Weebly serves up over 40 million websites to a 325 million user audience each month. It’s not difficult to imagine why, either, with designer templates at the ready and a slew of excellent ecommerce tools. With both in hand, it’s clear why Weebly ranks among our best website builders.
Back in 2006, three Penn State graduates created Weebly. At the time, it was intended as a way for other students to make and maintain a portfolio online. However, a year and a little investor money later, Weebly launched one of the first WYSISYG (what you see is what you get) web building interfaces, staking its claim as a serious website builder.
Since then, the company has continued to grow the builder, implementing new features and introducing new templates. We tried out the old favorite to see how it stands up to today’s standards in a sea of competitors nipping at Weebly’s heels. While not everything is perfect, one thing is certain, Weebly is still a strong contender for your business.
Alternatives for Weebly
Strengths & Weaknesses
- Easy to use
- Built-in blog
- Free plan available
- Robust app center
- 24/7 support
- Limited theme selection
- Some low quality apps
Weebly comes stock with a surprising amount of features for building and managing your site. While most other builders can perform the same functions, few come with everything built in. With Weebly, the tools you need are at your fingertips, with a large app store for any niche demands.
Let’s start with what’s included, though. Weebly gives you form and blog support from the get go, meaning there are no other apps needed. The form builder is less flashy, sure, but still incredibly useful. It uses the same drag and drop interface as the rest of the UI, meaning you can intuitively draft forms and collect data.
Blogging, at least at first glance, is more interesting. Weebly takes a bit of a different approach to how you set up a blog. Instead of installing an app and using a back-end interface like WordPress, you simply add a blog page and draft posts from the editor. It’s counterintuitive at first but gets better with time.
Everyone can blog and create forms, though, so Weebly’s feature set only really becomes interesting with external apps. You can install these bad boys straight from the UI, and drag the elements on your site like you would any other. Some favorites we found were Printful fulfillment, Easy Magazine and PinPoll.
While we can’t link to the apps directly (as they’re located within the editor) we can tell you that they’re all third party. Unlike Wix, where most apps are first party, there’s a large assortment of options within Weebly’s marketplace (read our Wix review for how it differs here).
This is, however, a bit of a double-edged sword. While there are more options, there’s a lot of junk in there, too. If you’ve ever browsed WordPress plugins, you’ll surely know the feeling of scrolling through a list of niche apps with low ratings. While there isn’t as much bulk as WordPress, you’ll need to do a bit of sifting to find the good stuff.
Even with that small gripe, it’s hard to find any issues with the features. Weebly includes a substantial amount of power out of the gate, with plenty of apps to back it up. While you may need to dig around to find what you need, it’s assuredly there, and a little extra work never hurt anybody.
Weebly Features Overview
|Vector Art Gallary|
|Drag and Drop interface|
Weebly started its life as a free website builder but has grown into something far greater. Still, the basis of it is free. The free plan gets you full access to the UI, but you’re forced to use a Weebly subdomain and display ads on your site. Even so, the free plan is surprisingly good. You get full SSL security on your site, chat and email support, free SEO tools and access to the community forum.
- : .5 GB
- : Unlimited GB
- : .5 GB
- : Unlimited GB
- : No Weebly ads
- : Unlimited GB
- : Unlimited GB
- : 1
- : Password protection Video backgrounds HD audio and video
- : Unlimited GB
- : Unlimited GB
- : 1
- : Membership registration
- : Unlimited GB
- : Unlimited GB
- : 1
If you want to use your own domain, though, you’ll need to upgrade to Connect. It’s the exact same plan as the free one, but you can use your own domain instead of a Weebly provided one. It’s not very exciting, no, but at $4 per month, it’s still cheaper than the same plan at Wix.
Starter is the first real plan at Weebly. It cuts all ads and allows you to use your own domain (a free one included) with the Weebly builder. Even better, this is the first plan that allows you to make an eCommerce site. You only get 10 products, sure, but it’s also less than a third of the cost of a basic store with SquareSpace (read our SquareSpace review for more on this).
