Weebly & Squarespace Not Drag-and-drop For Everyone

Weebly & Squarespace Are For The Apple Removing Escape Key Is Good Crowd

No one uses the escape key – right?

Wrong.

Many folks who manage the Internet and create stuff for it (yes websites too) rely on the physical Esc key that Apple recently removed in their new Macbook Pros with touchbars. A touch Esc key is simply not the same thing as a tactile physical key for true typists.

Vi/Vim text editor ninja developers who hit the Esc key as often, and with as much thought as when we blink, are reeling from the disturbance in the force.

Yes, yes – we can remap other keys or use two key solutions, but that adds keystrokes and/or breaks rote memory patterns. Developers want to save time and maintain efficiency.

What were you thinking Apple?

Weebly & Squarespace remove the real power of a CMS.

People don't need to know HTML5 or CSS to build a website argues the Weebly and Squarespace business model. We'll take the hard parts out and leave website owners with drag-and-drop limited features.

Makes sense in the beginning days of a website. However, the hard reality is faced when things break down (bugs are everywhere) or you need to customize the cookie cutter theme beyond simple color changes.

CSS should only be used to change fonts, colors, and backgrounds. Other CSS changes could potentially harm your site.

Squarespace

A real website though breaths with CSS (styling language of the web). Designers and developers use this fundamental website language to give a website its look, which should complement a brand image.

Drag-and-drop Website Pros:

  • Easy to set up
  • Almost anyone can create a page
  • Eliminate a designer/developer in the beginning
  • Many available plug-ins to increase features
 

Drag-and-drop Website Cons:

  • Limited customization
  • Limited themes
  • Harder to fix bugs
  • Almost anyone can create a page (and depart from proven UX principles and SEO best practices)
  • Will not scale well for growing businesses

When I recently had to modify a pre-existing Weebly website that uses an accordion feature (a collapsible menu), I figured that surely the fix would be just a line or two of CSS code.

Except, it wasn't.

The accordion problem was that it worked ok on desktop views, but suffered from accessibility issues on mobile views where the text was too light to read. The accordion used a CSS rule called opacity to make it look snazzy, but was over-done.

I do not like opacity rules done wrong though. This one definitely caused problems by making a key page navigation component unusable from mobile devices which no doubt affected mobile traffic. Opacity is easy to fix though.

In this case it was not, because the mobile CSS stylesheet was not accessible to me. I could only alter the desktop view. I confirmed the problem with Weebly and was told that a newer theme should help.

The accordion drag-and-drop interface only allowed simple color and text changes. The fix needed to be done in CSS, but Weebly didn't allow access to the root mobile stylesheet in their interface.

So I switched themes to a newer responsive one and found that now I could fully target and edit the accordion CSS style – opacity:1.0;

Fixed – wrong.

A real CMS (content management system) would have allowed a single change to a component like this accordion to fix all instances of the accordion across multiple pages. However, the accordion was used on another page and that one still had the original problem.

So back to the CSS interface I went, to add another rule for this second occurrence of the accordion.

That worked and I was left with a new responsive theme that required many more CSS changes just to get a look that was sort of similar to the original theme.

All done – not.

When I tried to get to the site logo for editing, because of course the new theme made it necessary, I was greeted with a pop-up box indicating that I needed to download Flash first. What?! The web has said (in a loud unavoidable collective shout), NO to Flash. So, why is this necessary?

After tweeting Weebly, I was told that their image editor requires it for now, but that they were working on it.

This experience is just a reminder why drag-and-drop solutions only get you so far. A real CMS does hurdles around drag-and-drop Weebly or Squarespace.

However, you're a business owner looking for a solution.

Just remember though, you can't get rid of a good designer or developer with a drag-and-drop solution. They are worth their salt when it comes to saving you from painful and costly mistakes.

But, my website uses Weebly or Squarespace, you say.

Maybe your site has a problem and needs help. TeazMedia can likely give you a hand, even if it's just to fix an accordion menu.

However, when your business is growing and you want to unlock the power of a real CMS, contact us to help you. We can likely help you find a scalable solution that is truly mobile first.

Just because some say that everyone can get rid of the Esc key, don't just plop your money down for that round of snake oil.

Likewise, drag-and-drop Weebly or Squarespace will never really eliminate the need for a good designer/developer.

A successful brand requires a scalable website that works from mobile to desktop. It's just the nature of the beast.

Let's heat up a pot of tea and find a solution together.

[Update]

I return, after rereading what I wrote. It seems like I'm throwing a lot of shade on Weebly and Squarespace. In reality, they do provide a solution of sorts for rolling out a website quickly. When I talked to Weebly support, they were helpful and friendly. I do work inside their platforms on occasion. However, business owners need to understand the limitations that they have. If you choose a drag-and-drop service, it's not the end of the world. Life goes on.


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