Weebly is an easy-to-use hosted website builder, with free (ad supported) and inexpensive paid plans. Each plan supports selling a different number of products. After choosing a theme, drag and drop your information, products and images. Click “publish” and your new site will be available online.
Who Should Choose Weebly
We recommend Weebly to the following groups of people:
- Those who want to build a site where you never have to touch the code, with a design that can quickly and easily be updated to another pre-made design, if desired.
- Those who don’t have an eye for design, and can rely on the site theme limiting where you can place elements. That keeps things simple.
- Those just starting out, or those with not a lot of experience, with websites. With the easy set-up, and drag-and-drop editor, Weebly will get you online in no time.
Key Weebly Features
Weebly offers over a hundred different themes to choose from and many offer multiple color schemes. Once a theme is chosen, Weebly provides a drag-and-drop web builder for further customization. Easily add buttons, contact forms, image galleries, and even products.
All versions can sell products, which can be imported from Shopify, Etsy, or a CSV file (this has limitations, so see the negatives section below, for details). Payments can be accepted using Paypal, Authorize.net or Stripe.
Features in some price tiers include built-in shopping carts, offering sale prices, fields for sizes and colors, ability to use coupons, sending invoices, and digital downloads (business account level only). Please note that most e-commerce functions are only available in the Business plan.
Sites include blogs with threaded comments and moderation capabilities. Posts can be saved as drafts for publication later (this is different from site changes, where edits are saved automatically). Tags can be added to posts and there is a tag cloud widget available. Flickr and LinkedIn badges automatically create RSS feeds.
Weebly is offered in 12 languages – English, Spanish, German, Russian, Italian, French, Portuguese, Dutch, Polish, Chinese, Japanese and Turkish. Non-English character sets such as Chinese, Russian, and Arabic may not be fully supported.
Users we spoke to were generally happy with Weebly, and were pleased with the ease in which sites could be built. However, there were some things, such as the extra expense for registering their own domains, which irritated them, and prompted some complaints.
Check a box to turn on Weebly’s automatic optimization for mobile responsiveness. Some feel this option is best for viewing across all device types (phones, computers, tablets). Others prefer to leave this option unchecked as they feel the mobile site should be identical to the desktop version for the best user experience.
What you see in the dashboard while building your site is what it will look like when live. There is no need to switch back and forth previewing your changes. Multiple editors can be given full admin, author, or dashboard-only rights.
Unlike other website builders, unlimited navigation levels are available. A drop-down is added automatically to the navigation bar to create additional levels.
Changing your design is as simple as choosing another theme. There are third-party sellers of Weebly themes and add-ons (header plugins, photo gallery widgets, splash pages, and element skins). These can be imported into accounts for greater variety.
All basic SEO fields are available for both the entire site and individual pages.
All plans include statistics, but Free account users can only see daily page views and unique visitors for the month. Upgraded accounts have access to referring sites, top-visited pages, and the search terms used to find the site. Google Analytics code can be added manually, but there is no integrated method. Site stats are available on the Weebly for iPad app.
All paid plans remove their ad in the footer (bottom) of your site. AdSense ads can be used to generate income.
Since Weebly is simple to use, you may have little need for support. If you ever did need assistance there is a support center, email and live chat support, but no phone support.
While you don’t need to know any HTML or CSS to use Weebly, further customization is possible as this code is accessible to users. Source code can also be downloaded as a zipped HTML or CSS into the iPad site editing app. Limited sites can be created using the iPad app, but not blog posts or e-commerce features.
Weebly offers a 30 day money back guarantee, allowing you to upgrade and test their advanced features with no risk. Users may upgrade at any time with previous payments credited to their new plan.
Weebly offers a limited free version perfect for anyone wanting to try out the service before paying the monthly fee. The free version does not allow the use of a full domain and Weebly will place an ad link at the bottom of your site. The advertisement on their free version is less prominent than other competitors.
There are four pricing levels – Free, Starter, Pro, and Business. Starter is $4 per month. Starter includes features such as the ability to link a full domain, add a custom favicon, access to more website statistics, and a customizable footer.
Additional features include polls (using Polldaddy), surveys, forums, file downloads, RSS readers, RSVP forms and appointment bookings (via BookFresh). There is also an embed code button.
Weebly templates are rather plain compared to other website builders, and there are not so many.
Items can only be dragged and dropped into designated areas of the template. How many pages you can create is limited depending upon the price tier you choose.
There is no undo function for changes to themes, designs or images (with the exception of text).
Image editing capabilities are not as robust as other website builders.
Weebly offers the ability to sell products, even with the free version. However, Weebly limits the number of products that can be offered (up to 5 in the Free plan; 10 in Starter; 25 in Pro). Only Business plans support more than 25 products or digital downloads.
An additional 3% transaction fee (on top of the transaction fee from your payment processor) is charged. Except in the Business plan, customers buying products must finish their transaction on Weebly’s site.
If the same product has different pricing, each price is counted as a separate item. For those interested in selling more than 25 items, the Business plan is their only option. The Business plan starts at $19.54 (paid annually) and is the only price tier that forgoes the 3% transaction fee, provides an SSL certificate, allows transactions to be finished without leaving the site, includes inventory management, has a shipping and tax calculator, and supports the use of discount codes.
Checkout formats for only for United States addresses, preventing purchases by people outside the U.S. There is no test function, so testing integration with payment processors requires paying for products.
Registering your .com domain through Weebly costs a steep $39.95 per year (less if you register multiple years, but domains are widely available for less elsewhere). If you choose their free plan you must register domains through Weebly. Starter and Pro plans can use domains registered elsewhere.
Acquiring an email address on your domain costs an additional $45 per user per year. Weebly’s email accounts use Google Apps. If you fail to make this payment on time you lose access to that email address and all Google services attached to it including Google Docs, Google Analytics, Google My Local, and Google Plus.
An additional hosting charge is charged for each language if you use a sub-domain or another domain to provide language specific translations.
Weebly Starter plans do not include video or audio players, site search, password protection for pages, header slideshows or a membership area (these are included in Pro and Business plans).