Last updated: December 26, 2018
Weebly Site Builder Review: No Coding Skills, No Problem!
Will Weebly Make Building Your Website Easier?
There are many thousands of web hosting companies. Finding the right one for you can be overwhelming. And then there’s the question of whether you should build your own website, use a CMS, or maybe a website builder.
Weebly makes your life easier by providing a powerful website builder along with hosting. But if it right for you? That’s what I’m going to help you to figure out.
When Is Weebly Hosting Right for You?
Regardless who you are, the time will probably come when someone forces you to create a website.
The Plight of the Expert
Even if you’re an experienced internet smartypants, sometimes you need to create a site in a jiffy with no hassles.
So much to think about! Design elements, adding plugins, setting up analytics, marketing. OMG it’s just overwhelming!
The Terror of the Newbie
And if you’re new to building websites (yes, it’s true, there are actually some people out there who have never created a site), it’s as intimidating as h*ck trying to decide how to even get started.
Then there are times when you don’t really need to create a full-blown website, right? A wedding website is a good example. Or a travel blog.
Maybe in the aughts, at the turn of the 21st century, these things required a lot of grunty expertise. But today? Shouldn’t creating a website be easier and cheaper? In fact, you need to save that money so you can spend it on your wedding and travel plans.
Weebly Reviews by Our Community
Overall Rating from 31 Reviews by Weebly Customers
Most Helpful Reviews
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May 08, 2018
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Jan 10, 2018
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Feb 22, 2017
Len Dames olemic.com
Sep 01, 2017
Jacob Roberts jroberts.net
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Grimm McPherson brothersgrimm.com
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Debbie Daniel caninearthritisandjoint.com
Dec 02, 2016
silvio Guerrinha silvioguerrinha.com
Dec 11, 2014
Makan Dey boxc.ca
Aug 09, 2014
Why Site Builders Are the New Black
These dilemmas get to the heart of why website builders exist. The web shouldn’t be hard. Your grandma should be able to put up a website for her vaping club if she wants, without needing a degree in thermonuclear physics beforehand.
And you! Yes, you. You don’t have time to create a website from scratch for every great side hustle idea you have. Nobody does, right? Nope. You wanna get that bad boy up and generating some revenue, getting busy bailing you out of the corporate cattle pen.
Weebly’s homepage via WhoIsHostingThis.
Why Is Weebly One of the Most Popular Site Builders?
Even the most rudimentary of searches for a site builder will likely bring up Weeblyas one of the options. There’s a good reason for that. Weebly has a great mix of features for both beginners and those with more experience.
With Weebly, you get:
|Speed||You can get a website up and running in about 15 minutes.|
|Responsive Design||Your site design will look slick and professional on any device.|
|Plugins & Apps||You can add all the bells and whistles most people will ever need.|
|Marketing||You get tools to help promote your site.|
|E-commerce||You can create an online store easily.|
14 Smart Ways to Use Weebly
I’m going to get into the details on what works well on Weebly, as well as what Weebly falls down on, but let’s start with an idea of what you can accomplish with this site builder.
Take a look to see if one of these projects sounds like you.
- Wedding website with guestbook, maps, and hotel reservations
- Travel diary with big beautiful pictures and a blog
- Freelancer or small business website
- Brick-and-mortar store looking for online sales and help with marketing
- Affiliate marketing or reselling
- Team or group website with a calendar, forum, and chat
- Test a product concept
- Launch a store featuring your handmade products
- Local restaurant, including reservations and menus
- Charity drive site with memberships, donations, and giveaways
- Podcasts with livestreaming or hosted shows
- Video tutorials or classes
- Blog and launch point for your social media streams
- Class reunion website including photos, guestbook, and activity booking.
3 Things Weebly Probably Isn’t Ideal For
Of course, Weebly can’t be everything to everyone. There are some things that require more specialized functionality than Weebly supports.
- Web application development (or any site that requires developer access to a web server control panel)
- Sites that have integrated marketing automation
- Businesses that use a CRM sales funnel.
