As a Weebly user you might have noticed the upgrade of the whole site building platform to a next generation version 3.0. Weebly named it as Carbon to indicate it as a third generation update by using the third letter “C” for the name. what we are going to discuss is not about the features of the updates but about how it was forced upon on the head of premium and free users without their consent.
Weebly Update Histories
Earlier at the end of 2012 Weebly changed the pricing plans to be effective at individual site level from account level. This change was for new customers and the old customers were still able to continue with their existing plans at account level. This is still valid today that if you have a pro account renewed before the pricing change all 10 sites under your account will have pro features. Even today the old free accounts can connect to custom domain without starter plan. This was really awesome and an example of corporate ethics to give benefit and respect to the existing customers (who are ultimately a stack holders of a private company like Weebly).
If you are using Weebly for many years you might have noticed a change in pattern of Weebly’s updates on their platform in past few years. Here are some examples at least we encountered and we are sure that other customers might have faced additional issues:
- Free users are restricted to 5 or 6 pages per site – as far as we checked their blog there was no announcement that the restrictions are effective. And now at least we can see there is no restrictions again on number of pages.
- Number of product elements – the current limit is 5 for free, 10 for starter and 25 for pro accounts. There was no announcement on this and we really do not understand the limitation on pro users.
- Pricing plans – below is the comparison of pricing plans of Weebly when we logged into the account and as shown on the Weebly site.
It is utter confusion that when you refer your friends or create a new site for client the pricing plan will be completely different than what you have on your account. Again we noticed that the pricing plans were changed much ahead of Carbon update and there was no information on the change.
- Membership – even pro users are limited to only 100 members (which was extended from the initial 20 after many customer complaints) without the registration feature. Though this was announced on Weebly blog, it is a clear indication that Weebly is no more interested in supporting or continuing the platform for lower end users and the complete focus of all new features are for business plans.
The latest Carbon upgrade is a continuation of Weebly’s corporate arrogance and amateur implementation of change management. You can see the customer complaints on the blog announcement and the whole site builder is being shacked with their untested rollout of carbon. We are really surprised with Weebly’s arrogant and ignorant behavior ignoring even the premium customer’s voices. As some of the comments in the blog post indicates “was Weebly sold to some impotent people who really want the customers to run away to other platforms”.
- While all users cry that there was no indication of the upgrade we noticed that there was an announcement on Dribble on 10th of September by Jeff Broderick with a 404 link which was corrected subsequently.
- When there are more than enough reasons to worry about carbon update, below is the comment from Weebly’s CEO David Rusenko on a site called producthunt just 2 days back.
Surprisingly when we clicked on the title of this article, it takes you to Weebly carbon update page as a referral link. The CEO does not have time to respond to even the premium user complaints on their own Weebly blog but providing misleading information of “tons of goodies” on some affiliate site which clearly indicates they are arrogant and they are not ready to listen to customer complaints. The truth is that the carbon upgrade brought tons of bugs and unstable platform which Weebly does not want to respond.
- When we read the blog comments it is a clear indication that Weebly did not test the whole carbon and push this on customers due to some other commitment. If you see the response from Weebly employee mentioning that there is an option to revert back to the old site editor which is not possible actually. It makes the situation worst that the guys responding to the comments really do not have the complete idea of what this mess is.
- The new App center is undoubtedly a welcome step opening the platform for third parties. But none of the new elements offered are working as mentioned in the usage article which make us worried that whether any one tested or will be testing the app center apps in future. When people can able to inject malicious code in Apple’s app store we hope (rather wish) Weebly to get success in this direction with this kind of testing in place.
Directions Going Forward
Though we love Weebly and offer (will continue to offer as well) many tips for using Weebly site builder we do not see throwing some garbage on customers is acceptable in any standard. One thing very clear for us is that Weebly is going more commercial than the traditional easy to use website builder. The carbon update opens the door for developer to make apps and themes for Weebly and sell through their platform. This will really help users to get the features what they want instead of looking for code change every time. But there are concerns Weebly should clarify:
- How the app center apps will be supported? If this is going to be with third parties then the platform will become more complex forcing the users who looks for easy site builder to quit.
- We can see many customers openly mention they are quitting to Wix, even then there is no response from the management of Weebly is making things worst. Users may think that tomorrow if their whole site is lost for some reason Weebly will not help in any manner even for a business plan user.
We look at our own article of “drawbacks of Weebly” which was written more than a year back and found that Weebly did not improve any of those points mentioned. For example, uploading the archive backup to site again, blog articles backup, editor keeps on loading, page management, etc. are the major issues even today. It does not make sense to dream for multistory building when the foundation is very weak. We really hope that Weebly first make the platform stronger and reliable before too much of commercialization and provide better user experience which is the first factor for users choosing Weebly.
From the change management perspective, Weebly better recruit some public relation executives to handle the communication part and rollout something with backward compatibility or with the option of going back to previous version for a defined period of time.
Note: This article was originally published on 18th October 2015. After so many years, the confusion in the pricing plans and features continue. After Square acquired Weebly in 2018, the situation becomes worser as users got confused with Square Online Builder and Weebly site builder. As of now, integration of user accounts with Square login did not happen and there are no commitment which site builder will be focused in the future. We have checked Weebly showcase sites on their blog and found most of them are moved to Wix and Shopify. Unless, they transparently announce the next steps, be away from Weebly – a good website builder spoiled by corporate mess.