I take for granted the fact that I’m surrounded by a community of digital marketing experts, nearly 24/7. As such, I tend to forget that things like HTML, mock-ups and wireframes aren’t languages the rest of the world speak.
A few months ago, I started working with some small businesses and organizations to help them better their online marketing efforts. We’d always come to the subject of their web content management systems, and they all used, or wanted to use, something extremely simple. Of course, my first blush was always Joomla or WordPress — I mean how much easier could it get? But these proved to be difficult for people who are a little less technical.
When I saw some of the website builders they were currently using, I was shocked at how limited the features were. I couldn’t find a middle ground!
Fast forward a few months to Mother’s Day. I was low on cash, but wanted to give my mother a present that she wouldn’t forget. She happens to be writing a book about her ancestry that she wanted to get published — so I figured, why not create a website for her book! I love my mom, but she is probably the least technical person that I know. Therefore, I had to find a service that would make it as easy as possible for her to add photos, blog, and manage her web content. Enter Weebly.
What is Weebly?
Weebly is a free website creation tool — I originally found out about it during my digital marketing internship and it was a site that I honestly laughed at because it seemed way too easy to use. Little did I know, it was the perfect web solution for the everyday person.
It comes in two versions, Free and Pro. The Pro version is $3.99 a month with a year subscription and removes the nagging “This website was created by Weebly” in the footer; however, there are very few other perks for the average user, like my mom.
With Weebly, you can either use a domain you already own, use one of their free .weebly domains, or purchase a domain through Weebly. The best part: they make the process simple.
What Makes Weebly Great?
It’s completely drag and drop, and requires no knowledge of HTML to create everything from columns of text to sophisticated contact forms. However, for those who do know HTML, Weebly allows you to create custom HTML to create an even more robust site. But be warned — it can be a bit buggy if you get too complicated.
I chose a basic layout for my mom, made some small CSS changes, and simply put “Happy Mother’s Day” on the welcome page. I called her on Mother’s Day and walked her through everything she needed to know to edit the page herself. Granted, that conversation lasted about 2 hours, but by the end of the day, she created a pretty sophisticated web page without any knowledge of HTML.
For those who want to start blogging as part of their website, Weebly has a blog webpart for use. This proved valuable for my mom, since she’d never blogged before, but I knew with researching genealogy, it would be a good outlet for her.
What Else Should You Know About Weebly?
Weebly helps its users easily enter meta-descriptions, meta-tags, web analytics, and a host of other items that are important for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). It also allows for monetization from Google Adsense.
On the flip side, Weebly can be quirky sometimes. My mom called me because her friends were telling her that they were only able to add their name to the contact form if they clicked on the word “name”. I contacted Weebly support about it…and remember the CSS change I made? For some reason it affected the contact form. They recommended I use one of the preset templates, but I finally figured out a few HTML tweaks to make it work.
- WYSWIG (What You See is What You Get) editor. No need to know HTML for basic tasks
- Allows monetization
- Easy to learn
- Easy for beginners to optimize for search engines
- Allows for multiple users to edit
- Quirky. Potential for problems if you tweak the preset templates or if you want sophisticated HTML
- Too basic for those with above average HTML knowledge
- Weebly support took a little longer than I would have liked. The contact form issue took about two days to receive a response.
Overall, Weebly is a great tool for small businesses, organizations, and people who just want to create an online presence.
Have you ever used Weebly? If so, what were your thoughts?