Our Experience Creating a Weebly Site From Scratch
To test Weebly, I created a free website and took screenshots along the way so that you could see exactly what works and what falls short of expectations.
What Weebly’s Free Hosting Plan Gets You
I’d recommend that most people start with Weebly’s Free Plan.
Advantages of the Free Plan
Although you’ll be missing out on some of Weebly’s features (and online store functionality), you’ll get a feel for whether its drag-and-drop editor is right for you. Free plans come with a decent chunk of storage, too.
You can even get a little marketing help in the form of lead capture contact forms and SEO fields.
Disadvantages of the Free Plan
However, be advised that, if you decide to stick with your free plan, Weebly’s branding and ads will stay on your site.
Also, you’ll be limited to using a subdomain like mysite.weebly.com.
Weebly’s Paid Plans Expand Your Store’s Capabilities
Their lowest paid plan is the Starter plan, which adds on the following:
- You get unlimited storage, a free domain of your choice, and better analytics
- You can open an online store with up to 10 physical products
- Weebly’s branding and ads are removed, but it will take a percentage of your store’s transactions.
Pro and Business Plans
Although you can certainly create a business website or an online store with the Starter plan, there are some benefits to going with a Weebly Pro or Business plan.
The Weebly Pro plan bumps your store up to 25 products and gives you a site search box. You also get phone support. On Weebly’s Business plan you can sell unlimited products without a transaction fee, issue coupons, calculate shipping and taxes, and add digital products to your inventory.
Weebly’s top-tier plan is called its Performance plan, which incorporates gift cards and more marketing features like email campaigns.
Weebly’s Design Themes Are Beautiful and Responsive
Sometimes the way something looks or makes you feel can be the difference in your purchase decision. (iPhone, anyone?)
That’s what’s so great about Weebly’s free plan. You can comb through the available themes to see if you like any of them.
Unlike some site builders, Weebly’s themes look slick and they’re all responsive to mobile devices. They’ve also grouped templates so that you can import a specific structure, too.
That means if you want to create a wedding website, just select the appropriate theme category and your site will be pre-loaded with all the appropriate pages and menus.
Some of Weebly’s event themes via WhoIsHostingThis.
You can even tweak the pre-installed themes somewhat by adding custom HTML or CSS.
You Can Also Import Your Own Theme
A little-known fact about Weebly is that you can actually import a theme yourself. It requires a bit more tech savvy to add your own theme, but it’s great to have that option, especially as your site or business grows.
How to customize themes via WhoIsHostingThis.
How to Set Up a Weebly site
So let’s walk through what it takes to set up your first Weebly free site, to give you a taste for what that entails.
- You can sign up using your email address, Facebook, or Google login
- You’ll be asked to choose whether you want to create a website or an online store
- Choose a theme from categories like Personal, Portfolio, and Business
- No credit card required so far.
A Walkthrough of Your Site’s Dashboard
Next, Weebly asks you for a domain name. You can use a subdomain (free), migrate a domain you already own, or purchase a new one from Weebly.
If you choose to buy a domain, you’ll find out instantly if it’s available. If you want to buy a domain, you’ll be asked to enter your credit card information.
I chose a free Weebly subdomain. From there, you get your first glimpse of the Weebly dashboard. Your site structure’s already been set up and a tutorial popup shows you how to drag and drop elements onto your page.
Tutorial on the Weebly dashboard via WhoIsHostingThis.
What’s Lacking on the Dashboard
The dashboard can feel overwhelming at first glance. The absence of automatic help on the dashboard is my biggest problem with Weebly.
If I’m a newbie, I have no idea where to start. On the other hand, if I’m a bit obsessive (let’s face it, I am), I’m tempted to click through all of the features one-by-one to see what they’ll do.
Neither of these reactions is optimal, obviously.
How to Get Contextual Help
To get help, you need to click the lightbulb icon in the far lower right corner of the site builder.
Weebly’s full tutorial via WhoIsHostingThis.
Fortunately, the wedding website I created looks pretty great already so it’s probably not in my best interest to fuss with it overmuch. All I need to do is customize the text and images on each of the pages and it’s ready to publish.
