Weebly launches site search, header slideshows, more social icons – and new (pricier) plans
In this post we would like to show you Weebly’s new bundle of features and let you know what we think of them.
If you’ve read Weebly’s blog comments, you likely noticed there was constant demand for one feature: Site Search. Although it is possible to add a Google-powered search feature to your website as you can learn in our tutorial, to have it as an integrated solution is certainly much more convenient.
Screenshot of the site search feature
Their new header slideshows are pretty impressive. It’s HTML-based and therefore even compatible with mobile devices such as the iPhone and iPad, which don’t support Adobe Flash. It’s possible to have different images on each one of your pages or none at all. That’s the result of a former update that allows full flexibility for header images.
Done right, the slider image can really add to your website. But make sure you have your user in mind when setting it up. It can easily become a major distraction as this article suggests.
Templates and Footer
A common thing for us to criticize used to be Weebly’s templates. We weren’t impressed by the variety as most of them looked pretty dull. Times have has changed. Their recent additions look stylish and are also much wider which makes them look more modern.
Weebly has also added a site wide element to their websites: the new footer element lets you add whatever you want to the bottom of your pages, e.g. using the new social icons element to showcase your presence on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc.
Other new features include an HTML5-based HD video widget and file uploads of up to 250 MB.
Currently Weebly is one of the most affordable providers and this won’t change for current customers. They’ve announced they will add a Starter plan for around $4 per month and increase the price of the Pro plan to around $8 (current price for Pro is $3.99). They didn’t say what features the Starter package will include, nor did they say if a domain name will be part of the package.
What’s also new is that the revamped Starter and Pro packages will only be valid for one website. Currently you can have up to 10 websites with one Pro package. To lock in the old Pro price you have to upgrade before January 7th 2013. If you wanted to upgrade anyway, now it’s a really good moment to act! You’ll save yourself a bunch of money. Find all upgrade details here.
Update 26 Feb 2013
Here are the new prices:
Starter: $3.29 (monthly)
Pro: $6.63 (monthly)
Domain: $39.99 (yearly)
Pro and Starter plan Features
Click the image to get an enlarged view
Weebly’s weak spot: E-Mail accounts and domain names
If you currently buy a domain name through Weebly, you don’t only pay a rather steep amount ($39.99 per year) and are limited to three endings only (.com, .net. org), but you’ll also have to figure out a way to set up the email accounts you want under this domain name. Previously Weebly always recommended Google Apps, which used to be a free service. Now, however, Google charges $5 monthly per user.
All Weebly has to offer is an email forwarding service starting at $10 per year. What it does is forward your emails to an existing email account. But when you reply to an email, the recipient will see that it comes from Hotmail, Yahoo or whatever service you are using. Not a great solution for a business.
A free alternative to Google Apps is Zoho Mail. Let’s see how long this service will remain free. Weebly competitors like Jimdo or Webnode offer their own email solutions, which is a lot more convenient.
The best way to avoid all this trouble is to register your domain name through an external registrar that offers an email service. You’ll find more information on how to set it up here.
Other improvements we would like to see at Weebly is support for multilingual websites and a more powerful online store. Additionally some minor improvements to the search engine-friendliness of Weebly sites could help to get them ranked more easily: right now the use of headline HTML tags (H1, H2 etc.) is not intuitive and file names for images are cryptic, i.e. not SEO-friendly at all.
It’s pure fun to work with Weebly after their recent updates. There is no easier way to create a professional looking website. Even though it is still an easy to use site builder, you probably won’t feel very limited.
Jimdo and Weebly are still head-to-head in our ranking. If you are considering e-commerce now or in the future you should take a close look at Jimdo as their online store is much more advanced than Weebly’s. But if you just want a regular website and can live with Weebly’s limitations regarding email accounts, look no further.