Weebly is a website builder, giving everyone an easy way to make a website and start building an online presence. A user-friendly "what you see is what you get" interface, extensive customization, and a lot of beautiful templates has made Weebly an attractive option for millions of users all around the world. In this Weebly review, I will look into the overall quality of this website builder: testing performance, pricing, ease of use and customer support. Is Weebly a great platform to choose if you want to make your own website? Let's have a look.
Weebly Pricing & Plans
Weebly offers multiple plans. One of them is a genuine free option - not requiring credit card information. By default, the option allows access to Weebly website builder and the majority of its tools. This excludes video, audio and search bar placements on the website. You also can't attach your own domain and at the bottom of the website. There will be a Weebly advertisement, like this:
Disadvantages just a little bit too big? There are plenty of Weebly paid packages, too. Have a look:
- Free - costs literally nothing (as the name implies). It displays Weebly's own advertisements on your page, offers only 500 MB of disk space, and you can't even use it to connect your domain.
- Connect - same as free plan, only you can use it to connect your own domain. Free domain for a year included!
- Starter - this plan gets rids of Weebly's own ads and allows to run an online shop - albeit limits it to 10 products, charges a 3% transaction fee and does checkout via Weebly.com.
- Pro - this plan updates eCommerce to 25 products, adds password protection to certain pages and allows to include HD video/audio.
- Business - eCommerce gets a yet another bump in this store-oriented plan. The products here are unlimited, checkout can be done on your own domain, there are coupons/reviews and other eCommerce features readily enabled.
But these are not the only differences out there. Here's a bigger feature list of all the available Weebly packages, displayed in table form:
|Disk space||500 MB||Unmetered||Unmetered||Unmetered||Unmetered|
|How many website templates?||~50 + 3rd party||~50 + 3rd party||~50 + 3rd party||~50 + 3rd party||~50 + 3rd party|
|Can you connect your own domain?||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|How many websites can you make?||10||10||10||10||10|
|Are email addresses included? (how many?)||No (paid separately)||No (paid separately)||No (paid separately)||No (paid separately)||No (paid separately)|
|Are there builder’s own ads on your website?||Yes||Yes||No||No||No|
|How many add-ons?||~60||~250||~250||~250||~250|
|Choice for server location||No||No||No||No||No|
|Free automated backups||No||No||No||No||No|
|Money-back guarantee||–||30 days||30 days||30 days||30 days|
And here are the prices for each package, on each period:
I am fairly impressed by how eCommerce-oriented Weebly has turned out to be. A simple online shop can be built for only $8 a month ($5 a month if paying for 2 years in advance!). Yes, Weebly will charge you a hefty transaction see unless you're picking the "Business" plan but that's probably expected.
The amount of templates or add-ons isn't exactly great either, but it should be enough for the majority of users. A "Connect" plan is also a welcome addition. Starting from $3 a month, it's an inexpensive way to have your own branding all over the website. "BobHavensBlog.com" is way more professional-looking and memorable than "BobHavensBlog.weebly24.com". Sure - the Weebly advertisements still remain and there's a 500 MB disk space limit, but this "Connect" plan is all a lot of the users will ever need.
Weebly is a genuine free service with an option to upgrade - so there's no risk when you first start and that's a great thing. Just for $5 a month, you can make your own online shop. Just for $21 a month you get 0% transaction fee, unlimited products and plenty of extra features - that's cheaper than Shopify! Overall, the long-term plans are inexpensive (cheaper than shown in the promotional tables and posters) and somewhat powerful. It looks to be a decent value for the money. Especially when you consider that a domain registration is included with each of the paid packages.
Creating a Custom Website
All successful website builder providers tend to have two distinct features - great accessibility and ease of use. Weebly is no exception. You can go from the registration form to your very own Weebly page in a manner of a few minutes. Once you first start, Weebly menu asks you a very simple question (which will determine what kind of templates you'll be offered):
Then, you have to pick your first Weebly template. They are of varying degrees of sophistication. Some look very stylish and are dominated by visuals, some are slightly more text-based. That is to be expected.
While traversing through Weebly website builder I found a lot of customization options which were presented to me in a very understandable and convenient manner. I was, however, a little frustrated with some of the restrictions, especially the inability to resize and place your own text freely. The awkward invisible borders restricting my image placements led me to believe that flexibility is not Weebly's strong suit. However, I was still able to publish all the content I wanted reasonably quickly.
