We don't use Wix to build websites, here is why

Website Design

As a service that does website design day in and day out it makes sense for us to try and experiment with different website building methods, platforms and tools. Ever since we began our website design service back in 2016, we have gone through different phases where we would build our websites using different CMS (content management system) in the name of finding a winner that enables us to design and build beautiful and functional websites that is also easy for our clients to maintain. One of the contenders was Wix but it didn’t take us long to realise it will never be sufficient a tool for a professional website.

First of all the Pros of using Wix

Wix is not all bad, there are some advantages of using the website builder, after all the Israeli company does have millions of users. One of the major and most obvious pros for using Wix is of course their intuitive and easy interface. You can essentially build a web page by dragging and dropping different website components like text boxes, images, forms, etc into the page and place them in different locations. With options to modify how things look, it is obvious how Wix became so popular among people who would like to take control of the designing of their new website without any technical knowledge or experience.

Another thing that makes Wix appealing is that it offers an all-in-one platform that take cares of everything you need to create and manage a website. On top of the website building feature, Wix also offers hosting, domain registration and e-mail server service to all its users. You will, of course, need to pay for each of these services (Wix simply resell some of these services rather than providing them directly themselves) but it’s not hard to see how this all encompassing environment could be appealing to people who are looking for a hassle free solution for a simple website.

Limited in design

Yes the drag and drop interface Wix provides empowers anyone to be their own web designer. You can select one of the pre-existing template that Wix provides, or if you are feeling creative, start from a blank canvas. Change the font style and sizes as you want, add an image here and there to make things more visual, the sky is the limit. Or is it? While it is true that the Wix drag and drop website builder allows for some freedom of design, it also poses limitations on design and layout that will restrict how complex or dynamic your web page design can be. As a web-based website building tool, your canvas lives inside the browser which is not traditionally a good environment for web design. As you go along with Wix you’ll realise your design will often be limited by a lot of parameters, rulers, etc, so rather than designing your website in a blank canvas, it is more like a canvas with locked grids and boundaries. It will be impossible, for example, to execute a dynamic layout this (built using WordPress):

On top of that, animations and website component transition effects are very limited within the Wix design arsenal. There are some scrolling effects and hover behaviour available for you to apply but they are limiting in numbers as well as the way and style you can apply to the web page.

Limited in functionalities

Design is an important aspect for any website as it dictates how it looks, but equally important is the website’s functionalities – what the website can do. Features like appointment booking with calendar, contact form, newsletter subscriptions, google map, etc are essential to websites in different industries. Wix does have an ‘App Market’ where you can install different ‘Apps’ to your website for features that you need. You can probably find an app for most of the common website features and most of the offer a free tier. However, most of these apps offer only the most basic of features, and since you won’t be able to change the code that make up the app, there is very little you can do to customise them.

For example, if you run a yoga studio and you would like a calendar in your website where your customer can book classes online. In that calendar you want to be able set the maximum students that can register in a particular time slot, you also want to show the name of the yoga instructor in each of the time slot with an option to request a yoga mat. In Wix, you may be able to find 1-2 appointment booking apps to add to you website, but it is very unlikely that these apps would provide configuration options for you to enable those settings that you desire. This also applies to the design of the app as well. Due to the lack of access to the code of the app, you’re design option for the app is limited to what the app decides to allow, and you won’t be able to customise the design of it according to your brand.

In other website system like WordPress, on the other hand, all of the plugins (what WordPress calls their ‘app’) are customisable at the code level. You are able to access each line of code that makeup the entire plugin and make changes to them so that it will look and work exactly how you want it to, as complex as it is.

You won’t be able to optimise your Wix website

Other than website design and development project where we will create a brand new website for our clients from scratch, we also provide website maintenance service to help clients who already have an existing website to fix issues or help make it better. One of the most commonly requested website maintenance tasks we got from our clients concern the performance and speed of their website. Like any technology, a website can experience ‘wear and tear’ as time passes. One of the most notable depreciations come in the form of website speed. As you add more content, functionalities and changes in general, the website could experience slower respond and load time. In a CMS like WordPress, we’ll be able to perform a thorough investigation and perform a list of tasks to improve speed and performance (often drastically, see screenshot below). Some of the tasks include: reducing page size, eliminating speed bottlenecks, making fewer HTTP requests, optimise images, selective Javascript loading, etc. The fact that we are able to access a website’s core code mean that any optimisation is possible. In Wix, on the other hand, as mentioned above, since you will not have any access to the files and code behind the frontend of the website, you are left with no recourse should your website need an uplift in performance or speed.

In other website system like WordPress, on the other hand, all of the plugins (what WordPress calls their ‘app’) are customisable at the code level. You are able to access each line of code that makeup the entire plugin and make changes to them so that it will look and work exactly how you want it to, as complex as it is.

No choice on hosting

Hosting is one of the most important factors that decide how fast your website will load. In the broadest of sense hosting services can be divided into shared hosting, VPS and cloud hosting – with shared hosting being on the lower end of the spectrum when it comes to speed, security and reliability.

When you publish a website in Wix, you are pretty much forced to use the hosting service that comes with Wix with no other options. In the Wix website they highlighted how reliable their hosting is with 99% uptime and 24/7 security monitoring, but it never really mentioned what kinds of server environment your website will be hosted in – the most important aspect when selecting a hosting service. This means that your website could be hosted together with 200 other websites in a single physical server. While modern server technology will make downtime rare, you will still be exposed to vulnerability when one of the websites you co-host with is compromised or ‘infected’. The FAQ section in the Wix website doesn’t give us more information on this but as a profit-making business and the fact that shared hosting allows for the lowest of cost, it is possible, if not likely, that a shared hosting is what your Wix website will be using. And even if it isn’t a shared hosting, you will never know the exact specification and resources you will be allocated for the sever, another major information you need when choose a hosting service to host your website.

Ownership and migration

Another implication of not being able to choose where you host your website but on Wix’s server is the issue of ownership. Quite simply, you don’t ‘own’ your Wix website. Every single file that make up your website is stored and hosted on Wix’s server and according to Wix’s very own help centre page, there is no way you can export them, not the embed files, the pages or the site. You may not think much of this but there are a lot of potential scenarios where you may wish you have the option to move away from Wix without having to completely rebuild the website from scratch. Some examples are when Wix, a for profit business, decides to increase its prices, when your website or business grows out of Wix and requires features that are not available, when you found out the server being allocated to you by Wix doesn’t have enough resources, affecting speed and performance of your website, or in the unfortunate event when Wix goes under.

With another CMS you have 100% ownership of your website and are able to export every single file and database set of it and migrate it to any other hosting company as your desire. No such option with Wix.

Final thoughts

There is no doubt that Wix fulfils the need for a certain type of users, people who are looking to build a hobby website or a simple landing page. As a professional website design and development team, however, our experience with Wix hasn’t been very satisfying. The limitations it has have severely restricted what design layout and functionalities we can execute for our client. The lack of ownership, access to core files and migration also make managing and maintaining the website problematic. It is, therefore, fair to say that unless there is a major revamp on what it could do and offer, we will not return to using Wix as our website designing and building tools.