If you are new to building websites and don’t have a large budget, it is likely you will use a “drag and drop” style site builder. As compared to static HTML pages or websites built on WordPress, site builders such as Wix and Weebly use visuals rather than coding to make the experience as user friendly as possible.
While most web developers would frown on the use of either of these sites, they serve a very important function. Not all small business owners have an understanding of coding a website, nor have the thousands of dollars needed to have a custom built site. These “drag and drop” site builders make designing a professional looking website cheap and extremely easy compared to their counterparts. They also keep web developers on their toes, so that they do not overcharge clients. Though we suggest WordPress to anyone with the knowledge, time, and resources to build a site professionally, we will take a look at a comparison of the two “drag and drop” site builders: Wix and Weebly.
Wix has only had a stable version of their HTML 5 site builder available for just about a year. Because of this, things are always getting improved. Upon first using Wix, a user will become very happy with how quickly they can have a website built and looking fairly professional. You can use templates to start with and edit them as you go. There is a free version as well as a paid premium version.
One major benefit to Wix is the amount of apps they offer. Wix has the ability to add just about any type of form, map, icon, widget you can think of. While the majority of these applications are not fully editable, the ability to add numerous types of widgets in a drag and drop fashion is very convenient.
You do not start to see the limitations of Wix the first couple of times you use it. It is very neat to be able to place an object anywhere you would like, to exactly the specifications you want. The problems start arising when you start doing some tweaking and search engine optimization work.
The Wix editor is very buggy and will often do something completely different than what you told it to. This will require you to save your progress frequently, because one error may rearrange your entire page. Not only is the editor buggy, but there have been countless times where I have arranged everything perfectly on the site builder, but it just won’t align properly when loading as a site. These headaches will drive just about anyone insane.
Another major downfall is the inability to access the .css and other files. If you have some coding edits you would like to do, you are basically out of luck on Wix. It seems that full customization is not possible as of now with this builder.
The final, huge drawback of Wix is the lack of a blogging platform. They have advertised for over 6 months that this feature would be coming shortly, and as of April 2013, it is not available. While the premium account lets you edit the majority of ALT and META data, if you plan on building your website to be ranked higher in Google, your blogging platform is a crucial factor to consider. You can always create a blog on WordPress and link it to a sub-domain, as described in Setting up the Right Blog for Your Website, but this is extra work you shouldn’t have to do. Your blog will also not keep the same theme as your normal website, a major drawback of blogging in this fashion.
Weebly has been around a bit longer than Wix and seems to have some of their bugs figured out. There are some features that Wix performs better, but overall Weebly is a far superior “drag and drop” site builder.
Just like Wix, Weebly has both a free and a paid version. While Wix allows you to place text, image, html code, etc. wherever you would like, Weebly limits users to specific formats. You cannot place an image anywhere you would like, but rather must be placed in a formatted fashion. This definitely does limit how customizable your site could be. Though this may seem like a downfall when compared to Wix, I have never had a formatting problem with Weebly. Wherever my site editor shows that my box or text ends, is exactly how it shows up. I consider this a pro for Weebly over Wix.
Though the formatting is strict, you are allowed access to the .css file and .html layout files. This means if you have something specific you need designed, you can, you just need a bit of coding experience. This is great especially since they do not have as many apps available as Wix.
Just like Wix, Weebly allows users to edit the majority of ALT and META tags. The bonus that Weebly has in terms of SEO is the built in blogging platform. Creating a blog on Weebly is as easy as dragging it on your screen. You can then click “New Post” and you are ready to go. This blog is not only easy to maintain and set up, it keeps with the current theme of your site.
Below is a chart comparing the two site builders:
As you can tell, I included “Fully Customizable” on the bottom with neither Wix nor Weebly checked. This is is because neither of these builders are ideal for a fully customized website.
One final thought to keep in mind is your plans for the future. Do you think you will ever want to change your site builder in the future? If you end up deciding Wix is the best option for you, they currently do not have a 301 redirect option, meaning you are basically stuck with them. If you ever decide to switch to WordPress or something similar in the future, you will be starting from scratch and you would lose all authority built over the years on your Wix site. Though I have not personally done it, Weebly claims to have the ability to have a 301 redirect, giving Weebly an extra bonus.
Make sure to do your homework before creating your new website. Many companies jump at the first available option and do not realize they may end up wasting their time, or becoming stuck with the provider they chose.
Author: Sean Aranda