Why Weebly (The Free Version) May Not Be The Best Web Site Builder For You

by CeresSchwarz

If you're planning or thinking about using Weebly to create your free web site, you would do well to take a number of things into consideration before making your final choice.

Those interested in creating their own web sites or blogs would have come across Weebly during their research. Weebly is one option that people can consider if they want to make their own site. And it is certainly a good option.

Weebly is touted for being a very easy to use platform for site building. It's well-known for its drag-and-drop site creation tools, which can make building web sites a breeze. However, is Weebly, particularly its free version, really the best web site builder for you?

Why The Free Version Of Weebly May Not Be The Best Web Site Builder For You
Why The Free Version Of Weebly May Not Be The Best Web Site Builder For You

Weebly

A short introduction to Weebly

Weebly has both a free version and a pro version, the latter of which requires you to fork over some money before being allowed to make use of it.

There's also what is known as the starter version, which is in the middle of the free and pro version.

But this one also requires you to pay so it's just like a downgraded version of Weebly pro.

For some people, the free version is said to be more than enough for them while some might want to go with the pro version of Weebly.

However, whether or not the free or paid version is the right one for you is another topic entirely. This article will only focus on the free version of Weebly. It would be a good idea to start with Weebly's free version instead of opting for the paid version right away. Using the free version, you can check things out and see for yourself if you really like Weebly and want to keep using it.

In this way, if you end up deciding that you want to try out another site builder and that you don't like Weebly anymore, you won't lose any monetary investment.

After all, if you end up liking the free version of Weebly, chances are that you'll also end up liking its pro version.

Signing up for Weebly is free & easy

All you need to do is fill in the text boxes just like you would a nametag

Features of Weebly

Why Weebly can be considered a great web site builder?

One of the features about Weebly that really make it stand out is how it claims to be very easy to use. It utilizes a drag-and-drop feature which enables its users to easily add elements to their web site. On Weebly, you can easily add a text box, images and many other things to the web site that you're attempting to build.

You can see an example of this in the image to the left. The square boxes in that image are the elements which you can add to your site.

These include things like title, paragraph, image, gallery, HTML, map and many others.

Drag and drop these boxes on to your site (the white space in the image) and then you can start editing said site.

Adding pages and even a blog to your site can be as simple as clicking on the appropriate links and buttons and giving a name to said pages.

Weebly offers many themes and templates to choose from.

You don't even have to edit the HTML or CSS, which is great for all those who aren't adept at this at all.

Site Themes And Templates

Weebly does offer a number of templates that you can choose from
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Everything appears to be so simple that it seems you don't even need to expend all that much effort into this. It can seem like you can just sign up for Weebly and then make your site and be able to publish it, all on the same day. With all these apparently awesome features of Weebly, what could possibly be wrong with it?

What's wrong with Weebly?

Why isn't Weebly for everyone?

Nothing, nothing seems to be wrong with Weebly. It appears to be a perfectly fine option for those looking for a web site builder. And, honestly, yes, Weebly is a perfectly fine choice for all those looking for a web site builder. However, this site builder is not for everyone. For some people, Weebly is perfect while for others, Weebly is lacking. Why?

Perfect web site builder

How Weebly can be a perfectly fine web site builder for some people

If you're just looking for something simple and easy, then Weebly can be the site builder for you.

With Weebly, all you really have to do is just drag & drop elements to your site and that's it so it should be easier than trying to solve a 3D puzzle

On Weebly, you don't have to expend so much effort in creating your web site. You don't need to tinker with the HTML, CSS, font sizes and styles, and all those other site options and features. On Weebly, all you really need to do is select your web site theme. After that, you're ready to start making your site.

You just need to drag and drop whatever element you want to add to your site. You can add text boxes, images, columns, etc. If you already have all your content pre-made before signing up for Weebly, you can easily fill up your site and possibly even be able to publish it on the same day that you created your free Weebly website. You can even add AdSense or Chitika ads to your site so you can easily monetize it as well.

Weebly even has a Support Center, which includes frequently asked questions, wherein you can check out its various tutorials and guides on how to work on your Weebly site and make things even easier and simpler for you. After you finish adding all the elements that you want on your site, including adding all its contents like articles, pictures, blog posts, etc, you can now publish your site.

Imperfections of Weebly

Why Weebly isn't the best site builder for everyone

Weebly may be really easy and simple to use but one disadvantage about it is that it is not flexible.

This lack of flexibility is the primary reason why Weebly isn't suited as a web site builder for everyone.

There are people who aren't satisfied with just choosing a theme or template and being done with it.

There are those who want to customize their web site or blog further, add more features to it and even change the designs and styles of their site such as the fonts, sidebars, footers, etc.

Google Blogger or WordPress: better, easier & more flexible than Weebly?

