WordPress and Weebly are two of the most popular brands in the web design industry. Both are excellent options in general. You can read my WordPress.com Review or WordPress.com Reviews. However, if you’re comparing WordPress and Weebly, which one is best for your project?
Before we can compare the tradeoffs between WordPress and Weebly, it is important to first define what WordPress and Weebly are.
Weebly offers all-in-one hosting. All the components required for a website are included in one bundle at a single monthly cost. This is also known as a site builder.
Weebly offers the software you need to manage your website content. They also provide the design and functionality. You can add-ons and extensions to enhance your website’s functionality. They also offer hosting, which is the place where your website files reside.
WordPress is a free website software you can use to manage your website’s content, design, and functionality. It can be used in 2 different ways.
The first, then self-hosted WordPress also known as “WordPress.org”. It is free, open-source and community-supported software. Anyone can install it on any server that meets the minimum requirements. Hosting is paid for. You can install WordPress as you wish and manage your website however you want. You can find a setup guide right here.
Second, there’s WordPress.com. It is a hosted platform (ie, website creator) that is sold by WordPress’ main corporate supporter. You can get any website that runs a limited version of WordPress.com for free. Upgrades can be purchased at a cost. You can view the WordPress.com plans here.
Yes, it is confusing. If you’re interested in learning more, I have written a little bit about the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org .
Here’s an analogy:
Imagine that you are searching for a home.
Weebly or WordPress.com can be used as a way to buy a condo. Your condo is yours. You have the freedom to do what you like inside. The condo association handles the security, water, and structural issues. You can even choose to furnish your unit. Condo association rules must be followed. Their structure is restrictive and you will have to pay additional HOA fees.
Self-hosted WordPress is similar to buying a home. You can do whatever you like. There are no restrictions or rules. You have to do everything or hire someone to do it. You can make it as affordable or expensive as you like.
This is a FYI: this explanation is very similar to Squarespace to WordPress, Wix vs. WordPress or hosted eCommerce platforms such as Shopify.
Hosted vs. self-hosted platforms
Weebly vs. WordPress – Let’s look at the main considerations for new website owners. In each section, we’ll be looking at WordPress.com, Self-hosted WordPress and Weebly.
The primary tradeoff is control/convenience. Both WordPress.com and Weebly are hosted platforms that want to provide the most convenient experience. However, to achieve the most convenient experience there is a compromise between control and features. They must control the environment to ensure the best experience.
You can’t add a feature to either WordPress.com or Weebly if they don’t offer it. You can’t simply pick up your website and move to another platform.
You can do both these things when you self-host your server. It’s , but not as user-friendly overall as a hosted platform.
This is the main tradeoff. However, as I have mentioned in other website builders reviews, my website setup guide and my eCommerce platform review – this is not the only tradeoff. That’s what we’re going to discuss.
Weebly offers 3 paid plan tiers as well as a free basic tier. The Starter Plan costs $8/mo and provides the most features for non-eCommerce websites. The $12 Pro plan includes phone support, HD video embeds and site search. Password protection is also included. Both offer limited eCommerce functionality.
As Squarespace is a different topic, I haven’t included eCommerce considerations. You can find an essential guide for eCommerce platforms here.
Remember that Weebly includes hosting, customer support and designs.
WordPress.com has a free plan limited to a subdomain (e.g., [yourwebsite].wordpress.com). WordPress.com Personal Plans cost $4/mo and are billed annually. A custom domain can be created, but the storage space and designs are limited. If you bill annually, the Premium Plan costs $8/mo. You get more storage and more feature upgrades, but no Google Analytics support.
The Business Plan costs $25/mo if billed annually. You get Google Analytics, more design options and unlimited storage. And, most importantly, you can also add some WordPress plugins and themes from third parties.
These plans only allow for a one-site.
Self-hosted WordPress software is free and can be installed on any server. You can technically run it free of charge from a home computer if you’re a true geek. Your main cost will be shared Linux hosting. Hosting can be as cheap as $3/month if you bill annually. If you renew annually, it will cost $8/month.
Many top-rated WordPress hosts are available with just one click. Bluehost is a great host for multiple sites.
InMotion hosting is slightly more expensive overall, but offers excellent support and a drag-and-drop tool for WordPress called BoldGrid.
Regardless of your host , self-hosted WordPress will be much more affordable.
Self-hosted WordPress is not only cheaper than monthly, but you also have the option to have unlimited features, unlimited design options and unlimited websites. *
You can have multiple website ideas on one self-hosted account. Each new website is a monthly cost with Weebly, and direct competitors like squarespace and Wix.
Self-hosted WordPress has a big pricing problem. You don’t pay for many things, but you still have to pay.
WordPress offers a better pricing option than Weebly. Nevertheless, self-hosted WordPress offers a better deal just on pricing.
