I’m a bit of a technology snub. There’s no point in denying it. I resisted switching from a straight-up, manually coded website to a WordPress site because of this arrogance. To this end, I resisted again when my employer asked all employees to set up websites for our classrooms via Weebly. I was wrong for resisting.
Drap-and-Drop with Caveats
Weebly.com is a website-buiding platform that uses a drag-and-drop interface to help users to design sharp and effective websites. Their platform is pretty impressive, both with its ease of use and the visual quality of the websites produced. Check out the gallery below to see some behind-the-scenes screen caps of my website building progress.
That’s not to say that there aren’t drawbacks. It has an adequate blogging feature, but let’s not confuse Weebly with a platform for power-bloggers. Also, ChurchMag’s fearless leader, Eric Dye, offered an important caveat that Weebly does not create websites with any sense of SEO. Add to that my frustrating failed attempts to add customized CSS to my theme, and it’s enough to give a major web designer pause.
But that’s not who I’d recommend Weebly to as a website solution.
Weebly for Churches and Kids
There are far more small churches than there are medium to larger churches. These small churches could, generally speaking, benefit from a website but don’t usually have the people or resources to spend on building/maintaining a complex, high-end website. Thinking back to my own church, we could have definitely used a well-designed website long before we got one, long before we had a person who design and maintain one. Weebly would have provided anyone on our staff (at that time) a way of providing us with a website.
Similarly, I think that Weebly would be a great way for kids to get started with websites. It’s way easier than Tripod or Geocities, which I cut my HTML teeth on. And that right there might be a drawback because Weebly doesn’t require you to know how to code, though there are ways to insert custom HTML into a page or post. Personally, I don’t think that coding HTML is going to be as crucial as time goes because so many CMS are evolving (WordPress, Joomla, etc.) that don’t directly require it. However, coding is still a generally useful skill that does help increase one’s logical thinking and problem-solving skills.
Costs and Services
Weebly does offer a free, limited service. Your website’s domain is “yourname.weebly.com” and your max individual file upload limit is 10mb. For a kid, that’s all you need. A church is going to want a cleaner domain name and probably some more features. Weebly offers three paid plains (Starter, Pro, and Business) with increasing costs/options. I think that most churches would be content with the Starter plan, which costs $4/month and can have a domain—purchased from NameCheap or GoDaddy because Weebly charges a lot for domains—pointed to it.
Websites are important, but there’s no need for the technically-inclined in the church to snub our nose at a simple tool that could really help smaller churches join the rest of us in bringing some light to the comparatively dark spaces of the Internet.