The Weebly site builder dashboard loads quickly and the elements I drag and drop respond the way I expect them to, without any jumpiness or lag.
However, I can’t just place things anywhere on the page. I’ve got to make sure I add sections or widgets and move them around in the spaces allotted. (This type of design restriction is pretty standard for site builders, but it can be a little jarring when you first encounter it.)
Before You Click All the Things: A Bit of Advice
Before you dive into all the buttons on the dashboard, get yourself a piece of paper and list all the things you want to have on your website.
Do you want a restaurant menu? A map widget? A contact form? A page for describing each of your services? It’s best to jot these things down before attacking the dashboard. That way you won’t get distracted by all of Weebly’s bells and whistles right out of the gate.
After all, using a site builder is partially about the speed of getting your website up, right?
After you’ve made your list, then take a look at the template you’ve chosen to determine what you need to add, delete, or merely edit.
How to Add a Blog
Since I’m creating a wedding website, I also want to add a page where I can keep an engagement blog so my friends and family know how the planning is going.
I click over to the Pages dashboard and hit the plus sign to add a page. I chose the Blog type and gave it the ever-so-creative title, “Blog.” I can also add special SEO elements to this page that are different from my site’s SEO elements.
Adding additional page types to your site via WhoIsHostingThis.
Getting into the blog settings, I decide to have 10 posts visible per page and add social sharing buttons for Twitter and Facebook.
Weebly’s comment options are fairly robust for a site builder. In fact, you can do some things with a free Weebly blog that you would need plugins to do on WordPress.
There are a couple of other features of Weebly’s comment system. You can use its own comment system or go with Disqus or Facebook. What’s more, you can add CAPTCHA spam protection.
A Weebly blog page comes with an automatic sidebar that lets you add an author bio and shows post categories, provides an RSS feed, and lists past posts.
How to Add an Image
I’m not super keen on this huge blog heading image so I’m going to swap it out. Unfortunately, images aren’t one of Weebly’s strengths. Although I can upload one of my own photos, or snag a free or paid stock photo from Weebly’s collection, there isn’t much I can do with the image after that.
For example, I chose a square picture of a rose, but I wanted to use it as a rectangular (and smaller) header for my blog. It’s not readily apparent how to fix this situation because my instinct was to drag the picture around inside the widget or try to zoom in on it. No can do.
Image editing on Weebly via WhoIsHostingThis.
However, if you click the image you’ll see that Weebly does have a basic image editor. It allows you to do basic stuff like crop, rotate, adjust colors, and add a blur effect. It also has filters that, while not as cool as Snapchat or Pixma, can still add some flair to your images.
For the rose, I cropped it, added a blur effect, and applied the Celsius filter. (Fair warning: I’m no artist!) Here’s the after picture.
After I edited my image via WhoIsHostingThis.
How to Add a Blog Post
Now that I’ve created my blog page, Weebly automatically added it to my site’s menu. (In WordPress, you need to expressly identify pages you want to show on menus.)
It’s a bit annoying but the button for adding a new blog post is underneath the tutorial light bulb in the lower right corner of the dashboard. (You heard it here first!)
Simple Post Drafting Page
If you have any experience with blogging platforms, Weebly’s blog post draft page will look super sparse to you. It’s just a popup overlay with two boxes: a post title and post content.
However, for folks who haven’t blogged before, the simplicity of the interface should assuage any fears you have about blogging.
But Unintuitive Drafting Page
Even though the blog draft looks inviting to type into, you can’t. Very unintuitive, that. You actually need to drag an image or text box into the blog post draft before you can start writing.
I wrote a few lines and added a YouTube video by dragging an element from Weebly’s sidebar.
The post title fought me a bit. I had to click and double-click and I’m not even sure how I got my cursor onto the field.
Post drafting page via WhoIsHostingThis.
I can set the post to publish immediately or schedule it for later. If you save it without publishing, Weebly will put it into a drafts folder which appears next to the “New Post” button in the lower right corner of your dashboard.
