Weebly is a bit different to most of the hosting companies that we review in that they are not a shared hosting company per se, but a website building service that lets you create beautiful, modern, and responsive websites without having to write a single line of code.
Its drag-and-drop functionality makes the creation and deployment of websites easy. If you put your mind to it, you can get a website done and dusted in as little as a single day.
It doesn’t matter whether you have some pre-existing coding knowledge or if you have never looked at a line of code in your life, Weebly is a user-friendly and intuitive builder that is powerful enough to let you build a good-looking website… or so that’s what their website says.
Is all the above true, though?
That’s what we have set out to determine in our review of the Weebly hosting and website building service. We have ironed out the “pros” and “cons” to help you decide whether Weebly is good enough to create and deploy your next website with.
So, carry on reading to find out what we liked and disliked about Weebly.
What’s Unique About Weebly?
Unlike some other website builders that you will find online, Weebly goes a few steps further with their SEO tools. Many people say that using a website builder is bad for SEO, however, Weebly is attempting to fight this stigma by offering a range of powerful tools that let search engines, and thus your target audience, find you.
Weebly’s SEO tool makes it easy to add and modify important SEO elements such as your site’s description, keywords, and footer code.
What We Love About Weebly
These are some of the good things that we had to say.
A Great Solution for Small Businesses
Weebly offers the basic building blocks and tools that you need to build a functional website for your business. There is very little to confuse you—even if you are a newbie webmaster with little-to-no technical experience, it does not matter; there are no complex bells and whistles to confuse you.
In a matter of hours, you can go from ground zero to having your very own unique, responsive website that is ready to draw in your target audience.
This makes Weebly ideal for time-constrained small business operators who need a fast solution without compromising on quality and long-term viability.
There simply isn’t a better website builder for you.
Lots of Pre-Made Customizable Templates
Weebly has a huge collection of pre-made templates (also known as themes) that cover all sorts of designs. Everything from mobile-responsive designs to landing pages are included here.
Unlike Wix, Weebly allows you to seamlessly switch between themes, customize HTML and CSS elements. You can import and export the theme but it seems you cannot really do much with it since you can only reference it using the Weebly platform.
This adds on additional functionality that others such as Wix don’t have.
Helpful SEO Guides
Weebly’s knowledgebase and support area are chocked full of guides and bits of information to help you boost your website’s search engine rankings. Also, as we mentioned earlier, handling SEO from your site’s backend is simply a case of visiting the “SEO” section and filling in some boxes.
While SEO involves a lot more than this—e.g. backlink building and content writing—being able to edit important SEO elements such as H tags and meta descriptions from a UI rather than coding it in is ideal.
Simple Team and Permission Management
Weebly’s team-orientated backend makes it very easy to create and manage accounts for your team members. Set permissions, monitor activity, and enable your team members to access the stuff they need to get their jobs done right from within the Weebly backend.
Team management with Weebly is as simple as ticking a few boxes—what you do and do not want each account to be able to do—and clicking save.
1-Click Add-On Installs
Adding on additional (free) features with Weebly can, again, be done with just a few clicks.
Weebly has a decent selection of their own apps available for you to use from the get-go in addition to an entire suite of third-party apps, including Google Apps integrations and more.
Think of these add-ons as plugins on WordPress… except some of these add-ons are developed by Weebly.
Good Pricing (and a Free Option is Available)
Weebly’s pricing—something we will explore in further detail later—is very budget-friendly. For those of you who are a little light in the pockets and don’t want to pay for a premium plan until you are ready to launch your website, there is even a free plan available.
Weebly’s free plan is better than most of the other free plans from other hosts we have reviewed so far. With it, you can create a website using a Weebly subdomain and get basic access to the Weebly development platform.
What We Dislike About Weebly
While we had some good points to talk about, there were also a lot of downsides.
Limited Drag and Drop Functionality
Although Weebly’s drag-and-drop editor is good, it is still somewhat limited. Unless you are confident enough with HTML and CSS, your choices will be limited so far as what you can and cannot edit. For example, without diving into code, you won’t be able to change background designs, columns, and other key elements.
We have to give credit where credit is due, however. A drag-and-drop builder is always going to be inherently limited—you aren’t going to be building a ground-breaking site with it—and Weebly has done a good job of creating a very good one.
Also, there are plenty of HTML and CSS guides available online. These two primitive programming languages are very easy to get to grips with and Weebly is the perfect platform to learn the basics with.
No User-Initiated Backup and Restore Option
If something goes wrong with your website—accidents can and will happen—then you will need to restore it to a version before the problem arose.
Unfortunately, to do this, you will need to contact Weebly’s customer support team and wait for them to handle your support request; there is no user-initiated restoration option to be found anywhere, even on the more expensive plans.
