Wix, a cloud-based web development platform that launched in 2006, allows users to create HTML5 websites and mobile sites free of charge with a simple, code-free user interface. Regardless of their level of experience or skill in web design, clients can not only design and maintain their own site, but they can add a good deal of functionality as well. Social media functions, ecommerce, email marketing, and community forums are just a sampling of the options available.
Wix also provides free access to hundreds of designer-made templates, applications, and other features to enhance user sites. Since they use the freemium business model, Wix also offers premium upgrades and more advanced plans for those who need features beyond the free basic plans.
As of 2018, Wix is one of the top website builder services on the market and they don’t mind showing off their success. Their marketing efforts even included a fun Super Bowl commercial at the 2017 game utilizing the star power of Jason Statham and Gal Gadot.
On their site, Wix claims to have 100 million users.
Is Wix all that it claims to be? Does it live up to the hype? Could Wix be the right website builder and service for your site?
A Little History Of Wix
Wix was developed in 2006 by by Avishai Abrahami, Nadav Abrahami, and Giora (Gig) Kaplan who designed the platform out of frustration with the difficulties of traditional website design. The platform was originally based on Flash and had all its issues in the early years. In 2012, they changed their primary platform to HTML5 and with that change came great success. Many of the issues users experienced were resolved with the new platform and Wix began to see a significant increase in their number of users and profits.
In 2013, they released a suite of robust management applications. That same year they made great improvements in services for ecommerce sites. In 2014, Wix acquired Appixia, a startup that creates native mobile commerce applications and OpenRest, a developer of restaurant online ordering systems. In 2015, they bought Moment.Me, a web service known for collecting photos, videos, and tweets from a given event so users could see a panoramic view of the happening from multiple angles in real time. In early 2017, Wix acquired Flok, a service providing customer loyalty programs and tools, and the DeviantArt online art community.
Wix has shown consistent success and growth in its eleven years of existence. It has also shown a willingness to regularly update and improve services for its users and to keep ahead of the game on the website builder market.
Those new to Wix will find that it has a myriad of features to offer those of all skill levels.
Easy-to-Use Drag and Drop User Interface
One big reason Wix is so popular with so many users is their drag and drop interface. It really doesn’t get much easier. Without knowing a single bit of HTML code, a user can select, position, and resize any object or website element they wish as they design a site using the Wix interface. Unlike other free website builders, users at Wix can place elements wherever they wish on the site as opposed to being limited to only a few areas they can customize.
And with the innovative Wix editor, the user can do a lot more than build a standard HTML site. They can add numerous dynamic design features that are very much in demand on today’s sites. Wix users can easily add video backgrounds to animate home pages, attractive strip layouts to give their pages flare, parallax scrolling, and much more. Someone who has never before designed a website can put together an attractive site in a relatively short amount of time using the Wix platform.
It’s easy to see why Wix is used by so many businesses and entrepreneurs. It could be used to make a stunning online photography portfolio or a site for a band promoting their music and latest tour. Everyone from an artist to an accountant can use Wix to put together a stunning business site in a short period of time. No cost per hour to have the site professionally designed and no waiting for the designer’s schedule. It’s a tough deal to beat for those wishing to design a first website or to update an existing site. For niche sites and businesses, it provides a perfect website and sales solution.
And, if at any time you should happen to need help, Wix has a wide selection of tutorials available to help along the way.
Among their latest features, Wix offers their groundbreaking ADI (artificial design intelligence) where they say design meets innovation. It’s really an incredible advancement in website design because it enables users to instantly create unique, beautiful sites that will set the new standard.
How does it work? Wix ADI asks the user a series of simple questions (like what social media venues the person or business currently uses) and, using advanced algorithms, tailors a website using what it learned about the person or business’s needs. No two Wix ADI sites are alike. It selects details from literally billions of high-quality combinations and possibilities to craft a site that's stunning and already populated with relevant information gathered from the web and social media venues. The end result? Most of the work is done for you, leaving you to tweak and edit any information, fonts, or photos on the site if needed. Wix ADI design capabilities are new and exciting.
Features and Flexibility
In addition to the power of the Wix editor in designing and maintaining an incredible web site, it boasts a very long list of features and add-ons to extend the site in exciting and incredibly useful ways. The Wix App market has literally thousands of applications, free and paid, for practically any functionality or properties the user would like the site to have. Unlike some website builder platforms, the applications can be used even for websites using a Wix free plan for truly great value. If there’s a function that the user wishes to have not available for free, it is almost sure to be offered using an upgraded or premium plan and for a very reasonable price.
