One of the earliest and best known of all “what users see is what users get” website builders, Weebly hosts nearly 20 million websites for business, e-commerce, and personal use, also making it among the biggest website builders on the market. While its easy drag and drop editor makes adding and personalizing content a breeze even for the most novice user, Weebly’s real strength lies in its powerful backend, including fully-integrated ecommerce tools, lightning fast hosting, and easy-to-understand analytics.
Among its key features, Weebly offers a fully customizable yet simple blogging platform, dozens of modern and highly optimized design templates, and a useful mobile editor that lets users build and edit their website from a smartphone or tablet. Weebly also offers handy integrations to help users navigate SEO, such as a Google AdSense widget that can be simply dragged into a website.
Among Weebly’s benefits, here are our top four:
- Modern, fully optimized and responsive website design templates
- A very affordable “pro” plan that lets users connect their own domain name
- Great integration with Google advertising, including a $100 credit to use on users site
- Full ecommerce integration with inventory, shipping, and payment features
No matter the features they offer, website builders live or die by their drag and drop editors. Ugly user interfaces or hard-to-understand tools take the ease (and the fun) out of building your own website.
In recent years, Weebly has invested hugely into their drag and drop editor, making it one of the most intuitive, easy to understand, and powerful on the market.
Even though Weebly requires users to sign up before beginning the editing process, the process takes under a minute, with three simple fields (username, email, and password) to fill out. Once an account is created, Weebly prompts users to choose between creating a personal, ecommerce, or blog site, then directs users to a variety of themes that have been conveniently designed for their industry. Choose from business, store, creative, blog or non-profit, or skim through all their options to decide on the best look for your site.
Once users choose their theme, they are be directed to Weebly’s editor, with a big-buttoned control panel on the left and design mockup on the right. Options for editing are seemingly boundless and easily added, whether users need to position a map at the bottom of their page, or want to add a contact field, survey, audio or video file, or social media icons.
Another menu at the top of the screen, meanwhile, lets users manage pages, add or edit product items, change the site’s theme, and importantly, view the site design for mobile (see the next section for more on Weebly’s mobile capabilities).
Once users have arranged all their content and are satisfied with the site’s design, they can simply hit publish in the upper right corner to make the site go live. From here, users will be prompted to choose a Weebly subdomain (which is free), to register a new domain, or to connect to an existing domain. The latter two options fall into Weebly’s “pro” plan, which starts at $3.29/month.
Few other website builders can compete with Weebly’s awesome mobile capabilities: Not only is it easy to edit and optimize the mobile version of a website, Weebly also offers a powerful app to build and edit websites right from a user’s smartphone or tablet.
In their desktop mobile editor, elements can be moved and altered without affecting the desktop site’s design, and can be viewed for both Android and Apple. With few exceptions (such as adding a search function to a site), Weebly’s mobile sites are almost completely transformable, and are pre-designed with the habits of smartphone and tablet users in mind.
Still, one drawback to Weebly’s mobile view in their desktop editor is a decided lack of a “tablet” view, especially when it comes to ecommerce. With more and more online shoppers choosing to use their iPad over a desktop computer to shop, optimizing a website for a tablet could be made easier.
What Weebly lacks in a tablet view for their editor, they make up in their handy mobile and tablet app for Google Play and the iTunes store. Not only can users edit their site from their 5-star app, ecommerce site owners can manage orders, track shipping, and update information.
Websites help grow businesses, and oftentimes, a website built with a hosted template service can become overloaded and slow if the website receives a rush of traffic. Likewise, many web hosts share disk space and CPU power with dozens of other websites, meaning that if another website receives a spike in traffic, all other sites on the server slow down to a grinding halt.
Not so with Weebly, where its websites are hosted across a powerful server infrastructure that protects it from crashes and slow-downs. This is particularly useful for ecommerce sites, who often experience backlog as their site takes off, and their customers expect to be able to place and receive orders effortlessly.
Often, as a user’s website grows with their business, so does their website’s complexity. Extra pages and products will need to be added and rearranged, and outside tools in the form of integrations will need to be installed to keep track of analytics and help with marketing.
Weebly carries a straightforward approach to adding pages and products – up to 5 with their free plan and up to 10 with their “starter” plan. For unlimited pages, you’ll have to upgrade to a “pro” plan at $6.63/month. Pages can be added and rearranged without affecting the overall design of the website, a common problem with other website builders that force users to start from scratch when they need to re-structure.
Meanwhile, Weebly has a rich set of integrations that help businesses – particularly ecommerce – keep up with the growth of their business. While it lacks a native integration with business management apps like BrightPearl or Magento, Zapier, have emerged to fill the gap and connect Weebly to Magento. Weebly does offer other native integrations with useful business tools, too, such as the email marketing tool Mailchimp, and Olark, a chat support platform.
