Even in 2020 a lot of people still think that building a website is no simple feat. While it’s true that the process can require a lot of time and effort in some cases, for the most part, now pretty much anyone can create a new website with relative ease. That’s because these days you don’t have to build the whole thing from scratch any more thanks to platforms like WordPress, Wix or Squarespace. Any of those platforms can be a fine choice for your future website, but in this article, we’re going to take a look at a builder you may have overlooked until now – Weebly.
Weebly is in a bit of an awkward spot right now because of its competitors. Generally speaking, there are four main options to consider when you’re building a new website and choosing between them is very easy if you know exactly what you’re trying to build. Namely, you want WordPress for functionality, Squarespace for looks, Shopify for eCommerce, and Wix for ease of use. So when should you use Weebly then? Well, Weebly is a great choice if you’re looking for a jack-of-all-trades builder that can do a little bit of everything.
Now, Weebly isn’t the only platform that can accommodate any type of website, but it is one of the best. And in this article, we’re going to help you find out if Weebly is the right choice for your future website or if you should consider other options instead. In order to give you a good idea of what Weebly is all about, we’re going to take a closer look at important aspects such as price, features, tools, and customer support and see what sort of conclusions we can draw after weighing all the pros and cons of this builder. But before we delve into the technical stuff, let’s start with a quick overview.
Weebly is well over a decade old at this point, having launched back in 2007. The platform struggled to find a niche at the beginning but managed to gradually attract a pretty solid user base in the years to come. As of 2020, Weebly powers more than 50 million websites, a very respectable figure even compared to juggernauts like Wix. Weebly was acquired by payment processor Square in 2018, a move that proved beneficial for both companies. Unsurprisingly, Weebly started focusing more and more on eCommerce following the acquisition in an effort to expand its business and attract new users.
The platform is intuitive and very accessible, allowing even inexperienced users to create professional-looking websites with relative ease. While you don’t need to be a coder to build a site with Weebly, knowing your way around scripting languages like CSS and HTML does allow you to customize pages to a much higher degree. One of the advantages of Weebly is that the platform has a built-in coding editor, which is much easier to work with compared to builders like Wix where you to have to switch to the “Dev Mode” in order to inject code.
Weebly tends to focus on functionality rather than looks so the UI can feel a bit outdated at times. On the bright side, the platform comes with some very helpful built-in features, like the aforementioned coding editor. On top of that, you have a very wide selection of apps at your disposal and a decent amount of themes to choose from.
Weebly does a pretty good job of guiding you through the process of building a new website. Upon visiting Weebly’s homepage you are immediately greeted with a big blue button that reads “Create Your Website.” All you need to do is click it, sign up for a new account and you’re off to the races. Weebly can be used for free so you don’t need to worry about giving out credit card details or any other sensitive information during the registration process. In fact, you don’t need to give out any information because you can simply sign in with Google or Facebook if you want to.
Once that’s out of the way, you will be redirected to your dashboard where you can start building your new website. There are a few useful articles embedded in the dashboard that can help you get started, along with a link to Weebly’s “Inspiration Center,” which contains even more useful information about working with the builder. You can spend a bit of time reading the documentation but I suggest jumping straight into the building process because you’ll easily be able to figure out how everything works with a bit of practice.
The site editor layout is pretty simplistic. You’ve got all available elements and apps located on the left and you can switch pages, themes, and access various settings by using the top menu. There’s a toggle button that can be used to show or hide some of the elements. Aside from that, though, there aren’t any other hidden buttons or menus so you have a good overview of all the available tools right off the bat.
Not the Best Layout but Decent Enough
It is slightly annoying that the various elements can’t be sorted by category and that there’s no search function to help you find certain things faster. Then again, Weebly doesn’t feature nearly as many elements as some of the other popular editors out there. At least, not in its base form. You can add a bunch of apps to unlock elements that aren’t available at first, such as mosaic galleries, tables or text animations.
On one hand, it’s nice that Weebly makes certain elements optional instead of overwhelming you with hundreds of them from the get-go. On the other hand, it would have been better to just implement a sorting system and search function instead. That way, you can have as many elements as you want and still be able to find anything you need quickly. As it stands, you need to scroll through a list every time you want to add new elements to your page. And the more apps you have installed, the more you’ll need to keep scrolling because the Apps are located beneath the Individual Elements in the list and there doesn’t seem to be a way to re-arrange the various icons. While this system doesn’t make the building process more difficult per se, it does make it more inefficient and time-consuming than it has to be.