CAUTION! You can’t undo a deleted blog post.
How to Add an Online Store
Let’s pretend my site isn’t a wedding site and let’s add an online store. I clicked the Store tab at the top of the Weebly dashboard and went through the setup items — contact information, a layout for my catalog pages, and my store currency (US Dollars).
Adding a Product
Now it’s time to add my first product! I can add images, offer options like different colors or sizes, and even add a sale price.
Adding a product to your Weebly store via WhoIsHostingThis.
You Need a Paid Plan to Sell Stuff
I can keep adding as many products as I like but I can’t start selling them until I purchase an upgraded plan. (All the paid plans come with the ability to sell products.)
Depending on the paid plan you choose, you can also offer coupons, sell gift cards, enable product reviews, and configure customer emails.
Weebly Apps Are Like Plugins
Weebly’s “apps” add optional functionality to your site (they are equivalent to WordPress plugins). Some apps are free but others may cost an additional monthly fee. Also, some apps are available only to paid plans.
Weebly’s own apps include nifty free add-ons like being able to put a callout box on a page, add a tabbed menu style at the top of your site, and an FAQ creator.
As a handy bonus, you can also purchase the Google Suite of products directly from Weebly’s app page.
Creating table grids can be a complete pain in the tuchus in HTML. (WordPress doesn’t even try to offer table creation on their editor without a plug-in.) Seeing that Weebly offered an app called Simple Table, I thought I’d give it a try.
How to Install an App
Some apps, like Weebly’s Simple Table app, let you try a live demo before you commit to adding it to your site. I couldn’t get the table app’s demo to run, but I’d already decided to add it to my wedding site. It took exactly two clicks to add.
The Simple Table app shows up as a widget on the dashboard sidebar under the heading of “Installed Apps.” After installation, the new app was highlighted in blue so I dragged it onto my site to test it.
Installing a new app via WhoIsHostingThis.
Weebly breaks down apps into collections to make it easier for you to browse for helpful apps.
For example, the Boost Traffic collection contains apps that can improve your search ranking and help visitors find your blog. The Spike Sales collection contains apps that improve the function of your online store.
Weebly’s App Store
It’s likely that Weebly will either grow its partnerships or create its own apps that are competitive.
However, if you’re already using some online tools you should check Weebly’s app center to ensure you can connect your favorite tools before committing to moving your site.
“Ultimately, we aim to provide a complete platform to help people start, manage and grow their businesses successfully, to level the playing field by taking away technology as a barrier, and the enable many more people to pursue the entrepreneurial dream.” —David Rusenko, CEO and Co-Founder of Weebly
Analytics on Weebly
To view your site’s stats, you’ll need to back out of the site builder dashboard. Since my site hasn’t been published for very long and I haven’t entered in SEO information, there’s no data there.
However, even the blank graph can give you an idea of the kind of stats you’ll get with the advanced analytics on a paid plan.
Unfortunately, Weebly doesn’t offer much in the way of helping you interpret your site’s analytics or provide you with strategies for building your audience.
Add Google Analytics
You can add Google Analytics code to your site in its Settings area which will give even those on the free plan more insights into their visitors.
Editing Your Website With Weebly Mobile Apps
If you have an Android or iOS device like a smartphone or tablet, you can edit your Weebly site on-the-go. You can download the Weebly app from the Google Play store or the Apple App Store.
My Experience Editing on My Phone
I took a shot at editing my Weebly site from the app on my Samsung Galaxy S6 (running Android Nougat). I was pleasantly surprised at how much functionality was available on the Weebly app.
- Add and edit widgets and text
- Add and edit images — including cropping and adding filters
- Write a blog post
- Edit your online store
- View my site stats and sales numbers
- I could even create a new Weebly site from the app.
Several screenshots taken from Weebly’s Android app via WhoIsHostingThis.
Behind the Scenes of a Weebly Website
I took some more snaps of the inner workings of Weebly to give you an idea of what you’d experience as a customer.
Weebly’s online store lets you create and send emails to your customers.
