Weebly offers what is probably the easiest way to get a website up and running in less than an hour. It's also one of the most recognized brands in this very competitive space, but continues to gain new customers every day. Every Weebly review since the company was founded in 2006 mentions the fact that the owners are routinely upgrading and tweaking the core software behind the brand's functionality.
Here's a quick run-through of how Weebly performs in comparison to the industry's other big competitors, how the pricing is set up, and what consumers should expect if they opt for a Weebly website-builder account.
Weebly Review: Table of Contents
- Smart Selling
- Introduction to Weebly
- Getting Started
- Templates & Design
- Mobile Features
- Customer Support
- Weebly SEO
- Selling Digital Products
- Pros & Cons
- Final Verdict
- Who Gets the Most Out of Weebly?
Editor's note: This post was originally published on 15 August 2015 and has completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
Btw, here's a video version of the comparison created by my colleague Joe. 🙂
What is the Smart Way to Sell Online?
There is no one-size-fits-all eCommerce solution, or website-builder for that matter. Car shoppers have wildly different tastes, budgets, and needs. The same applies here. Some people need nothing more than a simple drag-and-drop website builder. Others want a state-of-the-art CMS (content-management system) that's already installed. Still others want to do it all themselves, complete with their own coding and from the ground up design. Websites can be highly complex or staggeringly simple. It's a matter of taste, budget and what your needs are.
The original decision is vitally important, though. How a website is structured can mean prosperity or disaster. Most site owners agree that the main goal is to get visitors who see all the important information as soon as they arrive on the site's main page. It's also good if those visitors are able to purchase products easily. Having what you need and want, based on your own goals, is the key to creating the right website.
That's why there is no single “ideal” selection when it comes to building a website. You always want what's best for your brand, and that typically means realistic functionality and a site that is versatile. So, how does Weebly stack up based on those criteria?
What’s Weebly All About?
Weebly in one word is “simplicity.” Compared to solutions that require you to do all the installing yourself, do all the managing of each piece of the site, and basically act as a website designer, Weebly’s web-hosting service is the complete opposite. Weebly users get tons of convenience and value. What’s the trade-off? They give up a good deal of control over the look and function of the resulting website.
The entire Weebly platform works as one big happy functional unit. All the content, layout and various design choices are strictly “drag-and-drop.” Weebly's main competitors are quite different, and for good reason. WordPress, Wix and Squarespace all offer differing price structures and degrees of control for builders.
The Right Way to Get Started with Weebly
Do you want to sell things on your website? This is the most important of all questions to ask at this point. If you do, then it's time to add product and store information. Weebly lets you select from up to almost 70 different store templates. All of them feature modern, attractive designs. If you change your mind about a theme or get tired of it, it's simple to change without having to re-do the entire site. You can use your own domain names or (not recommended) use the Weebly sub-domain within your address.
Weebly is not as strong as its competitors in this category. Wix, Simvoly, GoDaddy and a few others offer more template choices for stores and all offer easy theme changes. Weebly is still not offering a mobile preview for users who want to check out the various themes before committing to one.
Building a site is pretty simple with the drag-and-drop function. You can choose from Store, Settings, Help, Pages, Build, Theme and Apps blocks while building your site, and there's a very obvious blue button for “publish” decisions as you move through the process. It's also easy to add video, audio, text boxes, maps, images, and media to a page at any time.
Note that the free option does not include the ability to add video and audio except as files. All the paid options allow for polls, feeds, surveys, forums and RSVPs. There's also an apps section that is constantly being updated. Paid versions will allow anyone to select from whatever apps are available.
Weebly Review: Important Features
In this Weebly review section, we take a look at features that are especially important to users who want to run an eCommerce website.
Features for Weebly users are diverse and useful. They include your own domain name, multiple navigation levels, widgets, SEO capability, monetization, eCommerce, a blog, visitor stats, a contact form, password protection, a handy tool for newsletters, the ability to add HTML code, ample storage space, restore/backup abilities, solid support, and a consumer-friendly sales staff.
