Weebly vs Squarespace: The great battle for web design supremacy
Should you build a website with Weebly or Squarespace?
So you're not sure which website builder you should choose, but you definitely don't want to choose Wix because you want to punish them for interrupting your ASMR videos.
After weeks (or if you're brutally honest, minutes) of research, you've finally narrowed down your options to either Weebly or Squarespace. In this post we'll compare both platforms based on pricing, ease of design, ecommerce functionality, SEO and blogging capabilities to help you choose the best web builder for your requirements.
Read this entire article? Ain't nobody got time for that!
If you're reading this minutes before your skydive, here's a quick summary of the findings.
Choose Weebly if:
You want to create a free landing page website to test the demand of a product or service and you don't mind the "Powered by Weebly" logo at the fold line nor the branded subdomain URL (for example: www.yourwebsitename.weebly.com).
Choose Squarespace if:
You're thinking long term and you want a stunning website that's optimized for conversion from day 1, without ads and with a custom URL.
For a chunkier comparison between the two platforms, read on.
Pricing comparison: Weebly vs Squarespace
Money. At the end of the day that's all that matters. All the bells and whistles are useless if they're not affordable.
While Weebly might sound like an inappropriate word to say at a funeral, it's a pretty robust web building platform. Weebly offers different subscription plans.
Free plan: $0/month
That's right, Weebly's most basic plan costs absolutely nothing. So you can design a fully functioning website, publish it, drive traffic to it and generate sales all without spending a dime.
So what's the catch?
There are two:
1. A "powered by Weebly" ad is always displayed at the bottom of the screen (at the fold).
Here's an example
2. You have to settle for a branded URL such as www.yourwebsitename.weebly.com
They give you some flexibility though, you have the option of choosing your own name to append to the weebly subdomain. But if your choice is limited to name availability.
Personal plan: $9/month, or $6/month billed annually
The personal plan will drop the Weebly subdomain in your URL and allow you to customize your domain name. You are, however, still stuck with the Weebly ad at the fold of your website.
Professional plan: $16/month, or $12/month billed annually
The professional plan will remove that Weebly ad from your page, and provide you with unlimited storage. So you can upload videos, use high definition pictures and even giphys in your posts without worrying about hitting a storage ceiling. This plan doesn't give you the option of accepting Paypal payments though, to have this option alongside the included Square payment gateway you'll need to upgrade to the performance plan.
Performance plan: $29/month, or $26/month billed annually
This is the best plan if you want to launch and cultivate a professional ecommerce store. It comes integrated with shipping solutions as well as autonomous lost sales recovery email workflows to minimize lost sales.
Squarespace also offers 4 different subscription options. Here's what Squarespace has to offer:
Personal plan: $16/month, or $12/month billed annually
The personal plan comes with a customizable domain name as well as an SSL certificate (that's the little padlock icon that appears before a URL to indicate a safe website). You can't however set up an ecommerce store on this plan so it's really only a good option for displaying information.
Business plan: $26/month, or $18/month billed annually
This is the minimal plan for selling things online, but Squarespace does charge a 3% transactional fee on all purchases.
Basic commerce plan: $30/month, or $26/month billed annually
The basic plan adds more tools to your ecommerce tool belt. You get the ability to sell products on instagram as well as powerful sales analytics. Squarespace also drops their transactional fee so if you're planning to sell a high number of products, you'll find this subscription very profitable.
Advanced commerce plan: $46/month, or $40/month billed annually
The most premium Squarespace subscription comes with everything in the basic commerce plain with the addition of abandoned cart recovery emails, integrated shipping solutions and commerce API's so that you can build custom integrations to all of your other back office software.
Well that was easy. Weebly is cheaper and they offer a free plan so you should just choose Weebly right?
Your final choice should be based on a lot more than pricing. Website aesthetics is as important, if not, more important than the price tag.
Weebly or Squarespace: Who's the prettiest of them all?
Let's first take a moment to discuss why aesthetics is such an important consideration when choosing a website builder.
In the web design world, high performance is useless if it's ugly to look at.
Picture Schwarzenegger kicking the door down to an old folks home. While all that power is impressive, it's not very pretty to look at, especially if it happens as poor old Harold is struggling to swallow his pills.
