What is Weebly?
Weebly is a website builder that will allow you to build a website without learning coding. It has a unique and straightforward drag-and-drop feature that allows creating a professional-looking website with ease. It is one of the largest website builders to exist. Over 50 million websites in this world are built using the Weebly platform. The platform will allow you to create some as simple as a blog or something as complex as an online store. Just like Wix (one of its major competitors), Weebly offers an always-free account with very limited functions.
Now that you have a fairly good idea of what Weebly is, you need to know that when Weebly started, it was an independent company. In 2018, it was acquired by Square. Before this acquisition took place, Weebly used to roll out frequent updates and features. The frequency of such rollouts has reduced significantly after the acquisition.
But is that something you should worry about? Not necessarily. Improving on what already exists is also an important aspect of maintaining a service that serves millions of customers globally. We will soon find out whether Square’s acquisition was a good thing or a bad move! Keep reading.
What I liked about Weebly is its user-friendliness. It is so easy to use that someone who has never used a website builder can use it like a professional and the bystanders can never even imagine that it is a work of a rookie.
The company offers four different plans that you can select from. The first one is the free plan that you can keep using forever without upgrading. Of course, it is severely crippled when it comes to functionalities, and it is ad-supported. The next three plans are premium plans where you need to pay a monthly fee. The pricier the plan you choose, better are the features you get. That’s ‘ETERNAL TRUTH.’
Weebly has some amazing capabilities. It supports large websites with over hundred pages. Contrast this with competitors like Squarespace and Wix and you will find that they struggle a bit when you build a website with over hundred pages.
Another great thing about Weebly is that it allows editing codes or adding codes. That’s a boon! Usually, website builders will not allow do that. With Weebly, if you or someone you know knows how to code, there is absolutely no limits to what you can do with your Weebly-powered site.
And yes, if you are thinking about responsive designs, Weebly will allow you to do that without a glitch. All its 40+ templates are perfectly responsive and mobile-friendly.
Unfortunately, I found that the templates available on Weebly are not as polished as what you will get on Squarespace. In fact, Squarespace is second to none when it comes to providing absolutely stunning templates. Still, that doesn’t mean that the templates you get with Weebly are horrible. Yes, the design language used in templates is quite inferior to Squarespace templates, but they are perfectly functional, and they will allow creating professional websites.
What’s great about Weebly is that you get a free plan where you can test out its efficacy before investing money in getting paid plans.
Okay, now that you know what to expect out of Weebly, let us quickly go through the pricing plans and the pros and cons of the service before delving deep in to the review. Ready? Of course, you are!
Pricing Plans of Weebly
As I mentioned earlier, Weebly has four plans that you can select. Here is a quick list:
|Plan Name||Price Per Month||Feature|
|Free||$0||You cannot add a proper domain and the footer will have Weebly ad.|
|Personal||$6||You can add a proper domain and the footer will show Weebly ad.|
|Professional||$12||It is ad-free. It will provide audio and video players and you can enjoy phone support.|
|Performance||$26||It has ecommerce features and is perfectly suitable for large website. It, too, is ad-free.|
You need to understand that the price per month mentioned above is applicable for a yearly pricing model. This means that you have to enter into a 1-year contract and pay them up front for the entire year to get that price. Also, you will get a free domain for the first year for the paid plans. The domain will renew at a price of $19.95 per year from second year onwards.
The Pros and Cons of Weebly
Everyone of us needs to accept this simple thing – there cannot be a service that has no negative sides. Yes, Weebly has its strengths and there are weaknesses too. In this segment, I will summarize its strengths and weaknesses. Gear up!
- Every site builder platform out there claims that it is the easiest to use. All those that I have tested so far, are not entirely honest in their claims. Weebly is! Indeed, Weebly’s interface is super-simple and anyone with zero knowledge can use it like a pro.
- All the templates or themes that Weebly provides are all responsive. Simply put, they scale nicely to any screen size, be it a mobile screen or a tablet screen or a desktop screen. Responsiveness is one of the key SEO factors today.
- They have a nice collection of apps or extensions that you can use to extend the functionality of your website. Some of the apps you find in Weebly’s App Center have been developed by Weebly while some others are third-party apps (not created by Weebly).
- With Weebly, you can assign another person to work on the website. This feature is beneficial if you have a team working on a website.
- Weebly will also allow you to restrict certain areas of your website to members only. You can also decide to keep the registration process public or hidden.
- You can customize the templates provided by Weebly. If you or anyone on your team has coding knowledge and experience, it’s a boon!
