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SITE123 is one of many drag & drop website builders on the market that aims to make website building easy and accessible to everyone, even those without any design or coding skills. They claim that they have created ‘the most intuitive and easy to use builder on the market’. This bold claim got our attention here at Website Builder Ninja and we wanted to find out more.
SITE123 offers an intuitive website editor that’s mobile-friendly, has free hosting, advanced SEO tools, custom domain names, and the ability to set up an online store. We’ve spent some time testing out the platform to provide you with an in-depth review to help you decide if SITE123 is the platform to help you and your business grow.
If you don’t feel like reading the full review right now, no worries. You can save some time by skipping ahead to the bottom line to find out if SITE123 is the right platform for you.
SITE123 is marketed at individuals or small to medium businesses who have little to no design and web developing skills and are looking to grow their online presence.
If you take a look at their homepage you will see that this message is confirmed with lots of description about the easy to use editor. There are also a number of positive reviews you can see from SITE123 customers that are really happy with the builder because of how simple it is to use and how great the designs are.
A quick look at the templates shows that SITE123 have ready-made designs for everything from professional business pages, to photography pages, to online CV’s. Head over to the templates page to have a look at some more, we’ve listed a few below to get you started.
SITE123 claims to be the ‘the most intuitive and easy to use builder on the market’ with an easy to use editor as well as everything you would need to run a successful website already built into the templates and platform.
The SITE123 editor is not a drag and drop editor. Instead, they have created an editing sidebar that pops up when you click on a content block on your webpage.
The editing sidebar is straightforward and easy to understand. When editing a text box, for example, each section of text has its own editing box and you can customize it with various preset layouts and positions.
The editor is definitely built for ease-of-use and speed which is great if you’re a beginner. However, not having a drag and drop interface limits the creative freedom available on the platform. This is not necessarily a bad thing for first-timers but it might frustrate the more experienced web developers or those with an eye for design.
The onboarding process with SITE123 is simple and really fast. From the moment you click ‘start a website’, you’ll be ready to start editing a fully functioning website within 2 minutes.
It’s really that simple and you will be surprised at how accurate the template that appears will be to the needs of you and your business. However, there isn’t much support and guidance throughout the onboarding process. So, if you’re like me and you landed on the editor not really sure what to do next, you can always click the ‘need help’ button and fire a few questions at the 24/7 chat support to help get you started.
SITE123 has created an editor that is designed for speed and ease of use, making it an ideal platform for the beginner web developer that is looking to create an online presence fast. There are definitely some drawbacks as the focus on speed and simplicity has left the overall design capabilities weak compared to its competitors.
The editor includes 180 templates that are all fully responsive, so they’ll look good on mobiles, desktops, and tablets without you needing to do anything. There are three main types of templates that are split up by the menu placement. You can choose a top menu, side menu or bottom menu and they all come with parallax scrolling as default. You can customize the templates slightly by changing the shape divider.
Although all of the templates look great they do have a very similar theme to all of them, it’s either a large hero image with centralized text or a split heading with text one side and an image the other. This will be fine for most websites, however, there is a danger of all SITE123 websites looking very similar because of the limited options.
From the editing sidebar, you can adapt and edit the templates to make them right for you and your business. You can add, delete, and rearrange the order of pages with just a few clicks. There are lots of different content blocks you can add to your pages such as blogs, booking forms, testimonials, galleries, ecommerce, music players, and much more.
From the design section, you can try out one of the pre-set themes or select your own fonts and color schemes to make your site unique and match the style of your business.
Finally, there is a sizeable bank of free stock images that you can use to make your website stand out. You can either explore the categories or use the search bar to find exactly what you’re looking for. There is a very basic image editor attached to this feature where you can change the background color, select a filter, edit the opacity, and edit the image height.
From our perspective here at Website Builder Ninja SITE123 has done a good job in terms of including all of the basic features you will need to run a successful website as well as having a couple of standout features too.
The ones we always expect to see are there, such as free hosting, blogging pages, custom domains, ecommerce stores, 24/7 support, booking & reservations, design tools, professional fonts, and so on. The basics are important to give SITE123 users a chance to compete with websites built on other platforms and we can confirm you’ll have everything you need with SITE123.
But what about the additional features that make the SITE123 platform stand out from the crowd?
Well, the first that got our attention is the website translator that makes it easy for you to create a multilingual site. You can automatically translate your content using Google or Bing translate or upload a translation file from a professional translator. The SITE123 translator tool also has the ability to tailor translations to different dialects and claims to ‘perfectly translate’ your website for right-to-left languages.
The logo tool allows you to crop, resize, and adjust the dimensions of your logo to fit in with the overall design of your site or simply use one of the free icons as your logo. It can be tricky to match logo specifications with website builder designs, especially if you don’t have any design or photoshop skills, so this is a useful feature for beginners.