Setting up an email campaign for your store via WhoIsHostingThis.
Store Help Documentation
If you get stuck trying to figure out what to do next with your online store, Weebly offers a series of helpful tutorials.
Tutorials for getting your store started via WhoIsHostingThis.
Importing a Theme to Weebly
Most people don’t know that you aren’t limited to Weebly’s themes. You can import external themes easily.
Upload your own theme or one you purchased elsewhere via WhoIsHostingThis.
If You Like Weebly, Also Look At…
Wix is similar to Weebly in that it’s also a popular site builder. It features a wizard that creates a site for you based on your answers to various questions.
Squarespace is a site builder that focuses on design aspects. It’s great for featuring lots of beautiful images.
Questions, questions! No worries, I’ve got your back.
What’s the difference between creating a website with a site builder like Weebly versus WordPress?
With Weebly, you sacrifice some customization control for ease, speed, and convenience. Weebly takes care of the technical stuff, freeing you to concentrate on your site’s content.
With WordPress, you have control over every detail of your site, but there’s a steep learning curve and potential to make a lot more mistakes.
Can I buy a domain name from Weebly?
Yes. However, you’ll need to sign up for a paid plan (a free domain is included) and you must host the domain with Weebly.
Can I use my own domain for a free Weebly site?
Nope. Free sites are limited to Weebly subdomains (e.g., yoursite.weebly.com).
Can I get my free Weebly site noticed in search results?
Yes. Weebly’s free plan comes with some SEO tools like site descriptions, meta keywords, a place to add a Google Analytics tracking code, a Google Webmaster Tools verification meta tag, and the ability to create 301 Redirects.
Aren’t Wix and Weebly basically the same?
Yes and no. They’re both site builders and thus keep the technical stuff to a minimum. However, Wix offers a great deal more control over your site’s design elements like color palettes and image editing.
On the other hand, Weebly offers a free site (and e-commerce store) that you can use for as long as you like. Wix only gives you 14 days for a free trial and you must subscribe to one of their top tier plans to get online store functionality.
Can I bring the site tools I already use to Weebly?
In some cases, yes. Weebly works with Google Analytics and can allow Facebook and Disqus comments. However, some more advanced website features aren’t available as yet — like MailChimp and Yoast.
Weebly’s Pros and Cons
Looking at Weebly from a high level, it’s easy to see what its strengths and weaknesses are.
- Free sites
- Attractive themes
- Excellent online documentation.
Some Details About Weebly’s Pros
Weebly’s themes allow you to build an attractive, responsive site quickly and with very little knowledge required on your part.
On the other hand, if you do have design or tech experience, you can customize your site almost any way you like.
This can’t be stressed enough: Weebly’s online help documentation is outstanding. Their tutorials are clear, with lots of screenshots, and the instructions are up-to-date.
Plus, they have documentation in a lot of different formats and languages.
- No site backups
- Limited extra features.
Some Details About Weebly’s Cons
You must be responsible for your own site backups. Weebly doesn’t offer backup or restore services (and neither do their apps).
There are some features that come with regular web hosting that Weebly doesn’t offer.
This includes quite a lot of things. For example: a full suite of one-click installs, the ability to manage your site and domain from a control panel like cPanel, and the option to add any open source apps.
Before trying out Weebly, I figured it would be far too simplistic to be useful for anyone who had web experience. I was wrong.
Good for Beginning and Advanced Users
Instead, I found that Weebly can be as simple or as complex as you wish. It’s great for beginners as well as making life a little easier for those of us with geekier inclinations.
Whether you’re a long-time internet junkie or a fresh beginner, Weebly can help you get a sharp-looking website up and running in a jiffy. Newbies will find it fairly easy to use but it also has a depth and flexibility of features that veteran website owners will appreciate.
It’s Free to Try!
You won’t know until you give Weebly a try. So, what’s the harm? After all, it’s free!
Weebly Frequently Asked Questions
- What can I do with Weebly?
Weebly is a web hosting company that focuses on getting customers online quickly and efficiently with their easy to use web editor. They operate more like a CMS but have enterprise hosting options available.