- The company also offers several helpful guides on SEO that include guides on keyword optimization, coding advice, and other tips for boosting the ranking of your website(s).
- Weebly somehow restricts the ability to move around the site elements to much. In other words, drag-and-drop customization is quite limited. However, if you are comfortable with coding, you can use the Weebly Code Editor to do that. The lack of absolute freedom in the drag and drop builder can be quite frustrating for some.
- If your site accidentally goes down, you cannot restore it by yourself. You can get it restored if you approach the customer service team and ask them for a restoration.
- Weebly doesn’t offer Artificial Design Intelligence. If you are wondering about what it is then all you need to know sis that ADI asks for a few simple questions and based on the answers you give, it will churn out a complete website for you. Wix has this feature.
- If you are wondering how to create a multilingual website, you are out of luck. There is no straightforward way for doing that. There are some workarounds for that, but that’s not easy.
- For some reason Weebly blocks traffic originating from China, Russia, and Ukraine. That might not be a great thing for international websites.
- The collection of templates is pretty limited compared to options like Wix and Squarespace.
- The background is too slow and sometimes frustrating.
Okay, now that you have learned about the pros and cons of Squarespace, let me walk you through the detailed review. Grab a coffee if you want!
Weebly offers about 50 themes that are all responsive. Simply put, they look great on both mobile devices and desktops. However, the limited number of themes can be a deal-breaker for many people because the likelihood of you building a website that looks similar to several other websites is very high.
Do not forget that that there are more than 50 million websites powered by Weebly and all of them had the same selection of themes or templates to work with.
The good thing, however, is that you can edit those templates. If you have coding knowledge or if you can find someone with coding knowledge, you can make your Weebly site completely unique.
You can find templates in different categories that include online stores, businesses, portfolios, and personal sites. You will get more themes or templates in personal and blog categories compared to what you find in business and online store categories.
Weebly makes up for the lack of a large number of themes with quality. Their themes are well-coded and polished enough to create highly professional websites. Having said that, I will not miss the opportunity to state that Squarespace has better themes at least in terms of design.
Weebly Core Features
Weebly has some excellent features that you are going to love. Even if you are a complete rookie, you will find it super easy to use. In my opinion, if you are using Wix or Squarespace, there will be some learning curve. With Weebly, there is no learning curve.
With the features available, you can build the type of site you want and you don’t even need to have advanced knowledge of coding. However, don’t expect to build something extraordinarily complex. That’s not going to happen.
Now, you need to understand that the features that will get will depend on the type of site you want to build. When you register with Weebly, you will be given a choice to select the type of website you want. The features that will be made available will depend on what you select.
What’s funny is that both the options will allow you to create an online store. So, the choice is a bit misleading. So, what’s the difference? The difference will be in the customization options that you will get with the editors.
Weebly has a very powerful App Center. There are over 350 apps available if you select the classic builder. These apps will offer integrations across five categories that include ecommerce, marketing, site tools & features, social media, and communication.
The categories are essentially the purposes that these apps fulfill. For instance, you can get apps for adding live chat to your site or you can add contact forms, manage comments or add social feeds.
One thing that I noticed is that the App Center doesn’t have some big names. For instance, you will not find Mailchimp. If you want to add it to your site, you will have to use embed codes. Embed codes are essentially HTML codes that you can add to your website’s HTML. You don’t have to create the codes. These are provided by the external platforms that you want to add to your website.
Of course, everyone loves to use the one-click installation feature that you usually find in WordPress, but that’s fine! Working with embed codes is not very difficult. You can find instructions from the third-party services on the integration process.
There are many apps in the App Center that are free to use while there are several others that you need to purchase to use on your website. In case you ditch the classic builder and start with the ecommerce builder you will find that some app functions are already present, such as the social media feed.
However, to get the built-in functions, you will need to create a Square account. If you think that creating a Square account is not worth the hassle, you couldn’t be more wrong! Square’s app market way more robust compared to Weebly’s app market.
Building an online store can be intimidating, even when you are building it on website builder platforms like Squarespace, Wix, BigCommerce, Shopify, etc. That’s not the case with Weebly. The ecommerce builder that Weebly provides is one of the simplest I have encountered so far.
It is needless to say that the ecommerce builder’s simplicity is a result of Square’s acquisition of Weebly. If you already have a brick and mortar store that uses Square tools, it is highly suggested that you build the online store using this ecommerce builder as it will allow you to sync everything from your inventory data, to your order, and payment between your online store and your physical store.
In case you are located in a country where Square doesn’t operate and if you want to run an online-only commerce store, you can still use Weebly’s ecommerce builder to build something truly great.
