I was introduced to Weebly a few semesters ago in one of my classes in the MAET program. I initially created a website through Weebly to house all of my MAET work, specifically so I would have it easily accessible for this course. Since then, I have set up student accounts for my 4th graders. They were able to set up their blogs and customize their pages with very little instruction. I also created a course module for CEP 820 using Weebly and was very happy with how quick it was to set up and use. My favorite thing about Weebly is how simple it is. The drag and drop elements make it easier to focus on the content rather than spending a lot of time on the design and formatting. There is a good variety of widgets and also a lot of customizable options for people who would like to make a more personalized design. You are confined to some of the basic page formats, but there are a lot of design choices to choose from. Most of them are very modern and take very little customization to make a clean, modern, professional looking website.
I’ve used Google sites for a long time as my classroom website, but having used it for so long, I found a few things that were obnoxious. They weren’t terrible things, but things that ended up being deal breakers in the comparison. The most annoying thing for me is the inability to embed third party widgets. They have a list of widgets to add, but many, such as Twitter are not available. This is a big negative for me because I see a website as a way to tie together my online presence. I should be able to embed my social media tools as well as my blog and coursework.There are ways around it in Google, but the fixes don’t always work and often take more time than they’re worth. It is also more difficult to customize. You have to pre-size images to use for banners, where Weebly does this automatically within the program. The interface for making customizations to the limited number of dated layouts is very technical and could be overwhelming. They have made improvements since I first started using Google Sites several years ago so once you learn how to change the appearance, you are left being able to make almost unlimited changes to your website's appearance, it may just take some work to achieve. In addition, when choosing a pre-made design, the website comes pre-populated with information that needs to be removed before even starting.
For my technology exploration, I decided to look at two tools that I have used. My Weebly site is located at http://maet-portfolio.weebly.com/ and my Google Sites webpage is located at https://sites.google.com/site/ericksonmaetportfolio/.
After using both of these platforms for quite some time and for a variety of reasons, I believe that Weebly will be a better choice for my portfolio. It is quicker and easier to use, which is a requirement since I have a busy six month old girl at home and a full time job. One of the biggest differences between Google and Weebly is the ability to easily embed third party widgets. This is one of the other primary reasons for selecting Weebly over Google. I want to be able to embed anything that I might need and would hate to start my site on Google Sites and get stuck trying to embed something. I do not have the time to troubleshoot and subvert the contraints of Google when I can do this easily in seconds with Weebly. Overall, Google Sites is adequate, but when time is a concern, which it is, Weebly is more effective.