This is frustrating because waiting for customer support to handle your restore request could take several hours, hours you could have put to good use being productive.
No Artificial Design Intelligence
ADIs are starting to become more commonplace on website builders.
These powerful tools take information that you provide via a means of input and then automatically design a site based on your specification. Other website builders, Wix included, have ADI products and some platforms such as GoDaddy are built entirely around an ADI.
The future is now—Weebly really needs to get on board with this technology before they get overshadowed.
Difficult to Make Multi-Language Websites
Although some of Weebly’s third-party apps make it easier to translate your website and offer it in multiple languages, they are not perfect, and they are far from ideal for SEO.
If you want to offer your website in a different language or a few different languages, then you are going to have to fork out to have a professional translator do this for you. We would argue that this is always the best way, however.
Limited Content Management System
A content management system (CMS), as we are sure you are aware, is an interface that lets you create, edit, publish, filter, sort, and manage content on your website, whether it be written content, videos, imagery, graphics, or anything else.
Weebly has a CMS but it is very, very basic.
For example, you can create pages on your site, use drag-and-drop hierarchy to modify it, and then edit each page with basic content, but that’s about it. You have no finer control over any of the elements such as image position, text wrapping, placement, etc.
You also cannot add custom content types aside from them being within an individual page.
This means that if you are planning on building a large site, Weebly isn’t for you.
No WordPress Support
This may sound obvious, however, we are going to say it anyway.
Weebly is a website building platform that uses its own basic CMS. So, of course, they do not support WordPress, period.
If you are looking to launch a WordPress website but still want to use a site builder, there are plenty of shared hosting providers that include this with their shared hosting and/or WordPress plans. You can also install WordPress in a subdirectory but you’d need to find some other host to host your files…
Weebly is a platform with its own tools, processes, and ecosystem. Because of this, any website you create using Weebly will be “locked in” and cannot easily be transferred to another host.
So, if, for example, you create a website and then decide to migrate to WordPress several months or years down the line, you are going to hit a brick wall because migrating everything, while possible, will be a difficult process.
Weebly does not let you download all your site’s code files; many elements such as blogs will need to be manually migrated.
Manual migration means you would have to scrape your Weebly site and have someone reupload everything to the new host and platform.
If you want to stay with Weebly for the foreseeable future, then this doesn’t matter. If, however, you anticipate growth and think that you may be moving sooner rather than later, don’t cause yourself the trouble of locking your site into Weebly.
Weebly has four different pricing levels for regular websites.
For online stores, there are three additional plans that cost more and come with features optimized for e-commerce such as shopping carts, Square payment processing, tax calculators, coupon codes, and inventory management. The basic building architecture between the personal website and e-commerce website plans are the same.
This plan costs… nothing. Nothing at all.
For nothing, you get a website hosted on the Weebly subdomain (yoursite.weebly.com) that features Weebly branding. You also get 500 MB in storage, SEO tools, and lead capture and contact forms.
That’s it, but you can’t really complain about something that costs nothing.
This plan costs $5 per month.
This plan has the same features as the free plan, however, with it you can use your own custom domain name and you get a free domain name (“$20 value”) to register and use.
This plan costs $12 per month.
For the extra $7 per month, you get everything from the Connect plan in addition to unlimited storage, the removal of Weebly ads, a website search tool, advanced site stats and analytics, and phone-based support.
This plan costs $25 per month.
Although it costs more than double the amount as the Pro plan, you get $100 in Google Ads credit, pop-up notifications, integrated Facebook ads, and e-commerce tools such as shipping and tax calculators, integrated shipping labels, e-commerce statistics, and the ability to accept payments through Square, among others.
What’s the Difference Between Personal and E-Commerce Plans?
You may notice that some of Weebly’s personal plans come with e-commerce features. With that in mind, what’s the point of Weebly’s e-commerce plans?
Well, their e-commerce plans are designed solely for e-commerce sites. Although there is e-commerce functionality on personal plans, it is more limited.
Think of the personal plans as being suitable for a website that may want to sell its own merch and the e-commerce plans being suitable for full-scale e-commerce stores.
Weebly Final Thoughts
Do we recommend Weebly?
Yes, we do.
It is a very good platform if it is the type of thing you are looking for. Although you are not going to get anywhere near the same level of functionality with Weebly as you would with regular shared hosting, Weebly serves a market of people who just want to launch a simple website quickly. Whether you want a simple site or an ecommerce site, Weebly can handle it.
That’s it. That’s what it’s designed for and that’s what it’s good at doing.
Don’t use Weebly and expect to build a full-scale bespoke site with hundreds of pages that you can top Google with.