Finally, this may not apply to you all, but, the musician’s tool is an interesting point of difference. The musician’s tool allows you to upload and download music files and even integrate your Soundcloud account. As well as adding events, tour dates, and the ability to sell your music and merchandise.
For a full list of features and tools head over to the SITE123 features page and explore what is on offer across the platform. There are detailed articles about each tool so you can get to know about the features that you will need to use.
Here at Website Builder Ninja, we run our own SEO audit on every site we review to give you an idea of how well the platform performs on a technical level, so you can understand how well your site will rank on search engine ranking pages (SERPs) if you use the platform. Overall SITE123 has decent SEO features to their platform however, there are a few areas for improvement.
Starting with the basics you will have the ability to edit titles, headings and meta descriptions to optimize your content for SEO. A big plus is that you can edit the URL tags to make it friendly for SEO and the hreflang tag, which tells Google that there is a link between translated pages, is also present. Finally, the SITE123 platform will automatically create a sitemap which is essential for google to index your pages.
Now for some of the downsides…
When we tested SITE123’s page speed we found that it was pretty slow (although faster than rivals Wix and Squarespace). This is important to consider because page speed is a direct ranking factor and Google will choose to rank faster websites above slower sites.
The platform is also missing the ability to create image alt tags which gives the context of an image to visually impaired users and there is no code editor for you or an SEO professional to change the code of your site to improve SEO performance.
Finally, the schema is missing, which is a form of microdata used to create rich snippets. This is not critical to SEO performance but sites with rich snippets tend to rank higher on average so it’s important to think about.
While there are a number of things missing from an SEO perspective they are common problems across all website builders, so whether you choose SITE123 or another builder you will come across the same issues.
SITE123 offers an ecommerce solution with features that allow you to sell physical and digital products, customize your storefront, list products in an inventory, and much more. To get started you simply need to select an ecommerce template or add in an ecommerce page or content block to any SITE123 website.
You will be able to track orders, get paid in 80 different currencies, set custom shipping and tax rates, create coupons, display customer reviews, send emails directly to your subscriber list, and much more.
If you want to unlock these features you will have to pay for one of the two most expensive subscriptions, however, this is not unusual (most website builder platforms charge a premium for ecommerce features) and if you’re planning to sell products online, it’s a necessary evil.
If you want to learn more about SITE123’s ecommerce capabilities head over to their ecommerce page.
SITE123 has its very own built-in bookings and scheduling tool that lets you add in many types of services. You can customize each service so that they each have their own settings which is great if your company offers a variety of services.
You can also set up personal or group services. Personal services would include one-on-one tutoring services and with the group services, you can take bookings for up to 99 people.
There are bookings and scheduling content blocks that you can add to your page with just a few clicks. The blocks are fully customizable so you can tweak them to fit your specific needs to make sure you get the correct information from your clients.
SITE123 don’t charge any commission for payments made on their site and simply rely on third-party services to provide payment options to their customers. You’ll find that most third-party services charge around 3% per transaction but make sure you look at the fine print before signing up.
The platform supports 12 different payment providers including Paypal, Stripe, Braintree, and 2Checkout. These are all big players that will enable you to accept all major credit and debit cards and some even allow your customers to complete payments with Apple Pay.
SITE123 does offer a free trial which includes a subdomain name, 500mb storage, and 1GB bandwidth to get you started. It’s important to note that a free subscription is very limited on SITE123 and most of the more interesting editing abilities are withheld for premium accounts and all ecommerce features are premium only.
SITE123 offers four pricing plans which are basic, advanced, professional, and gold. The entry-level plan that offers a custom domain and templates free from SITE123 branding starts at $19 per month.
There is no pay monthly option, instead, users are required to pay for a minimum of three months in one hit or choose to pay 12 months, 18 months, or 36 months upfront.
If you’re looking for an ecommerce plan you will have to sign up for the professional or gold subscription.
If you’re stuck with how to do something or come across some technical difficulties you can find support on SITE123 in a number of different ways.
Firstly the learning center is a space that is full of articles sharing tips and ideas on how to get the most out of your SITE123 website and how to build a successful online presence. You can search for your query or browse topics such as website builder, ecommerce, design, marketing & SEO, or how to’s.
If you don’t find what you need there you can head over to the support center where you will find more detail specifically on different areas of the SITE123 platform like the editor, pages, SEO, billing, events, domains, and much more.
Sometimes you just need to speak to a human to sort something out. SITE123 offers 24/7 live chat support which you can access by clicking on the help button that is present on the bottom right of your screen wherever you are on the site. When we tested the chat system we got a helpful response to our query within 2 minutes.
If you prefer to get your support via email you have that option as well. However, at the moment there is no phone support from SITE123.
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