Squarespace and Weebly are two of the most popular website builders. I have previously written a Squarespace Review as well as a Weebly Review. But how do they compare?
Let’s start with some background. The technology that allows you to turn your idea into a website has improved dramatically over the last few years. It doesn’t matter if you use a text editor to upload to Amazon cloud, hosting your site powered by WordPress, or using a drag-and-drop website builder. There has never been a simpler way to create a website.
All-inclusive web builders are particularly fascinating. Companies such as Squarespace or Weebly offer websites to anyone, regardless of their programming skills.
There are many website building options, but they all have one thing in common: They provide everything you need to start and grow your site. This contrasts with solutions that allow you to buy, install, and manage each “piece” of your website individually. This is not a good thing or a bad thing. It is important to consider this when choosing one of these solutions. Because it can have a long-term and short-term impact on your website.
|The Key Strength||Templates & Designs||Simplicity and ease of use|
|Principal Complaint||Price for value||Large Sites: Advanced Features|
|Best for||Portfolios & Creatives||Small Sites & Online Stores|
|Current Promotion||Get a Free Trial||Sign up on Weebly to get for free|
It can affect your flexibility, functionality, and brand in the long-term. It can cause headaches in the short-term. However, it is not possible to choose the best or most desirable physical home or office. It’s all about your experience, goals, and circumstances.
A site builder works in the same way as leasing an apartment in a luxurious development and personalizing it. While you retain control over decor, cleaning, and other aspects of your daily life, the property owner will take care of the plumbing, security, infrastructure, and construction. This is crucial because convenience and control are often in direct conflict.
Squarespace, Weebly are two of the options that compete with WordPress (which gives you the software to create a website that is your own and control – read my WordPress setup guide), all the way to the simplest options such as typing HTML code in a text file. Does that make sense? Let’s see if it makes sense.
We will also be looking at pricing, onboarding/user experience and design features.
It can be difficult to compare pricing between Squarespace versus Weebly, as their tiers differ. Weebly offers tiers that are based on both technical and eCommerce features. Squarespace pricing is based on user count, email address, and other features. Weebly also offers a free plan.
Squarespace removes the email option from the Personal plan and adds transaction-free ecommerce to Basic Commerce. Advanced Commerce offers a completely different set of ecommerce tools.
|Plan||Personal||Business||Basic Commerce||Advanced Commerce|
|Yearly price (discount).||$12.00/mo.||$18.00/mo.||$26.00/mo.||$40.00/mo.|
|Domain Name Design|
|No cost domain name||1 Year||1 Year||1 Year||1 Year|
Get a Free Trial with Squarespace
Weebly offers a great Personal plan. The Professional plan includes HD audio, video and forum functionality. The Performance Plan adds eCommerce functionality to help you build an online store. The free version of Weebly has a solid feature set. You can build your online store from a subdomain of your site.weebly.com, and then upgrade to a premium package with custom domain options.
Weebly has the best features at the lowest price, with the most real caps at each level. The Weebly starter tier is an attractive option for small businesses and personal websites.
|Yearly price (discount).||$6.00/mo.||$12.00/mo.||$26.00/mo.|
|Domain Name Design|
|No cost domain name||–||1 Year||1 Year|
Sign up on Weebly to get for free
Squarespace is a solid choice for each tier, and is especially competitive with Weebly at the top tier because of the included SSL certificates.
Weebly tends to be more competitive in pricing upfront value than most starter websites. The most important thing is to write down what you need and goals . This will allow you to evaluate each tier on the basis of that, rather than looking at features you may not use.
These costs may be different if you’re building a site with WordPress, or another product. Website builders offer bundled pricing, where hosting and software costs can be added together. These prices per website are part of their appeal. You can build many websites with unlimited functionality at a fraction of the cost if you use separate hosting and software.
Onboarding and User Experience
No matter how simple or intuitive a piece of technology is, there will always be that moment when you wonder “What am I seeing and what should I do now?”
Onboarding is the process that guides you beyond this point. Website builders have almost zero learning curve. This is a major selling point. It is easy to turn a website idea into a reality.
This is why Weebly won. Squarespace was a little slow due to their efforts to please both web developers/web designers and DIYers. Weebly allows you to quickly segment your website type by using a simple tool. You’ll also find plenty of pop-ups and information buttons that aren’t intrusive, as well as a checklist and an email sequence to help you stay on track.
