Weebly, the free AJAX website creator, has just raised a $650K angel round and launched a way for you to create blogs from within your site.
The move pits the young San Francisco company, which has garnered about 25,000 users, against entrenched players like Google’s Blogger, Automatic’s WordPress and SixApart’s TypePad — each of which have millions of users.
The money comes from Ron Conway, Steve Anderson, Paul Buchheit (a creator of Gmail), Aydin Senkut and Mike Maples. Weebly had received its seed funding from YCombinator.
Weebly’s blog creator deploys the same remarkably simple AJAX-based, drag-and-drop interface that makes their website design tool so easy to use. (See our previous coverage here.)
When creating blog pages, you get the extra option of a “Blog Sidebar,” from which you can drag Twitter, Flickr and del.icio.us Linkrolls widgets (partial screenshot below). Weebly intends to add to this selection of widget defaults, but for now you can add any widget you want by dragging in an HTML box and pasting the widget’s code.
The best thing about Weebly is that you see the effects of your edits at the instant you implement them. Unlike its biggest rivals — including Blogger, which has some AJAX controls — there’s no need to pop up another window, adjust some settings and look at the preview to make sure you’ve nailed it. While Weebly is simple and fun to use, however, you’ll need design skills to create a professional looking blog — with appropriate color matching, and so on.
Weebly, its rival SiteKreator and others represent a move towards the commoditization of basic website design. All of them are in the early stages and do not have wide reach or a robust business model. But they represent a growing, potentially critical threat to web designers not versed in the cutting edge of the art. As these companies — and their much larger rivals — continue to improve on this technology and implementation, this threat becomes even greater.