Of course, Weebly is not powerful enough to create a store similar to the one powered by Magento Commerce. It is not powerful enough to build the next Amazon or eBay. However, if your online store is small enough, Weebly is powerful enough to power it!
Store management features available with Weebly ecommerce builder are amazingly simple. You can easily add products and their variants (colors, sizes, etc.), optimize each page for SEO, update fulfillments options and more with such ease that you will start feeling like a pro.
If you feel like, you can always add 360-degree videos and GIFs as well to enhance the customer experience even further.
Here are the core features of the ecommerce builder provided by Weebly:
- Sell physical and digital products.
- You can sell services, membership, even tickets, donations, and prepared food and beverages as well.
- Sell gift cards.
- Allow customer reviews for products.
- Send emails for abandoned cart recovery.
- Accept payments through card, in-person, mobile app, etc. using the Square Point-of-Sale app.
Since Square is available only in Japan, United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada, you don’t have to stick with Square as the payment processor. You can use PayPal or Stripe as well. Both of these payment processors are available in 130 countries.
Well, not everything is super simple. There are a few complex elements as well. For instance, when it comes to tax calculations or item categories, you can find things a little difficult. Yet another problem is that the Square dashboard doesn’t properly synchronize with the interface of Weebly’s online store. Square and Weebly aren’t completely integrated.
However, you can expect that these issues will be ironed out in future updates. Until then, you have to live with these problems. However, that doesn’t mean that Weebly is not a good platform for online stores. It is! In fact, it can comfortably compete with BigCommerce or Volusion.
Classic Editor and Content Blocks
I don’t know how to put this across… umm… what about this – I LOVE THE CLASSIC EDITOR? Well, unlike other website builders that offer two different editors for building pages and blog posts, Weebly manages to keep it super simple! They have one editor that works for everything. Whether you are building pages or you are creating blog posts – the same editor works like a charm.
In fact, the have content blocks specially for your blog! You can use the editor to design your blog posts. It is super-easy to add images, text, videos, block quotes, etc. If you want, you can even add a call-to-action button. This is particularly helpful if you are creating an affiliate website and you want to give clear and bold buttons.
You can add sign-up forms as well to collect contacts and leads.
Here is a quick look at the editor:
The editor offers some blocks that are specific to blogs. These blocks include Blog Author, Blog Archives, Blog Categories, Blog Feed, etc. Here is a closer look at the blog specific blocks:
Weebly has some good SEO capabilities. You can create a site description and add meta keywords for the entire site. You can even add footer and header codes with ease.
If you need, you can create 301 redirects as well. It is super-simple.
For individual blog posts, you can do some basic SEO that includes adding SEO post title and SEO description. That’s all!
Weebly offers something called Weebly Promote. It is an add-on for email marketing and completely integrates with both the ecommerce builder and the classic editor. You can build the email campaigns using the same drag-and-drop builder that you use for creating your website and blog posts.
What’s interesting is that the Weebly Promote comes with ability to track the stats right on the website dashboard. You can know the click-through rates, open rates, etc.
Weebly Promote comes with some pre-made email templates and you get guided steps for setting up email campaigns and sending those emails. The tool is powerful enough to help you build a contact list. Interestingly, it will even allow you to segregate the lists based on demographic data like gender, profession, location, etc.
Of course, Weebly Promote is nowhere close to being as powerful as third-party email marketing tools like Aweber, MailChimp, GetResponse, etc. But if you are not looking for something highly sophisticated, Weebly Promote will get the job done.
Unfortunately, it is not free even if you are using paid plans of Weebly. You have to pay for it separately. If you opt to use the tool, you have to pay for the exact number of campaigns you want to use or need. The benefit of using the tool is that you can manage both your website and your email campaigns from the same dashboard.
How Easy or Difficult is Weebly?
If you ask me, it is incredibly simple to use. It doesn’t matter whether you are using the classic editor or the ecommerce builder. You can work with both and build your site very quickly. The point to note is that the ecommerce builder is easier in general, but when it comes to customizing your site, the classic builder is far superior.
The classic builder has more customization options and it is also way more flexible than the ecommerce builder.
But that’s my opinion. Your opinion can differ significantly!
The Classic Builder
You will encounter the classic editor once you select a template and start editing it. You will first work with the page layouts. It is easy to modify the layout by adding content blocks that you find on the left panel. You can add whatever you want. All you have to do is drag and drop each block on the page and then arrange them.
