I can offer a solid opinion on this, being that I am a service based solopreneur, and that I have used both Weebly & Wordpress to create my own sites. And, I have also worked with a design agency to create a site for me as well.
So, I’ve gone down the DIY route & the finding an expert route.
And I’ve been down the Wordpress route & the Weebly route.
I also think I am well placed to write this because I AM NOT A DESIGNER, I am a business owner who does quite enjoy the process & control it gives me designing & updating my own site.
Having run 6 or 7 sites at this point, potentially more! And worked on many, many more via clients & during my corporate career, I’d like to go through my thoughts on what each platform can provide you and hopefully help you make the decision.
I’m going to start with Wordpress as this is the system which is more recommended (mostly by designers).
Wordpress Design Visuals
With wordpress you have basic CMS System, and then you use Themes which give your website or blog the visual appeal. There are literally tons of different themes out there. Whether you want to go for minimalist, image heavy, something super feminine, or a professional corporate feel.
If you want a theme which is highly customisable then I suggest spending a little bit more. Usually I look for themes at around $50 which give me the option of customising to my specification.
If you decide to work with a designer then they will often do the research for you and find a suitable theme to meet your needs.
There is a lot of choice out there with regards to wordpress themes. Some people see this as a benefit and site it as one of the main reasons for going with Wordpress. I personally find it overwhelming.
Too much choice can lead to poor decisions, there are a lot of good themes + a lot of poorly designed ones. I’d suggest searching for “The Top [insert main function you are looking for] Wordpress Themes”.
I.e. The Top Minimalist Wordpress Themes
The Top Directory Wordpress Themes
The Top Corporate Wordpress Themes
But, make sure you do your research! Find reviews on the theme you choose and make sure that the developers are still around & offering theme support. Don’t go for some obscure theme that only 10 people have downloaded and you can’t get any help if (and when) something goes wrong.
Wordpress Design Ease
If you are DIYing with wordpress themes it is going take some getting used to. The first 3 sites I designed using wordpress were absolutely terrible! Slowly but surely I got a little better, but, my design work is still very much in the lacking category.
If you have a natural eye for design then, as long as you get through the technical side of learning how to design using the backend of your wordpress theme, then you might be okay.
For time poor, design poor people like me I’d say it is a lot more hassle than it is worth as it takes a lot of time to learn! So, find a designer!
You’ve probably heard that you can use plugins to add additional functionality to your wordpress theme. Because wordpress is open source and very popular, there are developers all over the world contributing plugins in pretty much any category.
Whether you want to add an email popup box (but be careful now Google is penalising for this!), social media share buttons, or a new comment box, there is a plugin.
In terms of adding additional functionality wordpress scores high. HOWEVER. And for me this is a big HOWEVER.
Too much choice is not always a good thing. It is very easy to get very trigger happy, wanting to add every single plugin that you can to your theme so that your website has all the bells and whistles, until suddenly something breaks! Or, your site starts to get sluggish.
For every plugin you have, you have to remember they will each have updates and new versions. And wordpress will also release new versions. So, over time your plugins generally start breaking and having issues.
At least, this is what I have found in the past. This is one of the main reasons I actually don’t think Wordpress is the best platform for service based solopreneurs, it gets way too confusing and then time intensive when stuff starts to break!
And over time, it can start slowing down which loses you customers. Site speed is a very important metric often overlooked! That’s why we wrote a blog post on checking your site speed and leveraging browser caching, an issue many sites have problems with.
Wordpress have a self hosted option, and an option to host it through wordpress itself. Most people recommend that you get a hosted option with someone like Godaddy. I do agree, that if you build your site with wordpress then go with another hosting provider.
The only issue with this is, in general I have always had to deal with more spam because of it. Whether it’s fake comments or fake users signing up, spam has always been an issue whenever I’ve used Wordpress.
Luckily I haven’t had my site hacked into or taken over but it does make me wonder about the security and how secure it really is. (p.s. I am only speaking from my own personal and non technical experience of using wordpress !!)
SEO plugins like yoast make wordpress a really SEO friendly way to build your website or blog. Even if you know about meta-titles and keywords and alt tags, it is very easy to forget to put your knowledge into practice!
Believe me, I know!
