It’s a familiar story in the tech world — a handful of college buddies try messing around with new technology and end up creating a multimillion-dollar product that helps people get online. In this case, a bunch of 20-year-old students at Penn State University saw their friends struggling to create online portfolios the college required all students to maintain.
The three friends set out to build something that hadn’t been done before — create software that makes it easy for anyone to build a personal website, regardless of technology comfort level or experience. The end result turned into Weebly, the world’s first website builder that has gone on to power more than 40 million websites that see a combined 325 million visitors each month.
More than a decade later, the Weebly website builder helps you create the perfect site to showcase your work, no matter if you’re a business owner, artist, developer, or college student.
Answer: Weebly is a Website Builder
To put it simply, Weebly is a website for building websites. The online platform strips away the need for manual coding and replaces the process with an intuitive drag-and-drop interface. The portal is known as a WYSIWYG editor, for “what you see is what you get”.
In fact, Weebly is the first WYSIWYG site builder — the three founders beat overseas competitor Wix to market by roughly six months. Weebly’s system lets users add, edit, and arrange content, such as text, photos, maps, and videos, on a website with just a few clicks of the mouse.
1. What Is Weebly’s Overall Rating? 4.9/5.0
The HostingAdvice team is intimately familiar with site builders, having written several articles evaluating them on criteria such as ease of use, features, and price — as well as reviewing the best platforms for online store building. I recently dove back into Weebly to learn about new features; the Weebly team provides monthly reports about new features and apps, which extends the functionality of your site.
As expected, the mainstay website builder continues to impress. The simplicity and intuitiveness of the user interface just can’t be beaten, and Weebly includes responsiveness with all of the program’s themes.
Some detractors dislike the structured design limitations Weebly imposes to pull off mobile-friendly designs, but we actually appreciate that Weebly doesn’t give web design rookies enough rope with which to hang themselves. We give Weebly the highest marks for a system that enables creativity and functionality
2. What’s the Difference Between Self- and Fully Hosted Weebly?
Website builders differ in how they deliver services to their customers. Wix and Squarespace only offer fully hosted options, meaning all of your website’s files live on their servers — they take care of all the nitty-gritty, technical stuff, but you will have limited control and access to your data.
Weebly follows more of the WordPress model by offering both fully and self-hosted options. Self-hosted means installing the software on your own hosting account, giving you total oversight of your website. Unlike self-hosted WordPress, however, you can only host Weebly yourself by signing up with a hosting provider that has partnered with Weebly; the site builder is not available through one-click installations as are other major content management systems.
3. Is Weebly Free?
You can get started on Weebly for the low price of entering your name and email address and creating a password. The free account includes the site builder and 500MB of storage, but your website will display Weebly ads and reside on a subdomain (meaning your URL will be along the lines of sitename.weebly.com). Upgrading to the Starter Plan for $8 per month, however, comes with a free custom domain, unlimited storage, website analytics, and no ads. Weebly-hosted packages scale all the way up to $38 each month for powerful eCommerce sites needing email marketing tools.
Self-hosted Weebly is usually quite a bit cheaper than the Starter Plan. Hosting companies regularly include Weebly with shared hosting plans in an effort to ease the site creation process for beginners. One of our favorite providers, Bluehost offers a ton of freebies and top-notch support for less than $5 per month.
- Weebly or goMobi site builder
- FREE domain name
- Integrated CloudFlare CDN standard across all plans
- Gain exposure with $200 in FREE advertising credits
- 24/7 customer support
- Get started on Bluehost now.
4. Is Weebly Best for Blogs, Business, or Other Projects?
Weebly excels with impressive, professional themes that are tailored to several different needs: blogging, events, portfolios, and online stores. Blog templates can stand on their own or work as part of a larger website, and the publishing tools give users total control over their content. Entrepreneurs will enjoy having a fully integrated shopping cart and checkout process as part of their eCommerce site, but more experienced site owners might prefer a more specialized eCommerce platform such as Shopify, WooCommerce, or Magento.
No matter the use case, Weebly customers will appreciate the powerful SEO, or search engine optimization, tools that help search engines and audiences find your site. All Weebly sites feature a sitemap, meta descriptions, alt tags, and other features, as well as a helpful guide to researching keywords and growing your traffic.
5. How Does Weebly Compare With Other Site Builders?
Although most website builders offer the same basic drag-and-drop functionality, each platform tends to capitalize on a particular specialty. Squarespace, for example, resonates with artists and photographers with ultra-strong, visually impressive templates. Wix provides ultimate flexibility, while BoldGrid has carved out a niche as being the only WordPress website builder.
We’ve written tons of handy guides that go into more detail about how each website building platform compares for various metrics and uses. Here is a sampling:
- (Top 6 Reviews) Compare Wix vs. Squarespace vs. WordPress vs. Weebly
- 15 Best WordPress Alternatives for Websites, Blogging, and Online Stores
- The Best eCommerce Website Builders for Every Niche (Top 12)
- 13 Best “WYSIWYG” Web Builder Reviews (2017)
As you can see, Weebly compares favorably to many other platforms. The fully hosted options tend to be a bit more expensive than those of several competitors, but companies have a hard time beating Weebly’s ease of use. We have no qualms with recommending a self-hosted version of Weebly, especially if you are entering the website building fray for the first time.
6. How Do I Get Started?
Since its days as a class project at Penn State, the Weebly platform has grown to become a reported $455 million company that employs some 300 people. In addition to the site builder, Weebly has added eCommerce and email marketing tools to become a full-featured toolset for building your online brand.
Now that you’ve read about the platform, it’s time to dive in and get your website online. Your first decision will be to host your site with Weebly or on your own hosting account. To avoid the headaches of moving your site once you outgrow Weebly’s hosted option, we recommend going with a reputable shared host.
In addition to Bluehost, which we’ve already vouched for, SiteGround is another top-notch option. SiteGround just began offering Weebly services in 2016; while slightly more expensive, SiteGround comes with premium performance, along with a bevy of additional features and support. Happy site building!