So, if you’re a loyal reader of my blog, you probably realise by now that I’m actually running two blogs. Well, not technically two blogs, but the same blog mirrored in two places: one on Weebly and one on WordPress. Why? It comes down to the simple fact that when I started on this whole blog project, I wasn’t quite sure what the best way to go about it was. Eventually, after a while of playing with the idea of free or paid hosting , as well as various platforms, I decided that the two with the most potential, and that sounded the best were WordPress and Weebly. Now, after 24 weeks of posting to both, it’s time to give you the lowdown on the two of them.
As I mentioned, I had initially considered setting up a proper hosted website, either by choosing a free provider, or just biting the bullet and paying for it. When I was looking into this, I found that most people suggested to install WordPress on your server, as it has the most flexibility and ease of use. WordPress is a free, open-source “self-hosted blogging tool”, which means it’s the interface that you use to construct and manage websites. However, it’s designed to be installed on a server, meaning you have to have a host, which basically provides you with the equivalent of a little block of land on the internet. As much as I love that techy stuff, it gets really messy and complicated very quickly, and it’s not easy or quick to set up, so I opted to use a derivative of WordPress, called WordPress.com. They’ve basically taken the blogging tool that is WordPress, and modified it and combined it with hosting to give you an all-in-one blogging and free hosting setup. It’s quick and simple, but still pretty powerful. From now on, (and most of the times before this point) when I say WordPress, I mean WordPress.com. As for Weebly, I came across it a while earlier because a few people I knew had used it to construct full free websites. That’s what Weebly is; a free website building tool, a bit like Freewebs used to be back in the day (and still is, apparently).
The set up of both sites is pretty simple, both with a bit of a learning curve. Weebly is the simplest though. All you have to do is choose your theme, and you can start dragging and dropping the elements that you want from the menu bar onto the page. There are tonnes of pre-set elements which launch wizards to help you import content or fine-tune all the aspects of that item. This includes a custom HTML element that allows you to do whatever you want. Plus if you want to tweak the layout or design of your site, and you have the skills in HTML or CSS, or just want to upload a different background image, Weebly give you the freedom and control to do that. WordPress, on the other hand, is a bit more difficult to navigate. There are a variety of elements you can add to you page with WordPress too, but they’re not all in the same place, and pages aren’t presented to you in quite true WYSIWYG. It’s a sort of semi-WYSIWYG, were you see the elements, but not in the context of the page. One nifty thing is that you can insert the content as WYSIWYG, and then edit it as HTML. However, the HTML is sanitised in that WordPress will just cut out any tags that it doesn’t like, and often will misinterpret your tags leaving you with bumpy, restarted lists.
When it comes to blogging though, WordPress wins out. Everything I just mentioned is still true of both platforms, but in the context of publishing a blog post, Weebly’s drag & drop mechanic is tedious and awkward. However it still wins kudos for being able to insert straight, unbridled HTML, which can help get you around some of the more sticky elements to use. But more than all that, it’s WordPress’ interconnectivity with a whole community and the way it interacts well with search engines and the like that make it shine. A blog is about sharing an opinion, a stream of consciousness, with others and WordPress facilitates that by suggesting articles and posts by others about what you’re writing about, as well as returning the favour by making your posts accessible through its Freshly Pressed community pages.
Instead of rambling any further about what I love and hate about Weebly and WordPress, here are the positives and negatives of each as bullet points for you to see.
- Keeps pre-set links when pasting
- Can use Google Analytics
- Can have Google AdSense
- Gives you more flexible as far as choice of design & content
- Can combine html & simplified elements, if you desire
- Full control with HTML & CSS
- Forces you to plan out placement of elements sou you can choose them from menu bar
- Can express more style by customising lots of things
- Can map to a domain
- All this is free
- Loses pre-formatted of text
- Have to choose elements from menu to insert in blog post
- Have to break up text to fit in each element box, i.e. before “read more” break, next to an image, before or after an image
- Elements are full width, don’t float properly & hard to rearrange
- Can be laggy and buggy when inserting , editing or swapping elements
- Takes forever to upload pictures
- Lacklustre blogging system
- Never gets any views
- Doesn’t store images in a way that can be access from different posts, e.g. have to upload signature again for each post
- Can’t set categories and tags, just categories
- Has real trouble with dot points & numbered bullets, if you use paragraphs (using HTML gets around this)
- No search function so people can’t search for a topic within your posts
- Misleading built-in stats
- Suggests tags, images and related articles etc. to automate the process
- Gets more traffic, is more search-engine friendly
- Keeps pre-set links when pasting
- Allows to add tags & categories
- Acts like MS Word
- Can insert as WYSIWYG, then edit HTML if needed
- Large range of designs to choose from
- Pretty good built-in stats
- Has an app you can post from
- Loses pre-formatting of text
- Asks you to accept/decline everything, including link-backs
- Doesn’t carry across inserted images properly
- Resets numbering of dot point if there are any gaps between them
- Even using HTML, it messes with your formatting e.g. NYKOP review
- Have to pay for domain mapping, CSS control, & custom fonts
- Design is restricted to small customisations of preset designs
- Comments get spammed constantly
- Can’t have Google Adsense or Analytics
So, what can you take away from all that? That both of them have some problems, and deciding on which one’s better really depends on which problems you can deal with better and are willing to live with. But both have some advantages over the other.
Weebly is more designed for creating a basic, or even complex, website so it gives you all the controls and tools you need to do that. WordPress is designed to allow you to run a streamlined blog, with simple to advanced features based around that. It lets you do other stuff, but the focus is the blog. If I could use Weebly as the basis for my site, and just run the blog part through WordPress, then that would be perfect. The advantage of this over a hosted version of WordPress is I could manage my site through Weebly’s simple interface, customising any aspect that I chose to, but also manage my blog through the powerful tool that is WordPress. And it wouldn’t cost me anything. That would be great.
What do you think? Which one do you like more? Are there any advantages or disadvantages that you’ve seen as a reader or as a user? As always, if you have something to say, feel free to tell me in the comments below, or on the new Facebook fan page.
Your Friendly Neighbourhood
- Weebly Aims Big For Online Publishing Market, Adds 25 More Themes And A New, Polished Interface (techcrunch.com)
- Moving or Merging Self Hosted WordPress.org to WordPress.com (mattsweeny.wordpress.com)
- Weebly Adds Slick Themes and Templates (freetech4teachers.com)
- 5 Essential Facts about Using WordPress (blogmistress.com)