This is the ultimate Weebly review online.
I created it from real-world experience of their platform and operational insights about their business. This means it’s informed and logical with proper guidance on what to do that you can rely on.
In other words, this review explains what Weebly offers you.
So, if you want to:
- Know whether you should use Weebly;
- Learn which types of website should NOT be built with Weebly;
- Understand all about Weebly’s user experience;
- And, read an in-depth analysis of its features including pricing;
Then, you’ll love the detailed information in this post. Better still, it starts with the headlines then goes through how I reached these conclusions.
Let’s get to it.
Weebly Review 2020
- Review Insights – Reading Between Weebly’s Lines
- Weebly Website Examples
- In-Depth Weebly Analysis
- Technical FAQs
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If you take one thing from this Weebly review, please let it be this: build your website with Weebly only if you fit the criteria detailed below.
If you ignore my advice, you’re likely to have a bad experience. This has nothing to do with the pros and cons of the Weebly editor or the overall website building experience.
It is because their platform has not been designed for serious traffic volumes or more complex and enlarged websites.
Weebly is brilliant for any do-it-yourself website designer with smaller-scale online store requirements that are not going to change dramatically in the foreseeable future.
Provided traffic volumes are not particularly high (i.e. tens of thousands per month) and you don’t try to make a Weebly template something it wasn’t intended to be, you should get on just fine.
You should definitely try Weebly for free if you:
- Want to launch a small-scale online shop;
- Are willing to fit your content to a template by and large;
- Know your website requirements won’t change much in the future;
- Expect low to medium traffic volumes (low 1000s of visitors per month)
If you don’t plan on using Weebly for an online store, I’d check out Wix for near-identical reasons; but please read the recommendations fully to be sure.
Do NOT go with 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.
2. Review Insights – Reading Between Weebly’s Lines
Like all site 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.
What’s more, their themes are professionally designed and even look good on mobile. And the best bit… Weebly costs less than a few coffees per month, making their product utterly compelling and faultless.
If you’re not entirely convinced but not sure why well done.
I can tell you, as a web professional, Weebly can not handle any website requirement that is thrown at it. Not at all.
However, 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 generate thousands of visitors per month (let alone tens of thousands). And, anyone that does is an anomaly – a rare exception.
They know this obviously. For every one of these more demanding customers, there are dozens and dozens of others that fit their desired mould: easy to use, simple websites with low-level traffic regardless of functionality (blog, shop or whatever).
Sure, they’ll 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.
At the end of the day though, Weebly knows the vast majority of amateur web designers are not going to generate anything like the traffic that professionals do so their operation is set up as such.
The Weebly site builder 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.
They haven’t done it because most of their customers will never need it.
In summary, Weebly is:
- The simplest website builder to pick-up and use effectively;
- The best website builder for a small-scale online store;
- Ultimately geared towards customer sites with lower traffic volumes
- Focused on simple, uncomplicated website needs.
Along came Square Inc.
In 2018, Square acquired Weebly for $365 million. Now, if I’d paid that for something I’d have a plan!
As this review details later on, Weebly’s eCommerce is the most well rounded and best out of all the website builders. So that’s why they were acquired, right?
Well, if Square has a plan for Weebly it certainly hasn’t brought 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?
All the acquisition has done for Weebly is raise unnecessary doubt.
That said, I can not imagine that Square would pay all that money for a recurring revenue stream (i.e. all those non-eCommerce customers) then neglect it. But a hunch is not enough.
Doubt is doubt and for this reason, only, I wouldn’t risk using Weebly for anything other than an online store.
For anything else, there is a better option. Wix is the very best website builder out there for simple, non-eCommerce, website needs.
3. Weebly eCommerce Website Examples
4. In-Depth Weebly Analysis
This section is for those who want a deeper understanding of using Weebly and the findings that underpin my recommendations above.
It’s the most thorough Weebly review and analysis there is at over 3,500 words and that’s not counting the final FAQ section.