I still forget and I’ve been in SEO for many, many years.
It is one thing to say, “yeah I know that”. It’s another to actually, consistently use that knowledge.
So, the yoast plugin is great for that. You can also find plugins which will help you with internal linking, adding breadcrumbs and a whole numbers of important SEO on-site tactics. I’d rank Wordpress high in the SEO category.
There are plenty of free themes, to get a premium wordpress theme you only need to spend around $50. Then you have your hosting, roughly $5 - $10 per month. And your domain, roughly $15 - $20 per year. In total you are looking at roughly $150 - 200.
Weebly Design Visuals
Weebly is not an open source website builder which means there is not as much choice when it comes to the visual design. However, the themes they do have are very clean, minimalist and modern. Somehow their designs are light, not clunky at all which I often find with wordpress themes.
This is not to say you cannot build a minimalist, light looking site with wordpress. However, because of the huge range of choice with wordpress, in the end the design does tend to get very clunky.
Weebly Design Ease
This is the main reason I prefer Weebly, and will always stick with Weebly if I am building a site for a service based business. That is a simple site with my service pages, my blog and potentially some products.
It is sooo easy to use Weebly to design a good looking site. I have been complimented on my Agency’s websites more time than I dare to count - no joke. I have never been complimented on the design of any of the sites I personally designed through Wordpress.
The reason, is that the functionality is limited, so it is very hard to go wrong. It’s pretty much drag and drop. You can choose different types of pages and then you build out each page with text + images.
Because of the drag & drop, and the intuitive way they have designed the system, it is much, much easier to design a site with Weebly. For a DIY option, I would definitely say go with Weebly every time!
Weebly offers you pages, posts and a store. So you have all of the building blocks you need for a service based business website. It is pretty lacking on extra functions, for example, say I want to add in Social Share Buttons, I am not able to get the exact type of buttons I would prefer on my site because there is a lot less choice.
It definitely is light in terms of adding additional functionality and customisation.
But, why do you need so much functionality???? I certainly don’t! I just want a good looking site which works, is fast and converts. All of that can be done with Weebly without spending tons of time tweaking stuff that doesn’t actually help with results.
Another reason I love to use Weebly, is the security. I have never had any issues with spam when using Weebly and I feel like as my site is hosted with them that it is extra secure. I have always suffered from spam using Wordpress hosted with a separate hosting provider.
Having had a lot of experience in SEO throughout my Digital Marketing Career I can comment on this! I will say, with my Digital Marketing Weebly site I have not found the site ranking as well as with Wordpress. BUT, I can’t blame this all on Weebly, you can perform SEO on any site. Some, you might find it slightly easier than others to do but as long as Google can crawl your website then it is not going to penalise your site for being built on Weebly instead of Wordpress.
It may however find that there are less tags, categories and links to crawl through because you found it more difficult to add these into your Weebly site. I haven’t done as much link building for my Marketing Blog as I have for other sites I’ve worked on, which is also a factor.
I have a couple of great links, but I haven’t been focusing on Guest Posting as I wanted a really good solid bank of content first. I would say that SEO is slightly more difficult to execute with a Weebly site, but by no means will you be penalised for using Weebly. As long as you ensure your site is optimised, you provide quality content + link to it, you should rank!
You can start a weebly site for free, they will even give you a weebly domain name for free! So, if you want to trial it out and see if it’s the right platform for you hop on over right now. There is no reason not to try it and honestly, I reckon you are going to love it - I do!!
If you do decide to use Weebly for your business website then you definitely need to buy a domain which should cost around $15 - $20 annually, or, if you go for Weebly’s Starter Package they will give you a free domain up to the value of $20. The Starter Package is $7 per month paid annually.
This will get you hosting, an e-commerce store with up to 10 products (perfect for your services), drag + drop website builder, free templates, free domain and no ads. So basically everything you need!! Sometimes they do deals so you can also get Adwords credit as well - yes, they give you free traffic.
The result, Weebly works out cheaper than Wordpress, in total $84 per year compared with $150 - $200 per year using Wordpress, according to my calculations.
I hope this has helped you decide which platform is best for your project. As usual let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
Written by Cheryl Clarke Chief Happiness Officer & Director Of Ginger Marketing