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Why Weebly is Still the Best Website Builder in 2021
Over the past few years, we've seen a ton of website builders pop up. Today, the list is almost endless.
We've got Squarespace, Wix, Wordpress, Webflow, Duda, Shopify, and more.
To make things even crazier, website hosting platforms like GoDaddy and HostGator now have their own website builders.
In light of this, I have set off to identify the best website building platform today for small businesses.
Note: in this article, by "Weebly" I'm referring to their original dark-themed drag 'n drop editor that looks like this:
This is a point of confusion, because Weebly currently offers to editors that are drastically different: the superior drag 'n drop "original" editor (as shown above), and the new e-commerce only Square editor, more information on these two editors and the difference between them can be found here.
What I'll do is I'll just go through each website builder out there, step by step. Starting with Weebly (original editor).
Weebly Drag 'n Drop Website Builder (Original) Grade: A
Ah yes, Weebly.
The one that started it all.
Weebly was probably the first truly intuitive easy-to-use website builder that appeared on the market.
Since then, it has gone through several iterations of significant upgrades and overhauls.
I've been using Weebly since 2008. Today, I have almost forty active websites that I've built for clients via Weebly.
After using virtually every major website builder in the market, I've concluded that Weebly is still the top choice.
Weebly still offers the easiest to use, most intuitive website building experience on the market
Weebly still offers the most easy-to-use website building experience. By far.
When I design a site for a client in Weebly, I'll hand off access to the site to them.
My clients have little to no technical skills so it's important that the website builder they use is as easy to use as possible.
Here, Weebly goes far beyond the competition.
Weebly is the only builder on the market right now to truly offer an intuitive website building experience.
Simply drag and drop blocks onto your website.
Quite frankly, I don't understand why other website builders haven't adopted this approach.
As you'll see further down in this article, other website builders are so difficult to use. It's absurd.
Squarespace has multi-billion dollar valuation yet they can't design a proper drag and drop editor??
Anyway, the point is Weebly is still leaps ahead of the competition when it comes to ease of use.
There's virtually no learning curve and it's very easy to manipulate content on your website.
Ability to Import Premium Themes and Templates
This is a huge plus.
Weebly is pretty much the only website builder out there aside from Wordpress that allows users to purchase and import premium third party website templates.
Review: Top 7 Best Premium Weebly Themes and Templates - Updated For 2021
Why is this important? The ability to import themes gives you more design freedom--you aren't confined to the themes that the website builder comes with (which are usually quite limited) and you can generally build higher-quality websites with them.
Full HTML/CSS/JS Editor
I mentioned that Weebly is by far the easiest editor to use.
Ironically, it's also the best editor for more advanced users.
This is because Weebly is one of the few website builders that gives you full access to the code under the hood.
With their HTML/CSS/JS editor, those of us who know web development can craft the website exactly to our specifications.
It's even a bigger deal to web designers like me.
When I build a client a website in Weebly, I will tweak their website code to deliver a better quality website.
Then, the client can simply resume editing their website in the easy to use Weebly builder after I'm done with the coding.
Note: the white-themed e-commerce only Square editor that Weebly provides does not have this feature. Here's how to specifically choose the Weebly original editor.
What About The Other Website Builders? How Do They Compare?
Like I said, over the past month I've tried virtually every other website builder on the market.
Here's what I found.
Squarespace: A Frustrating and Confusing Experience
After being bombarded with Squarespace ads on YouTube, I've finally given in and tried their builder.
First thing I noticed was how confusing their editor was.
It was not drag and drop like Weebly. No. Far from it.
Instead, editing your content involved navigating multiple layers of confusing interfaces.
It's also far more "locked in"--you get less design flexibility with less ease of use.
The default Squarespace themes are the nicest to look at but they're quite plain.
It seemed like unless you're a restaurant or a photographer, it was difficult to find the right theme.
Wix: A cluttered experience with an outdated user interface
Next, I tried Wix.
If you did your research, you'll see that literally every review site raves about how great Wix is.
This is the platform that all the reviewers rave about, but not because Wix is a good platform.
Nope. The truth is quite simple: Wix offers the highest affiliate payouts for reviewers who promote Wix.
