Weebly Aims Big For Web Site Creator Market, Adds 25 More Themes And A Polished New Interface

It’s 2012, you’re a small business, and you know you need a web presence — but where do you turn? Maybe a Facebook Page or Twitter account if you want something social and very simple. But maybe you need a fuller set of features, where you can control the look and feel, and offer functionality like blogging and e-commerce purchasing. Enter Weebly and the big update it’s pushing today.

The web site creator is adding 25 more themes to its site editor interface, as well as four new customizable page layouts, and a range of smaller updates. The overall goal, cofounder David Rusenko tells me, is to make each Weebly-run site feel as if a professional designer put it together.

The new editor subtly narrows the range of features to help users keep the polished style, to keep users from hurting themselves with poor customizations. The themes and layouts come with a limited set of font options, for example, making it so you can’t butcher your site with 20 different variations of serif and sans serif.

You can also now do things like add a phone number to the header of your page, social media buttons like Facebook Likes, or remove the header or interface elements. If you try to type in a long header, the text will automatically wrap to the next line. And buttons, for actions like online purchases or survey submissions, can now be easily adjusted within the publishing editor for size, location on the page, and color.

These changes may all feel a little simple, but they’ll have a big impact. Weebly already has 12 million people who have created their own free sites since it first launched back in 2007. But the potential market here could be relatively untapped. Here’s one data point: We recently covered an industry study showing that only 40%  of independent restaurants have online menus.

The company is growing traffic fast, and rolling out a range of new products, like the mobile app it launched last month. It’s also profitable, from what I hear, via a variety of premium services (like e-commerce). Other competitors, like Wix, have also been focusing on easy web site creation, and other companies, like WordPress, are also making it easier for users to create and manage their own sites.

So, it’s the subtle experiences like the Weebly updates today that will make a difference in this market. People who want a great-looking site with minimal fuss won’t only be users, but will evangelists. Weebly already seems to have this nailed. Its net promoter score, an industry calculation of how likely users are to recommend a service to others, is an unusually high 80%.