I usually choose self-hosted WordPress when building websites for myself but, because I realise that isn’t always the best choice for everyone, I’ve set up Weebly versions of my Standard and Classic Pick & Mix website styles.
Weebly could be a good choice for your website if…
1. You don’t want to be responsible for maintaining your website yourself
Weebly, along with Squarespace and WordPress.com, is a complete package that includes maintenance and security as well as hosting. If you choose one of these options, then you won’t have to worry about making sure that the software running your site is kept up to date. (Note that WordPress.com is a fully hosted platform that is quite different from self-hosted WordPress.)
If you choose self-hosted WordPress then, unless you pay extra for managed hosting, you will be responsible for keeping your site’s software up to date yourself. It’s important to make sure that everything is updated when new versions are released, as hackers will exploit vulnerabilities in older versions.
Fortunately, this is pretty straightforward. If I set up a self-hosted WordPress website for you, I’ll install the WordFence plugin and you’ll receive an email like this whenever an update is required:
When you log into your WordPress dashboard you’ll be prompted to carry out the update.
As you can see, this isn’t difficult but if you don’t want to be bothered with frequent updates, then one of the other solutions, such as Weebly, might suit you better.
You may also feel more comfortable not choosing self-hosted WordPress if you are very anxious about the possibility of having a hacked or broken website. Hopefully you would never face this problem and if it did happen then your host might be able to restore the website from a back up.
It’s a good idea to always have your own backups though, so for self-hosted WordPress sites, I’ll install the UpdraftPlus free plugin and you should follow the instructions to connect this to a storage service such as Dropbox.
If you have a problem that cannot be solved by restoring your site from a backup then you could find yourself having to hire someone such as WPFixit.
This probably sounds more scary than it really is, but if you find it really worrying then you might feel more comfortable choosing an alternative to self-hosted WordPress, such as Weebly, WordPress.com or Squarespace.
2. You like Weebly’s drag and drop page builder
Weebly’s website builder is designed to be very easy to use – you simply choose elements from the area on the left hand side and drag them into position. Once elements have been added to a page they can be moved around. Here’s a screen print showing how the page looks once a captioned image has just been added.
Compare this with the WordPress editor, which is shown below:
Once you get used to the WordPress editor, you may find it is quicker to use than the Weebly builder because you don’t have to drag in every element separately. However, arranging images and blocks of text can be easier with Weebly. My main reservation about Weebly is that changes appear to take effect immediately and there is not an undo button.
If you use WordPress.com, then you won’t have access to a page builder, but with self-hosted WordPress, there are several page builder plugins available. I’ll often use SiteOrigin’s plugin (shown below) for websites that I build. It may look more complicated than Weebly, but it shouldn’t take long to get the hang of it. You can use a wide variety of widgets within the page builder’s blocks.
3. Your website will be simple and likely to stay that way
Weebly provides quite a few elements, including forms, slideshows and maps, and these are all built in so you do not have to find plugins to include them in your website. Some Weebly apps are also available, but you do not have access to the large number of functions that WordPress plugins provide.
WordPress plugins can provide far more options than the corresponding Weebly elements. Just as an example, here’s what you can do with a Weebly slideshow:
This is actually pretty good (and it has improved since I wrote the “Website Solutions” blog post mentioned below), but compare it with the amount of control available with the self-hosted WordPress Meta Slider Pro plugin.
It is possible to have a blog in Weebly, but it’s simpler than the WordPress version. It does include categories, but not tags.
If you want a simple, straight-forward site then Weebly could be a good choice for you; if you want to future proof your site in case you need to add extra functionality in the years to come, then you might want to consider self-hosted WordPress.
4. You are not fussy about controlling every aspect of your site’s appearance
Weebly appears to have been designed with the needs of inexperienced users in mind. It is easy to set up a simple website but it seems that options are limited – perhaps to avoid confusing people. For example, Weebly has only one header type – the title element – whereas WordPress will allow you to add h1, h2, h3, h4, h5 and h6 headers.
I’m quite impressed that even the free version of Weebly allows people to add CSS code to change the appearance of their site, but this is actually more difficult than changing WordPress theme options. The amount of control does vary depending on which WordPress theme you install. My favourite theme, GeneratePress and its premuim add-ons plugin, makes it possible for me to change all sorts of things pretty easily. The screen prints below show only a few of the possible theme options settings:
Weebly does have some settings, for choosing fonts, for example:
But if I wanted to change the colour of the menu bar, I’d have to use CSS code.
5. You need a free, or inexpensive, website
Like WordPress.com, Weebly has a completely free version, although it does mean that you need to accept having rather a large advert for Weebly in your website’s footer.
The footer advert in a free WordPress.com is more subtle, but Weebly has the advantages of allowing CSS code and not showing adverts on its free sites.
As at the date of writing (in January 2017):
- the cheapest paid WordPress.com account (a Personal account which does not allow CSS code) costs $35.88 (approximately £29)
- a WordPress.com Premium account costs $99 (approx. £81)
- a Weebly Starter plan costs £60
- a Personal Squarespace account costs $144 (approx. £117)
- the cheapest hosting at Vidahost (which could be used for self-hosted WordPress) costs £35.88
- a Personal managed WordPress account at WP Engine costs $348 (approx. £283).
(These prices are for one year and are for comparison purposes. They may not include taxes and exchange rates will vary.)
If you do decide to go with Weebly, and would like to do me a favour, then clicking on this affiliate link to Weebly will earn me some commission for referring you.