However, when you try manipulating the blocks, things can become a wee more frustrating than what you would expect it to be. This is especially true if you try to add spacers and dividers. The editor works on gird and you have to stick to that grid. This rigidity exists to keep the design clean. However, that rigidity is sometimes annoying.
Every time you add a block, you can access more customization options. To get those customization options, you have to click on each element you add. Here is a quick example of the popup menu that shows up when you add an image block and click on it:
Of course, you can increase the number of blocks to work with by adding apps or extensions from the App Center. You can go through the App Center to get new blocks for design elements that include things like fonts, images, etc. Which blocks to add will depend on the eventual design you want for your website.
The classic editor will even allow you to play around with colors, font, font size, font weight, etc. You can also determine the letter spacing if you want. Here is a quick look into those settings:
Be careful about what you are adding from the App Center. Too many options in hand can lead to terrible confusions and you can eventually end up messing up with the overall design that will force you to redo everything. So, sometimes having fewer options is better.
The Ecommerce Builder
If you don’t like creating layouts, you may find the ecommerce builder to be an easier option because it comes with many predefined layouts to work with. You don’t have to build a layout from scratch.
In the classic editor you will have to select each block by yourself and arrange them to create a nice design. In the ecommerce editor, these elements or blocks are already combined using various arrangements so that you don’t have to create a whole new arrangement.
The ecommerce editor you have section layouts. Each section layout already combines three content blocks or more. So, you will be using a single click to use those pre-arranged layouts.
Some people have complained that this approach restricts the degree of creativity you can apply. I do agree with them but I also have a different opinion. It simply eliminates the headache and save a lot of time. Weebly has done a good job in striking a balance between design and functionality.
In fact, the layouts you get with the ecommerce editor are what you would generally see in popular ecommerce stores. Trust me, those combinations or layouts actually make sense. The best part is that the likelihood of you messing up with the design drops significantly.
Talking of color, the ecommerce builder will not give you a lot of choices to play with colors. If you want to play around with colors, you have to manually input the HTML color code. There is no color picker. This feature often deters people from playing a game of colors because everytime you want to experiment with new color combinations, you have to pick up codes and enter them manually. You have to test the color combinations somewhere else to find out which colors work best. That’s a lot of headache!
Similarly, if you want to play with fonts, those options are also limited. In the classic editor, you can use up to 20 different forms on your website. While that may sound thrilling, it isn’t! Trust me, that messes up with the overall user experience and you shouldn’t be doing that.
In the ecommerce builder you can play with only the Title font and Body text font. That’s all! These limitations eventually streamline the overall design and keeps thing simple.
If you ever had a chance to fool around with WordPress and WooCommerce, you will immediately know how incredibly confusing it can become when you deal with store management. There are too many options that can leave you confused and lost. Only after spending days you may eventually figure out and remember what to do and what not to do.
I know what I am saying! People say that WordPress is simple, and they are true! However, the same cannot be said for WooCommerce. WooCommerce was designed to build powerful and massive online stores (not as powerful as Magento).
Weebly eliminates a lot of complexity by limiting the number of options you need to deal with. The platform will give you what you need to create or build a simple yet effective online store. You can add descriptions for products, categorize them and manage your products with relative ease.
The overall interface is smooth and intuitive and you don’t need to worry about the extra settings. Having said that, I will also like to mention that the online store you build with Weebly will not be as powerful and flexible as the one you would build with WordPress and WooCommerce.
That’s the reason why I said earlier in this review that if you are looking forward to create a simple online store, Weebly is a great option. But if you are trying to build the next Amazon, you are out of luck!
There are multiple support channels that you can access when you are using Weebly. The first thing I will recommend is that you head for their Support Center and go through their guides and support articles. They are quite extensive and thorough. You will most likely get the solution to your issue from there.
However, if the knowledge base articles don’t have the solution you seek, you can contact them through email or chat or even a phone call. However, if you want to get access to their phone support, you have to purchase their Professional or Performance plan.
Weebly will provide you 24×7 email support, but their chat support has specific timings. You can contact them between 6 AM and 6 PM PST from Monday to Friday. On weekends their chat support team is available between 8 AM and 5 PM PST.
If you have purchased their Professional or Performance plan you can get phone support between 6 AM and 6 PM PST. You can call them on 1-844-493-3259. Almost their entire support team is US-based. So, make sure that you are adhering to the US timings.
Recap and Some Extra Info
We have almost reached the end of this review. In this segment I will give you a quick recap of what you have learned so far with some extra information.