A quick glance at the app store shows nearly any functionality a website owner could want. There are applications for social media functions, online event scheduling, calendars, forms, comments, and mailing lists. Data gathering utilities like statistics and analytics tools are also available. Wix users can even convert their website into an ecommerce store, or add a store to the site, free within minutes.
With so many applications and extensions available to extend and modify Wix, it’s easy to see how the platform can easily be used from everything from a simple recipe blog to a large ecommerce store. Wix offers a quality ecommerce solution, Wix Stores, with a lot of useful features like, inventory management, product management, sales capabilities, coupons, set shipping rate tools, and more. Wix Stores are commission free – a very attractive feature.
Another must-have feature for today’s websites is optimization for mobile. With over half of all online searches being conducted on smartphones and tablets, it’s imperative that websites display and function well across all devices. Wix was among the first site builders to offer tools so users could format their sites for mobile. To keep things simple, Wix doesn’t create a separate version of a given site for mobile. Their platform displays the correct version of a single site for the device it’s being displayed on.
When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), Wix provides basic SEO tools for users to set titles, page descriptions, and keywords. Wix not only offers a number of interactive tutorials on SEO for their users, there are also several SEO apps that can be used to help get Wix sites ranked on the search engines.
Design is one of the things Wix does best. With a large selection of gorgeous templates, they offer their users the perfect way to create appealing, eye-catching sites with all the latest features. There are several options for layouts and there’s a color guide for matching the site’s colors to an existing logo or banner. Wix even allows users to upload the fonts they want to use. Using their partnership with Big Stock, Wix provides a way for users (for a small fee) to search a huge library of stock images if they need such. Users can select from video backgrounds, hover effects, parallax scrolling, and more. The sky’s the limit when it comes to designing and customizing a site’s look using the Wix platform.
One small drawback on the templates offered by Wix, you can’t fully alter them. Colors, backgrounds, and some superficial elements can be changed. The basic template itself, its structure, can’t be altered. The templates are, however, organized well so users can find what they are looking for quickly. Categories include business, online store, events, blog, fashion and beauty, and so many others.
Using Wix for Free
What exactly does Wix offer for free plans? Free Wix sites give you 500 MB of storage space for your pages, images, and everything else housed on your account. You also get 500 MB of bandwith. Bandwidth determines how much data your visitors can view over time. Wix, as of this writing, doesn’t offer tools for users to monitor storage space or bandwidth on sites but they do send notifications for sites that are approaching their limits. For many sites, reaching and exceeding those limits isn’t a problem. For sites that gain success quickly and steadily increase in traffic, it may be necessary to upgrade to a premium account to accommodate the site’s growth. Wix paid plans are quite reasonable in price.
Wix free plans also display Wix logos and are given Wix site URLS (example: username.wixsite.com/sitename/page-url). The sites are hosted free of charge and users can easily create an optimized mobile version of their website. Free site users have access to the Wix Help Center.
Domain names can be connected to a Wix account but in order to do so, the account must be upgraded to a paid, premium site.
Wix Premium Plans
While free Wix plans offer a great deal of value, the paid sites offer even more features and may be a better fit for a larger or rapidly growing site. All paid Wix plans allow you to connect a domain name to your account.
$5 per month
While this most basic Wix plan is called “connect domain” you do actually get an increased amount of bandwidth (doubled to 1 GB per month) as well. This plan allows the user to attach a domain to their Wix account that they purchased from Wix or from a third-party. It’s important to note that even though this is a paid account, Wix brand ads will still display on the site.
$10 per month
The Combo plan not only allows you to connect a domain name to your Wix site, they will give it to you for free if you pay a year in advance and if it’s available and meets all of Wix’s legalese on domain names offered with premium accounts. There is an impressive increase in storage space to 3 GB and an increase in bandwidth to 2 GB. No Wix ads appear on sites at this level and above.
$14 per month
Wix lists their Unlimited plan as their most popular and there’s a good reason for that. With this plan, you get a free domain name (if you upgrade for the year in advance) connected to your site. There are no Wix ads appearing on sites at this level. The storage space for this particular plan is increased to a very generous 10 GB. At this level, bandwidth is unlimited.
With the Unlimited plan, if you pay a year in advance, you also get $300 of advertising vouchers to get your site off to a strong start with some paid advertising. With this plan users get a $75 Google Ads credit (requires a $25 purchase and then you get the credit), a $100 Bing Ads credit, and a $125 local listing credit. Also included is the Site Booster App (listed as a $60 value) which drives traffic to your site and helps in SEO efforts. The Unlimited plan also includes a form builder app (a $48 value) which provides forms for contacts and leads.