Instead, there should be a harmonious balance between the two. More like Schwarzenegger gracefully ascending the steep grassy slopes of picturesque Switzerland on a fixie.
A stunning website that's enjoyable to navigate through is more likely to convert visitors into customers. And it also boosts your rank in Google because Google absolutely adores and rewards websites that keep people engaged on the internet.
So let's compare the aesthetics of Weeblty and Squarespace.
Because the value proposition of both platforms is to empower users with no coding experience to build a website in minutes, they both offer a library of editable themes. Editing a theme is the fastest way to build a website because the entire site is already per-built and all you really have to do is change the pictures and the text.
Squarespace offers around 90 themes (they call them templates), and Weebly offers around 40.
Squarespace is the clear beauty pageant winner. Squarespace claims that their templates were designed by an award winning design team and that seems about right. Their templates are intuitive to navigate and stunning to behold.
The Squarespace designers clearly identified the concepts that have been proven to work on popular websites and integrated them into their own designs to produce templates that will make your website look like it was designed by a professional web developer.
What if you're not entirely pleased with the thematic options and you want to customize a theme, how agreeable are Squarespace and Weebly?
To understand the concept of customization you need to have a basic understanding of web development. To build a website, you need to combine different coding languages, Here are the 4 primary ones:
- HTML - This creates the basic structure of your website. It sets the position of all the different web elements, for example where on the page you want a picture or text displayed.
- CSS - If HTML is the logical and uncreative codebase, CSS is it's flamboyant cousin. CSS describes the creative presentation of your webpage. It sets the styling of all web elements such as font style, color etc
- JSON/JSONT - This is used to facilitate data exchange between the web server and the HTML code.
Weebly only allows you to customize its HTML and CSS but Squarespace gives you alot more customization options.
If you're not famility with any of this coding, simply hire a freelancer, tell them your desired end result and they'll tinker with the coding for you.
Weebly or Squarespace: Which is easier to design with?
So if you're choosing a drag and drop web designer, chances are it's because you have very little time on your hands. You just want a website designed and published ASAP right?
But here's the strange thing about creating a website, it's usually never just a simple process of arranging elements and hitting publish. As you venture down this rabbit hole, you keep discovering additional annoying requirements that end up demanding up too much of your time, and what was initially perceived as a fun weekend project ends up being an infuriating month long saga.
Here's just one example. You need to choose a color scheme. Now that's not a simple process of just selecting one color you kinda like, according to objective web design rules, you need to choose three colors AND they need to follow a strict display ratio:
60% of your website should be colored in your dominant color
30% of your website should be colored in your secondary color
10% in your accent color.
Are you kidding me?
Who set this rule? Rembrandt?
The drag and drop user community is usually as creative as a garden hose so we'll be lucky if we discover two colors that don't look terrible together let alone three. And then, to implement them with such exactitude, can't the entire site just be blood red?
That's not all, here some of the other annoying little auxiliary requirements you'll discover along your exciting web design journey:
You need a logo created (you can't just use your initials, you're not Janet Jackson)
You need web content written (please don't use dummy text)
You need graphics created (you can't use the stock photos that come with the builder, it's pretty strange if multiple business have the exact same team members on their "about us" page)
If you skip any of the above, your website will look like every other Weebly or Squarespace website and your design will not reflect your unique branding.
So the ideal web builder should gently guide the twisting hand of the frustrated drag and drop web builder through each of these steps to make the overall process as easy as possible.
Let's start with Weebly.
After you sign up and choose your plan the first thing you are prompted to do it select a theme:
Let's select the Yoga one because we want to remain calm and peaceful.
Once your theme is selected you're thrown right into the editor.
This editor is incredibly intuitive. If you want to edit any of the elements on your main canvas (the one to the right) clicking on them will reveal all of their edit options. If you want to drag a new element in place, just select it from the list on the left and drop it wherever you want it.
So double thumbs up for easy of use. Well done Weebly.
But what a minute, what about changing the color scheme?
To do that first you need to figure out where on earth the option is hidden. Usually you can find it by navigating to "theme" in the top menu, but not all Weebly themes give you the options of changing their color scheme. Our calming yoga theme, for example, doesn't. It only offers the option of switching between a light and dark theme.
Well what about our logo? Where do we place it?
After clicking around aimlessly at all of the elements, we accidentally discovered the option of inserting a logo when you click on the "My Site" title at the top:
How is that obvious?
