Updated: Mar 27
Life is too short for endless comparisons. You want to build a website, and you want it made today.
Forget about using one of the free website building tools that came bundled with your hosting plan. They are exactly what they suggest they are; cheap, tacky and classless. Rather, use one of these two expert website builders and reap the time saved and cost benefits.
Wix and Weebly are the two best drag and drop website builders on the market, hands down. They don't have advanced eCommerce features, but they do produce an excellent looking site in a short amount of time. For a small business website, a portfolio, resume or an upcoming event, one of these two would be an excellent choice.
If you are a small business owner building their first site my advice is to pay someone to make the website for you. An expert in Wix or Weebly will create a website for you for around £250 all in. Unless you have an eye for great design or more time on your hands than is good for you, building a site this way means you'll get the advantages of low upfront cost and the enormous amount of time saved combined with a professional finish.
A Word On Free Plans:
Don't do it. We're building a business here. It's not amateur hour. These are professional tools for building a good looking website. It won't be a world beater, but if you do it properly, it will look better than a Wordpress site costing four or five times the budget.
So Which Is The Best? Wix Or Weebly?
The answer is Wix, and that's the tool I recommend. Read my Wix review for more details.
Wix is the best choice because:
1. Wix Has The Best Templates
Weebly trails Wix horribly in the template department. Part of the attraction of using an online website builder is the multitude of design options you can choose from, and Wix wins that feature set easily.
Wix recently released a new set of 17 templates which I covered in a recent news update, and they look stunning. Whatever your small business niche you'll find a template to get you quickly up and running. Wix templates are highly professional, and you'll love their designs.
By contrast, Weebly has been caught with their pants down working on back-end features and integrations. Their templates are improving, but they have a lot of ground to catch up.
Watch out! One drawback with using the Wix system is that if you decide you want to change the template at a later date you're out of luck because there's no facility in the templating structure to transfer data. In other words, if you change templates, you're pretty much starting over again.
However, starting over again isn't a catastrophe because the nature of “drag and drop” means “copy and paste” is alive and well. You'll need to resize some images along the way if you do decide to make a template change.
2. Wix Has The Best Drag And Drop Interface
Using a template system often means having to work within a rigid structure with little room for manoeuvre. This is true not just for low-end budget website builders like Wix and Weebly but also for products at the other end of the scale.
A templating system keeps everything organised and makes creating new pages a breeze. Having all the container elements laid out for you makes for easy decision making when deciding where things are going to go. A well-organised template system is a necessity and not something to be sneered at.
This often gets overlooked with open source solutions like Wordpress or Joomla. You have a site template which generates the overall look and feels but there is no granular control over your article production. The best you can do is make a page with all the elements laid out how you want them and then use that as the basis for a new article.
Sometimes though you may want to make a page that doesn't conform to a template and you can do this by creating a blank page. Alternatively, you can create a new page and delete everything you don't need.
Wix's superior drag and drop interface let you place any element anywhere on any page which will give you complete design freedom.
The Wix system doesn't currently allow you to globally modify the CSS. If you want to do that, then you'll need to update it using the editor and place style tags everywhere you want to make a change. That is why they make their templates better – because they have to be if you are unable to modify the CSS file.
By contrast, Weebly allows you full access to HTML and CSS code.
If you want to choose your house font style or make changes to CSS, then Weebly has those features right now. If you're at the stage where “house style” is meaningful to you and manipulating CSS is essential then Weebly would be your choice.
3. Design Features
Wix consistently provides innovations and features on a monthly basis. For example last month (December 2016) they introduced 11 more templates as well as these great features:
Mobile Zoom In & Out: Now you can pinch to zoom in and out on your mobile Wix site and gallery images.
Wix Forum: Create an online community right on your site. Your visitors can become members, join conversations, follow posts, leave comments and more.
Wix Music: Singles & Playlists: Have the freedom to create the audio experience you want for your website. Upload single tracks or create a playlist - the choice is yours to make.
Wix Video: Strip Video Layout: Create a powerful visual effect with videos that extend the entire width of your site.
Stats: Track the success of your videos, including those posted on your social channels - like Facebook, YouTube and Vimeo. See which videos got the most views, shares, generated the most revenue and more.
Wix Blog: Mail Subscribe: Send automatic Wix ShoutOuts to all your subscribers with every post you publish.
Like Button: Add “like” buttons to posts to showcase their popularity among your readers.
Social Share Counter: Display the number of times your posts are shared.
Wix Mobile App: Wix Chat: View past chats and save visitor info to your contacts. Plus, you can follow-up on archived conversations, review bookings, orders, reservations, prior purchases and more.
Wix ADI: Face Magic: Perfect the way images with faces appear on your website. Images with faces are auto-cropped and aligned, so they always look stunning.
Freeze Header: Keep your logo, header and details always at the top. When visitors scroll, your header will always stay visible.
Rename & Hide Sections: Now you have full control to rename your site sections and choose whether to show or hide them in the menu bar.
Add Pages & Sections: With a cleaner design of the top bar, you can quickly add pages or sections to your website.
4. User Support
The Wix platform has more features and is, therefore, more complicated to use. The art of producing any software is in the User Experience (UX) department where people can make snap decisions and never return if they perceive the product to be too difficult to use.
Wix has a tooltip for every element, so you just hover over it, and it tells you what it does. Weebly offers a search feature, and its help features are nowhere near as extensive as Wix. Weebly is an easier to use software product so you may argue that it doesn't need advanced help guides.
The trick is to provide a balance between advanced user features and the ability to be able to use them intuitively. Most office users barely use a fraction of the bewildering array of options available in Excel for example, but that doesn't mean it's hard to use. Without those features, bean counters would ditch the product.
Adding extra features and making it easy to understand when and how to use them is the objective. Many people start producing carousel slideshows for example because the feature is available, but often it's better to create stronger content than focus on using design elements that are too often cross-browser incompatible.
By providing detailed usage guides to every element that is introduced on the page Wix helps to eliminate the use of bad design, which let's face it is what happens when amateurs use tools that they should stay away from.
There's little to choose between the two, sign up for a free plan and give them a try yourself!