The name of the plan, Starter, is all you need to know about it. It’s a good plan for someone just starting out. For a little more power, though, the Pro plan is far better. You unlock nearly all site features at Weebly, with an increased product limit for ecommerce.
The plan includes video backgrounds for your site, embeddable HD video and audio, up to 100 registered members and 25 products. At only a few dollars more per month, it gives you far more features than Starter and should be the go-to when picking one from the lineup.
Weebly Ecommerce Plans
Business plans are far more expensive and follow a trend we see a lot with website builders. It’s nearly double the price of the middle ground plan and shows diminishing returns. Even so, there are a few notable features that may make this plan worth it for you.
They are particularly worth it if you plan to run an online store. Product limits are completely revoked and you’re charged zero transaction fees. You get additional ecommerce features as well such as product reviews, shipping and tax calculator and inventory management tools. It’s not an ideal plan for most, but essential if you run an online store.
Ecommerce outlets can take particular advantage of the app store too. Inclusions like Printful are especially useful, allowing you to sell shirts, bags and more without stocking any inventory. Simply install the app, upload your design and Printful will fulfill every order.
Weebly trades blows well with the two other titans in the web builder space, Wix and SquareSpace. It’s cheaper than both while still presenting the selection of Wix. While plans don’t feel as balanced across the board, it’s hard to argue with the price point of Weebly.
Design & Tools
“Drag and drop” is a bit of an arbitrary term when it comes to web builders. Sure, nearly all designers allow you to interact directly with your website, but few use that as the primary engine for design. Weebly, on the other hand, fully embraces this approach.
Everything you do on your site can literally be drug from the toolbar onto your webpage. The elements you add are displayed within a toolbar on the left side on the screen, divided by category. For example, you can drag the “slideshow” box to a spot on your screen and, sure enough, a slideshow will appear.
However, it should be noted that this is page specific. While universal elements do exist, many of the options are completely dependant on which page you’re editing. For example, you can only add a blog post to a dedicated blog page. There are exceptions depending on your theme, but the rule applies in most scenarios. We’ll talk more about how that impacts the experience in the “ease of use” section below.
Speaking of themes, though, that’s the template for building your site with Weebly. There is a decent, although not large, selection to choose from, each fit with filler items to show you how the designer intended it to look.
There is, however, an issue. The limited selection means there are only a few practical themes to choose from. While any site can still achieve its purpose with one of these designs, most look more flashy than useful. It’s not that any of the themes look bad, in fact, they look quite good, but you may not find a straightforward look.
If you’re more about the clean and stylish approach to design, though, you’ll probably find something you like. Weebly is definitely appealing to that market, with clean, spread like designs meant to hold large images and plenty of unique elements.
Once you’ve found a theme and used the toolbar to customize it to your tastes, you can use the top menu to change universal elements of your site. The build tab is where you access the drag and drop interface, the main part of the UI. Following it are buttons for pages, theme, apps and settings.
Pages does just that, manage your pages. You can add new ones, change up the order and rename, but there’s not too much else here. Theme is a bit more interesting, allowing to change the universal parameters of the one you have installed. It’s different for each, but some general features you may see are search bar enable, sticky header and font options.
The apps section is the best part of the top menu. This is where you can install new additions to your site and take it from a pretty page into something useful. As mentioned in the features section above, the list is quite extensive, so finding something you need won’t be too difficult.
Lastly, the settings page isn’t as eye catching, but still packed with features. You can do things like change your favicon, add a site password and enable an SSL certificate. One section that stuck out to us, though, was the SEO section. From the settings page you can specify your keywords and site description, and even handle redirects.
Online stores have a few different options in the builder. You can set up your accepted payment methods, add basic store information and set and choose shipping rates. Surprisingly, though, the most powerful tools here is adding products.
You can list physical goods, digital downloads and services, with SEO built in for each product. Business plans have a few extra features for products as well including automatic inventory tracking, manual tax exemptions, low and out of stock badges and on sale badges.
