In this day and age, if you own a small business, you need a web (and mobile) presence. It’s just the way it is. Some might opt just to go for a social media approach, a Twitter account and a Facebook page, but the likelihood is that you want something a little more flexible, high-quality and something that gives you more control over the user experience. More and more, people are turning to Wix and Weebly. The two big “W’s” in the website creator world.
For those unfamiliar, Weebly is a service that lets you, your mom, grandmother, four-year-old cousin and anyone you know create a quality website for free. Launched out of Y Combinator in 2007, Weebly has had over 15 million sites created using its service to date, which collectively attract more than 100 million unique visitors each month. This week, Weebly has kicked its service up a notch with an all-new overhaul to its website builder — one that’s been a year in the making — and the launch of an interactive “Site Planner.”
This new site planner is designed to help give people ideas and a little lightbulb-style inspiration that will help them walk through the creative process and vision for the site. Plus, Weebly now offers an HTML5 site creator that offers new themes and pre-fab building blocks to customize their new site, and, most importantly, a new mobile new editor that helps them optimize their site for mobile devices, along with a now-globally available Android app.
In the lead-up to the big launch, co-founder David Rusenko tells us, Weebly surveyed several million consumers and found that about 56 percent of them, understandably, don’t trust a business that doesn’t have a website. And, yet, 58 percent of businesses don’t have a website. Pretty eye-opening in today’s world, when over a billion people are on Facebook and hundreds of millions have so much computing power in their pockets.
Ask the Weebly founders who their core audience is and they’ll tell you, proudly, that it’s entrepreneurs — people who are trying to build their own small businesses, across every industry, not just techies. And, regardless of technical proficiency, the problem that most small business owners struggle with is how daunting it can be to face that blinking cursor, the blank page. It’s the same issue we scribblers deal with in cases of “writer’s block.” When building websites, people want ways to test out their ideas, lay out their vision, and help bring it to life.
So how does it all work?
The new Weebly site planner offers people ideas and inspiration to help ’em plan and think through the vision for their site, which is pretty cool, as it offers a step-by-step, interactive guide to help them identify goals, organize and layout their pages. According to the founders, 55 percent of people who visit Weebly have never built a website before, so the HTML5 site creator is designed to help make that process easy on n00bs and experts alike, give their site a personalized, unique design, photos, text and so on.
The new mobile site lets users customize how their site looks for their visitors on computers, phones and tablets, allowing them to create a separate design for mobile using a distinct theme, while editing their site in a mobile viewer. As they go, they can switch between different views to see how it will look on both Android and iOS.
In turn, the company’s new Android app basically brings everything that was already native to the Weebly experience to Android, including the ability to create blog posts on the go with drag and drop mobile blogging, add photos and text to their blog, social sharing, push notifications, commenting and analytics.
“For the first time, entrepreneurs around the world have a single place where they can easily
start a site that works across computers, phones and tablets,” said Roelof Botha, partner at Sequoia Capital who led Sequoia’s investments in YouTube, Square, Tumblr and more. “We believe demand for Weebly’s site creation tool is just beginning.”
Users can sign up for Weebly in a minute, pick their site address, whether or not they want to use the free service or a premium plan which starts at $4/month, and jump in. The service now helps you plan the layout, create the site, drag-and-drop-style and publish to the address of your choice. Weebly takes care of the cross-platform optimization and SEO, leaving you to do the rest. Pretty cool.