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If you just don’t want to bother trying to design your own website but need one for cheap, this very well might be the way to do it. However, it won’t give you much control over your site and you’ll face a bunch of other limitations.
Can AI Actually Create the Site You Need?
Update: To compare the best website builders on ease of use, templates, customer service, and value for money, we tried to build the same site on each platform. Check out the results here.
Leia is difficult to compare to other site builders due to its AI involvement. I’ll spare you the endless Star Wars jokes and just give you the basics: This is not your average site builder.
Leia is for people who absolutely, positively don’t want to build their own site – and also don’t want to pay a professional thousands of dollars to do it for them. This is for people who want to see if computers can just make them a site already. I mean, we were supposed to have flying cars by now, but we’ll settle for this.
Leia is available in English only, and the website isn’t much to look at. You click the “Get Started” button, and the AI makes the site.
But can it actually build you the site you need? Let’s find out.
You heard me right. You don’t get to pick your template. That’s because, as I mentioned before, template-picking is handled by the AI. You can hit a button to redo your design, and the AI will redesign your whole site with new images, a different layout, and, sometimes, with different content.
Any changes you make to the content will be saved automatically, though. You don’t have to worry about that.
Now let’s say you’ve found a layout you like, but the colors aren’t right. No worries, you can change the site’s primary color, and the whole color scheme of the site will adjust accordingly. You can also set the colors for individual elements and change the fonts used throughout your site.
That’s about the limit of your customization options on the free plan, though. More on that below. In the meantime, I’d have to say that none of the AI-generated designs I encountered looked outright bad. Just a bit…uninspired? And it has to be said that even though they were all different, they did look awfully similar to each other.
Features Are Generally Limited, Especially on the Free Plan
So, the first thing you have to understand about Leia is that it is not your typical site builder because of its AI capabilities. The whole point of the AI is that it does the work for you. Thus, there’s no drag-and-drop design here. You can customize the layout of your content to some extent, but you’ll be hunting through menus to do it.
You can’t add new content or layout elements to an existing design unless you’re on the Pro plan or higher. Have the free plan and don’t like the layout? You’ll have to hit that “Redo Design” button until you get something you do like.
Some fairly important features are only accessible on the most expensive plan (Business), including blog features, online store features, and extra pages. That’s right, every plan below Business only offers one-page sites. While some businesses only need a single page, others require more to reach their customers. It’s a bit much to lock even one extra page behind a paywall.
So this is where we get into the AI a bit more. Basically, there are enough preset element layouts, stock images, colors, fonts, and content samples to create as many designs as you want. No two sites will be the same. You tell the AI what you want a site for (I used “cat photography” for my sample site), and the AI does the rest.
If you answer a few more questions, such as what you want to call your site, what basic features you want it to have, that sort of thing, the AI will generate a site that’s better suited to your needs.
Though the generated designs are not identical to one another, they do look quite similar. This cannot be avoided, as the AI still has to work within a basic design framework to generate the websites. Still, it’s a lot easier to use the AI than building the website yourself.
Basic E-commerce & Blogging Tools
With Leia, you can blog, and you can sell products via your website, but the blog features are locked unless you have the Business plan, as are the e-commerce features with the Pro plan. This meant I didn’t have the budget to personally test these features. I did, however, watch the tutorials to learn about them.
From what I saw, the blogging features on Leia are quite simple. You just enter a title, upload an image, and type (or copy and paste) the text for your blog post. It doesn’t get much fancier than that I’m afraid. Visitors can comment on your posts, but you can’t edit images beyond cropping and rotating them.
Advanced features like tagging, hierarchical post categories, content embedding, and other things you’d find in other site builders like WordPress are not available in Leia’s blog software.
The e-commerce features are a bit better – and they have to be: running an online store is not a simple thing. They have all the product and inventory management features you’d expect, as well as tools for discounts, variable-pricing, user-added tips, and more. You can create products for physical and digital distribution, take payments from credit cards and PayPal, and even allow for payment-on-delivery.
You’ll need your own payment processor for some things, but Leia supports both Stripe and Rave (which operate worldwide).
