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Weebly is one of the largest and most popular DIY drag-and-drop website builders on the market today. After the company’s founding in 2006, it experienced exponential growth, quickly hitting the one million user mark in 2008. This growth has continued to this day. Weebly now hosts over 40 million sites around the globe.
The company’s founders, David Rusenko, Chris Fanini, and Dan Veltri, began working together on Weebly while studying together at Penn State. In March of 2007, the first version of Weebly’s editing interface was released to the public. Over the last eight years, this company has been largely successful at its initial goal: delivering a simple, user-friendly service that is accessible to almost any person, regardless of skill or previous experience. It’s not meant to be a sophisticated design tool for pros with elite university-honed skills, but as a proletarian tool delivering website building to the eager masses, Weebly packs quite the punch.
Weebly is available in fifteen different languages (English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Japanese, Chinese, Turkish, Dutch, Danish, Swedish and Norwegian). The company’s flexible pricing options, simple editor, and optimized mobile sites have attracted a lot of positive attention, and each month Weebly-hosted websites receive roughly 325,000,000 unique visitors. What’s more, Weebly’s mobile app is the highest rated website building app in the App Store and in Google Play.
Let’s see if this popular website builder lives up to its billing.
Weebly offers five distinct pricing plans, ranging in price from free to $49/month. The details of each plan are specified here.
- Drag & Drop Website Builder
- Display Weebly Ads
- Free Hosting – Weebly.com Subdomain
- Search Engine Optimization
- 500MB Storage Limit
- Chat and Email Support
- Community Forum
- Lead Capture
- $8/month (for the 1-year plan)
- $5/month (for the 2-year plan)
- $14/month (for the monthly plan)
- All of the above PLUS:
- Personal Domain – FREE for the first year
- Unlimited Storage
- Connect Your Domain
- Advanced Site Stats
- Customizable Footer
- Remove Weebly Ads
- $100 Google Ad Credit
- Up to 10 Products in Online Store
- 3% Transaction Fee
- Integrated Shopping Cart – Links to “checkout.weebly.com”
- $12/month (1-year plan)
- $9/month (2-year plan)
- $18/month (for the monthly plan)
- All of the above PLUS:
- Phone Support
- HD Video & Audio
- Video Backgrounds
- Password Protection
- Site Search
- Site Membership – Up to 100 Members
- Up to 25 Products in Online Store
- $25/month (1 year plan)
- $21/month (2 year plan)
- $35/month (monthly plan)
- All of the above PLUS:
- SSL Security
- Unlimited Site Membership
- Member Registration
- Unlimited Products in Online Store
- 0% Transaction Fee
- Checkout on Your Domain
- Digital Goods
- Inventory Management
- Shipping & Tax Calculator
- $49/month (1 year plan)
- $45/month (2 year plan)
- $59/month (monthly plan)
- All of the Above PLUS:
- $96 Email Marketing Credit
- Real Time Shipping Rates
- Abandoned Cart Emails
- Gift Cards
- 5 Email Campaigns per Month to 500 Contacts per Email
Note that the paid plans offer a personal domain name which will be free for the first year. Afterward, domains renew at $19.95/year with discounts for extended terms. You can get the same domain plan with the free subscription, but without the initial free year. Also note that the features of the paid plans can be sampled for free for a period of 14 days.
Payment is accepted via credit card and PayPal. All paid plans are refundable in full within 30 days of purchase.
Web-hosted or Licensed
Weebly is entirely web-based.
There are no official system requirements listed for Weebly, though for optimal performance the latest version of any mainstream web browser (Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox, or Chrome) should be used.
Business Types Supported
Weebly does not explicitly cater to any specific industry or type of person. Templates are approached from a stylistic angle, rather than sorted into discrete categories (like Restaurant or Hotel). For example, when creating new sites, users are given six basic template groups to choose from: Business, Portfolio, Personal, Event, Blog, and Other.
After choosing whichever option suits them best, each user is shown a collection of templates. This system makes a lot of sense from a web-design perspective, but some people — especially those with little-to-no previous web building experience — have expressed discomfort with the ambiguity of the template selection process and would prefer to have their hands held a bit more.
A closer examination of the available templates shows that restaurants, photographers, and musicians will find a lot to like with Weebly.
