Tutorial: How to Create Your First Site with Weebly
Weebly is one of the most powerful website builders in the business. It offers those who want a web presence the opportunity of building one without the need to learn web coding. For small business owners with tight budget constraints, this can be a way to expand business without significantly increasing overhead.
Using a website builder is a very visual experience and building a website using one is like playing with a stack of Lego – except even easier. Today I’ll run you through the basics of everything you need to create your first website with Weebly.
How to Use Weebly to Make Your First Website
1. Sign up for a Weebly account
|Disk Storage||500 MB||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Add Products||–||25 products||Unlimited|
|Suitable for…||Flyer Website||Small Business / Online Store||Everything and more|
Weebly is a service provider and before you can use any of their services you will need to create an account with them. There are three ways of signing up with Weebly – using your Facebook account, Google account or via email.
Creating an account on Weebly is free.
2. Select a theme
Once you’ve created your account, Weebly will start with the basics. The first thing you need to choose is whether you want to build just a basic website or an online store. If this is your first website, don’t worry too much about that and simply select one or the other.
Once that’s done, you will be presented with a set of themes (this is what Weebly calls their templates) you can choose from. Weebly organizes their themes in categories such as business, personal or blog. Take your time and browse through the themes to choose what would suit your needs.
3. Choose your domain
Once you’ve selected your theme, you will be asked to select a domain name. There are three ways you can add a domain to your Weebly website.
- Search and buy – Use Weebly to search for a domain name and purchase through them. This will involve the usual cost for the domain name and there will be yearly renewal fees for it as well. Although this may seem like a convenient option, I do not really recommend it as Weebly domain names and renewal prices are quite steep at $19.95 per year.
- Connect an existing domain name – A transfer will be a good option if you’re looking to use a domain name you already own. BUT, remember that doing so means you’ll be paying Weebly domain name renewal fees after the move.
- Use a free subdomain – Not an optimal choice but it’s a good place to start off. Free subdomains are forced to use Weebly branding on their site but are a good way to just explore the system first before you connect an official domain name later.
4. Design your Weebly website
The Weebly Website builder works very much like a WYSIWYG Word Processor. It makes use of elements like text boxes, images and other building blocks to make up a website. Using them is just a matter of putting them together and filling out some blank spots with your own text.
Editing your Weebly site
Before you start editing your site, do take note of any warning signs on your browser address bar. The Weebly editors runs scripts which some browser will warn about and you need to allow them to run for Weebly to work without problems.
Once you’ve done that, there are two main things you can do to your site. The first is to drag building blocks from the left navigation bar to your site which is on the right side of the screen. The second is to edit that building block to customize it.
For example, let’s say you click on a text box and drag it on to the theme on the right. Once that is done, you need to type out the text which you want to appear in that box. Using the building blocks effectively can take a bit of experimentation to get right, but it is a pretty streamlined experience.
Using eCommerce features to build an online store
If you click on ‘Store’ at the top navigation bar, you can configure additional settings which will be useful if you’re building an online store. Just fill in those details if you need them. The store configuration menu will let you do almost everything you need for eCommerce, from basic information about your online store and accepting payments to creating coupons and handling shipping.
Increase functionality by using apps
Weebly on its own is a very basic website builder and this is great because it offers users a simple and manageable way to build a website. However, users who are more advanced may have different needs which can be met through the Weebly App Centre.
Click on ‘Apps from the top navigation bar and you can browse the App Center. Here you will be able to find a ton of applications that extend the functionality of your store. Some of them are built by Weebly themselves while others are from third party developers.
There are apps for almost anything and you can add as many as you like. For example, you can have apps which help you build more powerful contact forms, or others that let you build a mobile app with your website.
Some apps are free, while others may have monthly fees you need to pay to use. Be cautious of what apps you add as the cost of running your website may escalate out of control if you use too many paid apps.
Change site settings
The Settings option on the navigation bar will let you change some general option about your site. From site name to SEO options and people you want to collaborate with on your site design – all of this can be added or changed here.
Do remember that many of these options, for example SEO, are very basic as the main Weebly aim is for you to build a site easily. More advanced SEO functionality can be achieved if you find the right app in their App Center.
Build for mobile
In this age of mobility, it is important for websites to work well on mobile devices as well as desktop computers. To ensure yours looks fine on mobile you can select the icon on the navigation bar to toggle the different views (desktop or mobile).
Unfortunately, you can build a site specifically for mobile and you need to rely on the responsive theme to do this for you. This tool at least helps you ensure that whatever you do fits well on both formats.
5. Publish your Weebly website
Once all of that is done and you’re satisfied, you can publish your Weebly website. Just click on publish and you’re good to go.
Marketing your website
Launching a website is more than just slapping it together. To be more effective, you need to be able to build leads and reach out to people. To help you with this, Weebly has a marketing feature where you can configure some marketing tools.
For example, you can set up a popup which asks your visitors to sign up for a newsletter you can send to them regularly or for special promotions. You can also create personalized newsletters and schedule them in advance for automated sending.
Again, these are basic options and more powerful tools can be found in the App Center.
How Much Will My First Website with Weebly Cost?
At its most basic, you can both build and publish a website with Weebly for absolutely nothing – Free. However, there are many limitations to a free website with Weebly. For example, any site you build and publish will have Weebly branding on it and you will basically be stuck on their free Weebly subdomain.
It would be more realistic to consider the lowest tier of Weebly, their ‘Connect’ plan which clocks in at $7 per month (the price drops to $4 per month if you pay on an annual basis). On top of that, you also need to consider the price of a domain name, which would be $19.95 per year.
Averaging things out, you can expect to pay;
($4 x 12) +$19.95 = $67.95 per year
… to build and maintain a basic website with Weebly.
Knowing that a realistic website with Weebly will cost around $67.95 per year, we can do a basic comparative in price. If you were to build your own website and find your own hosting and domain name, you’d have to pull everything together on your own.
The average price of a domain name will run you around $10 to $12 per year, and budget shared web hosting will cost anywhere between $1 to $8 per month depending on features. This means that if you were to build and host your own site your annual fees will run in the average of $59 which to be honest, isn’t significantly cheaper.
Conclusion: Powerful Website Builder
Finally, we have the main advantage of Weebly – the fact that it is a website builder at its core and allows those with zero web coding knowledge to build a website. That is something worth far more than the small cost savings you would likely achieve by finding your own hosting.
Creating your first Website with Weebly isn’t likely to be a daunting task. If you’re even remotely familiar with computers or know how to use a Word Processor, I would think that you will have minimal issues.
Even if you do find yourself having some problems, you can always reach out to Weebly for technical assistance, explore their knowledge base for ideas and help, or even reach out to the general Weebly community for help.