Devil in the Details?
The big difference among features has to do with what pricing tier you’re in. You can get .net or .com free domains for the first year, but after that it’ll set you back $19.95. One work-around for that problem is to import your own domain and simply point it to your Weebly site.
Weebly fully supports websites from small to extremely large, so there’s good navigation depth throughout, plenty of available widgets, the ability to use Google AdSense or your choice of banner ads. The shopping cart is simple to use, includes most payment options and SSL encryption.
The SEO capabilities are very good and users can even enhance their sites with videos of products. Users who don’t care much for mathematics will fall in love with Weebly’s shipping and tax calculator, as well as the inventory management capability.
For blogging, users have access to all of the most common features. You can schedule your posts and even integrate Facebook and Disqus commenting capability. Note that you’ll only be able to have one author for a blog, not multiple contributors.
In Weebly’s free plan, there is a basic tool for statistics. In all the paid plans, there are more powerful statistics options. Some users prefer to simply integrate the Google Analytics tool.
For users who enjoy creating contact pages, Weebly lets you build detailed ones. Google Maps can be easily integrated and there’s also a simple contact form.
On the Pro Plan, users can password-protect single pages or the whole website. If you wish to share particular content with designated people, you can do so in the membership area.
There’s no storage limit on any plan except the free one, where you’re subject to a 500 MB upper limit. For all plans, individual files have to be smaller than 10 MB, but on Pro that number is 250 MB. Storage limits, however, are infinite for all plans except the Free option.
If you choose Weebly web hosting, you’ll not have to be concerned about bandwidth limits at all.
Weebly Review: Templates & Design
Template and design capability is a key part of any comprehensive Weebly review. Weebly offers tons of common and unique layouts for page design. Most range from extremely basic to highly stylish. All are smartphone/tablet responsive and you can even add your favorite video and/or photographic animation backgrounds as well.
If you feel like using the source code yourself to edit any of the templates, that’s an option too. However, users should be aware that they won’t be able to edit the template elements as they appear in mobile devices.
One of the challenges with Weebly design tools is placement. It’s sometimes not possible to place a dragged item anywhere you want it to go. Items sometimes bounce to a location other than where you physically drop them. And your mouse must be on the toolbar or else the whole thing disappears.
Of course, Weebly set it up this way so users could see the entire page while it’s under construction. But it takes some getting used to. Some items you try to drag to your page might be “premium,” which cues the system to ask you if you want to upgrade.
As long as you stay away from the orange buttons, you’ll get no upgrade solicitations. “Sections” are very versatile elements that let you select from “gallery,” “menu,” “contact,” “team,” and “featured.” You can drag and drop a section anywhere on the page and then resize it if you wish. The team option is for the standard business profile pages of staff members.
For customizing a theme, there is only one choice and that is by altering the text display. It’s easy enough to change spacing, size, font, color and other characteristics of the text as you build your site. However, Weebly does not allow for changes to the color palette of a theme at this stage. If you want to do that, you’ll have to back out and choose a totally different theme.
Weebly Review: Integrations
It’s simple to locate an app of your choice and then install it via the Weebly editor. There’s a massive collection of services and apps that users can choose from, including ones designed especially for marketing, calendars, menu integration, and more area being added day by day. Users can effectively grow their websites with the cutting-edge apps that Weebly is constantly adding to their app inventory.
Weebly Review: Mobile Features
It’s easy to create a mobile site with Weebly. Every theme can work on mobile devices. Whether a desktop computer, a tablet of any size or a smartphone, Weebly has users covered with mobile features. There are plenty of apps specifically designed for iOS and Android devices too. A visual editor allows for easy drag-and-drop functionality when working with a template.
The preview function lets you see how your website will look to users of mobile devices. That way, there’s no guessing. Every Weebly site is optimized for search engines and all of the most common mobile devices. There’s no need to have different content for mobile because Weebly makes sure the adjustments are made automatically.