If you can overlook that little hassle, the rest of the building process is actually pretty fun. Weebly features drag-and-drop functionality so you can grab any element you want and simply drop it on the page. This is a structured builder so you are a bit limited in regards to where you can place elements. All the sections that can accommodate the elements you want to add are highlighted, which is a nice touch. Another nice feature worth noting is the fact that all the changes you make to the desktop version automatically translate to the mobile one, so you don’t have to edit the two versions separately.
Weebly offers around 50 themes, which is a fairly modest selection compared to other site builders. Themes are split into a handful of different categories such as Business, Portfolio, Event or Blog. Some themes come with elements and apps that are relevant to their respective category. For example, one theme may have a mosaic gallery while a different one may feature a team card. Interestingly enough, none of the themes seem to be specifically designed for online stores, despite’s Weebly recent focus on eCommerce. That said, you can add a shopping cart and other eCommerce-specific features to any of the available themes.
Even though Weebly’s selection of themes is pretty limited, you can unlock more themes by downloading them from third-party sources like Webfire Themes and then importing them to your account. If you’re familiar with WordPress you should have a pretty good idea of what to expect here. Most of the themes you’ll find on third-party sites cost around $40-50 but you can find a few free ones as well. Regardless of whether you’re buying them from third-party sources or not, all the themes used by Weebly are mobile-responsive and easy to customize.
One of the most useful features offered by Weebly is the ability to switch themes on the fly without losing any of your content. This is a major advantage over rivals like Wix because it lets you completely change the look of your website as often as you want.
Similar to most other site builders, Weebly can technically be used to create any type of website. Realistically speaking, though, the builder will struggle with certain types more than others. That’s why we think you should only use Weebly for the following types of websites:
Weebly is a very good option for bloggers and includes several themes that are specifically designed for this very purpose. You can expect to find all the basic features, including tags, categories, post scheduling, and social media integration, as well as add comments sections to your pages. Weebly is also very SEO-friendly, which is always a big advantage for blogs. The only drawback is that you can’t set up a blog with multiple contributors. So overall, Weebly is a great choice for people looking to start their first blog, even among other big competitors, as seen in our GoDaddy comparison.
A large portion of Weebly’s user base is comprised of small business owners so if you’re running a small coffee shop or restaurant, this could be the perfect builder for you. One of the main reasons is because Weebly is great for creating simple websites in a short amount of time. It also helps that you can afford to build a Weebly website even if you’re running on a shoestring budget. You don’t need to hire a professional designer since you can do it all by yourself. The builder is more than capable of displaying contact information, addresses, or maps and you can also add a contact form to your site.
Squarespace is usually a better choice when it comes to portfolios but Weebly can also do a decent job at it. You can easily create websites meant to showcase images, and adding galleries, about me or contact pages is a piece of cake. Weebly templates aren’t as flashy as those offered by other builders but you don’t always have to opt for style over substance. Besides, you can create a Weebly portfolio without spending any money, which is always a big plus.
Although we tend to recommend Shopify as the best builder for eCommerce, there’s no denying that Weebly has become a very appealing option for online stores as of late. Setting up an online store with Weebly is relatively cheap and gets you quite a few useful features. Weebly doesn’t charge commissions from Business and Business Pro users and allows them to sell an unlimited number of physical or digital products and services. In addition, the builder offers tons of useful features like automatic tax calculator, inventory management, item badges, shipping labels, abandoned cart recovery, coupons, discounts, and many more.
Plans and Pricing
Weebly is one of the cheapest builders on the market, possibly second only to Wix when it comes to raw bang for the buck. You can use the platform for free if you don’t mind the restrictions and upgrade later or go directly for a paid plan in order to unlock a bunch of extra tools and features.
Opting for the free plan is a good idea if you want to build a small website or blog. You can use the free plan for as long as you want but you only get 500 MB of storage to work with and you won’t be able to connect a custom domain to your site. You will be assigned a Weebly-branded domain and you’ll also have to display non-removable ads on your site. Quite a few limitations but it’s not all bad. Free plan users benefit from customer support, an SSL certificate, and access to the community forums. In addition, they can also take advantage of SEO tools, contact forms, and a couple of other features.
