Weebly vs WordPress
So you are thinking of building a website (or having one built for you). You’ve heard of popular software like Weebly and WordPress. You know that you want to make changes to your site on your own after it is launched. Which do you choose (if either)? Here we pit Weebly vs WordPress so you can make the most informed decision.
Content Management Systems
Both Weebly and WordPress are Content Management Systems (CMSs). A CMS gives website developers, owners, and admins the ability to build, write, modify, and extend web content. Using a CMS means that you may not need to write any code to modify a page, publish a blog post, add a product, or change simple settings. Both Weebly and WordPress do these things and more.
Weebly is one of the most popular drag-and-drop DIY web builder services. It has grown by leaps and bounds since 2007. Their (mostly) intuitive builder, simple pricing tiers, and one-stop-shop model has propelled their growth. According to Weebly, their software now powers more than 40 million sites.
Weebly is proprietary software and is tightly controlled by the company.
WordPress is still the king of content management systems. It powers more than 60 million sites including 35% of the top 10k sites on the web. WordPress powers such sites as TechCrunch, The New Yorker, BBC America, Bloomberg Professional, The Official Star Wars Blog, Variety, Sony Music, and MTV News. WordPress is open-source. Anyone can view the code, contribute to the project, or build onto the software.
Weebly vs WordPress
Let’s put these two in the ring and see who emerges the victor.
Theming and Styles
Both WordPress and Weebly support themes. A Theme is a pre-built site template and style. Themes allow you to accelerate the design of your site by starting with menus, footers, page templates, typography, and colors all prebuilt for you. Web-developers usually modify themes (sometimes extensively) in order to fit an organization’s brand and atmosphere.
Theming in Weebly is straightforward. Most users install a theme and get right to publishing their content. This is the greatest advantage of Weebly themes – most themes just work. Most WordPress themes, by contrast, require a bit of tweaking before they will look and act just as you want.
Yet WordPress themes usually include more options than Weebly. The themes on Weebly are meant to be used out of the box. WordPress themes do vary in user friendly customizability yet most still include more options than Weebly’s themes do. If you don’t want to write your own CSS (which both platforms support) WordPress will give you more theme customizability than Weebly will.
If you want a one-size-fits-all, off-the-shelf, and simple theming experience Weebly is the victor.
Yet if you want the ability to significantly modify your theme now or in the future WordPress is clearly the CMS left standing.
Both Weebly and WordPress are extensible through apps and plugins. These bits of software plug into the CMS and enable it to do something new like include contact forms, optimize for search engines, or guard against spam. Neither WordPress nor Weebly do everything you need out of the box but apps and plugins can expand their capabilities dramatically. Both platforms have free and paid apps and plugins.
Weebly currently has less than 300 apps. Yet there are more than 39,000 WordPress plugins on the WordPress.org repository and even more to be found elsewhere!
Sure, Weebly apps may add social features, UI elements, and calendar widgets but your options are limited.
WordPress is the clear winner in this round. There really isn’t way to spin a mere 300 apps as having any upside for extensibility.
WordPress does not include a drag-and-drop page builder out of the box. Weebly is a drag-and-drop builder at heart – that’s why it was developed.
The Weebly builder is smooth and pleasant to use. It includes all the common modular content you need from headers and text blocks to surveys and Google ads. Yet the builder is limited to 26 modular elements. You can extend the elements available in the builder through Weebly apps. But remember, there are less than 300 Weebly apps available. That may seem like a lot of drag-and-drop builder flexibility but this lack of options and extensibility can become a roadblock for you down the road. You don’t want to develop a site only to discover, a year later, that it cannot be expanded to do what you need it to do. Ease of use matters until your needed use-case isn’t included.
WordPress may not include a drag-and-drop builder be default but you can install one. Many themes include modular visual builders like Avada’s Fusion Builder and X and Pro’s Cornerstone builder. Other WordPress page builders are available as plugins – like the free Unyson builder. With a few clicks you can turn WordPress into a drag-and-drop builder on top of what it already does. Even better – you can install more than one builder and use whichever one best fits your needs for each page. WordPress may take longer to set up for easy page building but the capability is there and it is only getting better.
Page Building Victor:
WordPress edged this one out. Weebly got a few good punches in through ease of use out of the box. Yet WordPress hit back with numerous page building options coupled with flexible extensibility.