A comparable product would be WordPress hosting.
- What is Weebly’s web editor?
At the heart of Weebly’s business is their drag and drop website builder. It’s a simple “what you see is what you get” editor that is available to all plans.
It includes access to themes, free and paid stock images, and plugins and apps from the Weebly app store.
- What hosting products does Weebly offer?
Almost all of Weebly’s plans are hosted on cloud servers to manage any traffic spikes for individual websites.
However, their enterprise range does include the option of a dedicated server. This enterprise option comes with considerably more standard hosting features like cPanel access.
Contact customer service for more information.
- What payment options are available? What billing cycle does Weebly run?
For most plans Weebly bills annually. However, their top tier plan bills monthly. Customers can pay via PayPal or major credit card.
- Are there any discounts available?
Yes. Customers are offered discounts for signing a longer contract (up to two years).
- Is there opportunity for customization?
Yes. All Weebly plans and themes can be tweaked and changed with CSS and HTML. However, the opportunity is limited.
- Can I use Weebly’s web editor to create an ecommerce store?
Yes. They have ecommerce plans which include shopping cart software and inventory and product search functionality. They manage all payment options and security for you in exchange for a commission on each sale (similar business model to PayPal).
It’s worth noting more expensive plans waive the commission fee, so for some companies it will make sense to spend for a better plan at a fixed cost.
- What sort of support does Weebly offer?
It depends on what level of plan you get. All plans come with community, chat, and email support. More advanced plans include phone support as well.
- Is there anything I can’t do with Weebly?
According to their Terms of Service, most of the usual stuff is banned including adult, illegal, or spamming content.
They also ban a few notable things like sites with excessive advertising, file hosting, or websites that use custom HTML to create a terrible user experience.
- Does Weebly offer domain and website migration?
Weebly has developed a tool which lets you redirect your existing domain to your new Weebly site. However, they don’t offer any migration services. So if you already have a site with another host, you will likely have to manually copy all the content yourself.
- Can I buy a domain from Weebly?
Yes. Weebly includes domain purchases with their plans.
- Is my domain included in the price?
Yes. When you sign up, Weebly gives you a domain for one year for free. However, you will be responsible for paying for it after that.
- Does Weebly offer an uptime guarantee?
No, it is not mentioned anywhere on their site.
- Does Weebly offer a money-back guarantee or free trial?
They have a 30-day money-back guarantee for all paid plans that are not on month-to-month contracts. They also will let you downgrade your account at any time and will credit you the difference. See Weebly’s Terms of Service for more details.
- What applications can I use with Weebly?
Weebly doesn’t use open-source applications via something like Softaculous. Instead, customers can access Weebly’s own website building software, which takes the place of CMSs and shopping carts.
Customers also gain access to Weebly’s app store, where anyone can develop apps for Weebly customers.
- Is Weebly’s free option really free?
Yes. They offer their free option as an easy way to get someone online. However, your domain will be yourdomain.weebly.com.
Their free service also limits the size to 500 MB of storage and displays Weebly’s own ads on your site. This revenue does not go to you.
- Does Weebly offer any marketing support?
Yes, lots. They have their own email marketing service called Weebly Promote that comes included on their top end plans and can be added to other plans. Each plan also comes with an SEO-friendly website and lead capture forms, and more expensive plans come with robust web stats.
- Do they offer any marketing credits?
Yes they do. All paid plans come with credits for Google AdWords.
- Does Weebly offer backup options for their websites?
According to their Terms of Service, they are not responsible for backing up your site. The customer is responsible.
- What sort of security options does Weebly offer?
In their Terms of Service, Weebly stipulates that security is the responsibility of the customer, not them. That said, they do offer SSL certificates for higher tiered plans
- How do I get my Weebly site to show up on Google?
Your website will not be visible on Google until it’s been indexed. You can submit your URL to Google to kick-start this process.
If you have your own domain, you can also sign up for Google Search Console to gain additional insights about your search engine rankings and keywords.