123-Reg Website Builder Review

123-Reg Website Builder Review

Read our expert opinion of 123-Reg

123-reg is the United Kingdom's largest domain provider and belongs to the Host Europe Group. The company hosts more than 1. 4 million websites and has registered over three million domains.

The website builder is designed as an all-in-one package that allows you to build your website without the need for technical knowledge. This includes optimizing your template (layout), customizing images, color schemes and multiple other things. It is focused toward beginners, but with any website builder, once you publish your website you are then tied to that software. When you choose software that is specific to an individual hosting provider (which this is), then it can become quite inflexible, especially if the features are relatively limited.

Their website builder comes at various pricing points, and with an e-commerce version that is priced according to the number of products you wish to sell, with an unlimited product version at the top end. 

Editor's note: We have not personally tested their website builder product, and based our review from indepth-research and multiple video demonstrations. You may, therefore, wish to pay particular attention to the user reviews at the end of the page. 

Expert Opinion

123-Reg Website Builder Review

123-reg Website Builder Plans — Perfectly adequate for standard or e-commerce websites, but lacking in features for more advanced users

123-reg offers two standard website builder plans, and three e-commerce website builder plans. The lowest price "Business" plan has limited analytics, no backups and is branded with "built with 123". We suspect therefore that you will want at least the "Business +" plan that starts at £9.99 per month.

You can see a quick comparison of all the plans below:

Business Business + Online Shop 10 Online Shop 100 Online Shop ∞
Website Analytics Limited Yes Yes Yes Yes
Edit HTML No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Mobile versions Yes, but undeditable. Yes Yes Yes Yes
Email Addresses 1 3 5 5 5
Free Domain Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Branded Yes — "Built with 123" No No No No
Backups No Yes Yes Yes Yes
PRICE £4.99 £9.99 £14.99 £24.99 £49.99

4 Reasons to use 123-reg Shared Hosting for your website or Blog

#1 Their website builder is very easy to use, with no technical experience being necessary.

Their design interface is really good. It is modern, and extremely easy to use allowing you to easily implement many different features. The only problem is going to be your imagination, but fortunately they have some great templates you can start from too.

123-reg Website Builder

#2 Get up and running quickly by customizing one of many professionally designed templates that look good across desktops, tables or mobile.

We were very pleasantly surprised how great some of the basic templates looked. Quite often web hosting providers who offer their own website builder (as opposed to reselling a mainstream builder such as Weebly) will showcase some outdated, and quite frankly horrible designs.

You can choose templates from a variety of different professions or styles, which can then be adapted to make them unique, including:

  • Business — Multiple professions are included; Laundry, Handyman, Luxury transport, consulting, app, plus many more.
  • Restaurant — They have five different restaurant themes, of which at least two look really great.
  • Portfolio sites — Whether you are a designer, or just want to visually showcase your services or products, they have some great designs.
  • Beauty — Choose from lifestyle types themes, to beauty products or fitness.

An example of one of their latest designs is below:

123-reg website builder designs

#3 An extensive set of standard features and widgets to make your website look professional. 

You can easily and quickly add the following features:

  • Social icons — Display links to your social media accounts with smart icons.
  • Image sliders — Easily add a swipeable image slider to your website to showcase your products and services.
  • Google maps — Let people find you by integrating Google Maps in to your website; include step by step directions to your store.
  • SEO functionality — Get found by more of your customers with our simple to use, built in Search Engine Optimization tools.
  • Photo Galleries — Include a photo gallery on any page to showcase your products, customers or services and ensure they appear in the results for Google’s image search so they can be easily found by potential customers.
  • Click to call — Website Builder connects your online and offline business. Your visitors can call in one click from a mobile device which can be limited to office hours. Great for shops, restaurants and professional services who want their customers to call.
  • Blogs — Website Builder allows you to share your knowledge and establish a community with your visitors by creating a blog that integrates smoothly with your website.
  • InSites — Improve engagement by personalizing your website based on how customers found you, where they are, the date, time of day and more.
  • Contact forms — Drag and drop a contact form onto your website to give customers a safe and secure way to contact you.
  • YouTube video — Embed any YouTube video by dragging this widget into place and take advantage of the internet’s fastest growing search engine.

