These days it’s very easy to build a website on your own. But if you are not a web developer or at least know a little HTML, you are limited to using the tools and templates that others provide. In this post, I compare two methods for creating a website: WordPress and Weebly. I confess this is a little like comparing oranges and onions: they are both web publishing tools, but they have very different intended uses. Weebly is for quickly generating pages using a simple drag-and-drop interface. WordPress is primarily a template-based blogging tool, but it also has features to allow you to create web pages.

When asked how to choose among these two tools, I broke it down to four main things to consider: Ease of use, Flexibility, Outcome, and Resources. Of course there are other things, like cost, but I’ll leave that alone. Suffice it to say that you can land a site for free with either of these tools, but spending your money on fancy templates or custom development would yield nicer results.

Full disclosure: I am not an expert in either of these tools, although I’ve done a lot with them. Of the two, I have more experience with WordPress. On to the comparison!

Ease

Ease of use is subjective, because what I with web development experience consider easy might not be easy for someone without that experience. So I’m thinking about this as if I had none of that experience. Weebly is wonderful in that it makes it easy for people with absolutely no experience in web development or with HTML to make a website. On a 1-10 scale of how easy it is (larger numbers are better), I give Weebly an 8-9 (average = 8.5). It is remarkably easy. WordPress is also very easy, although it’s not as drag-and-drop easy as Weebly. I’ll give it a 6-7 (average = 6.5) on our scale.

Flexibility

In order to provide ease of use, the programmers who create these tools must balance ease of use with complexity, so in general–with exceptions–the easier the tool is to use a tool, the less flexible it is. Weebly doesn’t give you much flexibility. If you spend a lot of time in the tool and learn ways to fudge and to work around it, then you can push its limitations. But you’ll need to learn some HTML to succeed at that, and if you’re willing to invest that kind of time and effort, you might as well invest that in a more robust tool. WordPress is extremely flexible, but the more you want to do with it, the more HTML you have to learn. In either case–but more so with WordPress, you can make it easier on yourself by starting with a good template. There are many good free templates to choose from, but you might have better luck if you buy one. On our 1-10 scale I’ll put Weebly’s flexibility at 2-4 (avg = 3) and WordPress at 7-9 (avg = 8). Big difference.

Outcome

The result of the ease of use and the tradeoff between that and flexibility is what sort of resulting webpage you get. Pushing Weebly as hard as you possibly can may result in a professional-looking page, but I feel that it takes going to that extreme to there. In the right hands a Weebly page can be a clean web page and a successful sales tool, but it’s hard to get away from a distinct “Now what would you Pay?… But wait there’s more… As seen on TV” vibe. It’s not unprofessional, but there is a tacky-factor. With WordPress you cannot expect to get a free template and mess around with the basics for just one day and come up with a site that doesn’t look a bit like a typical WordPress site, but if you invest some time and effort, then you can get a very polished, professional result. Back to our scale, I’d generally give Weebly a 3-6 (avg = 4.5)and WordPress an 6-9 (avg = 7.5). This of course must consider other factors, like the quality of graphics, web copy, organization, etc.

Resources

Unless you develop sites for a living, you probably have better things to do than to master Weebly, WordPress, or anther tool. Whatever tool you use, it’s good to consider how ubiquitous it is so that there are forums, books, and professional experts available to you. Go to Google and search for “Weebly developer” (I get 122 hits) then do the same for WordPress (>3.5 million). Then go to Amazon in the books catregory and search for WordPress and then Weebly. An impressive difference in the number of hits!
WordPress has been used for at least a few years now as an actual web development platform, so there are lots of resources for you to draw on, or experts to hire. This is definitely not the case for Weebly. On our scale, I’d give Weebly a 1 in the Resources category, and WordPress a 10.

Making a choice

The results of my rating is shown in the table below, with WordPress ranking as the best choice. However, each of the factors we compared–Ease, Flexibility, Outcome, and Resources–matter differently to different people. This is called “weighting.” If you cannot spend any budget on a premier template or take the time to invest in learning a more complex tool, then you will need to weight Ease pretty heavily and make your choice based on that as it balances with Flexibility. But if you have the time or budget to invest, then Outcome and Resources are more important and should carry a greater weight.