You Can Make a Newsletter
There’s a quick and easy newsletter function that works on the free plan. Unfortunately, it does not put the newsletter signup form on your page but on one of those annoying pop-ups that are displayed after you’ve spent a certain amount of time on the site.
So, I’m glad Leia has a newsletter feature, but as someone who regularly uses the Internet, I do not like how it is implemented.
Leia Mail Is a Thing
Yep, Leia has its very own mail service. If you want an email address on your own domain on it (and yes, you can buy domain names via Leia as well), that’s doable.If you want more than one Leia email, that’s doable, too. Each email address you create will cost you extra, though.See full list of features
Ease of use
Simple Doesn’t Mean (Too) Easy
Leia’s user interface is not overly complicated. When you’re first creating your site, it’s extra simple because the AI does all of the work. There are wizards and tutorials to get you started. There’s even a function to import your text from an existing site to your new website that I was able to use with limited success.
After your site is generated, though, the user interface is a lot less intuitive. You’ll need to spend some time looking over the FAQ, checking out some of the training videos (see below), and hovering your mouse over lots of buttons to see their functions.
Leia isn’t hard to use once you know how, but that’s true of most software. Give it a little time, and adding content, pages, and things like that will be easy enough. Thankfully, it is quite easy to add an e-commerce store if you have the Business plan.
There Are Voice Commands
Well, “voice command.” Singular.
This is the part of the site generation process where you use your voice to tell Leia, “Build me a site for my cat photography,” for example. Honestly, advertising voice commands at all is a bit of a gimmick, as you never use one again. And I couldn’t even get it to work – not on my PC (Windows 10, Google Chrome), or on my Android device.
Imagine you’re out and about, and you come up with an idea for a new website about “cat lawyers,” for example. You could theoretically just open up the app and say, “Make me a site for cat lawyers,” and then edit the fully-generated site when you get home. Convenient, no?
Still, I’ll rate this feature a lot higher when I can get it to work.
Easy Mobile Editing
Speaking of being out and about, you can edit your site on your mobile device. But remember what I said about going through lots of menus earlier? That definitely applies here; it’s to be expected with the limited screen space on smartphones.
There Are Lots of Video Tutorials
Need help figuring something out? Leia has a YouTube channel full of basic tutorials, some of which are linked right in the user interface. You can and should check out all the videos to get a feel for the software.
Leia’s support team operates Monday through Friday, from 9 AM to 6 PM, and I’m reasonably happy with it. I’ve contacted support about several different things, and only once did I not receive a response. It wasn’t an important question, so I’m sorta kinda letting it slide. If you need to get in touch with the support team, you can contact them via live chat, email them directly, or use the contact form on the Leia website. You can also leave a message via chat outside of operating hours, and a representative will get back to you via email.
Additionally, there’s an FAQ section with details about how to use the software. However, It doesn’t include any real information about things like accepted payment methods, the refund policy, or how to get a refund. But don’t worry, I’ll tell you how to do that down below.
The live chat was responsive, and the representative was helpful. I asked if changes in content would carry over to the new designs AI generates if I need to have it re-do my site. I got a response in minutes.
And, basically, the answer is yes. As long as you save your changes, they will carry over to new versions of the site.
The email responses took a few hours, but that’s because I sent my inquiry outside of operating hours. I asked about the refund policy and was informed that, yes, if you try the service and it doesn’t work well or you don’t like it, you can get a refund.
This is where the score for this section gets knocked down a little. I sent a question via the contact form and got no response. To be fair, the question wasn’t urgent. I wanted to know if, in the future, Leia would increase the use of their voice command technology (once they get it up and running, of course).
So, no reply on that yet, but there’s a chance I’ll hear back after I’m done writing this review, as this is clearly a lower-priority sort of thing. Still, a quick “thank you for your feedback” automated reply might have improved things.
At this time, prices for the first year with Leia are a lot cheaper than for subsequent years, so that’s a cool deal. After that, the pricing still isn’t too bad; I’ve seen other site builders charge a lot more. Then again, Leia has a somewhat limited feature set and doesn’t give you much control over your site even when you do shell out the big bucks.
