In this Weebly review, I’ll check out the services of this eCommerce-driven website builder and help you decide, whether you should purchase it.
Weebly is one of the most popular website builders out there – and recently, it’s been subject to a very serious facelift that will absolutely change a lot of things about it.
After being acquired by the payment processor Square, it has seemingly moved closer and closer towards being an eCommerce-centered builder, helping small businesses to get more clients, and offline businesses to finally go digital.
This is a serious change, compared to what Weebly used to be. For more than a decade now, Weebly has been known as a very simple way for anyone to make a blog, portfolio, and all other kinds of basic websites.
So, how much has changed – and who exactly is Weebly good for? For this Weebly review, I purchased the plan and, well…
Weebly still kept a lot of the simplicity in its platform. The drag and drop builder is still as intuitive as ever, allowing to build decent looking websites with pretty much no fuss.
Now – the templates. With around 40 of them available, the library isn’t all that massive. However, some templates are going to be perfect for eCommerce, and there is also a possibility to use third-party themes, significantly opening up your possibilities.
The server performance? The eCommerce features? All very solid. The servers are just about fine. And while the eCommerce features still may be some way behind platforms such as Shopify, they’re going to be just about enough for small businesses.
Overall, Weebly is a pretty solid pick. Not without its flaws, it still manages to offer a solid package for many types of users. So – keep on reading if you wish to find out what I discovered when I went deep in this Weebly review.
Weebly offers a free plan and three different premium pricing levels – starting from $6, going all the way up to $26. Overall, that’s a pretty good value for money.
The 3 plans are Personal (starting from $6 a month), Professional ($12 a month), and Performance ($26 a month). Comparing to rival eCommerce platforms, such as Shopify, that start at $29 a month – and you can see that Weebly definitely aims to win over the budget-conscious users.
What does that money get you, though?
This is a part where I would be breaking down all of these plans in detail.
But this is also where we’ll have to suspend our regularly scheduled programming and do some detective work. There’s one good reason for that.
Weebly pricing is quite confusing – and may appear even a little bit deceptive.
To show you exactly what I mean, let’s follow a scenario of someone trying to make a basic online store. The description of the Weebly plans clearly shows this:
This looks really solid. After all, even the free plan allows adding items, and apparently, selling them. Free eCommerce platforms are very rare to come by and that looks genuinely exciting.
So naturally, I had to take the free option and try selling online…Only to be greeted by this.
For selling, I needed to purchase the “Starter” plan. So, I followed the link I was provided in order to find out how much everything costs. And found…this.
In fact, despite me needing a “Starter” plan, there was no such thing.
In fact, all the plans are named differently than they were at the beginning, and there’s even a brand new “Business Plus” option available for you to choose.
Good news though! Some plans are a dollar cheaper than before as well (so that’s a fun way to save money right there – you’re welcome).
But if you wish to sell online, which plan should you go with?
Well, looking at the eCommerce features at this landing page, it appears that it’s the “Pro” (“Professional”) plan most will be looking for. It allows for up to 25 items, however, it doesn’t include item options, or selling digital goods. There’s also a 3% transaction fee for each purchase.
If you wish to have something better than that, you’ll have to upgrade. And free, as well as Personal (Connect) are not suited for eCommerce – regardless of what Weebly would be trying to say.
So there you have it – that’s the tale of pricing for this Weebly review. It was confusing for me, and probably not me only – and I certainly expect the company to be a little bit more transparent about their plans from the get-go.
But to sum it up, here’s what the plans are like:
Even though Weebly is now more suited for businesses, it still hasn’t forgotten its user-friendly website builder roots. Weebly is straightforward to setup, simple to use, and the drag-and-drop editor is pretty quick to master.
Sure, some coding experience is still very much welcomed if you wish to fine-tune the experience of your site, but overall, it’s more than possible to create an extremely attractive design using only the built-in editor.
Signing up for a new Weebly account is very easy. All you need to add is your name, country, email address, and password. Once you have done this, the fun begins.
The first thing that you need to do is tell Weebly if you want a standard website or a site with eCommerce functionality. Don’t worry too much about this because you can change your mind later.
If you choose the “I just need a website” option, you will be taken to a theme selection page. Here, you will be able to choose from a range of attractive themes to form the starting point for your site. The themes are split into categories to make your choice easier, but don’t worry if you can’t find something that’s exactly right – you will be able to personalize your design in a minute.
Once you’ve chosen a theme you will be able to preview it. If you’re happy, then it’s time to start editing your new site.
Notice that Weebly doesn’t ask you to pay anything or even enter any payment details to begin with – a big plus in my books.
Before we look at the editor, let’s go back in time and see what would have happened if you had selected the “I need a website with an online store” option.
Well, it’s nearly as simple. There’s just a little bit more work, but you will be guided through a very self-explanatory five-step process.
First, you will be asked to name your store. Like everything, you will be able to change your store’s name later, so don’t be too worried about getting it perfect.
