clicking on the plus symbol which appears between sections. A nice choice of page categories is offered, including contact pages, galleries, portfolios, customer testimonials, and restaurant menus. As seems to be the case among most of the providers from our sample, SITE123 provides access to all of the essentials, as well as a few extras, but could do with more of the latter and additional layout variations for these.
Different layouts are offered for each type of page.
You can arrange your subpages via the "Pages" sub-menu, also adding new pages and modifying their layouts. It's also possible to group subpages into categories, which will then be summarized in a drop-down menu. This is particularly useful if you're hosting multiple types of the same content (such as two blogs, for example).
You can manage page hierarchy by moving individual blocks around.
Powerful blogging features with some shortcomings
SITE123's solid support for blogging definitely makes the Israeli service worth a look for bloggers. To manage this, click on the "Edit" button after adding a blog page to your website. Here, you'll be able to arrange its entries and schedule them for publication at a future date or time. As might be expected, you can't group your blog entries freely, but utilize a ready-made layout (which you can select).
Comments can be managed internally via Facebook or Disqus, while the service's statistics keep you up to date on who is visiting your blog.
SITE123 shows a few sample blogs, demonstrating what it's capable of helping produce.
Other features, like an archive, or the ability to add tags or categories are, regrettably, not included. Similar to its overall approach, SITE123 offers the basics but struggles when it comes to depth and functionality.
Underwhelming selection of plugins
The service does offer an app market for external plugins, making it possible to add analytical tools, a support chat, or other features to your page, however, in comparison to what other providers offer, SITE123's selection is unremarkable. User-defined code can be added here, and even then, only if you're a paying subscriber.
You can enhance your website's capabilities with external plugins.
Quickly create multilingual websites
SITE123 finishes this category on a high note thanks to the ease with which it allows multilingual websites to be created. Depending upon your subscription, it's possible to create up to five different language localizations. SITE123 will automatically translate all of your content, however, you can manually edit this.
Overall, SITE123 makes everything needed to create a professional-looking website available, without offering any advanced features or design options. Surely, including the majority of these would not adversely impact the platform's user-friendliness. Should you want to quickly and easily create an optimized and appealing website, and don't really care about having a free hand in designing or personalizing it, we don't think that you'll be disappointed with SITE123. For any other type of user, there'll certainly be a sigh here or there. As a result, we think that SITE123's developers could have made more of an effort to strike a better balance between ease of use and their editor's variety of features and capabilities.
Score: 3.3 / 5
Templates & Design
SITE123 makes around 160 design templates available, all of which can be viewed on the home screen by clicking on the "Templates" button. Among these templates you'll find a number of layouts, which can be modified, creating far more options than seem available at first glance.
The number of templates is impressive, even if many of them vary from one another in single or minute aspects, such as their menu bars.
SITE123 serves up more than 160 design templates, most of which are fairly similar to one another.
The platform's lack of drag and drop functionality adversely impacts your creative freedom here once again, making it impossible, for example, to customize your site's layout from the ground up, or move on-screen elements around at will. Instead, you can freely modify color schemes, background images, and fonts, so long as you've purchased a service package (for example, user-defined colors are only offered to paying subscribers).
A range of different templates are also provided for menus, and HTML can be inserted into the plugin area of the editor.
With SITE123, your design options are limited, however, elements such as colors and fonts can be modified at will.
Despite the ease with which it's possible to create a website using SITE123, we were left feeling that once again, the trade-off between simplicity and breadth of functionality disadvantaged users, unnecessarily curbing design freedom. Other site builders from our sample demonstrate that simplicity and a wide selection of templates and customization options aren't mutually exclusive. Specifically, a greater variety of layouts and a more flexible approach to editing website elements would do wonders for SITE123, and without unbalancing the platform's underlying logic or dynamic.
Score: 3 / 5
E-Commerce, Marketing & SEO
An online store is added to your website in SITE123 as a unique page, meaning that you can't include popular products elsewhere on your homepage. The service provides access to basic e-commerce features, such as managing products and organizing them into categories, the latter of which can, to a considerable degree, be personalized. It's possible to specify variations for your products, such as different sizes or colors, attributes (i.e. form and style), as well as shipping and inventory details.
In the shop menu, you can easily add new products to your store and specify variations.
Under "Settings", it's possible to adjust the design and content of your product pages and order forms, as well as configure shipping and payment. For the latter, SITE123 offers access to several different options (PayPal, Amazon Pay, as well as a number of credit card providers), however, limits their usage to paying subscribers. Similarly, additional features, like creating coupons, are also reserved for premium users.