It’s designed to be a “set it and forget it” type of site builder, ideal for the small business owner who just doesn’t have the time.
The free plan truly reflects this philosophy, as it includes only the bare minimum features required for a website. Any free Leia site can technically be called a site, but that’s it. You get a randomly generated layout, with some “Powered by Leia” ads, and you can edit the content in that layout. You can’t add anything without having the AI redesign the site all over again.
It’s a very hit-and-miss system, and the free plan isn’t worth building your whole site on. Trust me, you want the ability to add an extra section of content when you need it. The Pro plan enables that functionality, as well as e-commerce, the ability to edit HTML, and linking a custom domain.
The Business plan offers multiple pages, blogging, and a free domain.
When you want that functionality, you can pay for it via PayPal or any major credit card (probably – there is no list of accepted cards).
Cancellations & Refunds
When you sign up for one of Leia’s payment plans, it’s set to automatically renew. At least, that’s how it works when you use PayPal. You can cancel the auto-renew at any time in your account settings.
As for refunds, there’s a 14-day money-back guarantee, though it isn’t well-explained,. and there are no directions on how to get it. Luckily, I asked about this for you, and if you forward your receipt to the customer support email and specifically ask for your refund within the first 14 days of purchase, you’ll get it.
I would like to know how you were able to chat with anyone from this company. You are right they don't answer you when you email them AT ALL!!! and the fact you found a way to chat with them I am curious, these people took my money for my website upgrade and for some strange reason my payment didn't register on their end but it did on my bank statement I can't get a hold of anyone to help me to refund me or tell me why this happened nothing. It makes me think that this company is not for real there's no way to chat with them as you say there only the email page which your right they do not answer, I either want my upgrade or my money back? but who do I tell this to? meanwhile, they have my money just floating in space. this is a very piss poor way to run a business I am disgusted
Some people will like the hands-off approach to building a website with Leia. If you just don’t want to bother trying to design your own site but still need a site for cheap, this very well might be the way to do it. Just note that the process isn’t intuitive, and the results are hit-or-miss. The service is functional but limited.
For anyone who wants creative control over their site, or even just to add a decent blog, this is not the platform for that. Other services offer much more functionality for the same price.
Does the Leia website builder work on PC?You can download Leia website builder on PC and Mac. For PC use, Leia website builder requires Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, or Windows 10 versions.Which is the easiest website builder?The majority of web building platforms are designed to be super beginner-friendly, so that website creation can be a quick and hassle-free process even if you don’t have any technical knowledge. Some website builders may be easier than others, especially if they have a drag-and-drop editor that provides a high level of flexibility in designing a site and it allows you to see the changes you make in real time. To make things even more simple, some website builders, like Wix, have AI-assisted versions that automatically generate your site in minutes. If you’re looking for more options for easy website building, take a look at our list of the best website builders for 2021.Does Google offer a website builder?Google offers a website builder called Google Sites, which is completely free to use with all its functions, and all you need to access it is a Google account. Google Sites has a WYSIWYG type of editor that’s very easy to use, and you can add unlimited number of pages to your site. You can also integrate any app from the G Suite. Google Sites can be used for building all sorts of websites, but bearing in mind that it doesn’t offer SEO tools or apps that can help you promote your business, it may be best suited for smaller personal projects. Want to read more about what Google Sites can (and cannot) do? Check out our expert review.Is Wix actually free? Wix offers a generous free plan with an extensive set of features, and you can stay on the free version for as long as you want. However, if you want access to more professional features such as custom domain and e-commerce tools, you’ll need to subscribe to one of its paid plans. Wix’s plans are reasonably priced and offer good value, and if you choose to get a paid subscription, make sure that you take advantage of any current coupons or discounts.
Ezequiel Bruni is biologically Canadian, legally Mexican, and self identifies as a total nerd. He's been a web and experience designer off and on since he was a teenager, and loves sharing the kind of beginner's advice he really wishes he'd had when he first started. He also loves video games, tacos, open source software, video games, sci-fi and fantasy in all their forms, and video games. He does not love writing in the third person.