I currently recommend Weebly as the easiest platform to start with if you don't consider yourself particularly tech-savvy. Their tools, like their drag and drop editor, are intuitive and super friendly to beginners. Fortunately though, even though it's simple to use, it's still got plenty of power enough to set up a high quality site whether it's for Ecommerce, blogging or general information. It's also flexible enough to allow you to add HTML code to your web page (unlike rival website builder Wix) so if you have a designer on board you can customize your site more extensively.
When you first create an account with Weebly you are asked to choose form one of three types of sites — choose carefully because you can’t go back and change it later. The options are Site, Store, and Blog. The Site option is the only one that automatically creates a home page for you so, even if you want to create a store or a blog, I recommend choosing this option as the other two will take visitors directly to a storefront or blog. A store and/or blog can be added easily at a later stage to the Site, no matter which option you choose.
As I mentioned earlier, Weebly is a drag and drop style editor; page elements are in a left-hand sidebar and building the page is as easy as dragging those elements to where you want them on the page. I think it’s the easiest website builder to get to grips with and yet it’s pretty powerful. To give you an idea of speed, I managed to build a functional, complete website for a client in less than 3 hours using the standard building blocks that Weebly provides and stock images available directly inside Weebly’s builder interface.
Finally, Weebly has some 50 million active users which makes it one of the largest website builders on the market. Biggest doesn’t necessarily been best, but it gives you an idea of their popularity particularly with small businesses and individuals.
Weebly used to have hundreds of templates (or Themes as they are called) of varying quality available through their database but in response to customer feedback they have since heavily rationalised this list and distilled the remaining themes into a limited number of very high quality themes (currently around 50). This feels like it’s more aligned with Weebly’s overall mission which is to help businesses build their website rapidly without drowning them in hundreds of similar looking options.
Weebly Themes are categorised into Online Store, Business, Portfolio, Personal, Event and Blog categories. It’s also worth considering buying a Weebly theme created by an independent designer. Take a look at Mojo Marketplace (https://www.mojomarketplace.com), for example.
Overall, I can say that since they reduced the number of templates that quality beats out quantity. Far better to be able to choose from a small number of excellent templates instead of agonising over minute differences in a list of hundreds or thousands.
Weebly’s feature set is strong. They’ve got all the basics – like blog functionality, contact forms, etc, but also the necessary advanced features like URL redirects and page-level custom code placement. Even beyond the advanced necessities, Weebly even includes features like forums, membership options, integrated advertising options, file uploads, etc.
With their form builder offering, Weebly allows you to create custom forms for gathering information from your visitors or customers and to manage their submissions. Like the rest of the Weebly interface, the form builder uses drag and drop to make it easy to build custom contact forms, RSVP lists and surveys including file uploads. When a form entry is submitted by a visitor to your website, an email is sent to the address of your choice with the data. The data is also stored on your site's dashboard for easy review and you can also export this data to a spreadsheet for future analysis.
Weebly’s blog manager is reasonably sophisticated and alongside the ethos of the rest of the platform is very quick and easy to get set up. You pretty much just need to drag and drop a set of blog elements onto a new web page to get started. There’s a number of standard templates available for displaying content and these can be customized to a limited degree. We wouldn’t recommend using Weebly for a blog only website but for displaying blog content alongside your existing store offering for example it should suffice.
Weebly supports the major Ecommerce features— you can sell gift cards, add customer accounts, deal with abandoned shopping carts and set in-store pickup as a shipping option. Automated emails can be sent as receipts and the email content can be fully customized in Weebly’s excellent editor. This is often a tricky area as email clients such as Outlook and GMail are notoriously finicky when it comes to the formatting of emails but Weebly makes this incredibly easy - even easier than dedicated mail platforms such as Mailchimp.
Weebly lets you view some basic metrics like what pages your visitors are going to, how many hits you are getting, what people search for on your site or even what external sources are referring visitors to your site.
Weebly has the best membership features of any website builder that we have reviewed. It allows you to create private pages within your website that require your customers or visitors to register with you before they are able to access it. This is super handy for intranets (internal corporate networks) or for example a booking system or premium content that is only available for registered or paying members.
Weebly has a total of more than 270 apps here which are a mixture of free-to-use and paid. Here you can easily add and enable things such as eCommerce, marketing, forums, video or social media features. As you would expect, they require no coding knowledge, although some may require an understanding of basic concepts such as email marketing and similar. Where Apps aren’t present in the Weebly App Store, you can still add custom HTML to install third party scripts on your website using the ‘Embed Code’ widget.
Weebly's has 5 plans but you'll need to be on the Business plan or above (one of the top two tiers) to get access to their Ecommerce features so do bear that in mind before diving in.
Their prices are between 25% and 50% cheaper if you opt for an annual plan instead of a pay monthly plan; a good options is to start with a monthly plan then upgrade to an annual plan once you have established that you would like to stay with Weebly for a longer term.
The Business and Performance plans are geared for users who want to create a comprehensive online store and run advanced marketing campaigns. So if you have plans to build a business and sell products online, Weebly eCommerce (Business and Performance plans) are both good options.
One major issue that everyone else seems to miss: Weebly advertise a monthly rate for their prices but hide the fact that you're locked in for a 6-month term until you complete your sign-up. Not very upfront and borderline underhanded in my view!
Weebly is great for most small businesses and individuals and I recommend it for simple storefronts, personal websites, online photo galleries or event sites such as weddings.
However, if you’re looking for an Ecommerce site then we’d recommend checking out Shopify or Squarespace instead.
For blogging, the built in blogging capability is perfectly acceptable if you’re simply blogging alongside your online store; however if your website is a dedicated blog then you’re likely to find it too limiting and you would be better off looking at Squarespace or Wordpress.
Weebly’s features, versatility and value for money have earned it some excellent feedback from users, including small business owners and entrepreneurs. There are more sophisticated website builders out there, but Weebly is catching up by introducing advanced features and updated designs.
If you’re a newcomer to the world of website building then Weebly is an excellent place to start - no other website builder will allow you to get your website up and running so quickly and with the minimum amount of fuss. Most importantly, have a think about whether you value structure or total freedom in your editor.
It’s worth mentioning that since Weebly was acquired by Square in April 2018 the frequency of their updates has slowed somewhat and it's started to fall behind it's competitors a little; whether this is temporary or the future of this builder we're not sure at this stage.