SITE123 makes creating a clear and well-organized online store fairly simple. The service offers access to most of the basic e-commerce features, however, does limit quite a few options to paying subscribers.
Basic email marketing
SITE123 comes with a fairly basic email marketing tool that can be used to interact with mailing list or newsletter subscribers. Compared to dedicated tools, such as those we assessed in our comprehensive review, SITE123's tool is rather rudimentary. As an example, it comes with a mere two templates, which can't really be customized in any meaningful way.
Using SITE123's integrated email marketing tool, you can immediately communicate with your customers or schedule messages to be sent at a specific time.
SEO & Analytics
SITE123's search engine optimization (SEO) features are decent. In the Pages menu, you can specify meta-tags and keywords for each page. Individual blog entries can also be endowed with tags. To help even further, you'll find an SEO adviser in the settings menu for your website, which lets you know what you still need to complete. Rounding things out is an SEO audit tool, which scans and checks all of your pages to ensure that they are optimized.
For analytics, you'll have to rely on external plugins. A number of these are available in the service's app market and include all of the big names (Google Analytics, Facebook Pixel, and Yandex.).
SITE123 e-commerce capabilities come as a pleasant surprise, especially considering the platform's limitations in other areas. Still, a number of its competitors offer a more well-rounded package, as well as enhanced marketing tools.
Score: 4 / 5
SITE123 really shines when it comes to customer support. Using the aforementioned integrated live chat, we received answers to our queries within minutes or even seconds, and the main support center is never more than a click away. There, you can find clearly arranged and labeled guides and FAQs that provide detailed insight into the most important topics and issues. All of the platform's static support resources can be browsed via full-text search.
SITE123 scores thanks to its live chat and informative guides.
The service's 24-hour live support chat is a real highlight, not just for SITE123, but among all of the services that we've reviewed. As such, we have no qualms awarding full points in this section of the review. Beginners, who are already the platform's target audience, will definitely be pleased to know that a helping hand is never more than a few clicks away, and available without navigating away from the editor.
Score: 5 / 5
In terms of pricing, SITE123 could do with a bit more transparency. This is because, when browsing its website, you'll only find two options: Free and Premium. In reality, a total of four premium (paid) plans are offered. These are Basic, Advanced, Professional, and Gold.
The free version includes a SITE123 subdomain, as well as 250 MB of bandwidth and storage. All paid subscriptions, which can be booked for 3, 12, 24, 36, 60, or 120 months, include a free domain for a year.
Rates differ in terms of storage (10, 30, 90, or 270 GB), bandwidth (5, 15, 45, or 135 GB), and additional features. Among the latter, email accounts and multilingual websites are only offered starting from the Advanced plan, e-commerce features from the Professional tier, while the SEO adviser and advanced e-commerce tools are reserved for Gold subscribers.
Below, we've provided an overview of SITE123's current pricing:
|Effective monthly price||$0.00||from $8.45||from $11.45|
|Contract period (months)||0||12 - 36||12 - 36|
|Free of ads|
But how does SITE123 compare to the other site builders from our sample in terms of price? Below, we've compiled the most affordable subscription option from each of the services we assessed that was ad-free and included a unique domain.
SITE123 doesn't offer a free trial of its premium platform, however, you can use the service's free version as much as you like. Should you purchase a subscription and have second thoughts, you can request a full refund within 14 days.
SITE123's restriction of design freedom is confidently promoted as contributing to the platform's ability to help users create websites in the easiest and quickest manner possible, offering the most convenient experience. Only a few intuitive clicks separate the service's ready-made templates from finished websites, and the results aren't bad. As a result, SITE123 is truly one of the most user-friendly website builders on the market.
The price for such enhanced usability is a lack of both features and customizability. While we understand the developer's approach, more of both could be added without sacrificing simplicity. For anyone intent on building a website that truly stands out, SITE123's limitations will become apparent sooner rather than later.
Most reviews for SITE123 rated the service as excellent, commending its ease of use and helpful live support chat.
SITE123 is well-suited for anyone willing to sacrifice access to a feature or two in exchange for greater ease of use. Should you be on the hunt for more capabilities and/or creative freedom, keep your eyes peeled for site builders that offer drag and drop design. Among these, the best service from our sample, Wix, certainly stands out. While definitely more complicated to use than SITE123, it does an excellent job of balancing user-friendliness with functionality and depth of features.
Should SITE123's templates be too bland for your tastes, you might want to have a look at Squarespace. The popular site builder serves up some of the most aesthetically-pleasing and striking designs on the market.
Below, you can find more of the best alternatives to SITE123.