I’ve been reviewing Weebly for 4 years now and I’m always impressed by the thoughtfulness behind the product. Weebly manages to balance ease of use and power better than any other website builder. It’s incredible. And their latest release (Weebly 4, September 2016) is no exception— it adds powerful features to Weebly while keeping it incredibly easy to use.
Weebly pages are built by dropping text, images and other elements into the body (or footer) of a page. Elements can be re-arranged around the page and automatically snap into columns and rows. No element ever feels half-baked— there’s always enough customization options. For example, the map element includes options for controlling markers, adjusting the zoom and setting longitude and longitude markers. Handy.
Sections is a new feature in Weebly 4 (basically the body of every page is now broken into sections). I see two primary benefits to sections: (1) you can set a background color or image to sections for effect and (2) sections have pre-built templates for getting a page designed quickly (for example, a contact form section or a team section).
Weebly is the only website builder to offer an app store (Weebly calls it App Center). App Center lets you install “apps” that add new functionality to your website. For example, Simple Table gives you a table element and Schedulista lets visitors book appointments. App Center is a huge differentiator for Weebly— it’s a great way to keep Weebly’s core clean and focussed, while still giving users the opportunity to add new features.
One of my favourite things about Weebly is how the interface slides in and depending on what you need from it. For example, when editing the background image of a section, most of the editor slides away so you can get an unobstructed view of your website. Smart.
There’s one thing I find disappointing about Weebly: they advertise monthly prices throughout their website but do not explain that the minimum plan length is 6 months until checkout. This feels evasive. And while it’s possible I’m being a bit hard on Weebly here (Webstarts and Webnode do the same thing and I don’t mention it in their reviews) I also have high expectations for Weebly since they (and Squarespace) are the only website builders I’ve given a perfect score. Weebly typically does what’s best for the user experience— so let’s hope they come around on this.
Overall Weebly is an incredibly high value package— and it’s always getting better. I’m continually amazed that Weebly builds on its success by shipping new, high quality features that users love (in the last few years they’ve successfully expanded into ecommerce and email marketing). It’s clear Weebly is committed to building excellent software— I highly recommended it.
Good blogging. You create posts by dragging and dropping elements (text, galleries, maps, videos, quotes and more). You can create categories, set posts to publish in the future, create an RSS feed and more. You can also add Facebook comments, Disqus or use Weebly’s comment system (with built-in moderation settings). Show Screenshot
Over the last few years Weebly has been built up ecommerce into an impressive package. The only other website builder with a comparable package is Squarespace— everyone else is left far behind (note: I’m talking about website builders here— not store builders such as Shopify). Weebly 4 introduces an automatic tax calculator, improved shipping rules, gift cards and an abandoned cart recovery system. Show Screenshot
Great form builder. There are tons of field options: checkboxes, file uploads, addresses, text boxes, dropdowns and more. Form submissions can be confirmed with a message or by sending the user to another URL. Form results are sent to an email address but a database also stores results (so you don’t have to worry about accidentally deleting a form submission). Show Screenshot
Weebly has iPhone, Android, iPad and Apple Watch apps. The tablet and phone apps are fully featured— meaning you can design your entire website using them. This is awesome— no other website builder offers this on both phones and tablets. The Apple Watch app is mostly for stats and store notifications (new orders, new form entries etc.).
Yes— images were sharp and clear on retina devices (such as new iPhones and Macbooks).
Weebly is aggressively building out it’s own newsletter system called Promote. It’s a big part of Weebly’s vision: fully integrated Websites, eCommerce and Marketing. In the past I’ve been skeptical of Promote— but it has quickly become really good. Weebly has built out a system of email marketing that covers everything— from lead capture, to marketing automation to newsletter design. The only downside? If you don’t want to use Promote, Weebly doesn’t have a newsletter signup element for integrating with 3rd party newsletter providers such as Mailchimp (Mailchimp doesn’t even have an App Center app which is unusual— Mailchimp is typically included in App Stores.) Show Screenshot
The best membership features of any website builder. If you need to build a membership site, Weebly has you covered. You can create private pages that require people to register with your site (this is handy for creating an intranet, or a conference portal for registered members). Other helpful features include: groups and email customization.
Yes. The Multilanguage app in the App Center adds a floating icon to your website that allows visitors to change language. It’s not a perfect solution— the icon looks more like a chat prompt than a language choice and the interface for setting up Multilanguage is messy. Show Screenshot
There are two ways to create restaurant menus: (1) Open Menu, an App Centre app and (2) pre-built menu sections. Of the two I would strongly recommend you use the pre-built menu sections— they’re clean and relatively easy to edit. Open Menu requires you to register another company in order to even create a menu. Show Screenshot
Despite having a full ecommerce system Weebly doesn’t include official donation support— instead there is a DonorBox app that you can install. The app has received strong reviews and lets you accept recurring donations, set suggested amounts and collect donor information. (DonorBox requires you to register with them.)
A basic audio player with two skins (light and dark). No support for playlists. Show Screenshot
There is no way to create a podcast feed.
Weebly has a wide selection of fresh, modern themes that work variety of purposes (stores, portfolios, business websites, personal blogs etc.). Here’s an example:
Weebly launched two excellent theme features in Weebly 4: video headers and sections. Video headers are a beautiful way to add subtle video backgrounds to your website. Sections lets you set a background color or image for different sections on a page— this is a popular web design tactic and a great way to bring your pages to life as users scroll.
Weebly includes a fair amount of theme customization options— mostly around changing fonts (colors, sizes and families). Unfortunately you can’t manually edit the themes colors (example: the background color). Instead Weebly typically includes 5-8 color options for themes— but no option for setting a custom color. This may frustrate some users.
I was able to pay and cancel Weebly with ease.
In the past Weebly has experimented with offering no monthly plan— something I've been critical of. Fortunately Weebly now offers monthly plans.