First, a bit of background. Over just the past few years, website costs have plummeted and the technology to get a website from idea to reality has blossomed. Whether you are using a text editor and uploading to the Amazon cloud; hosting your own site powered by WordPress or using a drag and drop website builder, there’s never been an easier time to create a website.
On the wide spectrum of website building solutions, they live on the end that is all-inclusive and provides everything you need to get started and grow your website. This is in contrast to solutions where you buy, install and manage all the “pieces” of your website separately. That’s not a good or bad thing. But it is something to be aware of when you’re choosing one of them as a solution…since it affects your website both long and short term.
In the long-term, it affects your versatility, functionality, and, of course, your brand. In the short-term, it can certainly add/take away a lot of headaches. That said, just like choosing a physical house or office, there is no such thing as an absolute “best” or “top” choice. There’s only the right choice relative to your goals, experience, and circumstances.
Using a website builder is sort of like leasing and customizing an apartment in a really classy development instead of buying and owning your own house. You’re still in control of decor, cleaning, and everything living-wise – but you leave the construction, plumbing, security, and infrastructure to the property owner. That point is key because there’s usually a direct tradeoff between convenience and control.
Weebly and Wix as a group compete with options like WordPress (which provides the free software to build a website that you own & control – see my WordPress setup guide here) all the way down to options like typing actual HTML code into a text file. Make sense? Awesome, let’s dive into the comparison.
Otherwise, we’ll look specifically at pricing, onboarding/user experience, design features, technical features, marketing features, and customer support.
Comparing pricing among Weebly and Wix can be tough because their tiers are completely different. Weebly has premium plan tiers based on technical and eCommerce features. Wix has several tiers based on a wide range of factors. And both Wix and Weebly offer a free plan (no custom domain available & shows a Weebly / Wix ad).
Weebly has an excellent Personal plan. The Professional plan adds HD audio & video & forum functionality. The Performance Plan folds in a lot more eCommerce functionality for an online store.
Wix has very customizable pricing tiers – and has some limits on every tier, even up to VIP.
The short version is that Weebly offers the most features for the price and fewest real caps at each tier. Weebly’s starter tier is a particularly attractive tier for most small business and personal sites.
Wix’s pricing is very different due to its tier structure & bonuses. They are competitive – but be sure to note your exact needs and features.
Weebly generally does better on pricing upfront value for most starter sites. However, the most important thing here is for you to write down your needs & goals – evaluate each tier based on that – rather than looking at features that you may never use.
*Reminder – these costs are all very different than if you are looking at building your own site with WordPress or a something else. Part of the point of a site builder is the bundled pricing where hosting and software costs are added together – and are priced per site. It’s possible to get many custom websites with unlimited functionality for much cheaper if you build it yourself using separate hosting & software.
Onboarding & User Experience
No matter how intuitive and simple a piece of technology is, there’s always that moment of “what am I looking at and what do I do now?”
Onboarding is the process of guiding you past that point. In theory, a huge selling point of website builders is that they have a near-zero learning curve. They have a straightforward process from website concept to website reality.
On this point, Weebly wins in my experience with Wix also doing very well. I love how Weebly has a way for you to immediately segment yourself by type of website. They also offer plenty of unintrusive info buttons, pop-ups, a checklist, and an email sequence to make sure you’re on track.
Wix is solid for onboarding. They have an email sequence, which is mainly focused on hard selling their premium plans over helping. Their backend is straightforward, but requires some clicking and strategizing to decide what to do next. They have a *ton* of features directly in the Wix editor. Once you locate everything, it’s great. But at first, it can be overwhelming.
Wix also has excellent “templating” and even a “design AI” that will take care of a lot of the busywork of designing for you. Whether that works in practice or not all depends on your goals. I explored this tradeoff in-depth in my Wix Review. If you are a DIYer who doesn’t want to work with code at all – then it’s amazing. If you want control over details, then it’s not ideal.
Weebly has the blend of education and layering of builder features that makes sense to me. But, if you like having all the options and functionality fully visible, then you’ll feel comfortable with Wix.
Part of the overall value of website builders is design.
Web design is hard. And it matters – a lot. A lot of people can spot a good looking website but have a harder time figuring out how to get there. Using a template for a foundation and then customizing with a website editor is a good way to get the site you want without paying for a custom design or website development.
