• Offers a free starter package
• Create a basic website in minutes
• Easy to use
• Photo editing tool included
• Limited range of templates
• Social networking widgets not easy to add
Weebly is a free service for website creation and hosting, offering a range of features in an easy-to-use package.
We’re always told we don’t get something for nothing but that’s exactly what Weebly offers. Can it be true? Does Weebly really provide a free website creation service and free hosting? We looked closely at Weebly to find out if there’s a catch.
Basically, you sign up with a name, email and password. Straight after registration your account is ready and you can start to build your website. Yes, it’s completely free.
You can upgrade to a Weebly Pro account for a small fee per month if you want a customized footer without the Weebly logo, password protected pages and multiple author capability, enhanced statistics and 100MB (rather than 5MB) file upload facility.
Weebly has over 100 templates on offer. The templates are clean and functional rather than contemporary and inspiring – good for basic business but not necessarily anything to get excited about. Your website can have unlimited numbers of pages within the site.
Once you have chosen your template it is very easy to create the content for your website by dragging and dropping elements into the site. That includes elements like text, photos and maps. You can change the font size and color, and if you are bored with the theme you can change everything with one click. Your creativity is a little limited if you stick to the drag-and-drop builder – Weebly doesn’t have the functionality of BaseKit or some web design software packages. You can use HTML and CSS code in the advanced theme editor mode. However, if you’re not a beginner, but you’re not quite able to work with code you may be frustrated with the limitations.
The image editor in Weebly is effective and very useful. When you upload photos you can easily crop, resize and layer your photos without using any other software. You can also add photo effects and photo borders.
Photo galleries make an interesting addition to your site and you can also show off your pictures in slideshows with transition effects and different display styles.
Customizable contact forms are easy to create in Weebly, again using the drag-and-drop technique. Choose from contact forms, RSVPs, and pre-built surveys. When someone fills in your form you receive an email with the details and it is also featured in your site dashboard.
You can add a blog to your site which uses the same drag-and-drop functionality as the main site, making it easy to manage. Although many people may find the blog function lacking compared to Wordpress and others due to a lack of advanced features.
One downside to Weebly is you can’t add social media functions such as the Facebook ‘Like’ button using the drag-and-drop functionality, making it difficult to connect your site to social networking sites. You can add it using code but this method is not for everyone. This applies to other widgets like Twitter badges and RSS feeds.
Traffic statistics – Weebly offers a full statistics service that shows you how many people visited your site, where they looked and how they found your site. You can also add the code for Google Analytics.
Ecommerce – You can set up an online store with Weebly, by directly using Google Checkout or PayPal as well as adding the code for a number of other ecommerce accounts.
SEO – Weebly is set up with HTML and other SEO-friendly components like sitemaps and meta descriptions. You can add page descriptions, alt tags and others.
Hosting & domains
Publishing your website once you’re created it is simple. Weebly hosts your website for free (as long as you created it with Weebly) as well as offering you free web creation tools.
The free service includes a sub domain of Weebly.com. You can also buy a new domain through Weebly or transfer one you already own. If you need to pay for domain registration it can turn out to be pretty expensive – certainly more per year than BaseKit’s cost for everything.
You can have Google AdSense on your site but Weebly keeps a cut of your ad revenue.
Ease of use
Creating a basic website is really easy with Weebly. The simple, uncluttered interface and the drag-and-drop functionality make creating your site a breeze. You build your site in real time and can check in on the web as soon as you’ve made it. If you want to add more features you need to know code and the process can be more complicated if you want more than a basic site.
Help & support
There’s an extensive FAQs and articles section on the website that gives you answers to many site creation questions. There is also an email-based support service. According to several reviews on the web, it can be difficult to get a response from Weebly and when it does come it isn’t too helpful.
Weebly is great for people who want to create a quick, cheap, effective, basic site up and running on the web within an hour. If you’re an intermediate web creator you will need to use code in order to get some of the more interesting features on your site like Facebook integration and Google Analytics. Weebly isn’t the best service for businesses as it doesn’t offer the expansion opportunities as other sites but it is ideal for personal users and organizations.
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