Let me just say that I’ve been a fan of Unicorn Tears since before they were cool. I prefer their earlier stuff, myself.
Ease of Use
Editor: The Weebly editor is well-designed and straightforward, allowing users to take specific, pre-programmed features (image galleries, slideshows, contact forms, text boxes, video and audio players, product advertisements, integrated maps, custom HTML injections, etc.) and organize them in unique configurations. In some ways, Weebly websites are akin to intricate puzzles but without a ‘correct’ solution. The user can place the various pieces in any order they like.
Website builders are known for not straining the abilities of those of us without web design degrees, but even in this industry, Weebly’s ease of use stands out. It simply couldn’t be easier to find your desired element and place it where you wish.
Perhaps the only user-unfriendly aspect of the editor is the lack of undo/redo buttons — your edits can’t be reversed, unfortunately.
Design: In terms of style editing, Weebly falls a bit short. The editor itself allows for flexibility in the placement of different elements, but when it comes to the actual look and feel of a website, users don’t have a lot of control. The “Theme” tab really offers only two options: you can edit the fonts or change the template entirely. The basic structure of a Weebly site is very much set in stone, and doesn’t leave much room for users to impart a personal touch.
Mobile Editing: The mobile editor is a neat little tool that enables users to see/edit their sites as though they were being viewed from a mobile device. Any changes made on the mobile editor are automatically transferred to the desktop version of the site and vice-versa. Additionally, people have the option to change themes on their optimized sites and give the mobile versions a different look and feel.
The feature set of this software is solid and practical. As far as in-house features go, there aren’t many surprises here (and not a whole lot of ingenuity), but what is on offer is imminently reliable. And what Weebly doesn’t cover themselves can likely be covered by the Weebly App Center — but more about that later.
Weebly has gone to great lengths to provide users with a comprehensive selection of features that combine utility with functionality, including:
Blog: The Weebly blogging tool has a simple setup that allows users to edit post titles, drag elements (such as text boxes and images) from the editor to incorporate into posts, list author information beside each post, host RSS feeds and visitor comments, integrate Facebook “Like” and Twitter “Tweet” buttons, and schedule post times, among other things. Weebly’s blog is considerably more robust than that of many recent mobile-focused website builders, whose “blogs” are little more than a way to arrange the images and text you input.
Pages: The page editor allows for the addition or removal of entire pages from a website. Users may add a limitless number of standard pages (including both shop and blog pages) and create subpages as well.
Contact Form: Weebly’s contact form is highly customizable, which makes it a useful, adaptable means of reaching out to your site visitors. You can add and arrange prefabricated fields however you wish, and you can also (somewhat) customize the look of these fields as well. You can also solicit file uploads from your visitors, though this is strictly a premium feature.
Store: In general, the Store is a nice addition to the overall Weebly package and functions satisfactorily. However, it falls a bit flat when compared to major industry competitors like Wix. The Store does have features like order tracking, a digital coupon system, and the ability to sort products into different categories and galleries, but these are all fairly standard and do not particularly stand out in the crowd. One thing that does distinguish the Weebly Store from the competition is the ability to accept payment in most of the world’s major currencies.
Image Editor: Weebly recently introduced its new image editor, a significant upgrade over the previous image editor. There are 29 filters you can apply, and some fancy focal features were added as well. And unlike the main editor, the image editor allow you to undo your changes. That said, some customers have complained at the lack of an image library (this means you have to upload the same image multiple times if you want it to appear more than once).
Stock Photos: Weebly offers access to numerous stock photos, a feature which can be extremely helpful. Admittedly, the selection feels a bit narrow and limited at times, but it’s nice to know it’s available in a pinch.
Forums: Weebly provides users with the opportunity to add community forums to their websites. This opens up a myriad of intriguing possibilities and is one of the company’s most inspired features.
Google AdSense: Users can drag and drop a Google AdSense section anywhere on their sites to help generate revenue. This feature comes fully integrated with the editor.
Video Streaming: Video streaming is one of the most original and appealing features available in this program; it is well-designed, fluid, and adaptable, and allows users to stream videos directly from YouTube and/or Weebly’s own custom HD video player.