$17 per month
The Ecommerce plan offered by Wix doesn’t offer all of the bells and whistles of Shopify but for the price and services their users do receive, Wix gives them a run for their money. The Ecommerce plan, if paid in advance for a year, gives the user a free domain name, the $300 advertising vouchers, and the site booster and form builder apps. No Wix ads appear on sites at this level.
Storage space for this plan goes up to 20 GB. While that’s a generous amount of storage, it should be noted that since the intention here is to set up an online store, that's not a huge amount of space for such with product images, etc. Bandwidth for the Ecommerce plan, however, is not unlimited. It is set at 20 GB.
This plan includes the Wix online store. Wix Stores feature an online shopping cart where customers can order multiple products with different options (size, color, messages, etc), inventory tools, the ability to offer coupons, shipping and tax rules for domestic sales or worldwide. Again, it doesn’t offer all of the shopping features that Shopify or Magento can, but for what it offers and the price, it’s a very good deal.
$25 per month
The VIP plan is the premium plan at Wix and it’s a great offer at a great price. VIP includes everything you get with the Ecommerce plan with one notable change and several really useful additions.
The VIP plan offers 20 GB of storage space like Ecommerce but it has unlimited bandwidth. It’s an important distinction because if you start out with the Ecommerce plan but find you need more bandwidth, you can upgrade to VIP because it also includes the online store. Considering that the basic Shopify plan is $29 per month, the Wix plan can be of real value for someone who wants a strong online store.
What else do you get with the VIP plan? If you pay ahead for a year, you get VIP phone support Monday – Thursday 6 AM – 5 PM PST. Your issue gets priority and considering there’s 100 million users, that’s a wonderful thing. You also get Priority Response which means when you submit a question on the Wix Answers page, your inquiry will be answered before those from the general population. You also get a Professional Site Review which is a one-time request to have Wix experts to evaluate your site and your site’s SEO to make sure you have the best web presence you possibly can.
Wix Customer Support
Wix rates well for customer support. Wix already has a strong library of tutorials, videos, and how-to articles available. The interface itself comes with onboard instructions, tips, and incentives which is a great service as it allows the user to learn as they build or edit their sites. If users encounter problems that they can’t find a solution for, however, there’s a support center and forums to go to for help.
For users with little to no experience in HTML, and a small budget, Wix is a wonderful service. The user interface allows anyone to design a site with the latest features, maintain it themselves, and extend its functionality. Wix provides a vast library of eye-catching templates and an app store for users so they can have a site up and running literally within minutes.
For those who invest in a premium account and pay for a year of service, not including Connect Domain, they get a free domain name for a year. For those upgrading to the Unlimited Account or above, and pay for a year in advance, not only is there a free domain name in the deal but special apps for traffic and forms and $300 in advertising vouchers to help launch the site successfully and jump start SEO efforts.
For those interested in an ecommerce solution, Wix offers a great option that’s on par with Shopify on cost and easy to establish. There are a lot of ways to get help on support issues at Wix via phone, online ticket system, and forums.
While Wix offers many great advantages for some users, there are some distinct disadvantages.
With a free Wix site, users have to use a Wix site URL which isn’t easy for folks to remember and is not SEO friendly. Free Wix sites feature the Wix logo and Wix brand ads which can be annoying to your audience or give the impression that since your site has ads, it's cheap and your business must be the same.
Wix offers a lot of gorgeous templates for their sites but they can’t be completely altered and that lack of complete customization can cramp the style of some. The same is true for their drag and drop interface. While it’s great for some who will always want that ease of use, others may develop an interest in learning the actual code and outgrown the complete control that Wix exerts over its sites. There’s no way to do in-depth customizations to a Wix site.
Finally, for the free sites, users of such need to remember that their free site is being provided to them by a third party. At any time, for any reason, that third party could make changes to the site without the user’s say, delete the account entirely, or start asking for money. If the account were to be deleted, there’s a strong possibility that the site files would be completely lost leaving the user with no site and having to start over from scratch.
Wrapping It Up
Wix provides an excellent service. Those with no experience and little to no budget will be able to use this service to create and maintain a quality website for themselves or their business. Wix also has advantages for some as a place to start. It’s an excellent venue for a beginner and offers a lot of educational tools, tutorials, videos, and forum threads. Not only can someone with little experience learn about website development, they could come away with knowledge about site promotion and SEO, extended functions like social media venues, and more.
Wix, however, is not for everyone. When considering a solution for a website or online store, users should take a look at several options and even give the services they believe are a close match to their skills and budget a try. Many, like Wix for premium plans, offer a 14-day trial period. The important thing is for users to select a platform that best suits their needs, abilities, and resources.
There are a lot of website services and platforms out there. Wix, in this reviewer’s opinion, is one of the better options.
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