We continue our look at free hosting providers with the second most popular free site building service, Weebly, an easy drag and drop solution to your site building needs. They also offer free hosting that comes with each plan, which is what we will be focusing on in this review.
We can’t stress this enough, but free hosting is not the route you want to take if you want a reliable, functioning website which you control. A high-traffic or e-commerce site will require at least some sort of financial investment on your part, with the couple dollars a month for a quality host completely worth it.
Nonetheless, Weebly and other free hosting might be the right option for those looking to dab their feet in site design or run a personal blog. Keep reading to see if they might be right for you!
- Unlimited pages
- 500 MB storage limit
- iOS and Android apps
- Can’t connect a preowned domain with free hosting
- No phone support for the free hosting plan
Weebly Video Review
Check out this quick overview video of Weebly’s service!
Weebly in and of itself is a site building service, which also happens to offer free hosting if you publish a site through them. Paid plans exist as part of a “freemium” model similar to Wix which serves as the only way to remove Weebly’s ad banner that runs across the bottom of your site. Paid plans start at $8 a month, increasing up to the $25 a month Business package.
These paid plans include a free domain name for the first year of your subscription, as well as unlimited storage. With the free plan offering up to 500 MB of storage, this should prove adequate unless you are hosting a lot of content on your site. A free SSL certificate is included with the Business package, in addition to a very handy site registration tool that should prove attractive to e-commerce site owners.
The site building process is smooth and efficient, allowing you to choose from hundreds of preexisting site templates based on your site’s type. Templates exist for blogs, e-commerce sites, photography sites, and much more. After choosing a template, you can edit it to your heart’s desire with the simple to use drag and drop editor. We missed the simplicity of right clicking that comes with Wix, but this was about the only truly notable difference between the two.
As is the norm with most free hosting services, you will need to upgrade to a paid subscription in order to connect a prexisting or newly purchased domain to your site. That being said, Weebly offers you the site URL format of “sitename.weebly.com” for free sites.
Looking to create a mobile-friendly website? No worries here, as Weebly has all templates configured to be mobile-responsive, regardless of any changes you make. Additionally, iPhone, iPad, and Android apps are available to make managing your website even easier.
Let’s reiterate that free web hosting has a lot of drawbacks, and the speed and overall performance of your site is clearly one. Page load times and server up time will largely influence traffic, page ranking, and potentially revenue as well, meaning a paid hosting provider such as Site5 or FastComet is more recommended for the long term.
Similarily to Wix, Weebly distributes copies of your site to data centers all over the world, allowing visitors to view a copy of your site that is closest to them. To confirm this, we setup our test site and tested the page load time using Pingdom’s Website Speed Test tool from three different locations: New York City, Amsterdam, and Melbourne.
Conducting all three speed tests resulted in near identical scores , hovering around 1.5s for our 1.4 MB test page, with the exception being the Melbourne location being around the 3 second mark. We were pleasantly surprised by Weebly’s ability to keep up with the industry standard when it comes to speed.
For additional fees, Weebly also offers SEO services that can help boost your site’s ranking, while a newsletter management tool entitled “Promote” is also available to assist you when it comes to e-mail.
Weebly Interface and Security
Weebly’s site builder interface is straightforward and easy to understand, even for the most beginner-level website administrators. Signing up requires only an e-mail address and a full name, after which you can create, edit, and publish your site in just a few minutes!
There is a main dashboard and client area where you can view site statistics, manage your domains, as well as view an expansive app marketplace. A variety of free and paid applications are available to install with one click, from SEO tools to chat clients.
Weebly takes your site’s security seriously, as they claim to offer full DDOS protection in addition to their already secure network firewall. Those looking for increased security for their individual site can also purchase the McAfee Secure malware scan app.
Additional security is also available in the option to have password-protected pages on your site, while SSL certificates can also be installed if you are starting an e-commerce or heavy traffic site. Keep in mind that Business plan customers have access to both of these options for $25 a month.
Weebly Customer Service
Another drawback that comes with free hosting is the varying or nonexistent levels of assistance and customer service you will receive. Obviously for a personal site or a static HTML page in-depth support is probably not needed, but this should still be an important factor when choosing a hosting provider.
Weebly subscribers taking advantage of Weebly’s free service can enjoy live chat, e-mail support, and an extensive knowledge base, while telephone support is only available to paid subscribers.
To get a better idea of Weebly’s customer service, we gave their live chat client a try at 9 AM EST on a weekday to see what kind of reply we would get. Unfortunately, we were unable to access their live chat feature as their Zen Desk client was unavailable due to an unspecified error. Disappointing, to say the least.
Weebly also doesn’t offer coding or web development assistance when it comes to custom HTML or CSS code, so if you are looking to get into in-depth web design, don’t expect any help in this area.
While the customer service options are certainly somewhat underwhelming, they do offer a 30-day money back guarantee if you sign up for any of their plans.
Weebly Review Conclusion
- Unlimited pages
- 500 MB storage
- Weebly Promote newsletter tool
- Mobile app support
I wasn’t so sure about
- No custom coding support
- Customer service options
- Chat client wasn’t working
We may be beating a dead horse at this point, but again, we cannot stress enough the issues that exist with free hosting. Lack of customer support, control over your server, as well as banner advertisements crowding your site mean that free web hosting is only attractive to those with the most basic hosting needs.
Weebly is a good choice if you don’t have coding knowledge and want to use a simple drag and drop builder to create your website. With hundreds of templates and dozens of apps, you have the ability to create a site that is perfectly suited for whatever your site’s objective may be.
Could Weebly be right for you? Give them a free try today and let us know!