Weebly App Center: Weebly provides an App Center with 208 different third-party apps to choose from, should you find your site needing some extra oomph. The apps on offer are categorized as follows:
Weebly keeps users up-to-date on feature improvements and updates via their blog. For example, Weebly recently introduced improved navigational menus and a platform update that added flexible headers and video backgrounds.
Web Design and Editing
Templates: Most of Weebly’s templates, while serving their purpose adequately, are a trifle boring and unimpressive. To be fair, some do catch the eye and leave a lasting impression, and the more recent templates are fresher than what came before.
Mobile: It’s possible for users to manage their sites via mobile devices, a relatively unusual feature that is both surprising and gratifying. The entire Weebly editing service is available on iPad, and there are also helpful dedicated apps designed specifically for iPhone and Android operating systems which allow users access to their blogs and comment response systems. These apps also let people check site statistics and manage their online stores. A mobile editing app seems like a no-brainer, yet too many website builders neglect to produce one. Kudos to Weebly for including one.
Desktop: Weebly’s editing software is simplistic and neatly organized, designed so that users can easily drag, drop, and arrange elements onto their websites. Although this inherent simplicity is appreciable, at times it can seem bland and even limiting. Weebly’s desktop editor is reliable and comfortable, but overall it lacks a certain wow-factor.
Integrations and AddOns
This software is integrated with Google Maps and the YouTube video player. You’ll also find an expansive selection of widgetry in the App Center.
Weebly offers four payment processors to choose from when setting up your online store:
- Stripe: 2.9% + 30¢ per transaction
- Square: 2.9% + 30¢ per transaction
- PayPal: 2.9% + 30¢ per transaction
- Authorize: Fees depend on the merchant account
Square, PayPal, and Authorize are only available to those on the Business and Performance plans. In addition, for those on the Starter or Pro service plans, Weebly will charge an additional 3% fee per transaction. For those on the Business/Performance plan, the 3% Weebly transaction fee is waived and you will only pay the processor’s transaction fees.
In general, Weebly’s customer support network is quick and helpful, and their use of a live-chat system and a phone hotline is efficient, especially when bolstered by a help center which offers both training and instruction and serves to answer common questions. My own experience with Weebly’s support team was positive and my questions/concerns were promptly addressed.
Negative Reviews and Complaints
The primary complaint about Weebly from users is that it is simply not worth their money or their time. More specifically, people are disappointed with the following problems:
- Frequently frozen screens
- Failed uploads and updates
- Unresponsive/unhelpful customer support
- Clunky templates
Some users have also found Weebly’s SEO to be inadequate, with others describing Weebly’s customer support as rapid, but unhelpful. Weebly’s pricing has been criticized by users as inconsistent, with some reporting that people who signed up for the same paid plans within the same time frame were charged differing rates. Still others point to new problems introduced to the service by recent upgrades.
Positive Reviews and Testimonials
There are some significant negatives to Weebly, but it has received its fair share of 4 and 5-star ratings from leading software review sites and has many devotees among its user base. This software is most frequently acclaimed for the following positive characteristics:
- Intuitive design options
Weebly has also been praised for its inclusion of an iPad app for mobile site building, as well as an Apple Watch app for site-related alerts, should you find that necessary!
Amongst users, Weebly receives particular plaudits from those new to website building, with many reporting ongoing happiness with both the product and the customer support received. Weebly’s average customer rating on Trustpilot is 5.3 out of 10, though you’ll certainly find a wide range of user opinion there, with criticism increasing as of late.
As a whole, Weebly is a solid and practical piece of software. Though it is, perhaps, a trifle unremarkable, this program’s exponential growth and large customer base say a great deal about its overall track record and efficacy. After all, a company doesn’t attract over 40 million customers with mediocrity. Weebly has a strong foundation and provides essential, intuitive tools. The program is admittedly fairly basic, but there are some extras – like integrated video players and the option to add community forums – that are well-conceived additions to the feature set.
The worst thing that can be said about Weebly is that it does not distinguish itself or stand alone in any way. Almost every feature provided can also be found in any other do-it-yourself web-builder. The editor itself, while certainly functional, lacks an individual touch. When creating a new website, I want to feel creative and be given a variety of options for self-expression and customization. However, if you’re looking to get a functional website online for yourself or your small business with an absolute minimum of fuss, you’d do well to consider Weebly: the website builder for the rest of us. Four stars.