After choosing a design, Squarespace will drop you into their interface. Although the interface is intuitive, it can be difficult to find what you need next.
Squarespace has made a significant improvement to its onboarding email process – so Kudos!
Weebly is a combination of education and layering builder features that I find to be very useful. Squarespace is for you if you enjoy having all options and functionality clearly visible.
Web design is an important part of the overall value that website builders offer.
Designing is difficult. It matters. Many people are able to spot a beautiful website, but it can be difficult to figure out how to make it happen. A template can be used as a foundation for your website. You can then customize it to suit your needs.
Squarespace excels on this point. You can see that their platform is focused on design (their tagline reads “Build It Beautiful”) and it is evident. Both the front and back end look beautiful.
Squarespace offers a variety of templates. They can be made unique by adding color and photography to them. These templates look great on mobile devices and offer many customization options.
Squarespace offers a variety of imagery. Your Squarespace website will look less professional if you don’t have professional imagery of high resolution to replace the Squarespace template imagery. Squarespace templates can only be as good as photography.
Weebly offers a variety of templates. These templates are strong, but I can see that they are far more functional than any other design. Your site will work fine with Weebly. You can also edit the HTML/CSS if you need to get into the details.
Squarespace is a great place to design if you have the right imagery. Weebly is a great choice if you are looking for solid, functional and beautiful designs.
Technical features are web development best practices. They don’t really matter, but they do matter. This includes generating clean URLs and editable metadata. Also, allowing page level redirects.
Squarespace and Weebly both excel on this point. Both have their flaws, but neither site is as good as the self-hosted one. Both have certain things that they excel at.
Weebly has many front-end tools. They generate well-coded HTML and permalinks automatically. Squarespace gives you more access to advanced tools via their developer platform. Both have excellent content management systems, as well as a blogging platform.
Web builders have limited technical features by design, but both Squarespace and Weebly are excellent for the most essential items.
In Field of Dreams Kevin Costner’s character said that “if you build them, they will come.” Unfortunately, this is not true for websites. Your website must be promoted and promoted like any other business.
Marketing features such as custom metadata and open graph information, Schema Markups, email signups. Share buttons, landing pages, social networks, etc make it easy to market your site.
Both Weebly as well as Squarespace excel in marketing features. Squarespace is not perfect and requires some adjustments for custom metadata. Open Graph information can also be a problem. Both have the necessary tools for the job.
This applies to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which is where I am at the moment. Both allow you to execute on basic keyword usage and crawlability. If my client is a big believer in organic traffic, I would recommend Squarespace first. This is based on SEO tool versatility and not the notion that one is better than the other.
Support & Service
Both offer customer support and knowledge bases. Weebly can be reached by phone during normal business hours. They also have email support and customer forums. Squarespace doesn’t have phone support but they have live chat and email 24/7.
Squarespace is a good choice if you need phone support. Squarespace offers quick and solid support, even if you don’t need it.
Company Structure and Future
Since 2008, I have been closely following the web design and technology industry. Structure and incentives are the most important factor when choosing a vendor to help you build your business. While marketing departments may be able to say what they like in the short term, it is not enough for long-term partnerships (more than one year). You need a company that has a structure that matches your business goals.
Yes, it is vague and conceptual. Here’s how it applies for both of these companies.
Squarespace, a private venture capital-funded company, is about to go public. This type of company is focused on user growth and market share. Any company that increases user base is a good thing. There are no investment limits. Expect lots of support and tools. Unfortunately, once they become public, they will only have a short runway to be profitable. While some tech companies have been able to find ways to be profitable without cutting services, others have not. This is a major risk.
Weebly was a private company recently acquired by Square, a payment company. Weebly, as a subsidiary of another company will be valuable as a part of a whole range of products. Users will have access to many unique features and partnerships. Expect good customer service and low plan prices. Square is only interested in Weebly if it helps them grow other Square products (ie eCommerce store payments). If it doesn’t, Weebly will slowly die from benign neglect.
Squarespace vs Weebly Conclusion
If you are convinced that an all-inclusive website builder is the right tool for you, I suggest you get rid of the idea of searching for “the best”. Instead, think about what you actually need and what you want to do in the future.
Weebly is focused on functionality, onboarding, and getting the overall balance right. However, it doesn’t have cutting-edge design templates. Download a free trial of Weebly
Squarespace is a web design and developer tool-focused platform. However, it relies heavily on user-generated imagery to provide full benefits. Sign up for Squarespace here.