The other day I had a session with a very, very nice, enterprising and inspired lady for whom I designed a WordPress website back in 2009. Of course, that site badly needs updating as six years is a very long time in the world of the web. In fact, it needs a complete rebuild, not just an update, as the theme I built won’t work with the latest version of WordPress as it’s changed so much, for example, they didn’t even have proper menus in WordPress back in 2009! Not to mention the fact that the site design looks antiquated by this stage. So this site badly needs re-doing - it’s a big job, and it turns out the client just doesn’t have the budget to get it done, although I offer her the simplest and least-involved options available. But I realise something. She hasn’t been really using the old site much anyway. The blog posts are years old and she hasn’t added anything new in ages. All her activity happens on Facebook, which she posts to prolifically and has quite a following. Why hasn’t she been using her blog? It turns out she doesn’t feel comfortable in WordPress anyway. It’s just that little bit too complicated for her to want to post to regularly.
This lady is the ideal example of a client to whom I recommend Wix. If WordPress is too daunting a prospect - and the whole point of using WordPress is to be able to take charge yourself and post as often as you like - then Wix may be your answer. My client was at first resistant, saying she liked the look of her existing website too much to want to change. However, in Wix, you can design a site to look exactly as you want it to (which you actually can’t in WordPress - that is, if you’re not a developer).
So is Wix the easy answer if WordPress is just that one bit too involved for you? Yes, I think it is a really good answer for many people. My clients come to me assuming I will recommend a WordPress site to them just because everyone's talking about it - but honestly, WordPress isn’t for everyone. (See my blog post about that here.)
Here’s the lowdown on building a site in Wix.
- You either start with a blank canvas (which is what I did in the end for this client, and recreated the look of her old site), or one of their really good looking templates.
- You add your own images and text.
- You add a blog if you want to.
- You hook up with social media using one of their free plugins.
- You add a signup form for your opt-in list.
- You can add a shop with their own easy-to-use e-commerce system, or integrate Shopify or Ecwid if that’s what you prefer.
- When you’re ready, you switch your domain name over so that it shows your new Wix site, following their instructions.
- Wix is a “hosted” system, which means you don’t need to worry about hosting, or upgrading, or anything like that, so it immediately removes that stress. You’ll want to get a paid-for package so that your site doesn’t display ads - you really don’t want that. But the packages are very reasonable, about $8 for the lowest monthly package that allows you to add your own domain and remove the ads.
There are a few downsides, of course, to using Wix.
- The disadvantage of your site being hosted by someone else is that you are dependent on their system.
- If you ever decide to change your platform, you can’t export your site (or blog) content - you’ll have to copy it manually and rebuild it all from scratch. For this reason, if you want to build a site with a large number of pages or if you plan to blog prolifically, I don’t recommend Wix as the best solution for for you. (What you could do is run a WordPress.com site on a subdomain of your domain - your blog won’t be integrated, but it may be a good answer for you as it's still simpler than running your own site on self-hosted WordPress. They have clear instructions on how you can do this.)
- Another drawback is that if you want to change the design of your site, you have to rebuild the site in its entirety - you can’t just switch themes. I don’t think this is a major disadvantage though, if your site isn’t huge. (In fact, changing themes in WordPress is not usually just a simple matter of switching over - if your theme, or your site, has any complexity, there is always a lot of work to do to get it looking right and working correctly.)
So, in a nutshell, if WordPress is too daunting, and you want a site which you can really take control of in terms of how it looks, Wix may well be the answer for you. But not if your site needs to be vastly complex or large, seeing as you can’t export your site content.
Here are some examples of live Wix sites - click on each for a live example - you can see that they really do look good. (They have many more examples on their "Get inspired" page.)
If you’ve built your site in Wix, or you have experienced building a site with Wix, do please comment (down below) and let us know how it went for you. Do you recommend it? Or not?
Note, May 2016: Since I wrote this post, I now favour Weebly over Wix for easy-to-build sites. When I wrote this post, Weebly's templates were rather outdated in look. Now, they've redesigned their templates and they look wonderfully modern and appetising. I've recently helped quite a few people make sites using Weebly templates and they've worked really well, and the key is that it's a super-simple system to use. That said, they don't have a start-from-scratch design template, which Wix does, and this is what we used to recreate the client's old WordPress site in the above example.