Squarespace and Weebly are both “drag and drop” website services built for regular folks. They’re similar in a number of ways, but I recently gave Weebly a shot for my content and consulting company‘s site, and I’m glad I did. I won’t get into every little difference, but here is a brief comparison of what I feel are the notable talking points.
The largest reason I decided to give Weebly a shot is its robust app for iPhone and iPad. I use my Mac much less these days, but Squarespace’s apps have been way too limited for far too long, restricted largely to creating basic blog posts and tracking your stats. Unfortunately, I have it on good authority that the company isn’t interested in bringing much more of its service to mobile.
On the other hand, Weebly’s app is largely true to the service. You can create, edit, and rearrange pages, create and edit blog posts, add multi-image galleries anywhere you want, and use a healthy portion of the other content blocks available in the full web version. In fact, you can create a brand new site on your iPhone, pick a theme, and get to work.
If you want an easy way to move beyond the core set of features and content blocks that Weebly (and Squarespace) offers, the App Center is an impressive advantage. It offers myriad add-ons for things like an appointment scheduling system, on-site chat services, membership-based content, alternative ecommerce, social media showcases, form tools… you get the idea.
These add-on apps range from free, to freemium, to paid, and most of the ones I’ve looked at offer some kind of trial period. I should note that I haven’t used any yet, but judging from the 1-2 dozen apps Weebly seems to add on a monthly basis, I’ll venture a guess that it’s a healthy ecosystem.
Squarespace wins here with some great options for displaying your content in different ways across multiple pages. For example, let’s say you have a blog with some great posts. You can add a block to your site’s homepage that shows off just your posts categorized as Featured, including thumbnails of their featured images. Same goes for galleries—you can create a Squarespace gallery, then drop it into a block on multiple pages and even change how it looks on each one.
Weebly only offers these options if you run a store. You can pick certain products to display on other pages, but you can’t do this for blog posts, galleries, or any other type of content. I imagine Weebly is working on expanding these features, but that is just my personal speculation.
This is another strength for Squarespace. If you want to pull a Neo and start flexing the actual code behind your site, Squarespace’s Developer Mode is a great option. Weebly’s App Center certainly offers a great array of add-on features and customizability, but your Weebly site’s code is off limits.
Export and import
One of Weebly’s biggest weaknesses, and my primary complaint, is that it has no way to import pages and blog posts from an existing site. No, not even from WordPress, which reportedly powers 25 percent of the internet. I think this is a significant oversight by the company, and a major deal-breaker for quite a few potential customers.
I’ve talked to support about it and they are certainly aware of this drawback. But the company has no comment on when they’ll fix the problem.
Weebly’s higher-tiered plans (Pro at $9 and Business at $25) allow you to offer site memberships. This typically means people can pay you some kind of regular fee in order to access paywalled content. It’s one of the most sought-after features these days for niche sites and communities, and something that is often complex or more expensive with other platforms.
Weebly has its own newsletter system, accessible to Business plans, which can be powerful in a handful of ways.
For stores owners, you can easily pull products into each issue without having to bounce between services or mess with code. For sites that allow readers to subscribe, whether paid or just free, it makes building, publishing, and managing your subscribers and newsletter much easier. As of this writing, you probably have to use a Mac or PC to run your newsletter, though you might be able to do some or all of it in Mobile Safari (I don’t run a newsletter yet). I’ll speculate again that the newsletter feature could also come to the mobile app sometime down the road.
Of course, like Squarespace, you can always plug a signup widget into your site for whichever newsletter service you prefer. But if you want a simple way to create a membership-based site and run a newsletter, Weebly’s features could be appealing.
Weebly and Squarespace each have their own strengths and weaknesses. Weebly’s strong iOS app and broad, easy extensibility make it a better choice for my needs and, increasingly, the clients who approach me for help with revamping their site or building a simple online store or other presence.