In this Weebly review, I’m going to ascertain a real sense of what it offers, how easy it is to use, and whether you should (or should not) go with it.
To do this properly, I’m going to explain the facts & test the features, then assess Weebly at a higher level for further insight. This way my recommendations are informed, logical and hopefully make sense.
Like all my reviews, there is no angle, no bias and no ‘bs’.
Just over six years ago I set up my first business and fell upon Weebly to set up a website for my startup. Back then, I’d also just started investing more time into studying web development so I needed a quick and easy solution that was good enough.
Unfortunately, frustration is the only real memory of my experience building a website with Weebly. There were no predesigned templates on offer (that I recall anyway) and the editor was frustrating to use, taking multiple attempts to put elements in place. In the end, I went with another well-known website builder, Wix, until I’d learned to code a basic website myself using HTML and CSS.
Today, things are different. Unlike the other two top website builders who invest unearthly amounts of money in global advertising campaigns (ahem… Wix and Squarespace), Weebly has always been quietly confident, focusing more on their product rather than their brand, which is refreshing.
This has seen countless improvements on their platform year in, year out, all focussed on developing the all important simplicity that is key to any website builder.
They must have got something right. In April 2018, with over 625,000 paying subscribers and powering over 40 million websites, Weebly was acquired by Square Inc. for $365 million. As of this year, Weebly is offered in 15 different languages.
So, Weebly got better it seems.
But, what does that really mean for you? Is Weebly capable of handling any website need that is thrown at it? If not, where is the line, and most importantly, which side of it do you fall on?
Table of Contents
- Introduction To Weebly
- Weebly Market Sentiment
- Testing Weebly – Features Review
- Review Insights – Reading Between Weebly’s Lines
- Review Recommendations For Weebly
- Final Thought
- Weebly Website Examples
- Technical FAQs
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1. Introduction To Weebly
What is a website builder?
No review of Weebly would be complete without explaining the basics.
A website builder is an online platform that enables anyone with basic computing skills to create a website. It requires no coding knowledge or technical ability whatsoever and typically has premade designs to choose from.
There are two types of website builder:
- Template-based platform (most common)
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) design engine
Most website builders let you pick from a library of pre-designed templates and then add your copy, as well as customize the design layout using a drag-and-drop editor (i.e. a mouse). In addition to populating the template with all your own content, the best website builders also allow you to add other useful features and functionality (e.g. social media links, blog and so on).
AI website builders on the other hand work differently and are a much more modern development. They ask a series of questions (type of website, design preferences like whether you need a contact form and so on ) to formulate a brief and then create a website for you according to said requirements. It’s possible to tweak the design a little, but is aimed more at those needing a simple website up and running as fast as possible.
What is Weebly?
Weebly is a template-based website builder that uses their highly intuitive ‘What You See Is What You Get’ (WYSIWYG) drag and drop editor. They offer around 40-50 themes (i.e. templates) that automatically produce a mobile-friendly version of a website on creation (something, not all website builders do). Mobile response is very important nowadays because so much web browsing is done on smartphones.
For those capable of writing some HTML and or CSS, Weebly has an in-built code editor which enables much deeper and more extensive customisations if you have the know-how. In fact, it is the best embedded code editor I’ve come across in the top website builders, even if most people using Weebly probably don’t go near it.
As it stands, there is no AI option available on Weebly.
Who are Weebly sites designed for?
Officially, Weebly says it is for anyone who wants to make their own website without any coding skill or knowledge (i.e. like any other website builder). Unofficially, Weebly reviews over the years have resulted in them having a reputation as being brilliant for small businesses and entrepreneurs.
On the face of it, Weebly does lend itself towards those who need something up and running as soon as possible because it’s definitely the easiest website builder to pick up and start using effectively (more on this later). This stacks up at a basic level, given most people who run a startup or small business are typically short on time. Whatsmore Weebly’s template library is much smaller than their competition, meaning time-to-choose will be on average quicker. Couple this with the most intuitive editor and it can make for an efficient website building experience.
There is one very important point here though. Do not try to adapt a template into something it clearly wasn’t meant for and be willing to adapt your content to fit where possible. In other words, keep things simple.