For some, perhaps it could be argued that Google Blogger or even WordPress might be more flexible as compared to the free version of Weebly
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These are the kinds of people that will find Weebly inflexible and therefore not the best site builder for them. The following are some of the things that don't make Weebly flexible at all and which can explain why, for some, this isn't the best web site builder that is suitable for your needs.

While Weebly does offer a number of themes and templates, if you look at them closely enough, you'll notice that they look rather similar to each other

Weebly Themes

Do you care about what kind of theme or template your web site has?

While it is true that Weebly has a lot of themes, it's also true that platforms like Google Blogger and WordPress have seemingly many more themes as compared to Weebly.

Weebly has many free themes that you can choose from. You can usually choose from different colors of the same template. You can access these templates when you're signed in to your Weebly account, which also makes it easier for you to just select a theme and then preview it. If you like the way it looks, then you can choose to use the template for your site.  

There appears to be more of these free themes as compared to the ones offered by Google Blogger when you're signed in to the latter. But if you look at the free themes offered by Weebly, you'll soon see that most of them look pretty much the same or rather similar as you can see in the image to the left.

The general appearance of the themes look to be the same with the only differences being in the colors and fonts and other such seemingly minuscule differences. Furthermore, if you run a search for free website or blog themes, you'll quickly see that you get a whole lot more results for Blogger and WordPress templates than Weebly templates.

I've only found a few Weebly templates when searching specifically for them. Of the ones I found, only a few were free while most actually require you to pay before being able to use said theme.

For some, the free Weebly themes that are available are already more than enough and they wouldn't need to even buy a template for their site. But there are people who would want more choices for themes. And there are also those who wouldn't want to spend money on a theme if you could just settle for a free one.

As such, if you want more choices for site or blog templates, you might be better off checking out Blogger or WordPress since these two offer a multitude of themes to choose from, a lot of which are free to use.

Slider / Slideshow

Do you want a slider or slideshow on the home page of your web site?

The free version of Weebly won't let you add a slideshow to your site home page.

You will have to upgrade to the Weebly pro version if you want this.

Weebly's free version will let you add an image to your home page in the form of a header, as you can see in the featured image to the right.

If you click the edit button in that image, you'll be brought to a page where you can edit said image or add a new image.

You can also see a slideshow tab beside the image tab.

This gives the impression that you can add a slideshow to your site home page.

Slideshow Maker

Weebly's free version makes it seem like you can easily add a slideshow to your website's home page but, the truth is, if you really want to do that, you'll have to upgrade to the paid pro version
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However, this is only for the pro version of Weebly. If you click that tab, a new window will open and you'll be taken to a payment page, which also includes some details about Weebly pro.

If you know what you're doing or if you want to try, you can see about tinkering with the HTML of your Weebly theme or adding an HTML code element to your site, which would add a slider to your home page.

You can add a slideshow to the other pages of your site without having to upgrade to the paid version of Weebly. For those that don't care or don't want a slider on their home page, this isn't a problem for them. But for those that do, you can opt for Blogger or WordPress instead. You can find a variety of themes for these platforms that include a slideshow for your site home page.

Copyright Symbol

You can easily add a copyright to your Google Blogger blog's footer. But the same can't be said for Weebly because you'll have to upgrade to its paid version if you want to edit your site's footer just to add the copyright
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Copyrights & Footers

Do you want to add something to the footer of your site?

Most, if not all, would want to add a copyright symbol at the footer of their site to indicate that they are the owner of all the content in said website and that all rights are reserved.

There's nothing wrong with that if you are the true owner of all your site content.

Weebly doesn't let you do this though. You're not allowed to edit the footer of your site.

If you want to edit it, you'll have to upgrade to the paid version.

The free Weebly's footer says "create a free website with Weebly" with the word Weebly linking to Weebly.com.

I understand why Weebly wants that footer link to remain and I don't begrudge them that at all.

If you're using a platform for free, the least you can do is keep their links intact just like how you should keep the links on a free template that you're using. It's just like using images that have the Creative Commons license. But the point here is that, why can't Weebly let its free users add to this footer?

Why can't we have the chance to at least put a copyright symbol as well as the site name or author name above this link? Even Google Blogger lets you add a copyright on their free blogging platform. If you search around, you can find ways in which you can be allowed to modify the Weebly footer so you can add your copyright symbol to it and whatever else you want to said footer.

But it's such a hassle that you have to go through all that just to modify your footer unless you want to pay up in order to be able to edit the Weebly footer. Another problem is the lack of columns on the Weebly footer. On Google Blogger, you can find themes that have 2, 3 or even 4 columns, which is perfect if you want footer columns. 

Weebly doesn't have this option though so if you want the footer columns, you'll have to figure it out yourself or search around for how to do this.

