Review: Weebly, The New Flexible Blogging Platform

Filed as Features on May 18, 2007 1:00 pm

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Blogging and Blog hosting are growing markets, but with so many options it’s easy to miss the smaller more useful services. However there is one thing all of them lack: a simple and straightforward design editing that anyone can use, and this is where Weebly shines.

Making Blogging Even Easier

Blog hosting services and platforms are plentiful but only a handful dominate this space. A common goal is shared between them all, and that is providing an outlet for your Blog. Setup is easy, expansion is limitless and design customization is well, limited to what a single theme has to offer. You can’t take elements from theme A and combine it with theme B without knowing how to edit HTML or CSS. Unfortunately very many Bloggers lack this knowledge, after all we’re writers not Picassos!

This is where Weebly steps in. Instead of holding your hand through the rigorous process of editing a foreign language to achieve optimal design results, Weebly presents you with a very simple and straight forward AJAX based interface allowing you to drag and drop elements to customize your site design.

In addition to simple editing Weebly offers free hosting for your Web Site as a subdomain (examplesite.weebly.com) and provides simple stat services although I would recommend using a more full fledged service like Site Meter.

Step By Step

“Web Creation Made Easy” that’s Weebly’s slogan and where it truly shines. Sure, you could grab some free hosting from WordPress.com to create a Blog, but for someone like Grandma who wants a Web Site to give family updates WordPress may not be the greatest option. I use it and love it, but even though the interface can be easily navigated, the amount of options that WordPress offers could be intimidating to tech illiterates who just want to get what they need done quickly.

Weebly’s interface literally just walks you through everything by displaying only the most important elements up front but still making less important elements easily accessible.

Once you account is made and you’ve elected your site’s name, you’ll be presented with your web site editor. This is the same one mentioned and so highly praised that you’d think it was some sort of divine tool that others missed the opportunity to obtain and only a small contender like Weebly could get their hands on. Four tabs adorn the top of Weebly’s editor that allow you to create pages, select designs, insert elements and change settings.

How your Web Site looks is everything and can determine what your users think of you. Luckily Weebly has 30 + designs to choose from with many I recognize from existing WordPress themes and Blogger templates. Weebly designs only contain edges, headers and backgrounds with much of the design being based on elements, essentially just the bare essentials.

Elements:
Got a design picked out? Great, but it’s just a blank pretty page with only your web site name. Surely you’ll want to add some text in. Just drag and drop a paragraph element and start typing away. You can add in a two column layout which additional elements can be dropped on to. If you’re over text don’t fret. Weebly allows you to display many additional elements. Videos from Google Video, YouTube and YouAreTV can all be displayed on your Weebly made site. Just drag and drop the appropriate element. Video options can all be configured from that individual element like most others.

Additional Elements
Even thought Weebly is meant for simple drag and drop design there’s nothing stopping you from getting your hands dirty with some HTML. You guessed it, Weebly allows you to insert custom HTML. Still not satisfied with the additional elements? No problem, you could always insert a contact form, AdBrite Ad, RSS Feed, file download and a Google Map — you know the basics.

You won’t find a huge community behind Weebly as you would with other Blogging communities. The reason is actually pretty surprising. WordPress, Typepad, Blogger are all Blogging platforms meant for users who want total control over their Blog. With this extreme control and expandability you will have communities spring up to support these platforms offering new ways to take charge of your Blog. Weebly on the other hand only offers the bare minimum to have a Web Site or Blog and does not utilize any external addons and along with the simple to use interface, everything is straightforward. This doesn’t leave many options to create a community dedicated to Weebly. Even though support from communities are important, I honestly don’t think Weebly needs it as everything you’ll ever use is self contained and the people Weebly is targeted towards only need the bare essentials.

Who Should Use Weebly?

Should you use Weebly? Depends on what your needs are. For someone like me I’ll stick with WordPress for the time being but for say, my mom, Weebly would work perfect for her if she wants to take control of designing her Web Site to reflect what she wants. Weebly I’d say is aimed towards the casual internet users who want a no hassle Web Site and editor with free hosting. Although that’s not to say that more experienced people couldn’t use Weebly for a simple Web Site to post family updates or create an online presence for their business.

Also if you’d like to see an example of a Weebly made Web Site please click this link.


Tanner Godarzi is a 14 year old Blogger that writes for Apple Matters, iPhone Matters and his own Blog Tech Blot.

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  1. By MG Siegler posted on May 18, 2007 at 3:21 pm
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    Nice write-up Tanner!

    I definitely could have used something like this a few years ago when I was starting…

  2. By CGDotNet posted on May 18, 2007 at 3:27 pm
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    You know, it sounds a lot like the baby sibling of http://www.squarespace.com/

    I’ll keep an eye on it, but the featured sites all seemed too similar…as if they were all using the cookie cutter.

    Overall, Squarespace seems much more robust, I oughta know I run my site on it!

    Interesting concept.

    –J

  3. By Tanner Godarzi posted on May 18, 2007 at 6:43 pm
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    MG Siegler,

    Glad you liked it!

  4. By Rhys posted on May 19, 2007 at 3:41 am
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    I might be being really thick here, but I don’t think you’ve included a link to weebly.

    Sounds good though.

  5. By Tony Hung posted on May 19, 2007 at 8:22 am
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    Ahem … you may have been right, Rhys. ;)

  6. Tech Blot » Blog Archive » Writing For The Blog HeraldMay 19, 2007 at 3:16 pm
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