Aside from startups and small businesses, Weebly also works for individuals who might want an online photo gallery, resume (CV) or project page for a hobby as templates also exist for these too.
So, how much does Weebly cost?
Well, the good news is anyone can use Weebly for free for as long as they want but this plan does not allow you to use your own domain and there is an advert in the footer (bottom section of a page). You can connect your domain there will still be an advert in the footer with the ‘Connect’ plan.
Whilst this is slightly better than the main competitors (who’s adverts are more imposing), it is still not ideal obviously. Much like all the other website builders who offer a free plan it doesn’t matter though.
The whole point of a free plan is to try before you buy. It allows you to review Weebly yourself without any financial commitment. The idea is to design your site fully to make sure Weebly works for your needs, then upgrade when you’re ready. You can even set up an online shop and sell products on the free plan with Weebly, something the competition doesn’t offer. It’s risk-free which is a big deal for any do-it-yourself website designer where low-risk and cash(flow) is key.
The ‘Pro’ plan at £9 per month (which is a tad more expensive than Wix yet cheaper than Squarespace) is probably the best on offer here because it’s advert free, connects to your domain and comes with extra features (image gallery and video player for example). Whatsmore you get a free domain for a year, which is convenient if you haven’t already bought one elsewhere as well as unlimited storage and bandwidth.
2. Weebly Market Sentiment
Type ‘Weebly reviews’ into Google and you’ll find plenty of feedback. Some of it will be five stars and some of it will be dreadful. I don’t find this particularly helpful though because there is never enough insight into the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ of these good and bad experiences (more on this later).
Instead I’d rather look at Weebly from a high level.
Any company that has existed for over a decade and is then purchased for just over a third of a billion dollars has to have done something right. Out of the hundreds of thousands of customers one has to assume that many of them were happy, otherwise there wouldn’t have been so many subscribers when acquired.
Public relations and ‘news’ has been all but non-existent since the acquisition though, except for one obvious alteration. Their logo now directly refers to ‘eCommerce by Square’, which appears to be a direct message-to-market that online selling is very high on the agenda for this website builder.
Ok, fine. But, the release of new features and functionality has slowed considerably in the last year or so. It looks like the focus has shifted but product delivery hasn’t and there is no indication when or if this shift in the platform will happen.
Is it just a change in the logo and nothing more? Or does Square want Weebly to compete with the likes of Shopify and WordPress for online shops and ditch other types of websites? Could it be they want to improve the eCommerce features of the existing editor, and are simply in the midst of a development roadmap which is kicking up dust and a few delays? Business change of any kind usually does in my experience.
The problem is we don’t know!
So, whilst overall sentiment seems pretty good (still), there is more of a blur in Weebly’s strategic direction now especially compared to their biggest competitor, Wix. This engenders doubt and a little bit of undeniable risk for anyone not wanting an eCommerce website.
3. Testing Weebly – Features Review
How easy is Weebly to use?
The Weebly editor is without doubt the easiest to use amongst the website builders. It is based on the grid system in web development, meaning all elements are collected within an invisible structure connected by horizontal and vertical axes. The result is stunningly easy to use and so logical on screen that anyone can pick it up in no time. Simply drag and drop an element onto your web page, which will snap into place, then click on it to customise accordingly.
Adding your copy is just as easy as is setting up navigation links and sub menus if you require them. Like any top builder nowadays there are lots of well made Weebly tutorials and guides to help if you do hit a few design hurdles on the way.
There is no way an element can ‘interfere’ with another which makes for a more efficient design experience in my opinion, especially for beginners who could easily be overwhelmed. In fact, I find the Weebly editor most similar to the best WordPress page builder, Elementor. Its User Interface (UI) is as good as it gets for a website builder because of the underlying grid system dictating its logic.
The result… The Weebly editor is perfectly aligned with the average do-it-yourself website customer, enabling real results as quick and as easy as possible.
Are Weebly templates good enough?