The moral of the story

There are many tools available to help you quickly get a site online. If you want to do the work yourself, then regardless of the tool you choose you will need to invest some time to learn it–so make that investment of your time in a tool that seems to have the most to offer. Also I suggest that you should learn introductory HTML to make the best use of whatever tool you decide to use. Even if you work with a developer to create something wonderful for you, it will be easier for you to make edits and updates yourself if you know the basics.

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24 Responses to WordPress vs. Weebly

  1. Deb W. says:

    Thanks M&M. Most helpful(even if the outcome weren’t so entirely predictable;)
    Cheers, D.
    P.S. Tried to get a little creative on your SpamGate (two/to/too?), but unfortunately no leeway or sense of humour allowed with only 2 digits accepted, eh? Just kidding!!;)
    Thanks again.

  2. Paulino says:

    Great comparison…. although I highly recommend to people with a serious intention of putting a business online to look into/invest on setting up a self hosted WordPress site (WordPress.org) rather than using WordPress.com or Weebly

  3. Kathleen says:

    Definitely! Whether you decide on Weebly, WordPress, or something else — get your own domain and host it yourself. Anything less is a wasted branding opportunity.

  4. Russ says:

    You give yourself away in your disclaimer — “I have more experience with WordPress…” Sadly WordPress has become the ‘defacto’ web building ‘vehicle’ even though its strength is in creating blogs. I have a moderately sophisticated understanding of code and when I was looking for a website-construct program I checked out both. I am able to do twice as much in the same time with Weebly than I can with WordPress – and the results, subjectively, look better. A WordPress website can be spotted a mile off. Weebly provides the ability to get sophisticated by allowing CSS/HTML editing, and by allowing the placement of custom-HTML. And from what I can see, creating a mobile friendly site via WordPress requires jumping through increasingly complex hoops. Not so with Weebly. And why aren’t there many ‘resources’ out there for Weebly sites? Maybe they’re not needed. Weebly just works. For any newbie wanting to start a website, Weebly is the easiest – and can get more complex in terms of design and functionality if/when your needs mature. WordPress will frustrate you to start with – and if you climb over the learning curve, you remain in a highly structured environment which likely will require you to jump through even more hoops as time goes on. Want ‘easy’? Want flexibility in look? Want great capability? Don’t want to tear your hair out? Go with Weebly.

  5. Kathleen says:

    I think it all comes down to your level of ability to tweak the standard templates. I’ve seen some pretty fantastic sites that really surprised me when I learned they were done with WordPress; and I’m sure there are probably some equally impressive Weebly examples too. However I don’t agree that resources for Weebly sites aren’t necessary. I’ve helped several people with their Weebly sites and they had quite a few questions and ran into quite a few roadblocks that I helped them get through. Easy, flexibility in look, great capability? WordPress and Weebly can both get you there depending on your ability to customize templates. If you don’t have that capability? Then I still recommend WordPress–but it has a higher learning curve.

  6. LV says:

    Thanks so much for this info/review. I’ve had a WordPress blog site for about 3 years now with my website hosted by another server. My goal is to merge my blog site with my webpage. By this review looks like I should just pay for the WordPress upgrade. Thanks so much!

  7. Kathleen says:

    Welllll… if you pay for web hosting space somewhere already and want to deal with it, you can install WordPress on that server and not pay for anything. It’s more complicated to take care of all of this yourself, but it’s not too hard.

  8. Sofie says:

    Thank you all, I have a question:
    Which one (Weebly or WordPress.com) has better SEo tools and placement. O read some time ago somewhere that WordPress.com automatically exposes your site on a lot of sites, while Weebly you are the only responsible for your SEO.Is that a correct information?
    However, I agree that Weebly is extremely easy and easy to customize your page too,

  9. Pat Pierson says:

    Thanks so much for the article. I justed wanted to add a new insight – WordPresss is MUCH MORE THAN a template based web site development tool! TJMaxx a MAJOR WORLDWIDE Retail operation uses WordPress. It is indeed a custom website using WordPress but MUCH MUCH more than a template based web site. I just think we need to expand your view of wordpress. There are indeed template based applications using Theme Forest and other options but WordPress is definitely a custom web site developmemnt tool that is used by MAJOR web developers.

    Pat

  10. yu says:

    Do you mean i purchase a domain in godaddy.com
    and url forward to weebly.com ?

    million thanks

  11. Kathleen says:

    Oh definitely — I’ve seen some wonderful work done in WordPress. The scope of this post was more for the DIY site for a new business — but you bring up a very good point: If you use WordPress, this platform can grow with you as you mature and grow your business. Has anyone seen Weebly pushed to this extent?

