The Template System

First, let's take a look at the first steps of acquiring a website through Wix. There is a free signup, and then you're on your way to their interactive playground of website building. Initially, this is extremely promising. You choose your base template, and begin loading content. Wix has created a truly useful drag-and-drop editor superior to any other available. A lot of web developers will openly scoff at WYSIWYG editors, knowing that their usefulness degrades when the need for complexity rises. There are even the simple things that they get wrong, like throwing empty tags into your content. This is not the case with Wix, as they have developed a process for editing your website that predicts your needs and, amazingly, succeeds.

So far, so good, right? If all you'd like to do is have a “stunning” website easily created, then yes. But what happens if none of these templates match your style? If you try to create your own template with Wix, you'll find that you're in the wrong area completely. A website should reflect your brand, it's the most important thing that any company has. It takes a lot of work to be recognized instantly, and a simple mistake like having the exact same website layout as another business could cost you. If you've ever been mistaken for someone else in public, you know how strange this feels. If you've ever had a past schoolmate unable to recognize you when you bump into them, you know how disappointing it is. These are the correlations you need to consider when using template-driven design.

To speak a little more on templates, let's go back to the MySpace days of yore. Do you remember the phishing scams? How you'd end up at a website that looked a lot like MySpace prompting you to log in? A lot of users realized that they should distrust similar-looking websites from these experiences. When you use a service that pumps out similar looking designs, you'll find that users aren't going to be readily inputting their credit card numbers to your interface in order to make purchases. They'll rarely even sign up for your mailing list for fear of being spammed or having their information sold. Templating systems just don't work when it comes to building trust.

So let's just say that I've made you realize that you don't want your template anymore, but I haven't really made a case for you to leave Wix. Instead, you're going to go with a less-used template and keep all of your content on Wix. Let's start by changing the template. To do this, you have to clear out your entire website, including its content, and start from complete scratch. Suddenly, this website builder isn't all that easy to use, is it?

Search Engine Optimization

On any website, search engine optimization (or SEO) is a difficult ordeal. There are people that specialize solely in keeping abreast with the changes in Google, Yahoo, Bing, and any other search engine out there. It's a difficult task and, as far as I've seen, relies on clairvoyance and dark magic. So Wix has to have kept up with this and made its content editors ready to boost your ranking in search results, right? Well, there's a few basic principles that they've missed.

Let's take a look at the way Wix loads pages. When you go to any website on the Wix servers, you'll see the stunning website in all its glory – after a few seconds of load time. Load time itself is a huge factor in rankings, so right off the bat you're taking a hit. What could Wix be loading onto your page that takes so much time? Well, it looks as though the answer is JavaScript. Why do you need to much JavaScript on your website? Because that's how additional pages are loaded.

With websites, search-engine-friendly URLs are a big deal. In order to prove that the page the search engine is crawling has the content that you're saying it does, it's a good idea to have a URL that states this. This is one of the basics of SEO and its practice has been around for at least half a decade. But what happens when you load content via JavaScript? Well, simply said, you end up with no URL. There are no follow-able links on your page, there are no URLs that state what their content is, what Google sees is your home page and nothing more.

A lot of businesses like to use a blog in order to drive more traffic to their website. Blog articles help with long-tail search terms and ensure that you can find visitors searching for nearly anything similar to your brand. Certain CMS systems, like WordPress, have even taken this into account and provide you with thorough SEO optimization, and you have to do little more than just write the articles. The types of optimization they include by default are properly formatted HTML, Schema around the pertinent information of each blog article, and providing search-engine-friendly URLs. None of this is provided with Wix.

I have a limited knowledge of SEO by choice. There's just too much to keep track of, too much changes day to day, and I'm much better at keeping up on the nitty-gritty of web design and development. However, even with my basic understanding, I can see the flaws appearing in the Wix templates.

Cost

When looking at the Premium Pricing link on Wix.com, you're met with a variety of options. These all depend on what you need and when you want to pay. The cheapest available rate (without ending up with banner ads) is either $99.00 a year (at $8.25 a month) or $10.95 a month (which will run you $131.40 a year). Keep in mind that these prices do not include the purchase of your URL or the renewal each year. In order to have the all-inclusive package that provides that, you need to pay the extra $51.24 a year (at $4.27 more a month), or $5.00 a month (totaling $60.00 more a year) depending on when you'd like to pay. The all-inclusive package does keep your bandwidth unlimited. That's good, because if you can afford to throw away that kind of money on a website that you can't do much with, you should be getting a lot of traffic to justify it!

If you'd like to get a shopping cart with your server space, that's more! Meanwhile, if you pay for hosting from a company like 1and1, you can install your own store CMS on your own for free. 1and1 offers hosting anywhere from $0.99 a month to $10.99 a month. These costs are mind-bogglingly easy to justify when compared to the Wix platform.

Further Limitations

Wix does provide you with some nice tools and APIs to help get your website running the way you'd like. It provides you with things like a contact form so your customers can reach you for support if needed. Just drag-and-drop the item in place and you're good to go. The drawback here is that no amount of apps on the Wix system will let you look professional with an email address suffixed by your website's URL. That's right, you will continue to look like you're phishing for data when users see that your email address is MyCustomURL114@yahoo.com.

But what if you'd like to store the email addresses that come in from these forms to sign them up for your newsletter? How about automated queries to the database in order to create your mailing list on the fly? A lot of CMSs have plugins that are easily installed and have exactly this functionality. If you just search the term, “Create a database on my Wix site,” you'll see that the results may as well say, “LOL Wot?!”

Wix does provide you with mobile-optimization in their themes. This is a very nice feature and something that every website needs to have. Unfortunately, it does this in a very old way that is no longer fluid or good for your website and its users. Upon loading, Wix will detect the browser. If the browser identifies itself as mobile or tablet, Wix will load an entirely different theme. This is a heavy dose of bandwidth to anyone using 3 or 4G data. When you think of a mobile-friendly site, you think of a site that doesn't hurt the pockets of its users. The newer, and more correct way of achieving a mobile-friendly website is by media queries. These will detect the width of the browser and change the CSS accordingly. It takes no time at all and it frees up a great deal of data for your users.

Finally, Wix does not come highly rated from its customers. The true test of any business is what their customers have to say about it. I've found many reviews online that simply state Wix is buggy, their support system is problematic, and the websites you end up getting are stunningly beautiful, yet do not function. I've even found a message board on Wix's own community site that has multiple entries from customers stating that they will file a claim with the FBI stating that this company is a scam. That's a pretty hard testimonial to sell your product.

Recommendation

In summation, it looks like Wix does give you exactly what it promises: A stunning website. They've even thrown in the online playground to build that stunning website. Other than that, it looks like this service is bunk. Judging by the problematic ways that it handles its sites, the lack of SEO optimization, and overcharging for a faulty product, you'd be better off without a website at all!

It is my recommendation that if you are looking to build a new website and you do not have a team of developers and designers, you should shop around for a company to make the site for you. The up-front cost is fairly large, but evens out over the years. Your website is currently the most important part of getting your business out there. Potential customers need to find it, to use it, to contact you in order to help your business grow. You need to use your website and make it work for you. The only way to get this done properly is by getting it done professionally.