In the second step you will be asked if you are currently selling anything or not. Your answer to this question helps Weebly gauge your eCommerce experience so that it can provide a personalized service.
Step three involves another question that will depend on your answer to the question in step two, while step four asks what sort of items you plan on selling. This helps Weebly recommend a theme for your store.
In step five you will be asked to provide a physical address for your store, but this isn’t compulsory. 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue should do.
So far so good – Weebly makes it extremely easy to sign up and start building both a simple website and an online store. Now – onto the actual website-building process.
For the next part of my Weebly.com review, let’s have a look at the dashboard and user-interface. It is simple, self-explanatory, and offers plenty of tips for novice web developers. Weebly’s setup guides will help you get your site off the ground, and their simple analytics will help you track your performance as you get up and running. Overall – not bad.
Now, what is editing your website like?
Weebly’s drag-and-drop editor makes this easy – but it can be hard to position elements exactly where you want them. Unless you delve deeper and edit your site’s code you will be limited to placing elements in pre-coded positions.
Call it “an illusion of freedom”. Sure, you can drag (and drop) the items, but certainly not everywhere. For example, when adding products to the website, I was not allowed to place them wherever I wanted to. Instead, I was given a choice between a few layout options for all of my products to be placed in.
For me, this is the major negative aspect of Weebly’s builder.
However, a lot of people won’t care about this slight lack of customizability. The pre-coded positions are logical, which means that you can still build an extremely attractive site without any development skills.
Adding new elements to your site is done via the interactive panel on the left. Simply choose the thing you want to add and drag it into position. You can place everything from simple text-boxes and images to advertising and eCommerce widgets.
You can also add and remove pages via the Pages tab at the top of the editor. Your site’s theme can be updated via the Theme tab, you can add apps for additional functionality via the Apps tab, and you can update your site’s general settings and SEO information via the Settings tab.
Creating a simple online store is just as easy as navigating the website editor. Weebly guides you through the process, helping you import products and manage your sales.
Editing the appearance of your store is as easy as editing the rest of your website. Honestly, I enjoyed the simple functionality and easy navigation that the Weebly editor and dashboard offered.
Weebly offers a range of professional templates and themes, allowing you to have a solid starting point for your website. However, there are only around 40 themes available, making your choice somewhat limited.
On the other hand, this lack of themes isn’t a deal-breaker. Every theme that Weebly offers is free, well-designed, and unique-looking. Once you choose a theme you will be able to customize it to your heart’s content. Everything from the color scheme to element positioning can be edited.
Templates are split into categories according to the type of website that they are designed for. If you want to build an online store, start with an online store template. If you want to showcase your photography, your best option will probably be a portfolio template, and so on.
However, this won’t always be true. Make sure that you explore all of the themes available before you make a choice – there’s no reason why you can’t edit a theme you love to change its functionality. After all, you get the full freedom to do so.
Weebly has a wide range of features aimed at digital businesses of all types. Some of these include strong eCommerce fundamentals, a suite of marketing and SEO tools, and numerous apps to streamline your business processes.
How do they hold up? Pretty well.
The features are fairly basic, but they’ll be good enough for the beginners looking to get started. And the integration of various apps allows using not only the in-house solutions but something a bit more advanced as well. Overall – businesses will get a fairly good selection of options. Not much to complain about.
The expanding online shopping market has seen a huge growth in the number of eCommerce stores on the web. Weebly has attempted to harness this growth by partnering with Square to offer a range of eCommerce features, and it seems they’ve done a pretty good job.
Building an eCommerce store with Weebly is simple, with a range of customizable themes and templates designed specifically for online stores.
All of Weebly’s in-house themes are free, but you can easily buy a premium theme from a third-party developer if you don’t want to put up with the hassle of customizing your own.
Depending on the subscription you use (Pro, Business, or Business Plus), you will also have access to a range of other eCommerce features.
I found inventory management to be pretty simple with import and export features, while real-time shipping rates can be calculated according to address, weight, quantity, and carrier.
Weebly also gives you the ability to integrate customer reviews, take payments from a range of providers, and create coupons and discount codes. When you consider the features on offer, Weebly provides great eCommerce value even when compared to industry giants like Shopify or BigCommerce.
However, if you wish to do some dropshipping, you won’t be spoiled for choice. There are only 3 applications available. And out of them, only one has generally positive user reviews and/or sensible pricing. It’s Printful, allowing you to add your own custom designs to various merchandise. If that’s your jam, then you’re in luck. If not – or you wish to have some more options, you might want to elsewhere.
All things considered, Weebly offers a fair amount of eCommerce options to compete with providers like Shopify and BigCommerce. It lets you build attractive storefronts and offers a range of online sales features. There aren’t that many third-party options to choose from though – but there’s enough to do some main things.
Marketing is a key component of most online business structures, and Weebly does it fairly well. Its higher-end eCommerce plans offer a suite of different marketing tools, and even the basic Pro plan includes advanced site stats to help you see what’s what.
