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Wix Review: What You Need To Know

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Dec 6 2018 · Steve Benjamins By Steve Benjamins

If I could describe Wix in one word, it would be freedom. Wix gives users as much freedom as possible: the editor is a blank canvas, there's a huge library of elements and you can even design your own theme from scratch.

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 for users who can overlook these challenges, Wix will love it's flexibility and features.

  • Overall

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  • Editor

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  • Templates

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  • Features

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  • Blank Canvas Editor — You can drag any element anywhere on a page. If you see it, you can move it. This is different from most website builders which keep elements within a preset grid.
  • Overwhelming — The upside of the blank canvas editor is often undermined by problems that pop up from the lack of structure. See The Editor section for more.
  • Features — Wix supports a long list of features for hotels, restaurants, artists, events, bookings and more.
  • Integrations — The App Market lets you install apps that integrate with other 3rd party software.

Why You Should Trust Me

Me

Steve Benjamins

My name is Steve Benjamins and I’ve been building websites for 20 years— I sold my first website by cold-calling Yellow Pages companies when I was eleven years-old (I think they were just amused by me).

Since then, my websites have been featured in Wired, The Next Web, The Huffington Post and Forbes. Today my full-time job is running Site Builder Report— where I spend all my time reviewing website builders. I really work hard to avoid fluff and nonsense. I try to go deep into the details that make or break website builders. You're welcome to contact me here.

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.

It's important to understand that Wix's blank canvas editor lets you drag elements anywhere— this sets it apart from other website builders.

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.

Notice that the distance between the image and the footer changes? These knock-on issues can feel like playing whack-a-mole: make one change and something else pops up to be fixed.

Here's another example: if I move this image (below) to the top of the page, the change is not reflected in the mobile version of the website— I need to go to the mobile version and adjust it there too. This is not ideal. Having to make the same edit twice is tedious— and worst, it leads to inconsistencies from human error (ie: forgetting you have to edit twice).

If you move an image on your desktop website, you'll need to make the same adjustment on the mobile website.

Beyond that, things just never seem to work automatically. Odd quirks often pop up. For example, adding a store knocked my navigation out of balance...

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I added a store and now a shopping cart icon overlaps with the navigation...

... And when I tried to save my heading style, it changed the logo of the website:

To be sure, these are problems you can work around. They're not something that makes Wix unusable. Furthermore, if you like the freedom of a blank canvas editor, you'll find Wix is the best blank canvas editor (there are other blank canvas website builders and they are much worst). Wix at least includes handy tools to keep things from getting too chaotic: undo and redo, snap-to-grid and anchor dragging.

The anchor drag is a critical tool when editing Wix websites.

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:

Most elements have many different options too— I mean, just look at how many different audio players there are:

Wix has the widest selection of audio players among website builders— by far.

Wix even has an element called Repeators that I've never seen in any other website builder. Basically it's a really simple database. You tell Wix what kind of content the fields should have, and then design an element that repeats for each entry into the database. No other website builder offers anything like this. It's ideal for listing events, properties, staff members etc.

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Repeaters display content in repeating layouts.

Wix also includes an App Market with 309 apps that add additional elements and features. This catalogue of elements and features is one of the most enticing things about Wix: if you have an idea for a feature they probably want to support it.

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The Wix App Market has 309 apps.

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.

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

But there's a kind of logic to this chaos: Wix is about freedom and they want to give you the most options they can— even if it's occasionally chaotic.

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.

Themes

Wix has a large selection of 288 themes— though the quality can be inconsistent. Some themes are clean and modern while others feel outdated.

When selecting a theme, you have the option of using Wix ADI, an "AI Website Design" tool. ADI mostly just creates small variations between templates— see the screenshot below for a collection of ADI generated websites. It's pretty easy to spot the similarities. ADI is a neat tool but don't choose Wix based on it, it's still a very early technology. If you'd like to read more, I've written extensively about ADI and other AI website builders here.

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A collection of ADI generated websites— it's easy to spot patterns.

Unlike other website builders, you can't switch your theme— once you've chosen a theme, you're locked into it. So take your time when choosing.

All themes are responsive and display nicely on mobile— though be aware that Wix pages don't always translate perfectly to mobile. You'll often need to edit pages twice to get it right: once on desktop, once on mobile (see The Editor section for more info).

Customizing themes can be tedious because there is no global style editor. For example, Squarespace has a layout editor that lets you adjust the style for every element in one place:

Squarespace's style editor.

