When you’re just starting out, and you decide that you want to create a website you’re faced with a number of tough decisions. Aside from a domain name, where to host it, and what information it should have, you also have to think about the backbone of the site – the platform the entire site is built on. There are a huge number that you can choose between, but for simplicity Weebly and WordPress are the two best in the market. With each comes their own set of pros and cons, so make sure you choose correctly before you start heading down the wrong path. If you’re new to all this take this course and learn what it takes to make the right choices for your website.
Unfortunately, there are many confusing articles online on this topic, because it’s highly debated in the online communities. There are camps on both sides of the fence, each shouting as loud as they can that their platform is the best. We’re going to cover the benefits of each platform in simple terms, so that you can make up your own mind about which is best suited for what you’re actually looking for.
Weebly is one of the easiest website builders available. They have a very visual and intuitive interface, where all you need to do is drag and drop your content to specific parts of your website. You can run through this course and learn how easy it really is.
Their set of tools for building a website makes it quick and relatively painless to get your first site up and running. The beauty is that you can place each of the different elements wherever you want them, so the dream image of the perfect website you have in your head can come to life – very fast. There are a number of different elements you can include, with easy to add in pictures, paragraphs, contact forms, videos and everything you need for building a basic website.
The visual nature of Weebly is what makes it great, as you literally just move all of the page elements around on your website and start to type. Whatever you do in the editor is reflected exactly the same on your website. For users that never want to think about code, or spend time guessing how their posts will look after being published this is a great platform for you. Just like WordPress there are a huge range of themes to choose from, so you can build on existing designs and not have to start everything from scratch.
Another great benefit is that it’s free if you can live with a small advertisement in the footer of your site. If you are OK with this, your website can be up and running for virtually nothing, and if you do decide to get rid of it they offer packages starting at under $50 a year.
The cloud hosting provided by Weebly is fast and secure, but can be a disadvantage. For beginners who don’t want to deal with hosting it’s great, but for advanced users it means you have very little control over your website. If your website grows and expands beyond the capabilities of the Weebly platform, you will need to manually migrate all of your websites content to a new platform, which can take a huge amount of time. There is a new addition that lets you set up your Weebly site for e-Commerce, and can be a great option for small businesses who want an online store but it also brings an increased monthly cost to use.
Weebly is a good option for beginners because the barrier to entry is low, and without any background in web development you can have your website live very fast.
WordPress came to popularity as “the” platform for anyone and everyone to have their own blog on any particular interest. As it has grown, it has developed from this single purpose to have a very large community of supporters, and is frequently used on websites that are not actually blogs. Many e-Commerce and business websites make use of the features of WordPress, and they make use of the huge range of themes and plug-ins that can adapt your site to do almost anything you like.
Despite not being the easiest platform for creating a website, it is the easiest open source content management system available. This allows you to add in a huge range of functionality to your website, custom features and all through a platform that requires just a little bit of learning. Check out this course and learn how to build a website in WordPress in a single weekend.
You’ll have no trouble finding WordPress experts to help you out if you get stuck on a particular part of your website – for a fee of course! The downside is that WordPress takes some time to get used to, and it can be much more difficult to use than the Weebly platform for a beginner. This is directly represented in the large support community for WordPress, as many people that start to use it struggle at first with the technical challenges, and may require hiring specialists to build or maintain their websites.
The advantage is you can do many more complex functions with WordPress, and it is a much more powerful platform than Weebly. It also allows you to install the platform on any hosting provider (for free) which means you can have it running on as many websites as you like, and all of the software updates are free. This gives you flexibility if your small blog blossoms from 100 visitors a day to 75,000, all you need to do is upgrade your hosting plan. It also has a fantastic structure for SEO, and is easy to use a couple of plug-ins to have your site optimized for the search engines and rising in their rankings. You can learn more about doing an SEO audit of your website in this recent post.
The blog remains at the core of the design of WordPress, and as such there is no stronger platform for running a blog. WordPress allows you to set up complex sites with multiple contributors, future dated posts alongside spam control and build-in comment moderation makes it a dream for many bloggers.
The main difference in comparing the two is that using Weebly as you build your site you can see the end results, right in front of you as you drag and drop it into place. It’s more intuitive than WordPress where many structural and page layout options are required to be done in the background. WordPress is a content management system and requires people using it to take the time to figure out what they’re actually doing before they can make progress. Weebly on the other hand gives you a very visual interface for building a website.
WordPress has a fantastic foundation for creating e-Commerce sites, regardless of the size of the online presence you want. Using the WooCommerce theme you can easily build any type of store you need, at a lower cost of hosting, with a more functional e-Commerce site than you could build with Weebly.
But what makes WordPress bad? One of the main problems is that what you see is often not what you get. Without an understanding of HTML, you can have headaches in getting your posts to look right – because what you see in the editor is not always what ends up on your site. This can be a pain as you constantly edit your sites, preview, and then edit again until it looks right.
It also requires constant maintenance, because many of the great plug-ins available are constantly getting updates. You run a risk every time you update these that there is bad code that makes your page behave funny to visitors. WordPress itself also has regular updates, and this can also be a problem for any plug-ins that you have running. You also need to backup your website yourself, and know how to restore it if there has been a problem. Unfortunately things can get very technical, very quickly, and often solutions require deleting bad plug-ins via FTP, modifying PHP code or changing CSS theme elements.
So When Should You Choose Weebly?
- It lets you build a website very easily, and you can have it up and running fast
- You don’t have the time to learn all the ins and outs of WordPress
- You don’t want to spend money hiring specialists you may need for a WordPress site
- You want a simple and elegant website that you have built yourself
- Your Weebly account includes managed hosting
- A business owner with limited funds and time who wants a simple web presence will find that you can achieve the required end result with the intuitive nature of the Weebly platform.
So When Should You Choose WordPress
- You want to build an intricate website with a large range of functionality
- There are plug-ins and tools that help you to structure your website allowing search engines to better understand your site
- It’s a better content management system for running a blog and can often rank better in SEO results than a Weebly site (all things equal) because this was what it was originally created for
- You can use plug-ins like Page Builder if you really want to be able to “drag and drop” the structure and design of your websites pages.
- There is a plug-in for almost every functionality you can imagine
Ultimately, there isn’t a right or wrong decision when it comes to deciding on the platform you want to use to build your website. You can follow the steps in this course if you’ve decided to go with WordPress and learn how easy it really is.
The key is to run through what makes each platform unique, and make a decision based on what is most suitable for you, and your needs in a site. Understand your own needs and pay attention to the core reason why you’re building a website, because ultimately the best website is one that you can maintain.
There’s nothing to gain from having a website that you can’t manage!