But let’s move to the next asterisk/considerations.
Onboarding and User Experience
“Onboarding” is the process of moving a new customer from signup into an active user.
It’s basically helping customers to understand your software. No one likes to buy something and then hate it immediately.
As I said in my Weebly Review, Weebly has solid onboarding and an intuitive interface that allows for drag and drop.
Weebly offers a variety of pre-loaded designs to suit different types of websites (ie music, portfolio, business lead-gen and portfolio). It takes some experimentation to improve the site and make it more personal. They have 24/7 customer service available to answer your questions.
WordPress.com has an excellent process for onboarding. The backend requires that new users learn some vocabulary (e.g. “widgets” and “themes”. WordPress.com has a strong focus on publishing HTML content, particularly in blog form. WordPress.com is the best choice if you want to publish your posts as soon as possible after signing up.
WordPress.com is more complicated than you might think. WordPress.com does a great job explaining to users and guiding them through the builder. The interface is simple with few pop-ups, and there’s an easy path to publishing.
Hosting companies have different ways of assisting customers who want to use self-hosted WordPress. Technically, this is because you are installing your own software. This is like Apple customer support being responsible for the new piece of software that you purchased.
Actually, I created an easy WordPress setup guide here with WordPress tutorials because some hosting providers tend not to give you your account information.
InMotion hosts will ask you some questions to sign up and then send you useful resources. To assist they’ll offer a WordPress building app. However, setup and onboarding are still up to you.
For specific questions, you can email support, but after installing WordPress, there is no clear “do this, then” process.
Self-hosted WordPress is a great option for those who find terms such as “FTP” and “Security Patch”, or even going online to search for intimidating answers. Once you’ve mastered the basics, it’s easy to get started. You are fully in control.
WordPress.com is slightly better than Weebly when it comes to user experience and onboarding. Weebly is a better choice for a typical website because of its drag-and-drop builder. Self-hosted WordPress works well if you want maximum control over guided tours.
One common misconception in website building is that a WordPress website or “Squarespace website”, or “Weebly website”, or “Wix website”, or “Shopify website” are specific web designs or looks. Too many customers decide to leave a platform or choose another one because they don’t like its look.
The truth: Just because a program uses “themes” and “templates”, it doesn’t mean you can’t design your software however you like.
HTML/CSS is what creates the look of a website. Software that can edit CSS can create almost any design you can think of.
Weebly WordPress.com, Self-hosted WordPress all permit CSS editing.
The main three questions are:
- Is it easy to use their plug-and-play designs?
- What are the different “plug and play” premium designs?
- What is the maximum length a professional designer/developer can go to support the design?
Answer #1 All three have easy-to-use plug-n-play designs. Weebly offers a range of pre-loaded designs based on your website type. Some of these are quite old, while others are very modern.
You can choose from thousands of free themes for self-hosted WordPress. WordPress.com has a large selection. However, you can’t just grab any theme and then install it.
Question #2 All three offer a wide range of design options with self-hosted WordPress offering the most. Professional designers and developers have been creating premium themes for WordPress for years. Others do the same for Weebly templates.
The WordPress universe is much larger. That bigger market draws more designers/developers.
There are many premium WordPress themes makers, and even whole marketplaces like themeForest. There are also some on Weebly, including on marketplaces such as MOJO Themes and ThemeForest – but they’re not nearly as numerous.
For example, MOJO Templates currently has 19 Weebly templates. There are thousands of WordPress themes.
To answer question #3, all three allow designers (not developers!) to do what they want with self-hosted WordPress. This gives them the most freedom (for better or worse). Weebly offers an in-app HTML/CSS editor, whereas self-hosted WordPress is able to do everything a professional developer would need.
WordPress.com is more restrictive than Weebly and self-hosted WordPress. This is because they don’t allow scripts, FTP Access, or custom themes at the Premium or Personal level (though they do at Business).
All three offer design options that are varied in “flavors”
WordPress.com offers a large selection of click-and-go themes. Weebly offers a wider range of freedom and great designs, with a smaller premium selection .
If you don’t use premium themes, self-hosted WordPress can cause problems with code conflicts, quality control, security, and/or code conflict.
Technical and Customization Features
This technical feature set shows the control/convenience spectrum more clearly than any of the other options.
WordPress.com offers a lot of control and a very simple setup. WordPress.com has many features that work. It has the features most users want/need.
Weebly allows you to have a little more control than WordPress.com, but it is still not free. You can make many modifications, add scripts, and modify many technical settings.
Weebly offers many “apps” that can be used to enhance the functionality of your website.
However, you can’t make any changes to the core functionality or implement whatever you wish. The Weebly system makes sure that all features work, and that there are no conflicts or crashes.
