Site123 Review: DIY Blog Creator with Podcasting Support
Got a great idea for a website? Been working hard developing the concept into standout content?
There’s just one final hurdle to overcome before you get your site up and running. How, when you have no programming experience, do you design and build a website?
Site123 is an ideal solution for bloggers and small business owners who are new to creating websites. It offers a simple editing platform with a handy step-by-step wizard which guides you through uploading content and designing pages.
With no cap on the number of pages your site can have, the extensive list of features available includes a blogging platform, online store, image galleries, and social media integration. Themes are designed to high professional standard for a guaranteed quality look, and your site is automatically optimized for mobile and desktop.
Hosting is included, and did we mention that all of this can be used for free?
If you are looking to launch a quality site for your blog, hobby, or home business that is affordable and easy to run, Site123 may just be the right fit.
Read on as we dig a little deeper to find out exactly what is on offer.
The Site123 Website Builder
Site123 claims that its web building platform is shaking up the market and is easier to use than most of its rivals. It certainly takes a different approach to the popular drag-and-drop build engines, placing all control over content, layouts, and design in a series of menus instead.
Site123 is designed to give users a logical walkthrough of the web design process. First, you choose a purpose for your site: a topic for your blog, or a market sector for your business. This determines the theme you start out with. This sounds restrictive compared to other site builders which offer dozens of templates for each topic or sector. But Site123 offers plenty of scope for reshaping your chosen theme as you progress.
Let’s take the example of designing your homepage. You start off with the basics: input a website name and logo, then a page title and slogan. These automatically appear with preset formatting on screen, but then you can choose a text layout option to change the font type, size, color, and position. Once you have finished with text, you can change the page background, choose from dozens of designs, and then play with the layout of elements on the page.
Combined together, all of these options allow plenty of scope for customization. The key thing is that all of your changes are previewed the moment you click on an option, so you get to see what your site looks like at every stage. You can also toggle the preview button to review what it looks like on desktop or mobile.
Site123 Stand Out Features
One of the things that really makes Site123 stand out in the affordable site builder market is the range of extra features you can add to your site. The blog platform is functional and provides everything you would expect. Site123 also offers plenty of support for multimedia, with a video tool for embedding and formatting video, and an audio player for creating podcasts. There is even a dedicated tool for uploading your audio podcasts or music tracks so they can be played from your site.
The online shop platform allows you to list an unlimited number of products and comes with PayPal already integrated. There is plenty of scope to design your e-commerce site the way you want it, even down to how individual products are presented.
As a global brand, Site123 can be used to build websites in 69 different languages, and you can also choose to build a multi-lingual site.
Site123 supports third-party plug-ins for Google Search Console (formerly called Google Webmaster Tools) and Google Analytics, giving you full control over SEO and performance monitoring. You can also add a live chat platform to your site, and link to Google Play or iStore so visitors can download apps.
Managed hosting is included with Site 123’s service. There is little detail on the Site123 about the hosting, so we assume what’s offered is shared server hosting. Site123 does explain that it uses a global content distribution network (CDN), meaning local server capacity helps to improve load speeds wherever site owners are based.
Site123 keeps things simple with plans and pricing. There are only two subscription tiers, free and paid for. Although the free plan gives you unlimited access to the site builder, and you can theoretically build as many sites as you want, your hosting is restricted to 500 MB storage a month and just 1 GB bandwidth.
On the paid plan, you get 10 GB storage and 5 GB bandwidth. You can also use the ecommerce platform and remove Site123 branding from your site.
Billing is monthly or annual, with a discounted rate for yearly subscriptions.
On paid plans, you have the option to switch an existing domain over to Site123. If you pay for a yearly plan, you can also register a new domain name for free.
Site123 offers a couple of handy tools for setting up and managing domain names. A dedicated domain name management panel gives you access to your DNS records, allowing you to change your server settings for improved browsing. The panel also has a built-in domain name search tool so you can search to see if your idea for a name is available to register.
Site123 places a lot of its support focus on live chat. Even when you are just browsing the site, a chatbot feature pops up asking if you need any help on most pages. There is also a contact form for support queries by email, but no option to contact Site123 by telephone.
Unlike many similar web building and hosting services, Site123 provides very little in the way of self-service support on its site. There is a very limited FAQ section, but no tutorials or knowledgebase. The intention seems to be that the editing wizard walks you through everything you need to know.
Note that Site123 does not offer a free trial period or money-back guarantee on its paid plan. Once you pay, the transaction is considered final, and no refunds will be offered if you cancel the subscription.
Site123 offers something different in the site building market. Not only is the wizard-based editor very easy to follow, and in many ways gives you more control of design than template-based builders, the number of features you can add to your site is excellent.
The main drawback for Site123 is the restrictions it places on hosting. The free plan is suitable for only the smallest sites, and while the paid plan is reasonable, it still places a ceiling, and would stop you growing, say, a large e-commerce site or running multiple blogs on one account.