If you’ve been thinking about starting a website, there are tons of options out there for creating and managing that site.Today I’m going to compare 2 popular, but very different solutions. Welcome to Weebly vs WordPress.
I’ll start by saying that I’ve used both of these platforms for years, and I’ve successfully grown and maintained high traffic websites using each one of these. So I feel as if I can deliver a pretty fair comparison of the 2 systems and hopefully help you decide which is best for you.
I’ll also say that there is no “loser” here, at least in my mind. Both systems are viable options for running your website, they are just different and cater to different needs. Let’s look at some of the details:
Brief Weebly Overview
I am going to give a brief overview of both systems, so you can get the high level idea. I’ll spend most of our time pointing out the similarities and differences – not doing a full review of each.
Weebly is a website builder that is designed to make the process of creating and customizing a website very simple.
You start by going to Weebly.com and creating a free account, and moments later you are building your website using their online design tool. It is a “drag and drop” interface, which means that you click on elements like a title, text block, image, etc. and drag it to where you want it on your website.
Weebly is built with the beginner in mind, but it has really grown up over the years to allow for a full online store and e-commerce solution for those who need it. As for ease of use, it just doesn’t get much simpler than Weebly.
I really believe that the average internet user, who has never even considered creating a website, can jump into Weebly and know what to do within minutes.
You start by choosing a theme, which is the main look of your website. You then add pages and make customizations until you’re happy, and publish your site. By default, your site is on a subdomain of Weebly such as SITE.weebly.com. You can connect your own domain with Weebly, so it’s just “Yoursite.com.”
Brief WordPress Overview
For our purposes, we are focused on comparing Weebly to WordPress.org – not WordPress.com.
WordPress.com is primarily a free blogging platform which uses a subdomain like SITE.wordpress.com. If you want to upgrade to using your own domain and more file storage, etc. then you’ll pay about $99 per year.
WordPress.org is “both free and priceless at the same time.” They say that over 60 million people have built their websites with this free software, and that number is growing by the day.
This distinction between WordPress.com and WordPress.org was very confusing to me at first. For the rest of this article, when we talk about WordPress we are talking about WordPress.org.
To use it, you need to first buy both a hosting plan and a domain name for your website. Personally, I buy domain names at 1and1.com and do my hosting with Bluehost. I chose Bluehost because it was affordable, and it has a “1-click” WordPress install. It was a very simple process.
Whatever hosting you go with, you’ll need to install WordPress on that host so you can start building your website.
Wordpress has a default theme, but there are tons of 3rd party companies and designers that create both free and paid themes that you can use. This will set the main look of your website. Once you’ve logged in, the WordPress admin site looks like this:
You’ll begin adding pages and posts, as well as making other customizations to the site. Since you’ve already got your domain and hosting in place, as you publish pages and posts they will go live immediately.
As you need to add functionality or other features, you can search a marketplace of “plugins” that are also developed by 3rd parties. These can help with e-commerce, SEO, website speed, and a multitude of other things. WordPress plugins really help you customize your site.
Weebly vs WordPress: Key Differences
I’m now going to rundown some of the key differences in these 2 platforms. As mentioned earlier, depending on the situation either one of these could be right for you.
Ease of Use
I’ll say it again: it just doesn’t get much simpler than Weebly.
There are some other drag and drop style editors available, and you can read more about those here. However, Weebly offers a nice mix of simplicity and advanced features. You can really do quite a bit with it if needed, but if you just need something simple and straightforward you can do that too.
On the other hand, I don’t think WordPress is difficult to use.
I had used Weebly before WordPress, and I used to think that WordPress would be some big blank page where I would have to start typing in HTML code. Fortunately, that isn’t the case at all.
It isn’t drag and drop, but once you figure out where everything is, it isn’t difficult to create blog posts and pages. However, there is a little bit of a learning curve when you’ve never used WordPress before. I think people who’ve used WordPress for awhile may take these for granted, but some of the set up steps you should take aren’t obvious, and WordPress doesn’t automatically walk you through them.
1. Finding your way to general settings to put in your site name and description
2. Changing your permalink structure to be more SEO friendly and human friendly
3. Changing your theme and customizing it, including whether to show latest blog posts or a static front page
Again, they aren’t hard to do, but if you are new to this and don’t have any help – you might not even think to look for these kinds of things.
The difference in Weebly is that the wizard walks you though choosing a theme for your site, adding your site name, and doing those very basic things before you get into the website editor.
Once you’re in the editor, the drag and drop functions are very intuitive and simple to use. You also have a much less complicated menu of things to do, like Build, Design, and Settings.
Weebly has a much clearer path to starting as a beginner and getting a good looking site with all the bases covered up and live. So when friends or acquaintances ask me what they should use to build their website, I always suggest that they start with Weebly.
For most people that I talk to, explaining about hosting and installing WordPress just sounds intimidating and is more than they want to deal with. These aren’t “website people.” They are very small business owners who need an online presence, people starting a site for a personal cause or interest, etc.
Sure, there are things they could do in WordPress that they can’t do in Weebly, but most beginners wouldn’t know how to do those things anyway. They aren’t trying to be a website building expert, they just want something that looks professional and is quick and easy to setup and maintain. If that sounds like you, then I wholeheartedly recommend Weebly.
In both Weebly or WordPress, you can access things like your CSS file if you need to make some design edits to your theme. However, when talking about “full customization” I really mean the availability of themes and plugins that you have in WordPress.