WordPress self-hosted allows for unlimited customization and technical features. For beginners, it’s easy to add new functionality. You can add plugins to your WordPress installation by setting up a self-hosted WordPress account. These are mini-apps you can use with just a click.
Self-hosted WordPress can be used for everything you need, including better SEO functionality, setting-up an eCommerce site, adding appointments and bulk uploading information. You can also add a social network, or just about anything else.
It is possible to cause a WordPress code conflict and cause your website to crash. This is unlikely if you use well supported plugins. However, it can happen.
You can add shutters or a deck to your house. You can do it safely, but you are responsible for any damage to your house.
This consideration is the most important. There’s no winner overall. It all comes down to what is best for you.
Marketing Features & Search Engine Optimization
The marketing and SEO considerations are very similar.
Each platform generates well-coded, searchable HTML and CSS.
All of them support social networking tags like Facebook’s Open Graph.
Despite this, many digital marketing tools aren’t available due to technical limitations.
WordPress.com does not allow Google Analytics or tracking or conversion pixels from Google or Facebook. Schema, page edits and technical fixes are not allowed. They do allow certain SEO plugins in their Business Plan, such as the Yoast-seo-review/.
Weebly offers more scripts and tags. You also have more technical SEO options. However, even with Weebly you cannot do all of the SEO or technical marketing work. The upside is that many small and beginner websites don’t consider implementing tags or technical fixes a top priority.
Publishing quality content that is shared and linked to by many people is the best thing you can do. It will not go down in popularity. WordPress.com and Weebly make it possible to do this.
A self-hosted WordPress site will let you do all your marketing tasks. It allows even beginners to use advanced techniques such as implementing tags, tracking data, advanced SEO changes, running email opt-ins and schema tests, and any other thing you can think of.
Again, the priority of your priorities is what will determine which marketing feature wins. WordPress.com or Weebly are great for user-friendly publishing if that is your priority.
A self-hosted WordPress WordPress website is required if you need complete technical marketing tools.
Customer Support & Services
Customer support is essential, no matter who you may be or what you build.
WordPress.com is different in how it approaches customer service. They do everything possible to make customer service “scale”, meaning they don’t answer the same question repeatedly.
WordPress.com organizes their backend in a way that eliminates questions & solves problems.
To find the answer to your question, the contact form searches for old posts. WordPress.com’s Happiness Engineers will quickly answer your questions via chat, private email, or public posting.
It’s all virtual and interesting, but it is not for everyone.
Weebly also offers traditional customer support via support tickets. They provide support via chat, email, and phone (for business and pro plans), as well as chat and forum support.
If you own a WordPress website that is self-hosted, you can contact your hosting company to resolve technical issues. Google/forums is available for any other issues. I have reviewed many hosting companies, and the service/approaches varied greatly.
InMotion, Web Hosting Hub (review), SiteGround (review), are all independent companies that invest in customer support – and can help with WordPress-specific issues more than others.
HostGator (review), Bluehost(review) and other companies offer excellent hosting support, but recommend upgrading to WordPress Hosting (vs. web hosting) to get WordPress-specific assistance.
Even if you have great hosting support, your WordPress site is still unique.
WordPress.com and Weebly are hosted platforms, so their customer service is limited in scope. Because you can only customize your website so much, there are fewer potential problems.
A troubleshooting procedure will be required if you have a very customized WordPress website that you self-host.
A self-hosted WordPress website with a reliable hosting company is the best choice if you’re comfortable problem solving and troubleshooting. Weebly/WordPress.com is a better choice.
Speed, Backups and Security, as well as Maintenance & Maintenance
Customer support is also related to speed, security, maintenance.
If you use WordPress.com/Weebly, these are not your issues. All of this is covered by the bundled deal.
You will need to update WordPress regularly if you host your site yourself. You’ll also need to install a basic security plugin, and understand how your site is fast/slow.
These topics do not require deep technical knowledge or a developer, but they are important topics to be aware of.
To return to the house analogy, it’s about changing the air filter every month and setting up a security system. These aren’t difficult, but you have to take responsibility for them. This article on essential plugins for WordPress provides valuable information.
Comparison of Weebly and WordPress
WordPress and Weebly are both well-known for their good work. Both have made it so easy to create a website. Both are good options.
Weebly’s current plans
Check WordPress.com’s Current Plans
Refer to the Self-Hosted WordPress Guide
You value simplicity and want a website that is more functional with drag/drop design, then I recommend Weebly. Sign up now for a free trial.
A self-hosted WordPress website is best for those who value control over ease. See my website setup guide.
WordPress.com is the best choice if you want more convenience, more control and more ease-of-use.
Check out these Related Posts about WordPress for Websites
- Before you buy hosting for your website, try WordPress free of charge
- WordPress.com Review w/ Pros & Cons
- Weebly Review – Pros & Cons
- From Scratch How to Set Up WordPress Websites