Weebly is an intuitive and powerful online website builder. It lets you build and edit great-looking sites without making you learn a secret web design language. The good news of late for Weebly, Inc., is that it's in the process of being acquired by Square, the iPad cash-register-app developer, for $365 million. Not much has changed yet, however. Weebly still sports a clear and simple editor interface, attractive template designs, and integrated e-commerce and newsletter marketing capabilities. Its strict responsive design implementation makes it more restrictive than PCMag Editors' Choices Wix and Duda, however. Also holding it back are lack of universal undo capability and the inability to reuse uploaded images—conveniences found in many competitors.
Getting Started With Weebly
You can start building your Weebly site for the price of an email address and password. That gets you a site with a generous 500MB of storage, though your free site will include Weebly ads. For $8 per month, the Starter account removes the weebly website builder branding and adds a custom domain name, unlimited storage, and a 10-product store. At $12 per month, the Pro account adds site search, password protection for up to 100 site members, and video backgrounds. It also increases your store product limit to 25. With a $25-per-month Business account, you can sell unlimited products, including digital goods. For $38 per month, the Performance option adds email marketing (five campaigns per month to up to 500 addresses), and real-time shipping-rate calculation.
The first choice you make when you start building is whether you want to sell on your site. If you say yes, you have to add store and product info. Then, as with pretty much every other site builder, you choose a template. With 67 choices, Weebly doesn't offer as many site themes as Wix$4.08 at Wix or Squarespace. Unlike most site builders, it also doesn't show you a preview of the theme's mobile view as well as the desktop view (though you can shrink the browser width to see how it looks on the smaller screens). Weebly's templates sport very good-looking and modern designs, however, and you can change the theme later without having to rebuild your site. GoDaddy, Squarespace, and Simvoly also let you do this.
Your site address can be a subdomain of Weebly.com for free, or you can register a custom domain right on the spot, or use one you already own.
The latest version of the builder doesn't get to the URL choice until you go to publish what you've built and shows a dialog box that makes it seem like you have to pay for a custom domain. In fact, after you search for an address, the free option is below several paid ones.
Many other builders have you start with a form to fill out your basic business and contact info, which then populates your site design, but with Weebly you have to go to Settings to change this or enter it manually on the page.
Weebly's interface shows a dark left panel for dragging elements onto your page. The panel switches function modes when you make choices from a menu across the top offering Build, Pages, Theme, Store, Apps, Settings, and Help. A large orange button tempts you to upgrade to a paid account, and a blue one publishes the site you're building.
You can add all the usual elements to your site's page, including text boxes, images, maps, spacers, and media. The latter consists of video, audio, and document files, but only paid accounts can insert audio and video, which can be of HD quality. There are also elements for feeds, forums, polls, RSVP forms, and surveys. If what you're looking for isn't available, you may find it in the Apps section—more on this below.