Weebly Review: Customer Support
Weebly offers live chat, a fully-functional help center and email support. For the two highest-tier plans, there is phone support. The most common way Weebly users access support is via email, and the response times are good.
Weebly Review: SEO
At the page level, Weebly users can customize description tags, ALT text, titles, and meta data. At Weebly, you also have the ability to edit URLs.
Weebly Review: Security
Weebly promotes the use of very strong passwords and each of their plans includes an effective version of SSL encryption, even the free version of Weebly. You’ll need to manually deal with any restore/backup functions, however, so keep that in mind. Weebly users often save all their files in zip format on a regular basis.
Selling Digital Products
On Weebly, with Business and Business Plus plans you can sell digital products, with a file size limit of 3 GB. Accept credit cards, Stripe, PayPal and about two dozen international currencies. Weebly handles all aspects of file delivery and even sends a receipt to your buyers. The app was developed by PayHip.
Weebly Review: Pricing
Weebly’s pricing plans are in two basic categories: for websites and for online stores.
For websites, the price tiers are $0, $5, $12, and $25, called Free, Connect, Pro, and Business, respectively.
For online stores, the pricing runs as follows: $12, $25, and $38 for Pro, Business, and Business Plus plans. The online store options all come with a free domain and Google Ads, but the Business Plus comes with email marketing features.
The website plans, except for the free one, come with a free domain. The two highest tiers also come with Google Ads. The more you pay, the more features, eCommerce, marketing and support options you get. Here are the breakdowns for each pricing package:
Pricing for Websites
Based on payment tiers, options include free SSL security, unlimited storage, connecting a custom domain, removing Weebly’s ads, site search, shopping cart, accepting payment through Square, accepting payments via third parties, product badges, product options, inventory management, automatic tax calculator, coupon codes, Square gift cards, product reviews, shipping calculator, integrated shipping labels, shipping discounts, SEO, lead capture and contact forms, advanced site stats, pop-up notifications, integrated Facebook ads, advanced eCommerce statistics, community forum, chat and email support, and phone support.
Pricing for Online Stores
Weebly Review: Pros & Cons
For users who want a website-builder with no frills and fair pricing, Weebly offers an interface that is fully intuitive. Comprehensive Weebly reviews from our team of experts continue to point out that a full slate of eCommerce options, themes that are good-looking and responsive, and a wealth of site statistics are on tap. You can even download code for your website in CSS or HTML.
Plus, there's an available app on Weebly that lets users do site edits for iPad. The cons of Weebly are few. There is no way to customize mobile sites. There is no reusable image storage function. And for some reason there is still no undo feature that works throughout the interface.
Specifically, Weebly’s three main advantages are the following:
- Its ideal for owners of small companies who want to build a functional, professional-looking website. Weebly offers all the main tools to get the job done. Anyone can build an online store and a basic website in less than an hour.
- There are enough templates to satisfy just about anyone. They range in style from playful to fully professional, and offer something for all tastes. If you want to customize a theme, Weebly lets you do your own thing.
- The SEO guides in the help section are extremely helpful and can turn even the smallest, newest store into an SEO powerhouse with the right dedication and planning.
Weebly’s three disadvantages/cons are:
- For backup and restore, you’re pretty much on your own. Yes, you can save everything to a zip file whenever you want, but if disaster hits, you’ll need to get in touch with the Weebly support team to fully restore your site to its previous state.
- The drag-and-drop feature is not as good as it could be. This means you’ll either have to be good with code or settle for what the templates look like.
- Unlike some of it primary competitors, Weebly does not offer an ADI (Artificial Design Intelligence) option.
Weebly Review: FAQ
In this Weebly review FAQ, we’ll look at important factors for users who want to open an ecommerce website:
Is Weebly good for SEO?
You’ll need one of Weebly’s paid plans to get your site indexed on Yahoo, Bing, Google and other search engines.
Can I purchase a domain name directly from Weebly?