Instead of having a global style editor, you have to style individual elements in Wix. This makes it tedious to establish a consistent look and feel. Wix does include a way to establish preset styles for headings and paragraphs— but in my experience it works inconsistently. For example, changing the font size of my headings messed up my logo:

While it can be tedious to edit Wix themes, it's also highly flexible— so you can really make significant changes to your website. This is different from competitors like Squarespace or Weebly, which constrain the extent to which you can customize the look and feel of your website. With Wix you can make enough changes to even design your website from scratch.

The thing with Wix is that they throw everything at the user. There's options for just about anything you can think of. Unlike competitors like Squarespace— which provide a curated set of options— Wix has never seen an option they don't like. So everything gets thrown at the user: including esoteric options that I would recommend against: you can crop photos into a shape (why?), add bounce animations and more. This long list of possible options is both the upside and downside of Wix: lots of options, but purely curated.

Wix includes enough navigation elements to design your own website from scratch.

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.

Wix includes a solid core of ecommerce features: flexible coupons codes (for % discounts, free shipping, limited time etc.), shipping and tax rules, products options, digital products and no transaction fees.

But they're also missing some features that feel pretty critical. For example, you can't edit the email receipts that are sent to customers.

You can preview email notifications, but not edit them.

I also found their variations editor to be a bit confusing. It asks you to subtract costs rather than just putting them in a new price— this oddly unconventional.

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Rather than just tell Wix the price of a variation, you have to add or subtract from the original price.

In the end, if your main focus is ecommerce you'll probably want to go with Shopify (a highly rated ecommerce website builder) but Wix is a solid alternative for stores just starting out. (Technically it's cheaper than Shopify— though not by much. Wix's first ecommerce plan is $25 / month to month while Shopify is $29 / month to month.)

Blogging

Unlike the rest of Wix, the blog editor is not a blank canvas editor— instead it's a structured, text editor that lets you embed images alongside posts (which is great— this is the way a blog editor should be). It's a pleasant writing environment:

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Wix's blog post editor.

Wix includes eight different layout options for displaying blog posts. This is handy— especially if you'd like your blog to have more of a magazine approach.

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Wix includes eight blog layout options.

Otherwise standard blog features are supported: authors, categories, drafts and some cool additional features: cover photos, view counters, avatars, likes counters and "read time" estimates. Unfortunately posts can't be set to publish in the future, instead you'll have to save posts as a draft and then publish them on your preferred date. Wix also doesn't support AMP— though in fairness, Squarespace is the only website builder to support AMP currently.

Also: you can only use the Wix commenting system for comments— they seem to have removed support for Facebook Comments and Disqus at the time of publishing.

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:

See that ad stuck on the top of the page? Wix includes it on free plans.

The nice thing with a free plan though is that it provides unlimited time to trial— unlike website builders like Squarespace with a 14-day free trial.

SEO

If you Google around, you'll find that Wix has a bit of a checkered SEO reputation— but that's outdated. Several years ago, Wix was a Flash-based website builder (Flash was a technology with big SEO problems) but they have long since moved on from Flash. Wix no longer uses Flash.

"If you Google around, you'll find that Wix has a bit of a checkered SEO reputation— but that's outdated."

Wix also used to have a a terrible URL structure— it would add strange characters to the URL (ex: yoursite.com/#!about/xis9 ). This was not SEO friendly but again was fixed back in 2016.

In order to repair it's reputation, Wix has even gotten an endorsement from Rand Fishkin. (Rand is one of the most well-known SEO leaders and an endorsement I would trust.)

Today, Wix provides everything most users will need for SEO: you can customize meta titles and descriptions, add canonical tags, Schema.org tags and connect to Google Webmaster Tools.

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.

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Pricing in USD.

Domains & Emails

Domain names on Wix cost $14.95 / year. This doesn't include WHOIS privacy— that costs US$9.90 / year (domain names require public contact information— WHOIS privacy anonymizes your contact information).

If you really want to save money on domain names, you can register with a domain name registrar such as Namecheap. Namecheap domain names are around $14 year and include free WHOIS privacy.

If you register your domain name with Wix, you can set up custom email addresses (example: yourname@yourdomain.com) with Google's G Suite. G Suite basically lets you use Gmail for your custom email address. G Suite is by far the best email provider— I highly recommend you set it up.

Wix uses G Suite's standard pricing:

Term Price Per Email Address
Annual Billing $50 / €40 / £40 / A$66
Monthly Billing $5 / €4 / £4 / A$7

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