If you’re looking to build a serious site it’s essential that you go for one of the premium plans. Prices start at only $5 per month, however, the basic package is a bit difficult to recommend because it doesn’t offer anything special aside from the ability to connect a custom domain name to your site. Otherwise, the basic plan is identical to the free one. The cheapest package would be a lot easier to recommend if it also removed the ads but as it stands, we suggest either sticking with the free plan or upgrading directly to the Pro tier.
The Pro tier will set you back $12 per month but removes all branded ads and includes a free domain name for 1 year. This plan also unlocks basic eCommerce functionality so the value is already pretty good. Weebly sweetens the deal further by also adding a few additional features along with phone support, which isn’t available with the previous tiers. Pro is Weebly’s best value tier in our opinion and it’s not really worth upgrading further unless you plan to build an online store. If eCommerce is what you’re after, you have two options to choose from.
Upgrading to the Business plan will cost you $25 per month and grants you a veritable slew of eCommerce and marketing tools. Starting with this plan, you can use badges to let your customers know when certain items are on sale, running low or sold out. The plan also unlocks most of the other essential eCommerce features like inventory management, item reviews, and gift cards. In addition, Pro gives you access to advanced statistics regarding sales trends and allows you to use pop-up notifications on your website.
Going one step further and upgrading to the $38/mo Business Plan grants a couple more perks but this package doesn’t offer as much value for the price compared to the previous one. For the extra $13/mo needed to upgrade you only get two extra features in the form of abandoned cart recovery and a real-time shipping calculator. The plan also lets you launch email marketing campaigns but that’s about it. Granted, the extra features can come in handy in certain situations but we think most users would be just fine sticking with the regular Business package and using some free eCommerce apps to add more functionality to their stores.
Additional Tools and Features
We already discussed some of the standout tools and features offered by Weebly but there are a few more that we think are worth mentioning. Some of these are more useful than others but all of them are important in their own right and add extra value to an already well-rounded site builder.
You already know that most of Weebly’s plans include a free domain name for 1 year but what if you wanted to purchase a domain separately? You can register a new domain or renew an existing one for $19.95 per year. This is a bit more expensive compared to other builders, however, domains registered with Weebly include domain privacy by default. Some builders (like Wix) give you the option of buying domains without privacy for cheaper but you should generally avoid doing that as privacy is very important.
Weebly integrates with over a dozen social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. You can also add RSS feeds, RSVP forms, surveys and newsletters to your site. The builder also allows you to embed YouTube videos and display likes, shares or follower counts. The built-in social tools are pretty solid from the get-go but you can add even more by visiting the app center. There, you can find apps for social media marketing, comments, testimonials, social sharing, Instagram feeds, and more.
Backup and Restore
Many builders don’t give users a reliable way of backing up and restoring their website and that’s partially the case with Weebly as well. Now, Weebly does allow you to back up your site and download its contents as a .zip file, which can be stored locally or on a third-party platform. So far so good. However, there’s no proper way of restoring that .zip back onto Weebly after you’ve downloaded it. You can unpack the archive and upload the content manually afterward but things like template layouts will be lost. This system certainly isn’t the best we’ve ever seen but it’s at least somewhat useful so we have to give Weebly some credit for implementing it.
If you want to learn about search engine optimization but don’t know where to start, we recommend checking out Weebly’s Ultimate SEO Guide because it’s one of the most detailed ones out there. If you don’t feel like reading massive amounts of documentation you can, of course, skip that and experiment with the built-in SEO tools instead. You have all the basic ones you might expect, such as URL editing, meta title editing, the ability to add descriptions, tags, alt text to images, and more. Weebly also integrates with Google analytics and offers an in-depth website statistics dashboard to help you keep track of your audience.
Weebly has a very solid app marketplace with over 350 add-ons to choose from. Apps can be easily added to any site with the click of a button and, as mentioned before, appear separately than other elements in the site editor. The marketplace could have featured more categories for the various apps but there is a search function so finding the add-on you need isn’t too difficult. Many of the apps found in the marketplace can be used for free, however, the selection of premium apps is a lot more impressive. Most premium apps will only cost you a couple of bucks per month but some of them can get a lot more expensive, with prices surpassing $50 per month in many cases.
