Here at Nav we talk to a surprising number of business owners that don’t yet have a website. However, a website is becoming increasingly crucial for small businesses, and for most businesses a simple Yelp page will not cut it. Well business owners, did you know that you can build your own website for free (hosting costs only), without coding experience, in about 30 minutes? Weebly is one product that makes this possible.
Weebly is a website builder and web hosting service for people with little or no coding experience. We gave Weebly a try, setting up a website for our fictitious ice cream shop in Menlo Park, CA. Here’s a walkthrough of our experience using Weebly’s website editor. Stay tuned for more website builder reviews in the coming weeks!
If you’re looking for something simple, Weebly is one of the most reasonably priced website builders. You can use their free plan for a basic website with unlimited pages. The only catch is the small Weebly ad in the footer of your website which, if clicked on, presents a popup form to sign up for Weebly. When you upgrade to the Starter plan for $4/month you’ll no longer have the footer ad, you’ll have premium customer support, and you can connect your domain name for free. For video, audio, and search bar, you’ll need the pro plan for $8/month. The business plan, which is priced similar to other hosting site’s business plan, allows you to integrate an internet payment service and avoid Weebly’s e-commerce transaction fee. Read about how all of their pricing features compare here.
It’s worth pointing out that you have the option to purchase a domain name through Weebly, however this is more expensive ($40/year) than going through a domain registrar like GoDaddy (~$10/year).
I can sign up for free by providing my name, email and a password. I am prompted to answer if the focus of my website is a blog, store, or just a site, and then I am directed to Weebly’s themes.
There are so many theme options, it’s overwhelming. Fortunately, you can easily change your theme after choosing in Weebly’s page editor, so don’t fret about making the wrong choice.
There is a theme for every type of business. My (fictitious) business is an ice cream shop, and the main focus of my site is to showcase my hours, daily flavors, and a few pictures of my business’ product. Thus, I chose something pretty simple.
Next I am asked to choose a domain. You can register a new domain for $39.95, connect a domain you already own, or use a domain ending in “.weebly.com.”
Before I am ready to start creating my site, Weebly offers a starter video that introduces me to their service. The video is helpful, but not comprehensive — if you struggle with their features, the support center has other videos and training webcasts to offer.
After watching the intro video, I can start editing my page. Weebly’s editing tools are intuitive — all of the tools show up on the left side, the navigation is at the top, and my website design is front and center.
Weebly’s sidebar is where I find all of the tools I’ll need to edit each page of my website. There is a different set of tools for text and images, structure, video and media, e-commerce, etc.
I’ll start by personalizing my home page and then move onto other landing pages. Let’s start with my background image.
I can edit and format the wording on my home page simply by clicking on the text. Uploading a photo of my business is easy as well, but editing the photo in Weebly is not. I can select filters, crop, make it darker, or blur the photo, but I can’t do any advanced editing inside Weebly.
To choose a different theme, I clicked on the design tab at the top of the page.
The “My Site” text in the top left corner is customizable, or you can opt to upload a photo of your logo.
To add more to the homepage, I can simply drag and drop elements from the menu on the left into my page. First I will add an image gallery.
You can add captions and links to any of your pictures.
I can also add a map so customers know where to find my business.
In order to edit other landing pages besides my homepage, I can directly click on the link to other pages in the upper right corner. Editing these pages works the same way as editing the home page, and you can easily link any of the information on these pages between pages or to external pages.
I can customize the header image of my “Contact” page with or without changing the images on all of my pages.
I need to add another page to showcase the daily flavors that my ice cream shop offers. To do so, I use the top navigation bar to go to “pages” and click the “Add” call-out.
Lastly, I’d like to add a comment box to my page to allow customers to give me shout-outs, criticism, or ask questions. Unfortunately, this is only available to blogs on Weebly, so I cannot add a comment box on the pages of my website, but here’s one way to do so using embedded code.
For those looking to sell items online, Weebly walks you through how to set up a store on your website.
I added a store page, then clicked on step 2 to add products.
After adding my company information, I needed to add a way for customers to check out. Weebly integrates with Stripe, Square, Authorize.net, and PayPal. If you have a Stripe account, Weebly will integrate with Stripe to enable your customers to check out directly on the page. To use Square, PayPal, or Authorize.Net, you will need to upgrade to the business plan.
In fact, many of the e-commerce features are only available with the business plan, including the ability to add coupons, track inventory, and charge sales tax.
Using Weebly’s free version you can sell up to 5 items, but Weebly will charge an extra 3% per transaction on top of what you’re paying per transaction through Stripe. The Business plan is the only plan that does not charge a transaction fee for any of the payment processing companies.
I’m pretty happy with how the site turned out — my pictures are displayed nicely, I have all the essential pages I needed, etc. I am also able to quickly and easily edit pages whenever I need to, which will be quite often since my flavors change daily. My site also looks great on mobile.
My website might not be as flashy as I could make it using other website builders, but Weebly does everything I need. My one complaint is the Weebly popup at the bottom of my page.This will be removed if I agree to pay $4/month.
Overall, Weebly is a great service for website creation. I spent a total of about 30 minutes building my site. Thus, it is easy to set up, there is no need for HTML/CSS experience (although you can embed code into your web design), and I was able to avoid the cost of hiring a web designer. Weebly is a great starting point for business owners to increase their web presence at a low cost, in a short amount of time.
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