Wix! An Unstructured Website Builder

The most important difference between Wix and other website builders is that Wix is an unstructured editor.

But I’ve rated Wix 4 stars— why not a perfect 5 star score? Unfortunately Wix can feel chaotic and disorganized. It’s blank canvas editor often creates more problems than it solves and the interface can overwhelm. But if you can overlook these challenges, you’ll love Wix’s flexibility and features.

The Editor

Wix is a blank canvas. You can drag any element anywhere on a page— like how you might edit a Powerpoint presentation. If you take one thing away from this review, let it be this.

Most website builders like Squarespace and Weebly let you drag elements— but only within a preset grid. Wix’s blank canvas editor definitely offers more flexibility than these competitors, but in this section I’m going to explain why that flexibility might not be such a great thing.

The upside to Wix’s blank canvas editor is clear: it’s freeing and flexible. There’s no constraints— who wants constraints? But editing a website is not like editing an image in Photoshop or a presentation in Powerpoint— websites are structured documents and Wix’s blank canvas editor often messes with the structure.

For example, when I add more text to this page (below), the image below the text also moves down— handy, because I obviously don’t want the text and image overlapping. What’s less obvious is that the image doesn’t retain the same distance from the footer— instead it’s flushed up against the margin of the footer. These knock-on issues can feel like playing whack-a-mole: make one change and something else pops up to be fixed.

Elements

If there’s a word to describe Wix, it’s freedom. Wix aims to give as many options as possible and then leave it to the user to choose between them.

For example, there’s a huge selection of elements to build your website— different navigation elements, menus, boxes, buttons and more:

The sheer amount of options occasionally weighs down Wix. Options are not always presented in a cohesive, easy to understand whole. Instead Wix occasionally feels bloated: features feel shoehorned into the design. For example, in the blog editor there’s an option to turn off the sound that beeps when a new order from your ecommerce store happens. Why is that the place for that option?

Menus and small icons pop up from everywhere. There are often several menus for each element and it’s seldom clear where to find options— especially for features in the Dashboard which occasionally fan out into pages and pages of menus.

The Dashboard is abstracted out from the website and navigating it can be disorienting.

Wix also provides features that support specific businesses (examples: hotels and restaurants). Here’s a few of my highlights:

  • Restaurants — Wix includes restaurant menu elements, online delivery features and a reservations app (it lets customers make reservations from your website). It’s a surprisingly flexible, niche feature set but it can also be tricky to get the hang of.
  • Music — Besides having the widest selection of audio players among website builders, Wix also lets you distribute music (like you would on Distrokid or CD Baby) and they provide custom audio analytics.
  • Bookings — You can offer appointments, classes and workshops that customers can book from your website. You can accept bookings from the Wix mobile app, automatically send email reminders about appointments and take payments.
  • Events — You can connect to a payment provider, sell tickets, create email invites and track a guest list.
  • Forums — Visitors can become members, join conversations, follow posts, upload videos, leave comments and more.
  • Art Store — You can sell digital images (commision free), connect to a print-on-demand service, brand images with a watermark and create digital licenses.

Features

  • Form Builder

    By default, Wix only includes the Contact Form element— which is not a full form builder. Among other limitations, it only lets you add text fields— no file uploads, radio buttons or check boxes. To access Wix’s full form builder, you need want to install Wix Forms from the App Market: it includes a wide variety of fields (including file uploads, dates and URL fields). Form submissions can be sent to two email addresses, you can customize the confirmation messages and submissions are saved in the Wix CRM or you can create a submissions table.

  • iOS & Android Apps

    The Wix Mobile App (iOS and Android) let’s you manage your website on the go in three main ways: you can chat live with visitors, manage products and manage bookings. It doesn’t let you make changes or add content to your website.

  • Retina Ready

    My uploaded images appeared sharp and crisp on high-resolution displays.

  • Newsletter

    You can create mailing list signup forms that work with Wix ShoutOut (their email marketing tool) but you can also install apps that lets you integrate signup forms with Mailchimp or Constant Contact.  Show Screenshot

  • Membership System

    The Member Login App lets members login and register to access hidden content. It’s simple but comparable to competitors like Weebly— that being said, it was launched 4 years ago and the most recent reviews from users all ask for things that users were also asking for 4 years ago. This doesn’t seem like a critical feature for Wix.  Show Screenshot

  • Design from Scratch

    Wix is the best design from scratch website builder out there. It’s great. The header and footer editors work great— it’s simple and easy to understand. There are tons (and tons) of elements you can use to design your website— plenty of navigation options, a huge array of shapes, arrows, lines and icons and lots of buttons. Style customization is broad. You can of course change your background (and even set animated backgrounds), set custom animations, drop-shadows and more. Wix throws everything imaginable at you for designing from scratch. The one downside? There’s no way to customize the global styles (for example setting the paragraph text style) which means you’ll be stuck doing a lot of individual elements if you want consistent look and feel.

  • Multi-lingual

    Technically you can create a multilingual site but the instructions are complex and require you to duplicate all the pages on your website— which is a problem if you ever want to update your website (because now you have to update your website in two places).

  • Restaurant Menu

    Wix includes a Restaurant Menu that you can install through the App Market. There are 9 menu layouts and they all look great (you’ll recognize the 9 different formats as similiar to restaurant menus you’ve seen before). Customizing the menu takes a little to get used to— for example, in order to add items to your menu you have to click the menu, click Edit Menu, click Restaurant Menu in the sidebar, then click the correct menu and section. It can feel unwieldy and abstract— especially compared to the elegance of Squarespace’s restaurant menu builder (though Squarespace doesn’t offer as many menu formats).  Show Screenshot

  • Donations

    There are two apps you can install for donations: Paypal is a simple Paypal button that lets donors give directly to your Paypal account and Get Funding is a crowdfunding tool. This is a big gap in Wix’s features, if you’re a non-profit, I’d highly recommend checking out Squarespace’s donation system which is more sophisticated.

  • Audio Player

    There’s an excellent selection of audio players: Soundcloud, Spotify and a bunch of options for different Wix music players.  Show Screenshot

  • Podcasts

    Wix can’t host your podcast (by comparison, Squarespace does) but it does provide a podcast player that connects to your podcasts host (example: SoundCloud, Libsyn).

Ecommerce

In a recent survey I did of 944 ecommerce store owners, I found that Wix scored an 84% in customer satisfaction. A good score— especially considering that Wix is not primarily an ecommerce store provider.

Like other website builders, Wix has been ramping up their ecommerce features aggressively. They’ve built a solid core of features: flexible coupons codes (for % discounts, free shipping, limited time etc.), shipping and tax rules, products options, digital products and no transaction fees.

Last year I criticized them for missing some features— for example, you weren’t able to edit email receipts that are sent to customers. But Wix has since added that.

There are some things that I’ve found to be a bit confusing. For example, their variations editor asks you to subtract costs rather than just putting them in a new price.

Is Wix Free?

Wix offers a free plan though it’s not a great free plan. There’s a 500 MB bandwidth limit, the free URL is pretty unfriendly and there’s an intrusive ad that scrolls along your website:

Pricing

Wix has seven different plans— four are for general websites and three are for ecommerce. I’ve done a deep dive on Wix’s pricing here. I’d recommend checking that for more info.

Wix plans.jpg?1539363214?ixlib=rails 2.1

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