4. Weebly: Best for Customer Service (£4/Month)
Weebly is a website builder that truly brings all aspects of a website together. Integrating templates, eCommerce, and marketing, all of their functions work seamlessly side by side. With the wide range of pricing plans, you’ll struggle NOT to find something that suits you.
I like Weebly because they offer something for everyone. They’ve placed themselves snug in the middle of the market; not too expensive, a wide range of features, and simple to get to grips with. 0.4% of all websites use Weebly, but to be honest I’d expect more.
Their analytics feature is something which really impresses me. Being able to monitor the traffic going to your website and using that data to further cash in on those figures is quite something.
Their all-inclusive approach makes blogging or running an online store easy. Understandably, this type of model doesn’t suit everyone, so that’s up to you to decide if it’s right for your needs.
Weebly has a selection of pricing plans to get your teeth sunken into. Like some website builders, they offer a free plan which includes Weebly branding. This means that you can build and host a free website with them but it won’t look very professional. It’s a great option if you want to experiment with their tools and features but not recommended if you want users to visit your website.
I’m going to point out a few things you need to know about Weebly before signing up:
- All paid plans include a free domain for 1 year (if paid annually)
- There’s a 30-day money-back guarantee if you’re not happy
- Themes are mobile responsive
- Flexible drag and drop blog builder included in all plans
Weebly’s starter plan, when paid annually, usually costs £5. Currently it’s priced at £9 (probably to encourage people onto the Pro plan). As per the name, I found this plan to be very suitable if you’re just starting out. If you’re thinking about setting up a small business, you can’t go wrong with Weebly’s starter plan. You’ll get an unlimited amount of storage space, a free SSL certificate, free domain name, and no Weebly branded ads will display.
In terms of it’s eCommerce capabilities, you’ll get the following included:
• Shopping cart
• Payments through Square
• 2.9% transaction fee
• 3rd party payment providers (2.9% fee + 3% on top)
• SEO marketing
• Contact forms
• Advanced site statistics
If you’re just running a small business (which I am assuming because you’ve landed here), then this is a perfect plan. I tested this pricing plan out and found it had everything I needed to get on my feet. Granted, the transaction fees are pretty steep, and if you want to use a third party payment provider, there’s an extra 3% fee on top of the 2.9% which isn’t great. However, as a starting point, it’s definitely worth trying out!
The pro plan is currently £1 cheaper than the Starter plan, at only £8 per month (when paid annually). At this moment in time, I’d recommend this plan above all others if you’re looking for a website builder for small businesses. It has all the same features as the starter plan, but kicks things up a notch in terms of saving you money on fees and the introduction of other features.
Let’s take a look at what’s included for £8 per month:
• All the features of the starter plan
• No additional fees for using a third party payment provider
• Product badges, product options, tax calculator, inventory management
• Product reviews, shipping calculator
• Facebook integration
• eCommerce statistics
As you can (hopefully) see, there’s a lot more in the Pro plan which is focused towards online selling. If you’re looking to grab a bargain, I’d sign up for the Pro plan whilst it’s currently cheaper than the Starter plan. You’ll get a lot more for your money, and it will save you having to upgrade later down the line once your small business starts to grow into a bigger business!
Weebly’s website builder is pretty easy to get the hang of. I found it to be quite intuitive and I was able to set up my website with just a few clicks. My main issue with Weebly’s builder was the fact it was really limited in comparison to other website builders. Their pre-formatted templates mean that you have to follow quite strict formats that you aren’t able to deviate from.
Now, I’m not necessarily saying this is a completely bad thing, especially if you’re just starting out with building your small business website. But if you’re looking to customise your website beyond the limits and confines of Weebly’s restrictions, you’re going to have trouble doing so.
Weebly’s features are definitely value for money (aside from their restrictive builder itself). The drag and drop builder makes it easy to integrate eCommerce features with your website and blog. The ability to interact with your website’s visitors and monitor statistics is really useful. Every small business should make use of these kind of tools in order to grow into a larger business.
For me, the best feature is quite a simple one. Weebly’s mobile app means you can edit and manage your site on the go. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve wanted to edit my site on a bus, train, or even when I’m out for a meal (yes I know, it’s addictive). The mobile app is a great feature and could save your small business from taking a nose dive if you’ve made a mistake or need to add something quickly.
Speed & Performance:
Weebly’s speed and performance is actually quite good. Going into this, I didn’t really expect much in terms of website speed that holds it’s own compared to individual web hosts. Over a 6 month period, I monitored my website’s uptime with Weebly and here are the results:
A total uptime of 99.97% over a 6 month period is something to be really proud of. 6 months equates to around 4380 hours of which my site was down for 2 of those hours. When you put it into context, there’s no way that I could provide anything but positive feedback in this area.
I also put my website that I created with Weebly through the ringer by measuring it’s response time. This averaged out at around 560ms which is just over 0.5 seconds. Again, my site loaded well within the 3 second threshold, resulting in a very happy chap!
• Plenty of support options including live chat with lightning speed response times
• Free option available for those who don’t mind a subdomain
• Partnered with SiteGround, our leading web host
• App store with endless amounts of 3rd party apps to make your website entirely unique
• On-boarding hints throughout, when you need them
• All-inclusive approach may not be to every users’ liking
• Lack of server file access can make adding custom tools more difficult