Web builder comparison: Weebly vs Jimdo vs Webnode
You could say I’m a somewhat frugal person: when it comes to spending money I’m pretty careful, especially if the return on investment is unclear. I will usually thoroughly research my options, and if there is a free alternative available, I will check it out.
That’s how I got started with Google Sites. I even created a few websites for paying customers with Google Sites, but I quickly found out that implementing even the most basic features, such as a contact form, picture slider or image gallery, was way too hard. I might have been saving some money, but I was losing a lot of time!
So I decided to move away from Google Sites for any serious project and started looking at other possibilities. I wanted to find a web building tool that was easy to use, full-featured and all-inclusive (not requiring a separate hosting account or installation). I ended up with Weebly, Jimdo and Webnode. All of them offer user-friendly solutions in the “cloud”. All three also offer a free entry level so you can try it out risk-free, but to get access to all of the features and make your site unbranded and ad-free, you’ll need to pay up eventually.
These features are present on all of the platforms discussed (but not always included with the free version). Basically, all three platforms offer a user-friendly, easy interface that put website creation into the hands of everyone with basic computer skills.
An easy drag and drop interface
Working on your website on these platforms is as WYSIWYG as possible. Editing and formatting is very similar to working with a word processor. Need an extra paragraph, form, image or video? Just drag and drop the appropriate module onto your page.
Some standard modules that you won’t find on Google Sites are: a contact form, an image gallery and an image slider. Setting these up on either Weebly, Jimdo or Webnode only takes a minute.
As user-friendly as the backend may be, chances are you’ll want a great looking, easy to navigate website first and foremost, so your visitors get the (hopefully correct) impression you’re a professional. These web builders all come with a great selection of professionally designed templates. You can easily change the colorscheme, logo and images to personalize any of the themes and HTML/CSS editing is also available if you have the skills (or want to hire a pro to work on your site).
If you want to improve your website, you need metrics. What pages are being visited, how long are people staying on a specific page, how are people finding your website? Detailed statistics are included on the platforms we discuss. Personally, I go over the stats at least once a month to see what I’m doing right (or wrong) and where to improve.
Using your own domain
If your website is used for professional purposes, you’ll need the option to register your own domain name and then link it to your website. You can on all platforms and, even better, you’re not forced to register your domain name with Weebly, Jimdo or Webnode. (Registering the domain name elsewhere is usually cheaper.)
With more and more people using mobile devices to view your website, it’s smart to use so-called responsive templates, that scale gracefully to whatever resolution is available on the viewing device. Google Sites has this too, by the way.
Self-hosting your website may be more flexible and professional (and it’s what I do on most of my sites), but it’s also more difficult and it means you’ll have to deal with downtime, server loads, updates and so on. On these all-in-one solutions on the other hand, all of the technical stuff is taken care of.
Read on for my notes on each of these platforms. This is by no means an in-depth review, but rather a list of things I like about each platform. It may help you decide which platform is best suited for your needs. In the end, I think all three offer a quality service and great value for money so there are no really bad choices.
Weebly is probably the best-known service amongst the three solutions we talk about in this article. According to their own information, millions of customers have started a website on Weebly.
If you create websites for clients, Weebly offers a designer platform, which allows you to manage all of your client sites easily and from one dashboard. You get billed monthly for any active sites you have. Billing your clients is something you will have to do yourself, which allows you to charge a little extra if you so choose (and I would definitely recommend you to do so, because you will be the first person the clients contact!). If you don’t want to charge an extra, you’re better off creating the website on a separate account and providing the client with the account details when the job is completed, explaining he’s now in charge of updating and managing his website.
All in all, I like the Weebly designer platform, but it is a little expensive, especially compared to what you get on a regular Weebly account.
Unlike Weebly and Webnode, who are hosted on American and European servers respectively, Jimdo has three different server locations around the world and will serve your website from the most appropriate location, depending on the location of your visitors.
Like Weebly, Jimdo offers about 100 free templates to build your site, but I think the Jimdo templates generally look more professional.
If you want to build an online store, check out the JimdoBusiness with it’s built-in e-commerce support.
As you might expect from a European company,Webnode fully supports multilingual websites and makes it very easy to set up such a site. On Weebly and Jimdo multi-language sites are only possible by creating two (or more) versions of the site and then linking between them.
With their mini package, Webnode offers the cheapest payed option of all three platforms. The amount of storage and bandwidth offered on this package is most likely sufficient for a small business website, allowing you to get started at a very low cost.
If you decided Google Sites is not professional, flexible or easy enough for your website needs, you’ll enjoy working with one of these all-in-one drag and drop solutions. Picking one over the other mostly comes down to personal preference and your location. In the end, you’re getting a lot of value and all platforms offer a free option that can help you get your feet wet. I’m confident you’ll be swimming in no time!
Do you have any experience with one of these platforms? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.