Weebly Website Builder Review
Weebly is a cloud-based website development tool similar to Wix that lets you create beautiful, professional and functional websites without needing to know a line of code.
Founded in 2007 and based in San Francisco, Weebly is a global platform with a website count of over 30 million active websites.
I put Weebly through its paces to see how it compares with Wix and how easy it was to use.
Why Is Weebly So Popular?
Weebly has developed an industry leading and intuitive drag and drop interface that you use to build your website. You don't need to know any code (although if you do, it does help) and all of the hosting and site support is taken care of for you.
You just choose the content elements that you want to place on the page and put them in “placeholders” which contain the element. So for example, you drag and drop an image or text into a placeholder, and the site is built in real time in front of your eyes. No need to go coding and then check that it all works correctly.
This is where the comparison with Wix comes down to the nuts and bolts.
Wix is a pure “drag and drop” interface. Elements can be placed anywhere on the page, and so you get more freedom in how the final design is going to look.
Weebly asks you to drag and drop elements into placeholders, so your design style is slightly cramped, but there is a big trade-off for this limitation.
Once you set out on your Wix journey, there is no going back. You can't change template midstream but with Weebly, you can, and that might be a major consideration for you.
Weebly doesn't provide 24/7 customer support, but they do provide an enormous amount of help and support on the website. There is a support centre with articles ranging from complete beginner first steps all the way through to more advanced topics.
The main support route is through a support ticket, and they do offer seven days a week support but be aware that it is on Pacific Time and there is no European support number. Phone support is only available for people who subscribe to the advanced plans.
Themes And Templates
Weebly offers responsive themes, but I'm not overwhelmed by their good looks. I think they can best be described as “functional”. However, what you lose in initial design can be compensated with a smattering of HTML knowledge because Weebly gives you a CSS editor and a WYSIWYG editor to enable you to make changes to your template.
It's a trade-off between providing something that is close to the finished article or providing a platform from which you can grow your website and that comes down to personal choice and how much effort you want to put into your site.
The other consideration to take into account is the type of user that is going to use a website building tool. By definition, they are going to have few or no coding skills and so making everything as easy as possible makes for less possible mistakes. You can't expect to have an advanced website builder with a beginner at the controls.
A bit like giving a new driver who has just passed their test a super car to drive around in. Sooner rather than later they will crash and burn.
If a simple web presence is all that you need, then Weebly will do just fine, but I wouldn't recommend it for people that want to grow a business because there are too many limitations.
You can expand on the basic template but once you start doing that you might as well have gone with Wordpress.
Apps And Tools
Weebly has an App store where you can add additional functionality to your site, and most of the Apps are at a low price point. Some are free, and some have a free trial.
Weebly offers free hosting with their plans, and they use technology that serves your website across the entire server architecture. What this means is that if you suddenly get a massive spike in traffic, the load will be shared with every other Weebly website on the network. This eliminates any bandwidth or capacity issues.
On a typical shared server if you have a sudden increase in traffic (perhaps your press release got good coverage) then your site can be taken offline until you upgrade to a higher plan. This won't happen with Weebly.
Weebly has an “all in one” eCommerce site builder that is set up automatically when you build your store. There is also a mobile version for small screen users.
You can create single pages for each product, and there are custom fields that you can adjust to help fit in with your pricing model. You'll get category pages and a central storefront page which you can customise in the same drag and drop fashion.
Once again the choice of payment processors is very limited, and it again boils down to whether you want to use PayPal as your primary payment method. Some users are fine with that, but many stores are not because of the comparatively high transaction charges.
If you want a quick and easy way to sell a few products, then Weebly may be worth you looking at, but if you have any intention at all of making eCommerce the main staple of your business, then you should be looking at Shopify for its dedicated eCommerce features.
Weebly's strength lies in its drag and drop interface and the ability to be able to edit the code if you want to. Simple CSS changes to a site can make a big difference to the look and feel of a site, but of course, you need to know what you are doing to accomplish that.
The theming and templates are not as high quality as Wix Templates, but once you begin your site journey, you can always change your mind and swap to another template if you want to. Once you start with Wix, there is no changing template.
Support is more limited than Wix but then again the product is not as complicated, and so you are less likely to need hand holding when you build your site.
The eCommerce features are adequate and suitable for low volume processing using PayPal as your payment processor so if you want to build a site based on a hobby or passion, then Weebly would be ideal for you.
A very easy to use website builder with the ability to be able to modify the code if you want to do so.