Yes, they are but there are only approximately 50 of them. This is because a lot of them are not mobile responsive due to being older and must be avoided. By contrast, Wix has hundreds of mobile-responsive templates in their library so you’re more likely to find a near-perfect template with them if aesthetics are crucially important.
To be honest, though, picking a Weebly theme as a base then using the brilliant editor to easily adapt it is totally viable. They’re all polished designs with very high-quality imagery and you can add video backgrounds. All themes look good on any screen size although it’s not possible to design the mobile version of your web page specifically (Weebly generates it for you).
The biggest win for Weebly that I found in this review is the fact it’s possible to change the theme after adding content to your web page. This allows you to consider different styles and temperaments really easily and is a stand out feature, especially for those business customers who are working on their brand creation.
Is Weebly free, really?
Yes, it is.
You can use the free Weebly plan forever if you choose. But, you can’t use your own domain and there will be a Weebly advert in the footer of your site which is impossible to miss despite being at the bottom of the page.
For this reason, few people use Weebly for free for any length of time. However, virtually everyone (unless they’re a returning customer) will try before they buy and this is exactly what the Weebly free plan is for. Ultimately, you can review Weebly yourself with zero risk.
What else is included with a Weebly plan?
In addition to the brilliant Weebly editor, every proper premium plan (I discount the ‘Connect’ plan because ads still show in the footer) comes with a free domain name for 1 year.
All Weebly websites are SSL certified (which keeps data between browser and server private = is Weebly safe? Yes) regardless of the plan you choose which makes them more secure and is liked by Google).
The free and Connect plan have a 500MB storage limit applied which should be ample for most people (I’ve built blogs with 100+ pages that were less than this). This contrasts to both the Pro & Performance plans which have no storage limits whatsoever. Weebly is kind with bandwidth which is unlimited across all plans, and comes into play if your website begins getting more traffic down the line.
The only negative I found in this part of my review of Weebly relates to backups. Whilst, It’s possible to download a zip file of your website manually there is no obvious restore option. I’ve not had a site break but I think the idea is you go to Weebly support who would then restore it for you (most likely with their own copy of the data). Either way, it’s not exactly a customer friendly backup solution and needs updating.
What about adding a contact form?
Almost all the websites I’ve ever made for startups or small businesses wanted a contact form so that prospects and customers can get in touch quickly and easily. Thankfully, Weebly recognises this is an important requirement too.
It’s easy to create decent contact forms on detailed contact pages with a google map as well if you choose. If that’s not enough, there are also more sophisticated contact form options in the Weebly App Center (ensure anyone you go with has 4 stars or higher).
What about blogging with Weebly?
A Weebly blog has most of the basic features in place as well as being able to schedule posts and allow comments via Facebook or Disqus (good for anyone wishing to increase engagement with their customers).
A blog on Weebly comes with the essentials. Title tags, meta descriptions and image alt text can all be tailored as expected on any blog being used for content marketing. If you’re tech savvy rich snippets (which allow Google to understand the intent of the information on a web page better, and thus stand out in search results) can be added via the source code which is a nice touch… kind of.
Actually, it baffles me because they’ve limited the heading tags to H1-H2 for some unknown reason. Whilst this is never going to tank a page’s SEO in itself (tags H5 and H6 are rarely used to be honest), heading tags help Google organise and quickly link to a page’s information and are part of the overall ranking picture. Why cater to advanced SEO but omit something so basic?
Also, post URLs have ‘blog’ in them which cannot be removed. With Google preferring shorter URLs and the fact it’s not possible to have multiple authors, alongside the absence of H3-H6 heading tags, it all begins to feel a bit superficial..
Website builders can be a genuine option for beginners and low-volume blogging. So, Weebly for blogging?
No, unfortunately not. A light-weight blog with Weebly could be a perfectly good option if they sorted out these silly shortcomings. But, they haven’t so it isn’t.
Is Weebly any good for an online shop?
The ability to sell physical and/ or digital products online begins from the Pro plan which is £9 per month(approx. $11 pm). At this level, the Weebly eCommerce functionality only consists of the usual shopping cart and being able to accept payments through 3rd party providers.
