Weebly broke ground in 2006 when it launched a powerful free program that makes it easy for entrepreneurs and others to build websites without any coding or blogging knowledge. But this past May, the company did something few thought was possible: It introduced an eponymous iOS app that allows mobile users to update their content, add photos and images, moderate comments, monitor stats and even build an entire site or blog right from their iPhones. And it's free.
"Today people are on the go, away from their computers, maybe standing in line at Starbucks. The app lets them respond to customers and comments right away," says David Rusenko, who founded Weebly with his Penn State college buddies Dan Veltri and Chris Fanini. "Anytime, anywhere, you can take and post a picture or video, monitor your stats--it lets you respond wherever you are."
Rusenko is mum about exactly how many of Weebly's roughly 13 million-plus users have downloaded the mobile app, but he says it was among the top three productivity offerings on the iTunes App Store for a week and a half after it was first released. An updated version, released in July 2012, has a five-star average user rating in the App Store.
For Callista Bond--a Kansas City, Mo., artist, photographer and graphic designer who has used Weebly to build more than 20 sites for clients since 2008--the new app is a welcome addition. She downloaded it in June and uses it for her own website to moderate and respond to blog comments from readers when she's away from her desk. "They appreciate how much more quickly I can respond to them," she says.
Users who have created online forms on Weebly.com to generate and collect business inquiries can then use the Weebly app to view the responses on the go. In addition to allowing for rapid responsiveness, the app also offers users the ability to post blog entries to Facebook and Twitter with one click. The downside: It's not available for Android users.
Weebly makes money from premium versions of its website-building package, which offer extra multimedia functions and better support. The premium version is available for as little as $2.99 per month with a two-year contract. A designer platform (intended for use by professional website designers) ranges from $7.95 to $24.95 per month.
Rusenko pegs small businesses--58 percent of which still don't have websites, according to research by Google--as Weebly's target market. "It's free, and they can do it on their iPhones," he says. "People understand that it has to be simple to work."