Weebly handles design a bit differently, but it still works well. You’ll find quite a few options under the hood which is quite the feat considering how clean the UI looks. While we would’ve liked to see more selection in premade themes, it’s hard to punish Weebly too hard considering how great everything else is.
Ease of Use
As mentioned in the above section, Weebly takes a unique approach to the typical website builder. The advertised drag-and-drop interface is truly that, a pure drag and drop experience. While it can take a bit of getting used to, the completely interactive system goes a long way in making complex tasks easy.
For any change, you simply find the icon you want and drag it onto the page. Weebly specifies different areas of each page within the theme that elements can be placed on and automatically adjusts the surrounding elements to fit it. It works quite nicely, especially with little design experience, as you never need to worry about lining things up perfectly.
The webpage is a bit like a puzzle and you choose the pieces that make it up. Even when we tried to break the page by adding a ton of elements, it was difficult to do. The editor automatically moved everything in the most logical way and, while the bombarded look was still bad, Weebly’s builder did the best it could.
Designs are completely page-specific as well. It’s a bit limiting, sure, but it goes a long way in ease of use. There is never a situation where dragging a certain element onto the page breaks the theme. Your blogging tools only come up on your blog page and your header tools only come up on your home page.
Speaking of pages, Weebly handles those quite well too. It’s similar to most other web builders, allowing you to add new pages, change a few parameters such as visibility and arrange them in a hierarchy.
Installing new apps on your site is as easy as ever. In the same top bar for pages, you’ll find the app store. All you need to do is open it up, find the app you want and click “add” to install it. Once it’s done, you can use the same drag and drop UI to put it on your site.
Weebly’s approach is a bit unconventional, meaning there is a learning curve if you’re coming from another builder. However, after spending a bit of time with it, it’s much more intuitive. You interact directly with every aspect of your site, making it easier than ever to design something that looks great.
As with many other web builders, Wix deals with its support through a help center. This collection of articles will deal with nearly any issue you’ll encounter, and serves as the support basis for which the rest of the service is built. However, unlike competitors like Wix, Weebly gives you a clear avenue of contact for human support.
Let’s start with the help center, though. It’s a cleany-laid out library of topics, ranging from starting your site to dealing with ecommerce. These six topics are further divided into subtopics where, within each, you’ll find the actual meat and potatoes. You could always circumvent the hierarchy and just use the search bar as well.
The articles themselves are quite good. Weebly provides you with large screenshots for nearly any tutorial, with step by step instruction and little meddling in other areas. There is, however, room for improvement.
While the articles are competently written, they can be a bit difficult to scan. Instructions are step by step, but not labeled with numbers, meaning each action can blend into another. Additionally, providing a video for more complex topics would go a long way in boosting the content of each written piece.
Outside of the help center, there is another avenue for DIY support. Weebly thankfully provides a community forum where you can post questions about your business, design or even just provide general feedback. During our observation, an admin generally replied to any given post within an hour.
If neither of those paths work for you, though, contacting support is a click away. Right from the help center, you can email, call or chat with a Weebly representative. As with many web builders and web hosts, Weebly will attempt to point you towards an article before going to support, but it’s only a small hurdle in an otherwise great system.
The most attractive part about support here are the options. Weebly gives you every avenue you could ask for, each with a consistently high quality. It feels less like a support tunnel and more like a support center, with an abundance of great options to choose from.
Weebly has come a long way from its Penn State roots. While the core remains the same, a slew of new themes and an updated UI has massively overhauled the platform. The designer gives you plenty of power without being too difficult, and the inexpensive price point means you can have a beautiful site for only a little coin.
There are other options, though, so make sure you check out our other web builder reviews. We go into the specifics of every provider so you know what you’re getting into whenever you sign up. We also have made a selection of the best web hosting providers for when your site is ready to go.
If you go the web hosting route, WordPress is one of the best platforms for building your site. Make sure to check out our three guides on using it.
- Beginners guide to using WordPress
- Intermediate guide to using WordPress
- Advanced guide to using WordPress
What do you think of Weebly? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.