As dedicated Weebly designers, we often get quizzed on how to make a brilliant website in Weebly. The platform itself is has a ton of features that make it incredibly easy to build a site for yourself, but as with anything, the difference between a good site and a great site is all in the detail. Below are a few of our tips on taking your Weebly website to the next level.
Keep it simple
The most common mistake we see newbies to website design fall into, is trying to make their site flashy and fancy. There are a ton of things you can do with a website, and Weebly has a whole lot of features to help you elevate the site, but if you are new to designing – less can be more. Web design is a constant balancing act between creating something that looks good versus something that also provides information to your customers and search engines. Err on the side of saying what you need to, without swamping the page with thousands of images and lots of text.
White is nice
Continuing on the theme of simplicity, if you aren’t confident in your design skills or taste, don’t be afraid to use white space. White is safe and it’s very hard to offend people’s sensibilities with white. So before you go and make the background of your website a whole colour block or a busy image, stop and think ‘will this look better with a white background’.
Learn the platform through and through
This may seem obvious, but there are a ton of features in Weebly for you to uncover. Open up the website builder and test every element and every button. Understand how placing an element works, and what different elements do at different sizes etc. The better you understand the platform, the more comfortable you’ll be in designing something really appealing in it.
Grab a custom Weebly theme
If you’re wanting to step slightly away from the usual themes that Weebly offers, have a quick search around for some of the custom themes there are out there. These can be slightly trickier to upload to a site, but they can give you the entirely unique look for your site you might be after. Our 543 Weebly Themes are an example of these, but there are some other great companies out there that provide some really nice themes.
Stumped? Search in the Weebly App Center
Sometimes you might be battling away trying to do something in Weebly and you just can’t get it to work. In these scenarios, if you don’t find an obvious element in the website builder, try searching the App Store. As an example, there are a number of apps that let you ‘hide an element’ on different size screens – which may come in handy if you want your mobile site looking slightly different to your PC site.
Get a Website Designer’s Help
Sometimes at the end of the day paying a specialist to make you a beautiful, functional site might be the best option. Any designer that spends their working life designing in Weebly will have tricks and coding knowledge that will elevate your site that extra bit higher than what you can achieve yourself. Your time may be better spent doing business development, or it may be that you’ve tried to make a site look good, but just can’t quite get there. Either way, there is absolutely no harm in chatting to a pro and seeing what they can do for you. We love bringing people’s dream sites to life – so consider it an absolutely privilege to be involved in any website build.
Those are our quick tips on how you can improve your Weebly site from a design perspective. Check back, as in the future we’ll give you a few more tips, including how to make the most of your Weebly site in search engine results.
This month Keiran Reid from Freeparking (a New Zealand web host) has been good enough to create a guest post on his view of Weebly versus Wordpress for us. 543 creates all our websites in Weebly, so it's great to have this impartial view - and we add our extra thoughts at the end of this blog.
The Guest Post on Weebly v WordPress
At their core, Weebly and WordPress are both Content Management Systems or CMS’s which let non-technical users edit websites. Both exist in the same basic niche, in that they allow you to create or edit a website, blog or e-commerce store. They both present a range of features to users and have various strengths and weaknesses that we will explore in this article.
Ease of use:
As a cloud hosted service through Weebly Inc, getting started entails getting access to an account by either signing in with your username & password, or signing up with a Weebly Cloud provider like 543 Design. The drag and drop interface makes it extremely easy for non-technical website owners to add or edit content, the idea is that you shouldn’t need to touch any code for most changes.
Provided as open-source (free) software, WordPress can be installed into any standard web host service. It has been around longer than Weebly and it is known for being the tool of choice when it comes to blogging and eCommerce.
Plugins and integrations:
When you make a website in Weebly, there is an admin backend area. It includes a long list of built-in tools and functionality like an online store, contact form, blogs, maps, images etc. You don’t have to install any Plugins to get a good level of functionality. Weebly manages the entire platform for you, so day-to-day plugin security management and the website unexpectedly breaking are less of a concern.
WordPress is an open source website builder, as an open system, there is a lot more freedom for third parties to contribute and extend the system, when they have been doing for years by providing both free and paid “Plugins”. Using the right plugin can add a useful your website’s functionality, but a poorly built plugin can have negative implications for your website’s performance and security.
The Weebly Ecommerce platform is designed to make it quick and easy to setup an online shop. It is a great Ecommerce solution for small businesses that need to build a simple online store with a few handy features.
WordPress, by way of the WooCommerce plugin, is a popular choice for building an Ecommerce website. It is used by many organizations from small one person shops all the way up to large enterprises.
Weebly is a perfect solution for making small websites quickly, whereas WordPress excels at blogging and eCommerce. With a simplified page editor, and tech support on-call when needed Weebly is a great choice for small businesses who need a great website. In comparison, WordPress can be a good choice if you have a larger project that needs advanced customization.
Both Weebly and WordPress are able to have custom themes developed by a professional web developer. There can also be several other complexities involved in actually getting a website live which may mean you need to seek assistance or get a professional web developer.
543's Thoughts on Weebly v WordPress
From day one, 543 Design made the conscious decision to design in Weebly rather than WordPress. That has given us a unique perspective, and we definitely think that for most small businesses, Weebly is the way to go. In a nutshell:
Weebly really is a fantastic platform and we love working in it. For a really complex build, sometimes we do suggest other platforms, but for 95% of clients out there, it's the ideal fit.
Get in touch with us if you'd like to get us to build your site, or try giving it a crack yourself direct with Weebly. And if you really want to get fancy, try one of our Weebly Themes (Weebly Templates) - they are really easy to add to your site and give it a whole new level of professionalism.
If you do decide to use WordPress, please get in touch with us and we can recommend a WordPress designer we trust. A big thanks to Keiran from Freeparking (a sister company to our domain provider Discount Domains) - if you have a WordPress site and are looking for a New Zealand web host - either of those companies would be a great place to start looking.
Our Tech Blog
The founder of 543 Design & Online gives his thoughts on everything web and branding.
We're always happy to have a chat about anything you read on here - just get in touch!