You can use a domain name you already own, use the free Weebly domain which includes their suffix, or if you sign up for any paid plan, you’ll get one for free for the first year.
Is Weebly easy to use?
All website builders like to make this boast, but for those who are new to eCommerce, or have never set up a website before, Weebly really is one of the easiest options out there.
How much does Weebly cost?
Prices are $0, $5, $12, $25, and $38 depending what you want to do and how much functionality you need. See the pricing section below for more detailed information. Overall, Weebly is one of the most reasonably-priced services of its kind.
Is there a free Weebly plan?
Yes there is, but keep in mind that the free plan comes with forced Weebly ads, is for basic functions only and does not include an online store.
Is there a free plan for online stores?
No. If you want online selling capability, you must purchase the Pro, Business, or Business Plus plan. See pricing section below for more details.
Is there a free trial for Weebly Starter?
They no longer have the “starter” plan so instead of a free trial, you can just sign up for the free site-builder plan and decide to upgrade later if you like how it feels.
Can I use a custom domain with Weebly's free plan?
No, you can only bring your own domain name if you have one of Weebly’s paid plans.
Is Weebly better than Wix?
Is strawberry ice cream “better” than chocolate? It depends what your preferences are. Generally speaking, Weebly tends to have more robust design features, while Wix offers better support and more ease of use. The two choices are pretty much tied when it comes to design flexibility.
What are some great alternatives to Weebly?
Some of the most popular alternatives to Weebly include WordPress, Format, Ucraft, Shopify, WooCommerce, Big Cartel, Squarespace and Wix.
Can I setup an email account with Weebly?
Weebly uses G Suite email as its default server. You must have your domain pointed to Weebly, or have purchased it from them, to enable G Suite email functionality.
Is it worth building an online store with Weebly?
For most everyone, the answer is yes. Weebly’s simple tools and functions make the small investment well worth it. It’s not time-consuming or expensive to build a small or large online store. You’ll have to study the difference eCommerce features of each pricing plan to see exactly what the total cost would be for a particular kind of store. Bottom line: yes, Weebly online stores are a decent bargain.
Weebly Review: What’s the Final Verdict on Weebly?
For consumers who want value and decent functionality, Weebly is a smart choice. You don't have to change platforms or be a coding expert to sell from your Weebly site. Plus, the eCommerce function is pretty seamless and easy to use. Another big plus of Weebly is the pricing, which is clearly spelled out and affordable for any budget.
Note that there are some individual transaction fees unless you opt for the pricier business plans. Another slight word of caution is that the eCommerce setup is not as elaborate as, for example, on Shopify. But for the price, Weebly offers a solid list of standard features like payment acceptance, straightforward inventory handling, and a no-frills shopping cart.
Who Gets the Most Out of Weebly?
Weebly Reviewed If you want to sell a handful of products and are mainly set up to generate leads and disseminate information, then Weebly is the ideal choice. The average user experience is great, the overall functionality is clean and simple, and the pricing won't eat up the budget.
There's another group of people who might get a lot of bang for the buck from Weebly: anyone who plans to move to a longer-term platform after doing a bit of product testing can use Weebly for the testing phase of the operation. But for entrepreneurs who are purely based on eCommerce transactions, it's smarter to avoid Weebly and go for your own online store, utilizing a more comprehensively functional platform like BigCommerce or Shopify.
In the end, Weebly if perfect for those in search of a “website-builder” type arrangement where you don't own your shop, don't care about having the bells and whistles of a specialty platform alongside functionality of WordPress. So, for the simple, “one-shot” website-builder sites with basic capabilities and simple interface, Weebly is a winner. Weebly reviews can only discuss general features, because every user has specific, unique needs.
The decision is really centered on what you need, what you want, and what you are willing to spend. Weebly gets the job done without breaking the bank, does what it claims to do, but offers nothing fancy or highly-functional.
Weebly offers a free option and is totally simple for anyone to use. Virtually anyone can make and publish blogs, websites and online shopping pages that are responsive and functional.