In this post, I’m going to break down everything you need to know about the WordPress CMS and the Weebly site builder. In a WordPress vs Weebly debate, there’s a lot of information to take in. The reality is that both means for creating a website are extremely effective and it’s a matter of preference.
There are many different factors to consider in deciding which one is best for you. What type of business are you running? What’s your budget? How do you plan on Marketing? Do you need a lot of customization? What will be the function of the website? It’s a good idea to ask yourself these questions before jumping in blind with a website builder.
Here I will break down the pros and cons of each and give you all the information you need to make the smartest decision possible for your new website. By the end of this article, you will have a high-level understanding of the differences between each of these website builders and which one makes the most sense for you.
What is Weebly?
Weebly is a full-fledged SaaS Business that has built a website builder that allows anyone to create a website quickly with minimal knowledge or experience. It has a user database of roughly 12 million, and for good reason. It starts off free and is incredibly easy to use. The widget-based, drag-and-drop user interface allows literally anybody, including children, to create a beautiful functioning website in no time at all. Additionally, it automatically creates a mobile version of the site.
Weebly is also fully hosted. There are pros and cons to this but for many people just starting out and new to building websites, this is a plus.
What is WordPress?
WordPress is a CMS which stands for ‘content management system.’ Unlike Weebly, WordPress requires you to host the site via a third party. WordPress is one of the most popular CMS’s to ever exist! About ⅓ of the websites on the internet are powered by WordPress. It’s by far the most popular CMS being used today.
WordPress is open-source software that originated in 2003 and has many different contributors. Its original purpose was to be used as a blogging platform but that has since manifested into a custom website builder capable of creating any type of website you can think of. Unlike Weebly, WordPress uses “plug-ins” to customize certain elements of a website. Similar to an “app” for a smartphone – there’s literally a plug-in for anything you need on your website. Learn more about plug-ins here
Ease of Use
WordPress.org is a bit tricker and requires a little bit of know-how before becoming fully competent with the CMS. Unlike Weebly, you’ll need to purchase a domain name from a 3rd party. I personally recommend Godaddy. Once you’ve purchased a domain name you’ll need to set up hosting either through Godaddy or a different third party (see list of popular hosting platforms). From your hosting control panel, you can install the new WordPress website. There are a couple of extra steps to get started with WordPress but they’re relatively simple once you’ve done it a couple of times.
Overall ease of use definitely goes to Weebly, by a considerable margin. Site builders like Weebly we’re designed so people wouldn’t struggle so much with getting a website up. However, having such an easy way to build a website has some drawbacks, which we’ll touch on here soon.
The question of price is a bit tricky. To keep it simple, WordPress is technically free. However, you will have to purchase a domain name and monthly hosting in order to get a website live on the website. For under $20 you can get a good looking site build with WordPress. Depending on the site your building and the customization you need it might be a good idea to spend a little money on a theme. A theme is the general aesthetics of the website, everything from the font, colors, design, and layout. Premium themes can cost up to around $30-$100 but can be used many times over as they typically come downloaded as a .zip file.
Weebly, on the other hand, is free until you decide you’d like to publish the website under your own domain. To publish a website on Weebly expect to pay anywhere from $6 – $25 per month, paid on an annual cycle. Weebly also offers third-party integration tools and “plug-ins” that typically require some sort of payment.
The overall price goes to WordPress. To get a website live with your own domain for under $20 to get started is extremely cheap. Weebly requires an annual payment upfront to publish a website which is a minimum of around $70.
Support is a central focus for Weebly, they offer dedicated phone and live chat support. Additionally, they regularly come out with guides and video tutorials for beginners. This makes sense seeing how Weebly typically appeals to a class of people that are a novice to building websites. If you’ve never set up a website before this is extremely useful!
WordPress support comes in many different varieties. Since WordPress is so popular, there’s a TON of experts out there you can consult with. The official WordPress Forums are a great place to start. You can also find experts via online freelance platforms like Upwork or Fiverr. Or you can forums, check out blogs, or engage a social media group.
In the Weebly vs. WordPress debate, I have to give support to Weebly. Weebly prioritizes support for its users. Since WordPress is so robust and offers 10x capabilities, support is much more difficult to come by.
Customization and Functionality
Weebly offers basic theme templates for the type of website you’re looking to create. These templates include business; online store; portfolio; blog; personal; and events. Each of these templates offers a range of 6-15 themes each. All of these themes are easily interchangeable and offer a simple, yet clean, quality look and feel.
On the other hand, WordPress has thousands of free and paid themes you can use to truly customize your website to your liking. Many of these themes are developed by third parties and therefore require due diligence to make sure it’s regularly updated and mobile responsive. It would also benefit you to have a little background knowledge of CSS and HTML so you can make tweaks to the theme you’re customizing.
Overall WordPress provides an infinite number of possibilities with the customization and functionality of a website. Going back to the smartphone app analogy – there’s a plugin for everything in WordPress. In contrast, Weebly offers easy to use templates with seamless changes to the theme should it be needed. Unfortunately, Weebly doesn’t allow you to truly go in and customize elements to your liking. Personally, I’ve grown frustrated at not being able to fully customize contact forms, sidebar elements, footer elements, and header elements like I can in WordPress. WordPress wins customization and functionality by a mile.
