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Tuesday, October 26th
When it comes to website builders, Weebly is best described as "average". On the positive side, the service has integrated shipping and eCommerce solutions. But, it's not as well-rounded as our higher-ranked providers.
Getting Started With Your Website
You'll still find quite a few people talking about Weebly, so let's look at how to use this website builder. To start using Weebly, sign up for an account and then choose whether you want to create a regular website or one with an online store. If you choose the online store option, even before you create the website you'll be prompted to enter a physical address and sign up for a Square payment processing account. If you're not ready for that kind of commitment, that's too bad because there's no way to opt out of it once you start. So, be sure that this is what you want when you select that option.
Once you're into the main Weebly dashboard, choose "Edit Site" to begin using the editor. In the eCommerce scenario we tested, it confusingly took us to the Square store editor, with the Square logo in the browser tab. But then we noticed that the URL still said "Weebly", so it appears that we were in the right place, just with confusing labels. This, we later realized after re-examining the branding of the Weebly home page, was because Square had acquired Weebly as its website builder software.
The editor will ask you for features you want to include in your website and online store using a wizard-like interface to add features, logo, and style. If you don't have a logo yet, you can skip that step.
Pre-made Options For Website Sections
The rest of the editing experience is a series of choosing pre-made options for headers, footers, banners, layouts, sections, and elements like images, buttons, and forms. There doesn't appear to be a blogging option.
For eCommerce, creating an item involves filling out a simple form with item type, title, price, description, images, and fulfillment options for shipping, in-store pickup, or local delivery. There is a "More Options" button in product creation that reveals options such as making an item tax exempt and creating variations of a product according to various attributes. You can also allow customers to modify an item with text or based on a selection.
Square Delivers More Bang For The Buck
Overall, for eCommerce you do get more bang for the buck because of the Square-centric eCommerce focus of Weebly. Square brings in a lot of analytics and store management tools that other website editors don't provide.
Creativity Is Limited
However, the Weebly design experience is limited to the constraints the theme designers have established. Even though there's an option to hire a Weebly designer to address whatever parts you feel are lacking, most website owners are eventually going to want to have more creative freedom as to sizing and positioning of elements and will then feel frustrated with these limitations.
Good If You Don't Needmuch Flexibility
We suggest that you try another builder if you want more design flexibility. But if your focus is more on eCommerce, Weebly is a good choice, at least to start. If you decide later to move to a WordPress and WooCommerce setup, Weebly does allow you to export your data for use with WordPress/Woocommerce import plugins.
The way you build a website can directly impact the success your website has in attracting and retaining customers. So, it's important to choose a website builder that maximizes things like search engine optimization (SEO), usability, the speed at which each page loads (page speed), mobile browser compatibility, accessibility for users with disabilities, and dozens of other requirements.
Website builder software and services aim to remove the technical barriers that come with more sophisticated methods of building websites. With a website builder, not only is content easier to author, you also become a "drag and drop" designer of your home page and supporting sub-pages. This can be a blessing or it can be a burden depending on the quality of the website builder, how much time you have and your tolerance for learning curves.
Whatever you choose, remember that you may be stuck with your decision for a long time. In other words, think in the long term and visualize what your needs will be not just months from now, but years from now.
As you decide which website builder will be the best choice for your needs, there are several factors to keep in mind:
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