You see, many review sites use affiliate links. When they talk well of a builder, and when one of their readers clicks on their link to make an account with the builder, they earn commission.
Wix offers reviewers $100 USD for every visitor they refer.
So, when a visitor reading a review praising Wix clicks on a link to Wix, and when they make an account with Wix, that reviewer earns $100 USD.
Anyway, forget that. Let's look at the builder itself.
To be honest: I don't understand why Wix is the most popular editor right now.
Their user interface is quite confusing to navigate and their websites are very bloated.
Wix uses a lot of layering on their websites and the result is Wix sites generally do quite poor in SEO rankings.
They do offer a very high degree of design flexibility, however, but this is something that can shoot you in the foot if you don't know what you're doing.
It's quite easy to mess up.
Wix offers a wide degree of features, but they aren't very polished. They just throw a bunch of features at you.
If I had to describe Wix in three words, it would be: cluttered, confusing, and unrefined.
Webflow: An extremely powerful developer-grade tool that intimidates beginners
Webflow is a website builder that I've actually been using a lot.
In fact, I build this entire website in Webflow to practice.
However, it's not a tool I'd recommend to the average Weebly user. Here's why:
Webflow is a developer-grade tool. It's a builder designed for website developers who have experience with advanced CSS concepts like grid, flexbox, etc.
Webflow is not an easy-to-use drag and drop builder. It doesn't even compete with Weebly.
Its got a very steep learning curve, and it's generally catered to website developers.
Beginners or those without a solid foundation of coding knowledge will find themselves lost very quickly.
I'm a website developer with over a decade of coding experience, and I'm still learning how to use Webflow.
However, if you're someone with a strong grasp of website development programming, Webflow is a great and powerful tool.
Webflow and Weebly (or virtually every other consumer grade website builder product) operate in different realms.
Shopify: Not very intuitive or beginner friendly, but powerful eCommerce capabilities
Shopify was quite confusing to get started with.
When I first opened a website with them, I was greeted with an extremely primitive website builder.
Turns out, if you truly want an aesthetic website, you have to purchase a theme and a third-party "page builder" app.
By default, Shopify is not drag and drop but if you purchase the right app, you can install a drag and drop editor.
Shopify definitely requires a lot of research to get started.
It's not beginner friendly, and it's extremely focused on eCommerce.
If you're a medium-large sized company selling products, Shopify is a great choice.
In fact--this platform powers some of the biggest names in the market, such as GymShark.
Shopify features a wide array of powerful eCommerce apps with incredible logistical and inventory integrations.
But, like I said, Shopify is tailored to eCommerce only.
If you're trying to build a site that isn't eCommerce focused, and if you're not selling anything online, then Shopify is not for you.
Wordpress is a whole ecosystem.
It originally started out as a blogging platform. It still is. How it became a website builder, I have no clue.
By default, Wordpress is extremely limited.
However, over the years, many companies have come out offering a ton of plugins, builder extensions, and themes to use with Wordpress.
The good part of Wordpress is the flexibility.
The bad part are the chronic headaches that will arise as a result of managing 30+ plugins on your site.
Integrations will break, plugins will lose support, and your website will constantly accumulate bloat.
You may as well purchase a Vitamin B complex supplement if you're planning to move to Wordpress, because managing all the plugins and their respective developers is a pain in the ass.
Wordpress is the very opposite of efficient. Imagine an adult elephant being somehow miraculously carried by a shopping cart.
That's Wordpress in a nutshell. It's bewildering to me that it's such a common platform.
Duda: Unrefined and Targeted at Website Design Agencies
I tried Duda too, with mixed results.
It seems to be the closest platform to Weebly out of all the builders, but its very unrefined.
The drag and drop mechanism is very choppy and it's a gamble to see where elements land.
They really don't offer anything more either. It's more tailored to website developers and design agencies, because they have excellent team collaboration features.
I really wish I had a platform I could recommend to Weebly users.
But at this point in time, I don't.
I couldn't find a single website builder that matches the experience that Weebly provides.
I don't understand why these builders with multi-million dollar budgets can't replicate the simple yet intuitive interface that Weebly provides.
Alas, this is the situation we find ourselves in.
I'll keep searching and trying out new builders, but for now, I can't find any website builder that is better than Weebly.
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