Get comfy, grab a coffee and settle in.
a. Testing the Features
What about ease of use?
The Weebly drag and drop website builder is extremely easy to use for static sites and as a store builder.
It is, without doubt, the simplest offering out of all the website builders because it’s based on the grid system in web development. This means all elements are collected within an invisible structure connected by horizontal and vertical axes.
The Weebly editor prevents an element ‘interfering’ with another which makes for a more user-friendly site-building experience. This is especially important for beginners who could easily be overwhelmed.
The result is so easy to use and so logical on the 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 also very straight forward 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.
In fact, using the Weebly editor feels 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 themes good enough?
Much like Weebly’s ease of use, the templates are very impressive and well worth checking out.
Note, however, only 50 are usable. Many 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 drag and drop 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 I found in my Weebly 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 make use of Weebly for free for any length of time.
Virtually everyone (unless they’re a returning customer) will try before they buy and this is exactly what the Weebly free plan is for. Basically, you can review Weebly yourself with zero risk.
What else is included with a Weebly plan?
In addition to their awesome drag and drop editor, every proper premium plan (I discount the ‘Connect’ plan because ads still show in the footer) comes with a domain name for 1 year.
Like most site builders nowadays, all Weebly websites are SSL certified (which keeps data between browser and server private) regardless of the plan you choose which makes them more secure and is liked by Google.
The free and Connect plan has a 500MB storage limit applied which should be ample for most people (I’ve built blogs that were less than this).
This contrasts with both the Pro & Performance plans which have no storage limits whatsoever. Moreover, Weebly hosting provides unlimited bandwidth across all plans which come into play if your website gets more traffic down the line.
The only negative I found here 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.
Of course, the contact form widget is easy to use. This enables you to create 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 Weebly’s App Center (ensure any third-party app 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).
Title tags, meta descriptions and image alt text can all be tailored as expected with all blog posts 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 shouldn’t tank a page’s search engine result in itself, heading tags help Google understand a page’s intent and are part of the overall ranking picture. Why cater to advanced Search Engine Optimisation (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, their blog offering feels superficial.
Weebly for low-level blogging?
No, not at all. A lightweight 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 store?
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 features only consist of the usual shopping cart and being able to accept payments through 3rd party providers.
It’s easy 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. Also, Weebly offers video descriptions for your products if you like and you can do search engine optimization on them too.
But at this Weebly price point, you don’t have full 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. It’s necessary though if you want inventory management, detailed e-Commerce statistics and item reviews amongst other things.
The jewel in the crown of the Business plan is 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 store the most well-rounded package I’ve come across.
That said, I would only ever turn to it for small-scale selling (think ’00s of products not ‘000s) with simplistic functionality despite the upgrades on offer in the App Center. A Weebly online store is one of the best small-scale options around; for larger endeavours, there are better options.
WooCommerce (WordPress) and Shopify offer much more sophisticated eCommerce features for heavier product catalogues and the creation of an app store. They also allow for more powerful integrations with social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
Can I add extra functionality when building a Weebly website?
In addition to the Weebly editor, which has both image gallery and video player widgets included from the Pro plan upwards, there is the Weebly s App Center. This is their ‘app store’ where you can power up your website with additional features and functionality.
There are countless highly rated free or paid-for apps on there: from membership subscriptions to printed merchandise drop shipping, not to mention social media sharing and advanced contact forms.
My Weebly review found the App Centre good enough overall; it’s just not as well-stocked as some of the competition.
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?
If you know how to customise your pages for SEO, and if not, are willing to look things up in their helpful (albeit vanilla) guides then Google gets on okay with Weebly.
As mentioned in my comments on blogging, 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’re 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 (for when the URL of a page has been changed) which passes 90-99% of the link equity (it’s ranking power in Google search) to the redirected page. 301 redirects maintain page rank and are very important.