The builder's functionality is more or less the same in both paid and free packages.
Hosting.Review Recreation Experience
In this part of the review, I will look into customization. Here, I'll be trying to answer a very simple question: with a clear idea in mind, just how difficult it is to recreate a specific website?
The website I picked was Hosting.review (naturally!) Here's how everything went.
Upon picking the template, I realized there was no genuinely easy way to edit the header. All the content in every page is divided into blocks, where various elements may be added.
The header background image was very easy to add. By dragging I could resize it to my desired length (which is a great thing about the website builders in general). As I mentioned earlier, however, there are a lot of invisible borders around the elements, which made it a little bit frustrating. When trying to add buttons, I was unable to edit their colors to a specific shade, which was disappointing.
In the Weebly app store, I attempted to find something to replicate the hosting providers' table and a commenter carousel. To no avail. There were applications for comments/reviews on the header or a table, but neither of them were anything close to the original. Nonetheless, I came out with something. Here it is:
Close enough! Surely, it could be even closer. In fact, anyone with decent website development knowledge could pull it off. In 2009, Weebly added HTML/CSS editing support. So if you're really up to it - you can make the website look even more personal.
Well, there you have it. Slightly restrictive interface and a lack of add-ons limit the Weebly experience, so the website is not quite perfect. Yet if you feel like it, you can put your coding hat on and get to work!
Right. We had a look at Weebly as a "user-friendly" website option. But how about its performance? Here we will be looking into the two main things:
- Website's response time
- Overall server uptime
No one can genuinely expect a website builder to be amazing but speed is important. Not only a quick website benefits the overall user experience, it also is an important factor for Google when it decides which pages to rank higher in its searches.
The overall server uptime is first and foremost a part of the user experience. If your project kicks off and you have plenty of people visiting the website, downtime equals to losing clients. If a server is generally not reliable, not even the best response times can salvage it. Therefore, we are looking for the best combination of the two. This is latest, June 2018 information on Weebly performance:
In pretty much half the year, Weebly was down for only 0.03% of the time - which is a very good result. However, there's another thing of Weebly performance which drew my attention - the response times.
Another interesting thing that can't go unnoticed in the improvement Weebly has been doing through the months.
Notice the change in response times slowly dropping? Weebly turned from a sub-600 ms builder into one that is twice as fast. This shows that Weebly is not resting on its laurels. The servers are constantly getting better - it's the end user who benefits. I am very impressed. Performance won't be a bottleneck in any way, for anyone.
Weebly offers two main types of customer support - ticket/email and phone. Here are my main takeaways.
- Ticket support could be quicker. It regularly took me around 24 hours to get a response.
- When working, ticket support is really not bad. You get a genuine response from a genuine service agent. You can then reply to an email and have a proper conversation. It feels real, because it is.
- Phone support is not 24/7. The working hours are 6 AM to 6 PM PST on weekdays and 8 AM to 5 PM PST on weekends.
- Phone support is rather helpful for the main basic things, or for helping you pick a plan. Naturally, they request that the more advanced requests would be sent in as tickets (you wouldn't want to solve technical things via phone anyway!) Of course, then you will have to wait for quite a while to get a ticket response.
Weebly Review - Conclusion
Weebly is a really decent website builder. The plans are relatively inexpensive and have a good lineup of features enabled. This builder is a good option for a basic eCommerce. The performance has to be highlighted as one of the standout advantages. Terrific response times are 99.99% uptime is not something even most of the hosting providers can brag about.
However, a slight lack of templates, useful add-ons, and drag-and-drop customization are all disappointing. I often found myself in a difficult position where a certain tool wouldn't be able to customize my content exactly how I wanted. Other, more significant disadvantages were showcased in Weebly's free version - such as the inability to attach your own domain name and forced Weebly ads in the footer of the website. Luckily, you can still power up the code editor and do some of the things yourself. Yet you would do yourself a favor by simply investing in a paid option.
Overall, at the end of this Weebly review, I must say that this builder has impressed me. While with its pros and cons, this platform is a great option for many different users and strongly stands in the same line with other business leaders, such as Wix or Squarespace.
- Relatively cheap upgrade options
- Superb performance
- Easy to use, code editor included
- Free domain included with all paid plans
- Forced ads on free & "Connect" plans
- Inability to attach a domain on free plan
- Lack of flexibility