Weebly has a diverse range of templates. Weebly’s template collection is solid, but even as a non-designer, I can tell that a Weebly theme is more functional than anything. With Weebly, your site will be fine. The Weebly editor has solid customization options and drag & drop design. And, if you want to dig under the hood, you can always edit the HTML/CSS directly.
Wix’s designs are solid and trendy. The Wix template collection has improved a lot over the last few years. Whether you want a moving image or a parallax feel – Wix has plenty of pre-built “fancy” templates to choose from. However, Wix doesn’t allow any CSS customization on a Wix theme. They also don’t allow you to switch back and forth between templates, so you’re really stuck with whatever templates they have – and whichever one you commit to. I did dig up a bunch of actual Wix website examples out in the wilds of the Internet. The one truly unique design feature that they do have is the Wix ADI tool (artificial design intelligence). It’s an app built into Wix’s editor that creates a completely unique design based on your inputs.
If you want solid, functional, nice designs – you’ll probably like Weebly. If you want more trendy designs, then you’ll like Wix.
Technical features are all the web development best practices that don’t really matter…until they matter a lot (especially if you decide at some point to work with a professional). I’m talking about generating clean URLs, editable metadata, allowing page-level redirects, etc.
On this point, Weebly is good. They both have things they could do better (i.e., a blogging platform and content mangement system – and neither is as good as a self-hosted site. They both have things they do particularly well.
For Weebly, they have plenty of front end tools. They automatically generate permalinks and well-coded HTML.
The laggard is Wix. Not to keep jumping on Wix, but they build and serve their pages in a way that is not ideal from a professional developer perspective. The system is a lot better than their old Flash technology but is still clunky to look at from a technical perspective. Wix websites get a URL structure that works but is not ideal. It runs more like a game application than a website. And this isn’t just my opinion – browse any thread on HackerNews about Wix, and you’ll get the same feedback. I covered this in my Wix Review here. This is a non-issue if you are DIY – but something to be aware if you are looking to hire an SEO for example.
In Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner’s character famously says “if you build it, they will come.” Sadly, that is not true about websites. Just like any business, you have to actively promote and market your website for anyone to show up.
Marketing features like custom metadata, open graph information, Schema markups, email signups, share buttons, landing pages, social media integration, SEO tool, etc all make marketing your site a lot easier.
Here Wix is rapidly improving compared to their old setup. They provide many more native apps compared to Weebly. So if you are willing to commit fully to the Wix “ecosystem” then you’ll have plenty of choices. Lots of Wix’s best marketing tools are in the Wix app market. If you want to add an additional feature with a 3rd party plugin, app, script, or template, then Weebly has a better setup.
This point transfers as well to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – which is my wheelhouse. Both allow you to execute on fundamentals like keyword usage, crawlability, etc. However, if my client had a heavy emphasis on organic traffic, I would encourage Weebly based primarily on versatility – not on the idea that one is “better for SEO” than another.
Support & Service
Support & service are about the same between the two.
Company Structure & Future
I’ve been actively observing the website building & technology industry for more than 8 years now. The most underrated factor in choosing a vendor for your own business is the structure & incentives of the actual company. Marketing departments can say whatever they want in the short-term, but for a long-term (more than a year) partnership, you need a company whose structure matches your own business goals.
Yes – that is vague and conceptual. But here’s how it applies to these three companies.
Weebly is a private company that was recently acquired by Square, a payments company. As a subsidiary of another company, Weebly will be valuable as part of a whole group of products. The upside is that users will get access to lots of unique features & partnerships. You can expect good plan prices and customer support. The downside is that Weebly is only valuable to Square if it drives growth to other Square products (ie, eCommerce platform payments). If it doesn’t, then Weebly will just kind of slowly die of benign neglect.
Wix is a publicly-traded company. You can actually go buy a share and become a part-owner if you want. This type of company is pursuing both growth & profitability like every other traded company. Anything that drives those things gets attention. The upside is that Wix actually makes its money with its website builder. That’s their thing. So their product gets total focus. The downside is that they are a publicly-traded company governed by Net Promoter Scores and Earnings Estimates – and all the good & bad that that could entail.
Wix vs. Weebly Conclusion
If you decide that using an all-inclusive website builder is right for you, then I would get out of the mindset of finding “the best” – and instead think through what you need now – and what you hope to do in the future.
If you’re interested in taking a quiz to help sort your goals/preferences – take my website builder quiz here.