wp-vs-weebly

How to find out which platform works better for you. The pros& cons between Weebly and WordPress

This is the second post of a series investigating three web platforms to help you decide which would be best fits your needs.  If you missed my first post that summarizes all three platforms, jump over & check it out.

As I outlined last week, this all came about after a conversation I had with my friend Arlana .   This exercise originally started out as one quick post but soon became a bit more of a mountain then a molehill (yes, I just used that comparison) so thought best to break it down into several parts.

I build my sites in WordPress however, there are special features to Weebly and Squarespace that make it a lot easier for the beginner and/or preference to the features they provide.

So when I am asked which one is best, I have to answer with the ever annoying “depends”.

This is true.. the answer revolves around who the end user will be.  Which brings me to my compare & contrast guide for the platforms.  By using this guide, it will help you decide which features may work best for you.Last week, I covered that my friend Arlana is an artist who was looking to build a site to showcase her paintings & portfolio.  To have a place where she can upload new works for sale & to attract agents + gallery owners.  She decided to use Weebly as her boyfriend, a trained stunt man, created his portfolio of reels on Weebly & was quite happy with it (also to help her put it together).

As Arlana is using Weebly, I figure it is the best place to start. I don’t really know anything about Weebly and I will admit that I hadn’t really heard of Weebly websites. I actually thought it was a promotional app for Facebook pages.

Where WordPress allows designers to completely customize a site from start to finish, other platforms like Weebly or Squarespace remove a few of these features or charge extra for them. They create an a la carte way of building the site so as it may take out the cost of a programmer, you are paying it direct to the platform. For example, when I build a website, I purchase the domain and host provider separately & then load WordPress onto it. (as walked through on this post). WordPress itself is an open source meaning it is free for all to use. When you load WordPress, you are given several themes to build with off the hop. For a nominal fee you can get a more premium theme.

With Weebly on the other hand, you pay for the domain/ host and the build all in one place. This always makes me pause if only for the reason that I have worked for clients in the past who for whatever reason are in this position & they never get the results they were seeking in these constraints.

As mentioned, I’m WordPress all the way so I will be comparing Weebly to WordPress throughout and declaring a winner based on the following features:

1. Builder – It says it is drag & drop

As I haven’t made a site in Weebly, I can’t say it is as easy as they claim.

Winner: Not sure as I can’t say for certain however, any drag & drop feature I have used is indeed as easy as it claims.

 

2. Mobile – Themes are responsive

All sites are now built responsive now. I don’t see this as a selling feature. The sites that are not responsive are at least a couple of years old.

Winner: No difference between platforms.   If your wordpress site is not responsive, it means you have an outdated theme & you need to upgrade.

3. Ecommerce –  Cart/ checkout, product search, SEO optimized stores, shipping options, tax control, inventory management, android + iphone apps.

I’ve built & managed a website on Shopify which is a platform that exists purely for the ecommerce capability. If I were asked to build a site that sells clothing online, for example, I would choose them 100%. The features they outline here sound a lot like Shopify. They offer basic ecommerce features but then upsell you on features. While there were a lot of free features, most of them would be offered free and then charge a nominal fee to upgrade and the upgrade is always what you desire. (ie: while the free version allows you to create 1 promotion of buy 1 get one free, to be able to have several promotions going on simultaneously, you need to upgrade. Trust me this matters especially around black Friday & boxing day).

Winner: In this case it is Weebly as it is offered as part of their package and you need little to know programming know how to put it together. However, I wouldn’t use WordPress for Ecommerce anyways. I would build in Shopfiy which is just as user friendly if not more and has as many features advertised on Weebly.

 

4. Templates – Many to choose from

All platforms offer themes. WordPress is installed with several ready to use themes. Like the other platforms, you can pay nominal fees to get premium themes.

Winner: I’m rolling my eyes because this is a feature offered across all and every platform.  It kind of goes without saying. This is like advertising that your restaurant has a menu.  We all know this. Even buffets list what the special is that day.  So I’m deducting a point from Weebly for talking down to their audience.

 

5. Hosting – Free Hosting

I don’t know how they claim this. The basic plan is a free plan but every other plan involves a a fee of some sort. They offer the packages to entice you to want/ need more features and in most cases, your site needs these.  So they attach a cost to these plans and then bundle a host fee into that.  Appears to be nothing more than fancy marketing.  You can essentially have a free WordPress site which includes the .Wordpress.org in your title. This is also offered in the Weebly ‘free’ plan.

In my opinion, if you want to look professional, you should avoid having the providers name in your URL, you buck up & pay for the name.  Same reason professionals do not use Hotmail any longer. Nothing says amateur then an email that you can access for free at the library.

 

Winner: I hate that they marketed themselves to sound like they are offering a lot of features. Fact is hosting needs to be paid for as it is space.  If it isn’t nominal, it is in the title (advertising for their platform).