Weebly has dozens of themes to choose from, and probably 30 of those fit in well with 2015 standards. Some themes were designed several years ago and look a little dated in my opinion.
Besides Weebly’s free themes, there are very few 3rd parties that develop themes specifically for Weebly. DivTagTemplates is one example of a theme maker that focuses on developing for Weebly.
With WordPress, some themes are available for free and others come at a cost. You can also hire a designer from Elance or elsewhere to create a fully customized site for you. Because WordPress is so widely used, there is never any shortage of designers and developers who focus their time on creating things for WordPress.
It’s kind of like an app developer, would you rather spend your time creating an app for iOS (Apple devices) or for Windows phone? Wherever the majority of users are, the majority of developers and creators will be there also.
Another form of customization is with WordPress plugins.
There are over 37,000 of these add-ons available, and they can do just about anything you can think of. For instance, I use plug-ins that are designed for SEO and help you make sure that your pages are focused on your target keyword.
Another plug-in I’ve used when creating a site that uses Adsense to monetize is called “Quick Adsense ” that automatically drops your ads into the same places on all of your pages and posts. This is a huge time-saver if you’re running a big Adsense site.
In Weebly, I’d have to put in that Adsense code on each page that I want to display ads.
There are plugins to help you control comment SPAM, increase social sharing, and much more. Weebly has a bunch of features, but what you see is what you get – they don’t have this concept of 3rd party plugins to add to the base functionality.
Depending on the kind of site you’re running, having plugins at your disposal could make a huge difference.
WordPress vs Weebly: Similarities
Weebly versus WordPress Pricing
I mentioned WordPress’ tagline earlier, that it is both free and priceless at the same time. Although it is free to use, it isn’t free to host your website or buy a domain name. Those costs don’t come from WordPress, but when you think about it from the “total cost to run a website” perspective, using WordPress doesn’t mean you have a free website.
For a shared hosting service like Bluehost, you’ll pay about $10 per month for the middle tier package. You may find a better introductory rate (currently $6.95), but to get the lesser “per month” price, you have to pay for 2 or 3 years in advance.
I’ve found Bluehost to be sufficient for me, and it is very affordable. There are more premium hosting options for WordPress like WP Engine which starts at $30 per month.
Domain names are a fixed cost, no matter where you build your website. Some website building services will sweeten the deal and give you a free domain for one year if you sign up with them, but you can typically count on $15 per year to own a domain. I use 1and1 because they often run special deals where you can get the first year at a very steep discount.
So although WordPress is free to use, your other costs will likely run you $8 – $12 per month for a domain and budget hosting.
Weebly offers a free plan, but this isn’t a viable option for most businesses. You’ll at least need the starter plan, and if you are an e-commerce (sell goods on your website) business then you’ll want the business plan. Here is a look at Weebly pricing:
I’d say that most people would do very well with the Pro plan, which is $8 per month. The biggest difference between Pro and Business is some more advanced e-commerce features. So if you don’t sell products directly on your website, then Pro would definitely work for you.
Keep in mind that this price includes your hosting, but you still need to purchase a domain name like we talked about before.
So assuming you go with Pro, and you buy a domain name separately, you’ll average about $9-10 per month to run a Weebly website.
I’m listing SEO principles as a similarity of Weebly and WordPress because the basics don’t change.
You can certainly build a high ranking website that pulls in tons of Google traffic on both Weebly and WordPress.
I’ve done it on both and still do it today.
So the idea that you can’t do SEO on Weebly or that Weebly is “bad for SEO” just isn’t the case. To me “SEO” is all about being found in the search engines, and the process you go through to make that happen.
That’s your primary concern when thinking about SEO, right?
This isn’t a full course on SEO, but one of our key themes is using low competition long tail keywords to focus your content on. This is more about the keyword research and the content strategy than it is your website builder.
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You can still do just about everything you need to do on your page to be optimized for your keyword. In fact, I put together a full guide to Weebly SEO right here if you’d like more detail.
In WordPress, you can use the Yoast SEO plugin to make sure you are covering all your bases in each post. This helps you stay focused on the basic principles of SEO, but the concepts can all be applied to a page built on Weebly or another site builder.
No doubt that the SEO settings in Weebly look different than WordPress, but the concept is the same. I can customize my page titles, descriptions, alt tags, page content, and more in both – I just take different steps to get there.
Weebly vs WordPress – Which Is Best For You?
This is an answer that only you can give. However, here are some things to consider:
Choose Weebly If you do not want to “learn” how to build a site, you just want something that is super simple.
– You need your site to be online ASAP.
– You plan on having other non-techy staff making updates to the site.
– You have a relatively simple plan for your business online – not some really complicated, customized functionality need.
On the other hand…
Choose WordPress If you do have something more complicated/custom in mind – virtually everyone you hire to do the work will be familiar with WordPress
– You are doing a site that will be monetized with Adsense. Plugins make this much easier to manage
– You plan to hire someone to manage the site – odds are that they’ve used WordPress
– You need more themes themes to choose from or your don’t like the themes Weebly offers
If you are still torn, my suggestion is pretty simple…
Start building a Weebly site for free and play around with it for an hour or so to see what you come up with. You might be surprised how good it looks and want to stick with it.
If you don’t like the site, or you are hitting limitations that hinder your business – switch to WordPress.
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Weebly can be up and running within minutes, where as WordPress is a little more involved because you need to have a hosting account and domain before you can install WordPress and really start working on it.
Best of luck in whatever you choose!