  12. zwaki says:

    I have a weebly website and a blog in wordpress.com. I would like to shift my blog to weebly from wordpress.com.
    For blogging weebly or wordpress.com which one is good for me. My wordpress.com blog is http://www.mynightdream.wordpress.com

    and weebly website is http://www.mydreamlife.tk

    Please give me a advice. I need your your valuable advice.

  13. Kathleen says:

    Hi Zwaki. Really the tool to use depends on what features you need. I do not use Weebly for my blog (I use WordPress), so I did a bit of research. I came up with this concise list of some limitations that come with using Weebly as a blog platform: http://weeblyforums.com/2011/07/disadvantages-of-weebly-blogs/
    Based on this, I’d stick with WordPress. If there is something specific about WordPress that isn’t working out for you, that can often be solved just by changing templates, although I won’t pretend to be a WordPress expert!

  14. vinodh says:

    Hi,
    I am a professional web programmer for the past 15 years. you did NICE comparison of weebly and wordpress. I use both.
    for clients who have less budget i prefer weebly cos its easy to build website in few hours. for clients that want more features,blog and big budget I use weebly.
    regards
    vinodh

  15. vinodh says:

    I mean I use wordpress for second case

  16. Marso says:

    Great article I only have one question, is there any difference in the SEO of on or another platform weebly vs wordpress)? I mean, can I SEO both, with no restrictions? Or is weebly more complicated to rank? Thanks.

  17. Kathleen says:

    Hi Marso. In both cases you need to mind your SEO skills — keywords, descriptions, links, etc. Here’s a Weebly knowledge base article on SEO: http://kb.weebly.com/seo.html and here’s one for WordPress: http://codex.wordpress.org/Search_Engine_Optimization_for_WordPress
    I need to add that with WordPress you may need to install an SEO add-on — it depends on the theme you use, as SEO features are built into some themes. In any case, the WordPress community has lots of great support out there: just Google “WordPress SEO” to get started.

  18. JRCH says:

    Super article! I especially appreciated the weighted comparisons. Just wanted to say thanks! :)

  19. jessie says:

    Thanks for the helpful comparison!!!
    I am about to build a website for a new business and was struggling with which design site to go with. I think i will have a go with wordpress.org

  20. Jo says:

    For SEO, is it best to use WordPress or Weebly? I have just created a Weebly site and have been advised I should dump that and create a WordPress site to increase SEO. I am a baby at this game so, having created my first site, want to make sure it’s worth doing this.

  21. Kathleen says:

    In either case it’s not as easy than if you have a native-HTML site (assuming you’re familiar with HTML and know what to do) :-) Here are some helpful links on SEO in Weebly:

    http://www.siriweberfeeney.com/14/post/2012/08/dont-miss-these-easy-to-add-seo-settings-in-weebly.html
    http://weeblyseo.weebly.com/
    http://help.weebly.com/stats–seo.html

  22. eddie says:

    I would like to create a free site to my association On weebly is possible to do a free site and not have the risk of been deleted after one year active?

  23. admin says:

    As long as you’re not posting content that goes against Weebly’s terms of service, then it won’t be deleted.

  24. Jeremy Wong says:

    Great discussion Kathleen! In my mind there really isn’t a right or wrong approach. There are really just trade-off’s – depending on why one is building a website and what resources one has.

    Weebly helps small businesses get up and running quickly, so this frees up time to do other important things, such as sales & marketing, testing / building products, or just taking some personal time to rest! Cost is also an important consideration as WP developers can be expensive, and learning how to use WP proficiently can be time consuming.

    But as a business grows, it may outgrow Weebly eventually and using a CMS like WordPress can be more suitable as it is most definitely a much more flexible, and powerful platform. So one can make a case to start with WP right off the bat.

    It really is up to the business / entrepreneur to weight the pros and cons. Get a site up quickly and save some time and money? Or commit resources to build a WP site, and risk spending way too much time / money too early on.

    If your readers are interested, I also wrote a comparison between Weebly and WordPress on our site, which your readers might also find helpful – http://www.websitebuilderexpert.com/weebly-vs-wordpress-whats-the-difference/ – hope this adds to this discussion!