 

6. Blogging – Has templates.

WordPress was originally designed to be a blogging platform. Due to popularity, it has developed into being a website go to. Other platforms such as Joomla or Drupal (these are developer platforms and not part of this conversation), they install WordPress blogs into the site they are creating.   That being said, I believe hands down, WordPress is the go to blog but we are talking about websites which may or may not include that feature.

Winner: Same argument as Theme templates. However, with all of the themes out there, there is a difference in Blog layouts.  So where as Weebly may have a couple of blog templates, WordPress has every blog layout. I give the win to WordPress.

 

7. Mobile Apps

This focuses on how one can build the site with your ipad or phone. I will say that I wouldn’t imagine doing the same with WordPress. However, I also couldn’t imagine building anything from my phone. They do include apps to help you monitor and manage your site from the phone or ipad and those can create ease of use . There are times when I have had to manage features of my WordPress site on the fly & it can be quite difficult if you do not have your laptop with you.

Winner: Weebly gets this one as it is the most user friendly.  You can essentially do all of these things with a wordpress site however, you will need to add plugins & the occasional programming know how to get the same results and that is not always condusive to a newbie.

 

8. Domain Names – Register through Weebly

They say you can register your domain name directly from them. This also makes the ease of use optimal over WordPress because it is putting it all in one spot. Not having to go to go daddy and search and then point the domain which for the uninitiated makes your eyes cross.

Another bonus to Weebly.

 

9. Photos – Galleries

They have gallery & slide show options. However, they also have this in WordPress and so I see no benefit for one over the other here (plus WordPress connects to many plugins that are being developed all the time). This allows you to be on the edge of new features a little sooner than Weebly…

Slight edge WordPress

 

10. Video – Can host videos

This is a massive edge to WordPress. Normally, you need to upload your video elsewhere as many hosting programs do not have the bandwidth to showcase your videos. This is why one would upload their video to either youtube or vimeo and add the embed code to their post. Uploading and showcasing makes an all in 1 stop. However, any social media expert will shower you with the benefits of having your vides on Youtube. Google owns youtube, they favour searches for things in their products. If you want visibility, you need to showcase your videos there.

For ease of use, the winner is Weebly. However, from an SEO standpoint, the winner is WordPress.

 

11. Forms – Customization

The example shows a customizable contact form. However, contact forms were never the issue for my clients. What my clients usually need are questionaires or application forms which require multiple recipients and options and sometimes an ecommerce component. So this may be somewhere WordPress has an advantage. There are many form plugins that help you do this. If you are going for simple, this is moot.

Winner: Honestly again: who cares about the customizable contact form. They offer this feature for those that cannot make a customized page in any other platform. WordPresss allows you to install a plugin & make the contact you wish.  For user friendliness & newbies, this goes to Weebly. For literally every other website user aside from brand new, I give it to WordPress.

 

Website Stats – Included.

I use google Analytics and for a beginner, having your stats included may be easier.

 


 

So those are the features but like most things, we want to know what the bottom line is which is… How much will all of this cost me?

They give you 4 different pricing structures: Free, Basic, Pro, Business

If you are using the FREE package, you will have .Weebly as part of your domain name to serve them as advertising on your site. So you have to pay a minimum 8 USD/month to have your own site. (for us Canadians you are looking at around 10.50/month)

So while they have sold you on all of the features mentioned before, in order to access all of them, you must pay higher fees. The ecommerce features to this platform are only unlocked if you purchase the 25/month website.

The ecommerce portion is all well & good but I’m trying to debate the platform I use to create a basic website.  If I were to design an ecommerce site, I most likely would not use WordPress and definitely not use Weebly so that paid feature is moot.

So comparing basic site to basic site. You are looking at 8/month for Weebly but for a WordPress site you will be paying for your host probably monthly & then your domain yearly. In my case it is $14/year for my domain and $9.99/month (however, I host 3+ sites on this account so if I look at the average of $3.33/month, it is drastically less)

Again, this is for a basic site. I’m leaving out certain features for the ease of discussion (ie: business features as that revolves around marketing and that is a whole load of considerations too)

 


 

So the question remains: Would I recommend Weebly?  And again my annoying answer is ‘Depends’

If you are the following characteristics then Weebly may be right for you:

  1. Building the site yourself
  2. Have a very small website to put together.
  3. Have no or very little Budget
  4. Have little to no technical skills
  5. This part is the most important one… Get frustrated and overwhelmed by technical know how and therefore if something will take longer then 2 minutes to figure out, you want no part of it.

It is a great platform to do it all in one place. However, you are getting what you ask for. If you are feeling the site is not sophisticated enough, then I suggest jumping platforms and either learning to use another or paying someone to help you set up the framework to maintain.

If you are going for a more polished look, want the website to be competitive within the brand savvy internet + work on your behalf in terms of social media integration, then I would look into Squarespace or WordPress.  So next week, I will take a closer look at Squarespace.  There are many bloggers + designers out there that have been turned onto that Platform and swear by the platform. This will be a harder one to convince myself that it is a viable option.  However, skimming over a couple of the features, already piqued my interest…

 

Til Next Time….

 


 

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