It’s simple to use for your customers and blends in seamlessly with the design and styles on offer, meaning the all-important user experience is clean and positive. It’s possible to spruce up product descriptions with video if you like and do Weebly SEO on them too, but at this ‘Weebly price’ point you don’t have ‘shop’ type features and functionality.
This is where the ‘Business’ plan comes in at £18 per month (approx. $22 pm) which is obviously twice the price, but necessary if you want standard shop features like inventory management, detailed eCommerce statistics and item reviews amongst other things.
But, the jewels in the crown on the Business plan are the automated shipping (with integrated shipping labelling) and tax calculators. These are not offered elsewhere that I know of, and are especially handy for selling physical goods when delivery costs can play a significant part in profit and loss.
Adding all this up makes a Weebly online shop the most well-rounded package I’ve come across compared to the other website builders I’ve investigated and reviewed. That said, I would only ever turn to it for small-scale selling (think 20-30 products, not hundreds). WooCommerce (WordPress) and Shopify offer more sophisticated and powerful design options for heavier product catalogues and have many associated and powerful features to match (like integration with Facebook and Instagram, for example, which is so important for marketing online stores nowadays). If you are ever going to need to sell more than a couple of dozen products, opt for one of these instead.
Can I add extra functionality when building a Weebly website?
In addition to the editor, which has image gallery and video player widgets included from the Pro plan upwards, there is the Weebly App Center where you can power up your website with additional features and functionality if you choose.
There are countless highly rated free or paid-for apps on there, from membership subscriptions to printed merchandise drop shipping, not to mention the usuals like social media sharing and advanced contact forms.
Some apps have average or lower star ratings so definitely check carefully and read customer reviews to get more insight on any that you’re considering. Whilst some of the apps are developed and supported by Weebly, most of them are not (i.e. created and maintained by 3rd party developers). Use an app with a good review rating from customers and always check out the developer (if not Weebly), just to make sure they’re credible and unlikely to disappear anytime soon.
Does Google like Weebly websites?
Yes, providing you know how to customise your pages for SEO, and if not, are willing to look things up in their helpful (albeit vanilla) guides.
As mentioned in my comments on blogging with Weebly, title tags and meta descriptions can be edited fully as can alt text on images (Google cannot search and rank images, but it can if you attach text to them). Weebly ‘Insights’ is their own traffic analysis tool (available on the higher plans), but if you are used to using Google analytics this can be set up easily enough instead.
So, the standard stuff is in place but there are some wins beyond the basics too. Weebly handles image compression (i.e. reducing image file size) and 301 redirects really well, something I’d only expect when reviewing WordPress (i.e. plugin options). A ‘301 redirect’ is a permanent redirection (i.e. when the URL of a page has been changed) which passes 90-99% of the link equity (i.e. it’s ranking power in Google search) to the redirected page. In other words, 301 redirects maintain page rank and are best practice.
On the downside, heading tags are limited to H2 as previously mentioned when critiquing the blog offering. So on the one hand, Weebly gives you access to the source code where rich snippets and other deeper (more professional level) customisations are possible, yet limits something as basic as HTML tagging. Make sense this does not.
What are the storage and bandwidth limitations with websites by Weebly?
Only the free plan has a storage limit of 500 MB and this is actually ample for small to medium sized websites on Weebly. If it isn’t enough storage, then you can just upgrade to any paying plan where there are no limits whatsoever (individual file sizes are limited though so check that against your media files before subscribing).
Better than that, there are no limits on bandwidth whatsoever which means one less thing to consider when choosing between subscription plans. Also, it implies a more robust hosting set up than their competitors.
What support does Weebly offer?
Weebly’s guides are helpful due to being well constructed and detailed, making light work of teaching yourself how to overcome the common challenges. However, if you do get stuck there are other forms of support and Weebly have invested in this in recent times apparently.
Weebly customer service can be reached by email (support tickets), phone or live chat. Support tickets operate 24/7 and have proven to be the most efficient method of getting help, with phone support being the most ‘time frustrating’.