If Weebly is a drag-and-drop builder at heart then WordPress is a blogging tool at heart. Sure, WordPress can do much more than power a blog. Yet it started as a blogging CMS and that early focus has clearly paid off. You can compose blog posts, save drafts, manage multiple authors and author profiles, schedule posts to be published at a set date and time, control custom visibility settings (like pinning a post to the top), manage categories and tags, and include images. If there is a blogging option you need WordPress probably has it included the first time you log in (and if not – there’s a plugin for that).
Weebly, by contrast, has built its blog management upon its page builder. You build a post just as you would a page, you have no scheduling options, no options for multiple authors, no tags, no categories (unless you create multiple blogs on the same site), and no visibility settings. If you blog on Weebly you build your post and save it or publish it – that’s it.
Blog Management Victor:
If you are at all serious about maintaining a blog on your website (you should be) WordPress is the best choice. Weebly just won’t cut it when you get to doing anything serious with your blog.
Both Weebly and WordPress want to power your online store. Yet there is a fundamental difference in their motivation. WordPress (the software itself – not the WordPress.com hosting service) is free and open-source. The WordPress community owns WordPress. Hence, WordPress’ motivation for powering your online store is to make WordPress better for its community. Weebly, by contrast is a business seeking to make money by selling its drag-and-drag building software and web-hosting services. Weebly’s motivation for powering your online store is to increase its user base and take a cut of the profits. That isn’t a bad motivation but it is one you should be aware of.
If you want Weebly to power your online store you will need a paid tier of their software. The free version won’t offer the software or security you need for an online store. At the next two paid tiers (costing between $100-$150 annually) you can set up a store that uses Weebly.com for checkout and Weebly takes a 3% cut. Only the business tier (with an annual cost of $300 a year) allows traditional online store capabilities with an SSL certificate and native checkout (Weebly doesn’t take a cut of the sale at this tier).
The WordPress community gives you nearly limitless online store options. Woocommerce is the most popular WordPress e-commerce plugin and claims to power 28% of all online stores. Yet there are many other options from Shopify to Paypal. You will need to do some research to determine the best solution for your WordPress e-commerce site (or ask your developer). WordPress doesn’t lock you into a single option with pricing tier – it gives you the power to make those decisions for your organization.
E-Commerce Support Victor:
If you need a simple list of options Weebly makes your decision making process simple and easy. Their pricing tiers are fair and their 3% cut is standard for payment processing.
Yet for running an online business we tend to prefer options and control. If that is what your business needs WordPress is a better choice – you can even change your e-commerce solution without switching websites (you can’t do that with Weebly).
Without knowing your organization’s needs we can’t say who is the clear victor for e-commerce support.
Access to Data
You own your content. Whether you use Weebly or WordPress this is still true. When you publish something you wrote, share pictures you took, or sell something you made the data are yours.
Yet the legal structure behind Weebly’s and WordPress’ software effect your access to your data. Weebly’s database software is proprietary and thus they only give you limited access to your data. You may export your Weebly website in a zip file. Yet Weebly doesn’t export everything.
“Keep in mind that blog pages will not be exported as they rely directly on our database. Some of our elements also may not work correctly when hosted elsewhere, like our Contact Form and Slideshow elements. If possible, you should try to keep your website hosted on Weebly in order to easily update it.”
From the Weebly Help Center
WordPress’ software is open source and you have complete access to it. You may export your entire WordPress site and all its data at any time, move it to another host, or import some of it to another site.
The data are yours and WordPress gives you unhindered access to your data.
Access to Data Victor:
Saying you own your data isn’t sufficient if you don’t have access to your data. Weebly can say you own your data all they like but if you have no way of exporting your blog’s data your ownership is almost useless. Of the two software platforms only WordPress gives you access to your data equivalent to your ownership. WordPress wins this round.
Let’s tally the score. Which CMS is the best choice? WordPress or Weebly?
- Theming and styles: WordPress
- Extensibility: WordPress
- Page Building: WordPress
- Blog Management: WordPress
- E-Commerce Support: Tie
- Access to Data: WordPress
If we give every category equal weight WordPress wins 5 to nothing. Depending on your theming, page building, and e-commerce needs you may feel that Weebly won a round or two more. Yet even if we give Weebly a win for theming, page building, and e-commerce this match would be a tie.
This is just another example of why we believe WordPress is the best CMS.
Looking for a web-developer with experience with WordPress or Weebly? Contact us for a consultation call or quote.
About Rystedt Creative Services
At Rystedt Creative, we believe your web experience should be simple and straightforward. Whether your life’s calling is to make custom lawn gnomes or host conferences for pushing the boundaries of scientific knowledge, we can help you handle the details of maintaining your online influence.