Let’s get started…
|Design and Flexibility||There are some excellent templates to work with. The classic builder will give you more design flexibility than the ecommerce builder. Either way, the drag-and-drop editor is quite simple to use.|
|Ease of Use||There is no difficult learning curve. It works out-of-the-box. Even if you don’t have any experience with website builders, you can use Weebly with ease because everything is streamlined and you don’t have to deal with different editors.|
|Ads||The free version and the Personal plan will have Weebly advertisement at the footer. There is no way to remove that. If you are purchasing their Professional or Performance plan, you can customize the footer. There will be no ads.|
|SEO Tools||Weebly offers basic SEO tools that you will need. However, you need to understand that you will not get something like the Yoast SEO or Rank Math for WordPress. These popular WordPress tools are designed to help you improve on-page SEO by offering a wide range of information and guides. With Weebly, you have to perform all SEO tasks without any aid.|
|Language||There is no straightforward way of creating a multilingual site. There are some alternate solutions. Those work around are too complex and often, the aren’t worth the time and effort you put in.|
|Domain||You can use your own domain with Weebly or you can use a Weebly subdomain (yoursite.weebly.com). If you want to use your own domain, you can either purchase one from them or you can purchase a domain from somewhere else and use it. The number of domain extensions available when you purchase a domain from Weebly are very limited.|
|Widgets and extra tools||Not even WordPress has everything you need. You can increase the functionality using hundreds and thousands of plugins. In the same way, Weebly editor will give you a few things like video, audio, image gallery, call-to-action buttons, etc. If you need more functions like the ability to add tables and charts, you can visit the App Center and find a suitable app.|
|SSL||You will get free SSL. You don’t have to worry about that!|
|Monetization options||If you are creating a blog and you want to monetize it, you can use AdSense.|
|Navigation||Unlike many of its competitors that do not allow more than one navigation depth, Weebly will not restrict you in that segment. You can get unlimited hierarchy depth. You can add menus and submenus and sub-submenus. This means that you can build an impressively large website using Weebly.|
|Ecommerce||Ecommerce options with Weebly are robust enough to create a beautiful online store complete with multiple payment options, abandoned cart recovery option, automated tax calculation and shipping charged calculations. They also have a very intuitive inventory management option.|
|Blog||The blogging tools are quite powerful. You can create search engine-friendly blog posts. You can even schedule the posts. They have an integrated commenting system, but if you want you can integrate things like Facebook comments or Disqus comments. Unfortunately, if you are looking forward to build a multi-author blog, you cannot do so.|
|Password protection||You can password-protect your entire site or parts of your site. You can even make parts of website available only to members. However, to unlock these features you have to be on their Professional plan or Performance plan.|
|Newsletter||Weebly has its own newsletter tool that goes by the name Weebly Promote. It is pretty simple and intuitive. Of course, it is not as powerful as providers like MailChimp or GetResponse, but it gets the job done. It is also nicely integrated with Weebly platform, providing a seamless experience. It is also quite expensive.|
|Storage||You cannot get more than 500 MB of storage on the free plan. Also, each file size cannot exceed 10 MB. For the professional plan, there is no storage limit but each file cannot exceed 250 MB. For the remaining two plans, there is no such limit.|
|Backups and restore||You can download a backup for your site but you cannot restore a backup by yourself. You have to ask their support team to do so.|
|HTML codes||You can add HTML codes to your website to add external tools and widgets.|
|Contact form||If you want to collect customer email ID or other data, you can easily create contact forms. You can even integrate Google maps if you want!|
|Site stats||If you are on their free plan, you will get a simple tool. However, if you want detailed statistics, you have to upgrade to a higher plan.|
|Header & Footer code injection||You can easily inject header and footer codes (irrespective of the plan you are using). Those options are available through the settings segment.|
Conclusion & Verdict [I Recommend Weebly]
Weebly is a fantastic website builder. It is not only easy to use, but also offers an excellent collection of apps to improve the overall site functionality. The websites you create with Weebly are responsive and you can do some basic SEO including 301 redirects. However, if you want to create 301 redirects, you have to enable that from sitewide settings segment.
Overall, Weebly is extremely easy to use. Anyone with zero knowledge of using website builders can get started quickly. Of course, nothing in this world is perfect and neither is Weebly. But despite its weaknesses, it still remains one of the best website builders you can get. What’s frustrating though is the slow backend. It can sometimes get on your nerves.
Barring those small issues, Weebly is a great choice as a website builder and I will recommend it to anyone who wants to build a website quickly. It is pointless to go for the free plan or the Personal plan because they will have Weebly branding. If you are serious about your website or online store, it is better you select the Professional or Performance plan.