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Weebly - first hand experience

Note from editor: A new update, Weebly 4, launched in September 2016 with exciting new features such as full-width colour sections, professionally-built templates, coupon codes and a customisable storefront.  

Weebly is a do-it-yourself website builder site, suitable for users with a range of abilities, from beginner through to those experienced in HTML and CSS. The drag and drop system means that in-depth technical knowledge isn’t necessary to create a professional looking website. Weebly also offers a range of add-ons including blogs and e-commerce, which some therapists may find useful.

Getting started

Sign up was quick and easy via Weebly’s website. I simply inserted my full name, email address and password into the “Sign Up Free” box and I was ready to begin! 


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I was then taken to a new screen asking if the focus of my website was a site, blog or store. I selected site. I was then taken to a page full of templates to choose from (although, the template can be changed at any time once you begin making the site). There were many to choose from, although I didn’t feel that the selection of layouts was as varied and individual as the offerings on some other DIY sites.

Once I had made my selection, I was then asked to create a domain name, with the options of a free Weebly subdomain – sitename.weebly.com –  create a unique one, or import an existing one, which could be useful for therapists who already have a website and wish to keep their existing domain. I chose to trial the free service.

A useful video then appeared, running through the basics of how to get started and use the editor (this can be closed if you prefer!). Helpful “how to” boxes also appeared when I first opened the editor, with hints and tips on using the various tool bar options. Weebly have also made their support centre easy to find, with a convenient button along the top of the editor page. 

Using the editor

The Weebly website editor is mostly very straight forward and easy to use, with tabs running along the top of the page, in addition to a tool bar down the left-hand side.  Selecting the “Pages” tab allowed me to re-arrange existing pages, making quick and easy work of organising my website’s navigation. The tab also enabled me to create new pages. This feature was particularly well-thought out, as I was able to choose between different types of pages, depending on whether I wanted a “landing page”, blog, online shop or just a standard page(with 3 templates to choose from).  

In terms of SEO, Weebly makes the basics easy, with a simple bar for “advanced settings” where I was able to enter page titles, descriptions and key words. 

The drag and drop system for placing pictures and text boxes onto my pages was very simple to use and made putting together a professional-looking website relatively quick. However, moving the various elements was not as “fluid” as my experience with some other DIY sites, causing blocks of text to move when I placed images down. This was quickly fixed, but it was a little annoying.

When it came to selecting images, Weebly had three options. I could choose to upload my own images, purchase images from an impressive collection available, or choose from a collection of free images. Although there were free images on a wide range of subjects, many were not as polished as the more professional ones available for purchase. However, searching through the images, I was able to find some ones that I was very happy with that suited my theme. The useful search bar produced image results for the words counselling, physiotherapy, acupuncture and therapy, making the collection useful for a wide range of therapists. The built-in photo editor was also very useful and allowed me to re-size images and add various filters and finishes. 

Adding and editing text was very quick and easy, similar to using word processor. Double clicking on areas of text produced a text tool bar, which allowed me to change font size, colour and alignment and apply underling, bold or italics. 

I was also able to insert social media icons. This was a feature I particularly liked, as hovering my mouse over the icons produced a box that allowed me to enter my social media web addresses, linking them to my pages with very little effort. 

Another feature that I felt was particularly impressive was the built-in site planner, which helps users to identify what they wish to gain from their website and plan accordingly. I was able to enter my goals, and outline for myself the information I wanted to appear on my site. The planner also allowed me to look through other websites that have successfully achieved their goals, giving me a better idea of how to progress. Each section came complete with examples and a useful video, and could be checked off once completed. Although simple, the tool was extremely effective and I felt it would be very useful, especially for therapists looking for a little more guidance when building their website. 

Additional Features 

Using the tool bar along the left-hand side, I was also able to add useful features to my website including Google maps, a contact form and a blog. E-commerce, videos, slide shows, audio and galleries are also available, which may be very useful to some therapists. For users with more technical knowledge, Weebly also offers the option of entering HTML and CSS codes, meaning that all of their templates can be completely customised and made unique. 

It is also possible to insert polls, surveys, bookings and an RSVP form, meaning that the needs of most therapists should be met! 

The mobile device view editor is extremely useful and easy to use, and allowed me to ensure that my website would appear just as professional on mobile devices as it does on a PC screen. Weebly have also produced a useful app for mobiles and iPads, allowing users to edit their website on the go – brilliant for busy therapists!

Summary

On the whole, I was happy with the results I achieved with Weebly. Although the templates may not be as striking and varied as the offerings on some other websites, my finished website was very attractive, and I appreciated the variety of templates and formats available when inserting new pages, at it took a lot of the hard work out of the process and ensured that navigation worked well. I liked how easy it was to re-organise pages, and the drag and drop system made inserting text and images simple and very quick. Despite the free images sometimes lacking a polished, professional finish, Weebly does offer a wide range of photos on many subjects, and the handy search bar made finding appropriate images simple. The additional features were well considered and provided me with everything I needed to put my website together. I felt that there was plenty of provision for the needs of any type of therapist, and features such as the website planner and easy linking system for social media were well though-out and extremely useful. Although I didn’t use it myself, I also liked how simple Weebly have made it to enter HTML and CSS code, which would benefit people with a little more technical knowledge and result in some very unique websites.

Price

In addition to the free packages, which include hosting, subdomain name and basic stats for your website (i.e. a breakdown of page views per day), Weebly offer 4 premium packages, charged at a monthly rate: 

Performance: £33

Business: £17

Pro: £8

Starter: £5

It is easy to upgrade at any time via the link on the editor page, meaning that users can always upgrade if they find their currently package is no longer providing them with the features they need. 

More information about price plans can be found here.