This is a very useful feature that allows webmasters to restrict access to certain pages. Or rather, to allow only a select group of people to view said pages. You can set up private pages while constructing your site and then use the dashboard to give certain members exclusive access to them. If you don’t want to bother with individual members, you can create groups instead and set specific permissions to each of them.
Performance and Reliability
All-purpose site builders are usually not as fast as specialized platforms, but Weebly is actually doing pretty good in the speed department. We found that websites build using Weebly load in around 560 ms on average, which is a pretty solid result and slightly faster than its main rivals. In our Wix vs. Weebly comparison, we mentioned how Wix’s loading speeds are above 600 ms on average. And based on the data we collected for our Squarespace review, it seems that 600+ ms is usually the norm for site builders.
As far as the uptime is concerned, you can expect a Weebly website to maintain an average uptime of around 99.97%. Once again, this is slightly above average when compared to other site builders. For instance, both Wix and Squarespace had an average uptime of 99.95% during our testing. Even though there is always room for improvement, Weebly is definitely not a bad pick if you’re looking for a builder that offers good performance and reliability.
Weebly is very easy to work with so you probably won’t need to contact support very often. If you do happen to need a helping hand, though, the company’s agents are at your disposal. Weebly offers customer support via three channels – phone, tickets, and live chat. Out of the three, only the ticket system is available 24/7. You can reach out to agents via live chat and phone from 6 AM to 6 PM PST. Phone support is reserved for users who opt for the Pro plan or better while the other two channels are available to everyone, including free plan users.
In addition to the direct channels, Weebly also offers a comprehensive Support Center where you can find plenty of useful articles and guides about working with the platform. To top it all off, Weebly has a blog where it posts informative articles fairly regularly along with community forums, which can be accessed by all users regardless of which plan they use. There’s also an on-page support system that you can access while using the site editor but it’s a bit basic compared to what builders like Wix are offering.
Can I Upgrade my Free Weebly Account to a Premium One?
Yes, users can upgrade their free plans at any time in order to gain access to the extra tools and features provided by the premium packages. Not just that, but you can also upgrade from a cheaper premium plan to a more expensive one. In that case, you’ll only need to pay the difference, not the full amount.
Does Weebly Offer Free Professional Emails?
Unfortunately, the answer is no. Weebly does offer email addresses via G Suite but not for free, though you can take advantage of the trial to test out the service for up to 15 days. After that, you’ll need to pay $49 per year (per user) in order to keep using the mailbox.
Does Weebly Have a Mobile Editor?
The platform does indeed offer an app that you can use to edit and manage your website on the go. The app allows you to add content to your site, share articles, check statistics, manage comments, and more. While you can use the app to create a website from scratch, doing so from a mobile device can be a somewhat challenging process. Still, the option is there.
Can I Use Weebly in Conjunction with a Hosting Provider?
Yes, Bluehost, HostGator, and a few other providers offer integration with Weebly. Using the website builder this way comes with a few perks, including unlimited resources, email accounts, database access, and more, all of which are included with most plans offered by these companies. On the flip side, you won’t be able to contact Weebly’s support agents and you may have to wait longer for updates.
Does Weebly Have Multiple Data Centers Around the World?
No, not at this time. The company hosts all its websites in a single location, which can be found in San Francisco, California. That’s where the company’s main headquarters is located as well.
What is Weebly’s Refund Policy?
Weebly offers a 30-day money-back guarantee with all paid plans. The only caveat to this is that only users who subscribe to a yearly plan are eligible for the refund. This is something to keep in mind when trying to decide between yearly and month-to-month payments.
Weebly is a well-rounded builder that allows users to create websites quickly and painlessly. Even if you’re a complete novice when it comes to site building, you shouldn’t have any issues figuring out how to make good use of this platform. Weebly is a pretty option for veteran webmasters as well thanks to its built-in coding editor. However, Weebly is not as flexible as other platforms so if you want to create a very complex website, you’re better off going with something like WordPress instead.
Weebly ranked at number 1 in our best Wix alternatives list and is number 2 on our list of best alternatives to Squarespace. Needless to say, we really enjoy using the builder and we wholeheartedly recommend it to most users. Weebly does have certain drawbacks that make it a less appealing option in certain cases. Some of the most obvious cons include the limited selection of templates, slightly outdated user interface, and the lack of free emails, among other things. Despite that, however, we think most users will be satisfied with that Weebly has to offer. Besides, the builder can be used for free so you’re not risking anything by giving it a shot.