#4 inSites widgets allow you to create custom content for specific visitors, such as custom offers or greetings.

This is one of our favorite features of the 123-reg website builder. With inSites you can provide custom content or styling to specific sets of visitors. This is great for providing custom offers to say, returning visitors, or even completely changing the look of your website depending on their location (i.e. celebrate specific holidays from certain countries).

Examples of some of the changes you can make are as follows:

  • Special promotions that run each year for a set period (i.e. Christmas or New Year)
  • Notification bars that display on specific pages only once per visitor (i.e. welcome message)
  • Add out of office message to contact page.
  • If a visitor is on a mobile or tablet and say in the local area, display a map.
  • Make sure your website is updated each day for the specific lunch time special

You can see a screenshot of just how easy it is to configure the inSite with their easy to use wizards below:

123-reg inSite screenshot

6 Reasons why you might not want to choose 123-reg for your web hosting

#1 Even though you are able to pay monthly, you are still tied to a 12 month contract.

The billing terms are quite unusual. Not only is there no visible money-back guarantee period, but there appears to be a minimum 12-month contract when you sign up, even if you choose to pay monthly.  

When using a website builder, quite often you will want to try it out first to make sure it is suitable. While you can play around with one of the templates to check out the amin area, and get a feel for it, it does not appear that you can save or publish the website without first signing up.

#2 As with any website builder, you are pretty much tied to that hosting provider so if you decide to move, you will have to rebuild your website.

This is self-explanatory, and applies to almost all website builders.

#3 Charged to Move Domain?

Their terms and conditions state:

5.5. The Client accepts that the transfer of a gTLD Domain may require 123 Reg to carry out a manual transfer. In such event, the Client agrees to pay the applicable manual transfer fee to 123 Reg as stated on 123 Reg’s website and as updated from time to time.

It didn't take much to find users that were charged $20 to move their domain away.

#4 Limited time Money Back Guarantee

They offer a 14-day unconditional money back guarantee, although this does not apply to domains or other add-ons. This is significantly less than any other web hosting providers, with many providing between 30 and 90 days money-back guarantee. It is therefore important to make up your mind whether you wish to stay with them relatively quickly.

#5 Requirement to give 30 days notice of cancellation or you will be charged automatically

After the money back guarantee period has run out, there are no refunds. If you wish to cancel at the end of the term, you should note that you need to give 30 days written notice, and there are a few complaints around the web of credit cards being charged automatically. You can find the relevant terms here:

12.1.1 the Client upon serving 30 days' written notice on 123-reg following completion of 123-reg' prescribed template procedures for terminating the whole or any part of the Agreement

They clarify that the written notice can be made via support ticket.

While many web hosting providers have a habit of automatically renewing hosting at the end of the term, the 30 day notice requirement is quite draconian. If you sign up with 123-reg, just make sure that if you do not wish to renew at the end of the term that you give the correct notice and this will be no issue.

#6 Their lack of expertise \ disaster planning when major problems occur is worrying.

2016 has been a terrible year for 123-reg.  

First, in April 2016, they delete many of the VPS Servers with over 50 percent of the data permanently lost resulting in many customers losing their websites (always make off-site backups ok?!?).

Secondly, in May 2016, they suffered from major email outages affecting customers on around 67 web servers. To give some credit, this is only a small number of the 115,000 servers their parent company has across Europe.

Lastly (at least for now), in August 2016, they suffered from major outages due to a relatively large 30 Gbps DDoS attack. Fortunately, at least in the latter case, they managed to recover fairly quickly.

Ultimately the second two items are not overly serious, but nevertheless, the trend is worrying. The VPS data deletion, though, should never have been allowed to happen.

Editor's opinion: Do we recommend 123-reg?

The more we looked at their website builder, the more we were impressed. While it doesn't have all the add-ons that a specialist website builder company has, we feel their modern designs and inSite features will be more than adequate for small business users. They do, however, seem overpriced and lacking in features for with their e-commerce plans.

If you only need a simple website, then 123-reg may be worth considering. The designs look great, and there is a great set of basic features that should be more than enough for a great looking website. 

We are yet to review a substantial number of different website builders, but a quick look shows that you can get unlimited products at Weebly for just £17 per month. As such, we would not really recommend 123-reg for e-commerce.

What people are saying

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