One of the key parts of Weebly’s marketing material is their email marketing platform, Weebly Promote. It isn’t free, but it does come included with the Business Plus plan. If you’re using a lower plan it will cost you $8/month for a subscription to Weebly Promote – depending on your needs, it might be a very worthy investment.
Designed to integrate seamlessly with the Weebly website editor, the Weebly Promote platform lets you build and design effective marketing emails for a range of purposes.
For example, welcome emails can be set to be sent automatically, and abandoned cart emails can be used to increase conversions and sales.
At the same time, all Weebly Promote emails are mobile optimized and readily viewable on all devices. A range of statistics are also tracked to help you optimize your marketing campaigns.
Some of Weebly’s other marketing tools include the ability to add pop-up notifications to your site to inform visitors of special events or to encourage them to view specific pages.
You can integrate Facebook ads with your store, and the Business and Business Plus plans will give you access to in-depth eCommerce stats.
Ultimately, Weebly performs well on the marketing front. With a focus on email marketing, Weebly Promote is a powerful tool that will be useful to many online businesses.
Generally speaking, no website builder is going to be “perfect for SEO”. However, Weebly does its best to at least offer perhaps the best SEO optimization tools in the industry.
With a focus on SEO, Weebly does what it can to help business owners reach high positions in the search engine rankings. One the most basic level, Weebly lets you input simple meta-data and website information via a dedicated SEO tab.
This is a great starting point when it comes to basic SEO, but there’s more. You can also edit the page title, description, keywords, and other SEO information for every single page on your site. This is done via the pages tab within the website editor, and I found it very self-explanatory and easy to use.
Similarly, you can add alt text and captions to your images, but you can’t name them by keyword or phrase. This is one of the only negatives that I’ve found on the SEO front.
If you want to delve deeper into SEO and really try to reach that number one ranking then you should have a look at the Weebly App Center.
There are numerous SEO-focused apps on offer which are designed to help you maximise your optimization efforts and search engine ranking.
All things considered, Weebly offers great SEO features. They make on-page SEO easy and the range of apps on offer can help you improve your site’s ranking if you are willing to put in the time and effort. They also offer a free SEO Guide that has been written specifically for Weebly websites.
Now, for this part of the Weebly review, let’s see the website optimization and overall server performance. It’s important – after all, a slow website would drive away users from your website, hurting the business.
So, how does Weebly do?
Well, it’s quite positive. Weebly does well in server performance, but the load times and overall website optimization leaves a bit to be desired.
The first test looked at load times and website optimization.
The load time for a regular Weebly website was over 3 seconds. Coincidentally, 3 seconds is exactly the figure mentioned by Google, where the users might start leaving your website because it is too slow.
I also ran a visitor load test, where my site was subjected to 50 virtual users for ten minutes. The site’s response times were measured, and well done to Weebly, they came up as pretty good.
As you can see in the screenshot above, the response times remained relatively similar, even when the website was placed under load. This suggests that Weebly is doing a lot of the things right and that the problems outlined above aren’t as extreme as they appear at first glance.
When it comes to drag-and-drop website builders that offer strong eCommerce capabilities, Weebly is up there with the best. With pretty business features, suitable for both complete beginners and more advanced users and a customizable website editor, Weebly strikes a decent balance.
However, some things are not quite as perfect. The website builder may appear a little bit limiting, and fine-tuning your site’s design to overcome that obstacle requires some coding knowledge, which is not ideal.
Same way, while there is a pretty decent app store, it lacks options. Only one popular dropshipping solution being available is a great example of that.
The performance of the Weebly websites isn’t great either. Load times were on the slow side. But to be fair, server response times remained consistent even when my site was experiencing high visitor numbers – so while your Weebly website won’t be a speed demon, at least it’ll be able to handle all of your visitors when the website strikes gold.
Finally – the pricing. It’s pretty low, and that’s always a good thing. However, I was quite confused about how it was displayed and what plans get you what features. Hopefully, all of those glitches can be solved out in the future.
out of 10
This Weebly review revealed a website builder that can be suitable for both personal websites and eCommerce projects. Managing to suit both coding enthusiasts and total beginners, this is a pretty decent option - if you can live with lackluster dropshipping and slightly slower website load times.
Weebly is a great option for people who want to access a powerful drag-and-drop website builder – but you might be looking for something slightly different instead. Here are some alternatives that might be better suited to your needs.
Wix offers a truly customizable drag-and-drop editor, allowing you to build your website just the way you want to. On top of that, it has over 500 themes (compared to Weebly’s 40) and a much larger app store. Premium plans may cost a little bit more – but you get what you pay for.
If you want to use a website builder that focuses on design, try Squarespace. You will have access to much finer editing features and a range of attractive templates, helping you to make a modern-looking website with little to no design skills.
Looking to sell online? Shopify is a great alternative for people who are considering using Weebly to build an online store. It’s used by thousands of massive online stores and arguably offers some of the best store features on the market.