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build free websiteThe other day, I was checking out a freeware app called Folder Axe; it’s a lovely utility with an equally-lovely website, that feels elegant and professionally crafted. Imagine my surprise when I scrolled down to the site’s footer and discovered it is powered by (and created using) a free service for creating websites, called Weebly. I was surprised for two reasons – one, the site just felt well-made, and did not seem like a cookie-cutter type of affair. And two, there were no ads, no annoying popups or anything else that might indicate this was a free service. Naturally, I decided to check out Weebly, and below you can read (and see) what using the service is like.

Important note – while Weebly’s free option is excellent, the service does offer a paid version for $4.58/mo for a six-month subscription, all the way to $2.99/mo if you sign up for two years. Some of the options are only available in the paid version, but they are clearly labeled in the interface. For this review, we’ll be looking at the free service.

Upon signing up, you’re presented with a large and simple form letting you pick out a name for your site, and specify its type:

build free website

For this review, I’ll be going with a personal website. Next, you get to pick an address for your site. You can either use a subdomain of Weebly, register your own domain, or use one that you already own. I decided to use a Weebly subdomain.

That’s it for the setup process. It’s now time to start crafting your website, and you’re taken to the visual editor. It uses an interface similar to Microsoft’s Ribbon, which should feel familiar to anyone who’s used a recent Office version.

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To get started, you just need to drag and drop elements onto the page. When you drag an element onto the page, you get instant feedback showing you where you can drop it:

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In no time, you can end up with a layout like this:

build your own website

However, you may not like the general default design. Fortunately, you can select any one of a gazillion (I counted) possible themes, presented in an easy-to-browse gallery format:

build own website

I went for a dark theme with a vertical menu:

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Quite different from the look I started out with, right? But if I wanted to, I could take it up a notch and customize it even further using the built-in HTML/CSS editor:

build own website

The site looks good (if dark, grungy themes are your thing), but it only has one page. Let’s remedy that, using the Pages menu:

image

Adding pages couldn’t be simpler; you just click Add Page and fill in the form. What’s interesting is that you can also add a blog to your static site, by simply clicking the Add Blog button. Your blog fits with your theme, and you can manage it using the same interface you use for designing the site:

image

You don’t have to be the only one working on your site. Using the Editors tab, you can easily allow other people and collaborate with them on the site. Using the free version you can only add other administrators, but the paid version also lets you add authors (who can edit only pages you specify) and dashboard users who can review stats or manage comments only.

Last but not least, let’s take a quick look at the Site Settings:

build free website

The SEO section is a nice touch. Google doesn’t really use Meta Keywords for ranking anymore, but the other options are certainly handy, and points novice users in the right direction.

Final Thoughts

Weebly strikes a fine balance between complexity and ease of use. The “Pro” options scattered throughout the interface can get a bit irritating after a while, but the free version is definitely powerful enough for most personal and small-business websites. All in all, it’s a lovely tool.

  1. Matthew
    March 1, 2016 at 3:53 pm

    Weebly is a fantastic site for drag-and-drop website building. The end results can be customized any way you want for that unique look and feel. I’ve been using Weebly for the past couple of months, and has made life very easy. Especially as I don't to wait days/weeks for a web designer to make changes to my website when I need them. However can anyone help me regarding the mobile site editor? Is it possible to edit the mobile site at all?

    My sites are: http://www.oakleafmarquees.co.uk and http://www.hollywoodhottubs.co.uk. Check them out

  2. Spiffa Secretary
    August 15, 2011 at 6:38 am

    I use Weebly Pro for this site among others, and apart from a few quibbles, i.e. the Scribd embedded documents don't have the full features like fullscreen and download after they're published, (I now embed Issuu documents instead) it's very good indeed
    As a site builder for volunteer organisations with few funds to spend on web admin services, the advantage is that it's so simple to use, I can hand the site over to clients and they can easily manage and edit the site from then on

    • Spiffa Secretary
      August 15, 2011 at 6:40 am

      Sorry, the site is spiffa.org

  3. Cell Travis
    August 13, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    Weebly is a fantastic site for drag-and-drop website building. The end results can be customized any way you want for that unique look and feel. I've been using Weebly for the past 6 months and it's been good. There are similar site builders as well, like Yola and Blinkweb.

  4. faisal yaqoob
    August 13, 2011 at 12:29 am

    what a free and nice way of making a site. i like to do with weebly. it is better than blospot.

  5. Peter
    August 13, 2011 at 12:19 am

    If you're on a Mac, Sandvox is great for simple sites. I built two very reasonable sites with image galleries, movies and blogs in a few days.

  6. Frequent Makeuseof lurker
    August 12, 2011 at 11:34 pm

    I used to use wordpress for my static website but I had a very negative experience. I stumbled across Weebly one day and decided to give it a shot. I ended up loving it! For a static website it is dead simple to use and as Erez mentioned you can achieve some great looking results!

    As far as the bugs/crashes klu9 mentioned I have not experienced any as of yet. I don't use the blog feature so maybe that is the cause of the crashes. The creators of Weebly seem like a group of people who really care about and listen to their customers. Klu9, I think you should definitely send Weebly an email and notify them of the bugs/crashes. I'm sure they would be willing to help. Good luck!

  7. klu9
    August 12, 2011 at 11:12 pm

    A while ago I started looking for a free all-in-one website solution NOT blocked in China (which my then-provider was), and chose Weebly.

    I like all the free stuff it offers, but one thing bugs the hell out of me: bugs/crashes in its website editor/blog editor. Especially putting external links in a post (which is 99% of the point my webpages and blog posts) can be a complete lottery.

    In fact when I saw this MUO article, I was looking in another tab for a way to use an offline editor with Weebly, after yet another crash of the blog editor losing 10 minutes of work (it doesn't have auto-save, and the "save draft" feature closes and hides the post, so you have to find it and open it again to go back to editing it) and more frustrations with trying to include external links.

    If I can use a stable, problem-free editor with Weebly, I'll stick with it. If not... I dunno.

    BTW before I ran into the frequent editing problems, I recommended Weebly to a few people. They are happy with it for their webpages (which involve less frequent editing and links: basic business website, online CV/portfolio etc).

    • klu9
      August 12, 2011 at 11:13 pm

      BTW the editor issues are in both Chrome and Firefox; I gave up trying to edit my Weebly with Opera (my main browser) ages ago.

      • Anonymous
        August 13, 2011 at 9:48 am

        That's an interesting experience... Pretty sorry to hear that. When evaluating Weebly for this review, it felt rock-solid: I experienced no crashes or slowdowns at all. Did you try talking to their support?

        • klu9
          August 13, 2011 at 10:04 pm

          I hadn't, but this thread has finally got me to try that. I submitted a report and I'll let you know what happens.

        • Anonymous
          August 14, 2011 at 6:46 pm

          Thanks, and good luck!

    • Facebook User
      August 15, 2011 at 6:00 pm

      Could you email me at david+c@weebly.com? I'd love to help figure out your problems.

      -david
      CEO, Weebly

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