I often hear the argument that Weebly is ineffective for SEO, this is false (see here). Weebly offers guides to optimize your website for search engines. Additionally, Weebly has elements of SEO built into its platform. For example, you can easily add in 301 redirects, custom header and footer code, and page titles and descriptions. Moreover, backlink building is also an off-site component, therefore the technology you built it on doesn’t affect this. So overall, Weebly isn’t as poor as other website builders when it comes to SEO.
With that being said, Weebly still doesn’t compare to WordPress when it comes to SEO. Why? Because WordPress allows you to add third-party plug-ins that allow you to address every SEO need. One of the complaints I see and hear about Weebly is the inability to fully customize H tags and the URL structure of the site. Strings are added at the end of some URLs, depending on the page. Unfortunately, these can’t be removed and it does have a negative impact on SEO.
WordPress takes the win for SEO. Albeit, optimizing a WordPress website for the search engines does require a little bit of know-how but if you’re familiar with how to upload and activate a plugin I would suggest building your website in WordPress. Especially if the function of your website is to rank well in the search engines. There’s a lot that goes into optimizing a WordPress website for SEO, personally I love this article by Rohit Palit which explains how to boost SEO on your WordPress website.
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With Square Inc recently acquiring Weebly, it’s only a matter of time until Weebly becomes very capable in the e-commerce space. For now, Weebly E-Commerce functionality is a bit limited.
Weebly is actually surprisingly capable on the e-commerce front despite having some limited capabilities. If you’re just looking to set up a website really quick to get some products online, Weebly may be a great fit for you. If you’re looking for a long-term E-Commerce solution, I would recommend skipping over Weebly. This is because on Weebly you can’t accept manual payments like cash delivery or money wire, etc. There are also limitations with allowing customers to login in order to checkout. This can create issues with capturing consumer data to leverage for retargeting, email, and paid ads and offering promotions to repeat customers.
I’m sure you’re familiar with this theme by now. WordPress allows you to add third-party plug-ins to address pretty much every E-Commerce need you have. In WordPress, you can accept payments in virtually every form. Endless integration with your email marketing platforms, social media, and any other platform you’d like to utilize with your store. The downside is the level of expertise that is required to get all these pieces of the puzzle working together.
So if your goal is to set up a quick shop online to get products available to purchase, Weebly saves a lot of time and know-how. If your goal is developing an E-Commerce store for the long-haul, I would suggest learning how to build it in WordPress or outsource the work to a reputable developer. The winner of e-commerce is a draw, depending on what your needs are.
Unfortunately, moving your website off of Weebly is not very easy or simple. Weebly essentially “owns the code” and will only allow you to download HTML elements into a .zip file. Many of the widgets in Weebly are not built using HTML so exporting them is not possible. Things like your blog, sliders, contact forms, etc. will have to be rebuilt/published on the new website. This makes sense because Weebly is a for-profit business, they don’t want you to leave their platform.
Since WordPress is open-source you can download your content into many different formats. Using plug-ins makes this easy. This means no matter what you can always transfer 100% of the content on your WordPress site. Hosting providers will help step-by-step through this process so don’t hesitate to reach out and ask for support. WordPress wins data portability for the simple fact you can transfer 100% of your files in many different formats.
Who is Weebly best for?
If you’re like most people and lack WordPress expertise, you can expect to pay thousands of dollars for a new WordPress website. If you’re getting started and you don’t have the budget for a developer, Weebly is a great place to start. The simplicity of getting a website online is seriously unmatched. This, however, goes with a word of caution. If the focus of your business is digital, Weebly has shortcomings when it comes to SEO, advanced marketing integrations, and customizations.
Who is WordPress best for?
WordPress is for those who are willing to invest a little extra time and energy into learning how to customize a WordPress website. The investment pays off immensely for the sheer fact that any customization you want to perform is possible. Additionally, WordPress powers about 1/3rd of the internet. So becoming proficient in WordPress creates a very valuable and in-demand skill for yourself. Additionally, if your goal is to drive free organic traffic through the search engines, WordPress is a platform you’ll want to be on.
Additionally, if starting a blog is your initiative you’ll definitely want to be on WordPress. When your source of traffic is coming from the search engines you’ll want to make sure you’re built on a platform that’s capable of scaling and customizing your blog.
Which one should I go with?
Our take is to go with WordPress. If you’re serious about your business you should be looking at it long-term. This means setting a strong foundation from which you can build, which all starts with the website. Keep in mind this is our take, this topic is regularly debated and many people have different opinions.
Summary and Conclusion
In this article, we dissected the WordPress vs Weebly debate and hopefully put it to rest. By reading this article you’re already on your way to internet success! Understanding the pros and cons of each website builder will equip you with the knowledge to know what’s right for you. Please share your thoughts about this article by commenting below! Was there something you wish I would’ve touched on? Thanks for reading this article and happy website building. 🙂