For new site owners, SEO is perhaps the most daunting aspect of an online business. Meta tags, Google Webmaster, Descriptions…the amount of information for the average business owner to absorb seems endless. For Weebly users, though, SEO is hugely simplified by their easy-to-understand SEO page and their straightforward help forums.
Under settings in the editor, Weebly offers an SEO area, where meta tags, site descriptions, and footer and header code can be added. While far from elaborate, the page does sort out the basic SEO needs of all websites.
For more in-depth help, Weebly’s help section features a useful article on SEO, with some helpful tips on how to get Google search engines to find your website.
Weebly’s blog editor functions in the same way as the rest of its drag and drop editor, with plenty of options to add social media widgets, audio and video media, and to arrange text for maximum readability.
To create a blog page on a website, simply go to Pages at the top of the editing panel, and click “Add”, then choose a blog page. Alternatively, users who only want to create a blog can choose from one of Weebly’s blog templates when they first sign up.
Many website builders offer limited ecommerce features to create a webshop as a part of a website, but Weebly provides a well-integrated system for “business” users and “pro” members. At the “pro” level, checkout occurs on weebly’s own platform, while their most expensive plan allows checkout to occur on a user’s own domain, meaning that customers won’t be re-directed.
At the “business level”, SSL security is also included in the package, meaning that users will have the peace of mind knowing that their shopping is fully protected as they checkout. Other “business” features include:
- A 0% transaction fee on all purchases (their “starter” and “pro” plans charge 3%)
- Unlimited products (their “pro” plan has a limit of 25 products)
- Digital goods such as songs and ebooks
- Inventory management
- A shipping and tax calculator
- Coupon codes
At all levels, adding product pages is simple and intuitive, with the possibility to add information on store policy, to change the currency, and to customize the lauserst of the store.
Weebly shops can accept credit card payments using Stripe, as well as PayPal payment and Authorize.net.
One of the decided advantages of Weebly’s editor is that, unlike many of its competitors, it simply feels quicker. Oftentimes, website builders can become overloaded, taking over a minute to refresh changes or upload images. Weebly’s editor, though, feels smooth and instantaneous, providing a fluid, painless editing process.
Because Weebly sites are hosted on its incredibly powerful server, websites tend to load quickly and glitch-free, a big plus for ecommerce sites and business sites alike.
Weebly is free to use for sites that operate under a sub-domain and don’t require add-ons such as extra security, site search, and membership, meaning that users can get their site up and running without having to pay a penny.
Otherwise, Weebly offers three paid tiers, “starter”, “pro”, and “business”, that fulfill each level of a website’s growth. At their cheapest paid plan, Weebly provides “premium support”, which guarantees faster responses, as well as expanded analytics and removal of most Weebly links. Their “pro” plan expands on this, providing users with options for HD video and audio, header slideshows (also known as sliders or carousels), password protected pages, and site search. At the “pro” level, ecommerce sites enjoy use of Weebly’s checkout platform, but stop short at providing other tools like shipping and tax calculators and unlimited products.
Subscription plans can be upgraded or downgraded easily right in the editor.
Top 3 Pros and Cons
- Simple, intuitive, well-laid out drag and drop editor, with lots of customizable options
- A powerful mobile and tablet editor
- A lightning fast server guaranteeing little downtime and site overload.
- No tablet view in their editor
- A paywall on some basic features, such as premium support, a header slideshow and HD video and audio players
- A lack of business-specific templates (other website builders offer templates specially designed for artists, weddings, and different industries).
Weebly’s support is, first and foremost, based on a “help centre” designed to answer common questions and problems, such as how to add a Favicon to a site, and how to move columns. For trickier problems, Weebly has a support ticket system that lets users send a message to their support team along with images to help illustrate the problem.
Otherwise, a “chat” platform can also be used after submitting contact details and a support question.
For paying users, Weebly offers “premium” support, which simply means that these users will have a preferred spot in their support system.
Who Weebly Is Ideal For
Weebly is designed to grow alongside your business, and so caters to a large variety of users, from those who simply want to create a personal website, to others who want to get their webshop off the ground.
At the end of the day, Weebly is an ideal option for “solopreneurs” who are simply interested to get their business up and running without heavy startup costs or complicated interfaces. It’s also an excellent alternative to blogging sites such as WordPress, with huge potential for customizable templates.
In terms of reach, few others can compete with the breadth of Weebly’s services, nor the ease of its platform. Occupying a crucial middle-ground between true beginner and busy ecommerce, Weebly an excellent stepping stone into online business.
Non-profits, startups, and private users will love Weebly for its quick editing, while webshops and bloggers will appreciate it for its range of up-to-date and well thought out features.