Drag-and-Drop

Can you really drag and drop web site elements everywhere on your site?

The answer to that is no. There's a set box where you can add all these web site elements such as text boxes, images, columns, etc.

The only place you can drag and drop all those elements is on that box.

If you try to add, say, a gallery, elsewhere, it won't work.

Within this box, you also need to work on things from top to bottom.

For example, if you want to put a paragraph element on the bottom of this box, you can't do this unless you have filled the box up starting from the top.

Jigsaw Puzzle

Just like how a jigsaw puzzle limits you in how you can combine the pieces to complete it, Weebly's drag and drop feature is also limited to a certain place in the site
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Anything you drag to that box will always go to the top first. Then the next item you drag and drop there will be placed below the first item. Once you have more than one item in that box, you can rearrange things. So, while all this dragging and dropping can be so easy, others won't exactly be pleased with how inflexible things can be.

Sidebars

Do you want a left or right sidebar or both for your web site?

If yes, know that the free version of Weebly is not going to make it easy for you. 

If you search around for Google Blogger themes, you'll find sites wherein said templates are categorized into the left sidebar, right sidebar and even the left and right sidebar.

As such, you can find many themes that fit the kind of sidebar that you want.

On Blogger, you can also add gadgets to your sidebar such as the popular posts, the social media icons, etc.

On Weebly, you can't do this at all. You'll have to make your own sidebar by adding columns to your site.

Tic-Tac-Toe

Like trying to win a game of tic-tac-toe against a formidable opponent, you'll have to really make an effort if you want to add a sidebar and columns on your Weebly web site
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While it's easy enough to add a column element (since all you need to do is drag and drop said column element to the designated box), it's adding content to your sidebar which can be rather difficult especially if you don't know what you're doing.

If you decide to add a blog page to your Weebly site, it will have a right sidebar but this one is rather limited and you still need to fix it up. At this point, you might just opt to go with Google Blogger. Parts of it may be rather complicated and difficult to figure out but at least, it's got sidebars and footers and you can easily add gadgets to these places.

Star

If you see a star on some Weebly elements or features, then that means you'll have to upgrade to Weebly Pro if you want to use said features
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Stars on some Weebly Elements

Do you want to upgrade to the pro or starter version of Weebly?

On the free version of Weebly, you'll see all these elements with stars.

This includes the search box and audio features.

If you try to add these to your site, a new window will pop up, leading to a payment page.

This payment and upgrade page also shows up if you try to edit the free Weebly footer or add a slideshow to the header in your home page. 

Apparently, those elements with stars, as well as the other aforementioned features, are only available in the paid version of Weebly.

If you want these on your site, you have to upgrade to the pro or starter version.

If the free users can't use these features, why are they there in the first place? Perhaps, the aim is to maybe tempt the free users into considering the paid version to try out these features. Once you've figured out that these elements with stars require you to pay up, you can just ignore them unless you want to upgrade from your free Weebly site.

Conclusion

If you don't care about these imperfections of the free version of Weebly, then know that Weebly is a pretty good web site builder.

It really is easy if you don't care about adding other stuff to your site or customizing and modifying it further.

But if you do think that Weebly is inflexible and has too many limitations for your liking, then opt for other platforms like Google Blogger or WordPress.

Do you like the free version of Weebly? Why or Why not?

Share your thoughts and opinions

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These platforms might be the better web site builder for you. However, since there is a free version of Weebly, there's no harm in signing up and checking it out for yourself, just to see if you might end up liking it. If you're considering Weebly pro, it's definitely a good idea to start with the free Weebly version first.

If you end up liking Weebly free, chances are that you'll end up liking Weebly pro. But if you end up not liking Weebly free, then at least you were able to figure that out before you decided to get the paid version of Weebly. In the end, this is all a matter of personal preference as well as what the person wants and needs for their site or blog.

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Updated: 06/30/2016, CeresSchwarz
 
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CeresSchwarz on 11/15/2013

@Rose - yes, Weebly may be free and easy to use but it appears to have a lot of limitations that the free version of Blogger can easily solve though Blogger really isn't all that easy at all. What do you mean by using Weebly as a "static website"?

Rose on 11/14/2013

If you want to set up a blog or journal, you are definitely better off with wordpress or blogger. I live weebly for static websites though.

CeresSchwarz on 09/10/2013

@ologsinquito - thanks. The free version of Weebly can be a good site builder though some might find it inflexible and might prefer other platforms like Blogger or WordPress.

@jptanabe - thanks. Yes, Weebly has some limitations as compared to Blogger so there are some who might prefer Blogger over Weebly. But it all depends on how you want your site or blog to be.

jptanabe on 09/10/2013

Very helpful. I didn't know much about the limitations of Weebly compared to Blogger before.

ologsinquito on 09/09/2013

Great overview of Weebly.

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