On the downside, heading tags are limited as previously mentioned. So, on the one hand, Weebly gives you access to the source code for professional-level customisations (rich snippets for example) 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 customer support does Weebly offer?
Like most website builders, Weebly provides a substantial knowledge base through helpful guides and tutorials. They’re easy to use due to being well-constructed and detailed.
For less common problems there are other forms of customer support available.
Weebly customer service can be reached by email (support tickets), phone support 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’ and don’t bother with live chat.
There is always the Weebly forum as well which is reasonably active and welcoming, not to mention full of users’ stories, tips, and fixes.
Of course, using the forum to solve a problem will probably take a little more back and forth than a customer 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 review recommendations 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.
b. Weebly Pros and Cons:
- Ease of use – the Weebly editor is the simplest and most intuitive to use bar none
- Professional 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 its 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
c. Market Sentiment
Type ‘Weebly review’ into Google and you’ll find plenty of feedback. Some of it will be five stars and some of it will be dreadful.
Personally, I don’t find this particularly helpful because the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ of these good and bad experiences are not available.
Assessing Weebly strategically, however, is much more insightful.
Any company that is purchased for $365 million after ten years in business must have done something right. Out of the 625,000 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.
The release of new features and functionality has slowed considerably in the last year. It looks like the focus has shifted but product delivery hasn’t and there is no indication when this might change, if ever.
Logo Changed to Include ‘eCommerce by Square’
Does Square want Weebly to compete with the likes of Shopify and WordPress for online shops? Are they ditching other types of websites?
What improvements to the eCommerce features do they have in mind? Are they in the midst of a development roadmap that is kicking up a few delays?
Business change of any kind usually does in my experience. The problem is we don’t have answers to any of these questions.
So, whilst the overarching sentiment is pretty good, there is more of a blur in Weebly’s strategic direction. This (should) raise a little doubt and presents some unavoidable risk for anyone not wanting an eCommerce website.
d. 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 builders:
- 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 interface. There are around 50 Weebly 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, the Weebly editor has in-built access to the underlying code. This enables much deeper and more extensive customisations if you have the know-how. In fact, it’s the best embedded code access I’ve come across amongst the website builders, even if most people using the Weebly editor won’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 online shops.
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.
This stacks up at a basic level, given most people who run a small business are typically short on time.
So, how much does Weebly cost?
Well, the good news is anyone can use Weebly for free indefinitely. 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 with the ‘Connect’ plan but the advert remains.
Whilst Weebly’s offering is slightly better than the main competitors (whose 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. This is also why you’ll never see Weebly offers available.
This means you can conduct your own Weebly review without any financial commitment. The idea is to design your site fully to make sure Weebly works for your needs, then upgrade to a paid plan when you’re ready.
You can even set up an online shop and sell products on the free plan with Weebly, something the competition does not offer. It’s risk-free which is a big deal for any shop owner where low-risk and cash(flow) is key.
Out of the free and paid plans, the ‘Pro’ at £9 per month is, theoretically, the best on offer because it’s advert free, connects to your domain and comes with extra features (image gallery and video player for example). You also get a domain for a year and unlimited storage and bandwidth.
But, if you’re looking to start an online shop it has to be the ‘Business’ plan because of all the associated eCommerce functionality.
NOTE – one of the advanced features Weebly don’t include is ‘abandoned cart emails’; you’ll need the ‘Business Plus’ plan at £28 per month for this.
5. Technical FAQs
Can I use my own domain when using 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 paid plans include a free domain name for the first year (provided it is available obviously).
Do I need web hosting for Weebly?
No, Weebly is a hosted site builder meaning they provide everything needed for a complete site: the Weebly editor, storage and a domain name (included in their premium plans).
Who owns the content on a Weebly site?
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 site 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.
Hopefully, my Weebly 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 Weebly (or 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, you have one thing to do… take advantage of the free plan and review Weebly yourself!