There is always the Weebly forum as well which is reasonably active and welcoming, not to mention full of user’s stories, tips, and fixes. Of course, using the forum to solve a problem will probably take a little more back and forth than say a support ticket. Conversely, this kind of positive engagement with other users will be beneficial to anyone who works alone a lot of the time.
If you follow my advice (and review recommendations which are coming up) and don’t try to make a Weebly template something it is not intended for, you’ll find their support good enough because you’ll seldom need it. Go into this with the attitude you’ll look up your own solutions if need be, and definitely join the forum.
Any issues you do come up against will be common and things Weebly can prescribe well-trodden fixes for.
Pros and Cons:
- Ease-of-use – Weebly’s editor is the simplest and most intuitive to use bar none
- Professional editor – grid system logic prevents putting elements anywhere
- Full mobile response – you can pick themes that look great on all screen sizes
- App Center – extra functionality on tap with just one-click
- Small online shops – solid eCommerce capability for a few dozen products
- Source code access – handy for anyone with HTML and CSS knowledge
Not so good:
- Grid based editor – some might not like the editors logical rigidity
- Template choice – far less to choose from compared to the competition
- SEO blooper – absence of H3-H6 heading tags is not best practice and illogical
4. Review Insights – Reading Between Weebly’s Lines
Like all website builders, Weebly would have us believe that their wonderful platform can cater for any need out there. From simple polished websites, to brilliant Weebly blogs or boutique online shops, they have the answer. Every template worth considering is professionally designed and even looks good on mobile. And the best bit, Weebly costs less than a few coffees per month which makes their product very compelling.
If you’re not entirely convinced but not sure why, well done.
I can tell you, as a web professional, Weebly cannot handle any website requirement. But, they can handle a very large proportion of do-it-yourself customer requirements because of the simplistic nature of their needs. Even the most ambitious amateur web designers will probably not manage to generate thousands of visitors per month (let alone tens of thousands). And, anyone that does is an exception.
Weebly know this obviously. For every one of these more demanding customers there are dozens of others that fit their less demanding mould – simple websites that have lower level visitor numbers per month regardless of functionality (blog, shop or whatever).
They do try to cater for the more ambitious with advanced tools and the App Center because it makes commercial sense. There is secondary revenue to reap there. But, at the end of the day, Weebly knows a very high proportion of amateur web designers are not going to generate anything like the traffic that professionals do, and their operation is set up as such.
Moreover, Weebly powers around 40 million websites and has continually invested in the development of its platform since it was founded. They could easily turn their attention to offering commercial-grade web hosting (i.e. being able to handle much higher traffic volumes) if they chose to. Weebly hasn’t done so to date because the vast majority of their customers will never need it.
In 2018, Square came along. Now if I’d paid $365 million for something I’d have a plan! Weebly’s eCommerce is the most well rounded and best out of all the website builders, so that must be why they were acquired, right?
Well, if Square has a plan for Weebly it certainly hasn’t communicated it to market. Aside from the logo now referring directly to Weebly being ‘eCommerce by Square’ there has been very little in the way of news. In fact, development on the platform has slowed almost to a standstill which is so different to what Weebly was like pre 2018.
Does Square intend for Weebly to compete with Shopify and WooCommerce? Will the lack of development in the non-eCommerce side of their platform continue? Are they abandoning any non-eCommerce development altogether?
So far, all the acquisition has done for Weebly is raise unnecessary doubt. I find it impossible to imagine that Square would pay all that money for a recurring revenue stream (i.e. all those non-eCommerce customers) then crap all over it. But, until we know more, I wouldn’t risk using them for anything except online shops.
To summarise, Weebly is:
- The simplest website builder to pick-up and use effectively;
- The best website builder for small-scale online shops;
- Ultimately geared towards customer sites with lower traffic volumes;
- Currently not developing its non-eCommerce product offering;
- Owned by Square Inc., an eCommerce corporation (similar to PayPal)
5. Review Recommendations For Weebly
There is nothing wrong with Weebly as a whole. In fact, they’re probably more secure as a business now than ever before. This review of Weebly has also highlighted to me just how good the editor is and why I think of them as the simplest of the website builders to use.