And what about changing the font? Is that option also hidden, perhaps in the sea somewhere?
Weebly seems to be more concerned with getting websites published ASAP over granular customization.
Now let's try Squarespace.
We'll start by selecting a template to edit. Let's choose Hester, because Weebly has got us in a bit of a pickle.
Now after selecting a template Squarespace instantly demonstrates its UX superiority. A quick overview of the enter web design process is displayed to help users feel a little less stressed about the process:
The very last page of this bite sized tutorial presents us with some interesting options:
Now look at what we have here.
We are instantly presented with the option of selecting our color scheme, uploading our logo, and selecting our font!
No need to aimlessly click around, planet of the apes style, to accidentally find these options and no chance of accidentally overlooking them. Thank you Squarespace!
But wait. Let's see how easy they make this process. We're terrible at identifying matching colors remember?
So the first thing we're asked to do is upload our logo. Easy, just a few clicks and it's history.
Next, we're asked to choose our font. What's nice is that you also have the option of changing the size of the font and seeing the changes in real time on the main canvas.
Which finally brings us to the color scheme selection.
Do you see that?
They actually offer you different color palettes in sets of 3 matching colors! So there's no need to pull out your child's crayons to try and figure it out.
But after all of that initial excitement is over, we come across some of Squarespace's limitations.
With Weebly, all of the website editing options are always nicely displayed on the left, but with Squarespace they are hidden unless summoned.
For example, after creating a new blank page this is what you see:
That's all well and good but how do we actually build out the page?
You see that little word "edit" at the top of the screen? That's what you need to click to reveal your editing options.
You'll then need to click the plus icon to add new design elements:
Squarespace isn't exactly a drag and drop builder, it's more like a click and appear builder. You click on all the elements you want and they magically fall into place for further editing.
But that being said, Squarespace is very intuitive to build with. If you want to add elements above or below any section just click on the plus icon. And because all of the design elements come with a wide range of editing options you really can build a stunning website in a matter of minutes.
Squarespace or Weebly: Which is better for Ecommece?
You may not be interested in launching an ecommerce store to start with but it's always good to have that option down the line,
So how easy is it to switch to an ecommerce store with both platforms?
With Weebly, it seems like the only option of switching between a display website and an ecommerce website is by deleting your account and starting from scratch again.
Yes, that's pretty crummy.
With Squarespace, however, you always have the option of appending an ecommerce store at any time. Granted, you would need to upgrade to at least the basic ecommerce plan but that's much easier than deleting and starting from scratch.
To append an ecommerce store to your Squarespace website simply add a new page and select "store"
When it comes to ecommerce functionality both Weebly and Squarespace are very similar. Both offer integrated shipping solutions and abandoned cart recovery. Squarespace does barely come up on top because it allows you to integrate your store with your instagram, so you can sell products directly from your posts.
Squarespace or Weebly: Which is better for SEO?
If you're in this game for the long haul you need to implement a solid SEO strategy. Both Squarespace and Weebly have very similar SEO capabilities.
Both platforms allow you to edit the metadata of each individual page, this includes the page title, URL structure and meta descriptions so they've both made an effort to ensure Google can understand all of their contents.
That being said there are a few quirks.
With Squarespace, to modify the Alt-text of an image you need to change its description. The connection between the two is not obvious and this oversight could prevent you from ranking in image searches.
Weebly requires you to install a seperate plugin to switch between heading sizes (H1, H2 etc). A bit of an unnecessary inconvenience since this is just a simple formatting option.
Squarespace or Weebly: Which is better for blogging?
Content marketing is a very strong SEO metric so if the blogging platform is garbage, SEO is a really hard slog.
Creating a blog with Weebly is identical to creating any other web page, just drag and drop your desired elements in place. You also have the option of integrating specialized SEO apps to guide your SEO efforts. A major drawback, however, is that you cannot run a blog with multiple authors.
Squarespace offers similar blogging power to Weebly with the addition of accommodating multiple authors and the ability to insert podcasts.
If you want to impress your visitors with a premium web design from day 1 and you plan to grow your new website into a reputable brand ambassador, choose Squarespace.
If you're not too concerned with personal branding or aesthetics and you just want to get a simple website published right now, choose Weebly.