I recently discovered a pretty cool free web development and hosting site called weebly. Unlike many of the free web hosting sites around (and there are many, from Google on down), weebly does not litter your site with ads, just a minor link to itself in the footer of every page, and their page editor is first-rate. Using their editor you can do practically anything you need to do.

They appear to make their money in two ways: if you want your own domain name, they act as registrar and presumably make some money off that, and if you have Google ads on your page, they scarf 50% of the revenues from those. These are both pretty benign, in my view.

I liked the system so much that I helped my friend Gitte create a site for her tutoring business in Winchester: www.comprehensiveacademics.com. I created the general schema for her, but the editor is easy enough to use that she's going to be filling out the pages herself. I really like this system!

How does weebly compare to Sandvox, my current editor? Actually, very, very well. In some ways it's better. The biggest advantage of weebly is that it's web based, so you can edit your site from anywhere. This is particularly nice if you happen to be maintaining a blog like this one, since there's no need to go back to your own machine when an idea strikes. The biggest downside for me (and this is sufficient for me to keep my site on Sandvox) is that the photo publishing integration is necessarily not as good on weebly: Sandvox has access to all the metadata (titles, captions, etc) that I put into iPhoto, so album publishing is a snap using Sandvox. Since that's a large part of what I do, Sandvox is a keeper for me.

There was one weebly trick I discovered, that I'll document here: in order to use Google's webmaster tools, you have to verify your ownership of the site by adding some magic to the site, either a meta tag or a specially-named page. Turns out that weebly's editor does not give full access to meta tags, so you have to use the page creation method. Fortunately, the format that Google uses is compatible with weebly. Google will tell you to create a page of the form <complicatedName>.html, you copy the <complicateName> part, and create a page in weebly of that name, and don't have it appear in the navigation. Publish the site, then back to Google's webmaster tools and let Google verify. Presto, done!

Copyright 1997-2018, Ben Littauer