But, doubt is doubt. Why would anyone risk getting a non-eCommerce product with them without knowing what Square’s plan is? Especially, when there is another website builder worth considering.
If you’re not looking for an online shop, I’d check out Wix, which is the only other website builder I recommend (for near-identical reasons, but please read the critique fully all the same!).
Weebly is brilliant for any do-it-yourself website designer with smaller scale online shop requirements that are not going to change dramatically in the foreseeable future. Provided traffic volumes are not massively high (i.e. thousands per month) and you don’t try to make a template something it wasn’t intended to be, you should get on just fine.
Do NOT use Weebly if you:
- Require any website type other than eCommerce;
- Intend on driving high traffic volumes to your site;
- Are unsure what your website requirements will be within the next couple of years.
You should try Weebly if you:
- Want to launch a small-scale online shop (a few dozen products max);
- Are willing to fit your content to a template by and large;
- Know your website requirements won’t change dramatically in the foreseeable future;
- Will have low to medium traffic volumes (averaging hundreds per month with spikes over a thousand)
6. Final Thought
Hopefully, this review has made at least one thing clear: build a website with Weebly only if you fit the criteria above. If you ignore my advice it’s likely you’ll not have a good experience with any website builder because they are not designed for serious traffic volumes or more complex/ enlarged websites.
If you don’t need to sell products online (i.e. Weebly is not for you), then Wix could very well be the answer. But, please read my Critical Review of Wix fully because that’s also not for every website need.
If you’re still not sure about Weebly, there is only one thing to do: take advantage of the free plan and review it yourself!
7. Weebly Website Examples (templates)
8. (Slightly more) Technical FAQs
Can I use my own domain with Weebly?
Yes, you can with a premium plan. If you have already registered a domain name elsewhere, there is guidance on how to transfer or point it to Weebly. If you know what domain name you want (but have not purchased it as yet), Weebly’s premium plans include a free domain name for the first year (provided it is available obviously).
Do I need web hosting to use Wix?
No, Weebly is a hosted website builder meaning they provide everything needed for a complete website: the editor, the web space and a domain name (included in their premium plans).
Who owns the content on a Weebly website?
You do. As long as you keep your account active Weebly will host your content. If you do cancel, they cannot host it anymore.
The same applies if you purchase a domain name through them. They will never own it and you are free to transfer it to another domain registrar.
What is the uptime of Weebly’s website servers?
When a website ‘goes down’ it means it is not possible for a web browser to access the website data. In short, it’s bad! Nowadays, web hosting technology is so advanced that there are multiple layers of safety within the server environments so that websites basically very (very) rarely go down. And, if they do, they’re back up and running within minutes.
Like most companies hosting thousands (or millions) of websites, Weebly’s uptime is decent, standing at 99.97%.
What is the server response time of Weebly web sites?
This measures the number of milliseconds it takes to get a response from a Weebly web server. Google likes response times around 200ms, although this is quite demanding and optimistic for do-it-yourself website owners to be honest. I’ve always thought anything between 200-500ms is not only good enough, but more importantly unnoticeable to any website user.
Weebly’s response times are on average just over 500ms, which is good enough. It’s not phenomenal by any means, but for relatively simplistic websites with low-average traffic volumes, I think it’s fine especially at these prices.
Is it possible to migrate a Weebly website somewhere else, say to a WordPress hosting provider?
Yes, technically speaking it is. All the HTML files for all the pages of your website can be exported from Weebly. These can be imported to WordPress (using plugins or FTP software) or any other appropriate web server as desired. Please note – this is not beginner friendly and will require technical knowledge and experience.
It is worth noting that migrating away from any website builder is not beginner friendly. For example, Wix is said to be so difficult, and problematic, that it is often widely (and technically incorrectly) said to be impossible. The bottom line is, do not go with any website builder if you know you’re going to need to migrate away in the future.
Where is Weebly based?
Weebly was founded by David Rusenko, Chris Fanini and Dan Veltri, and is headquartered in San Francisco, California. All customer websites on Weebly are hosted on servers in the USA.
In 2018, Weebly was acquired by Square Inc., a mobile payment processor.