Wix Review (2018) - The 10 Big Things You Need To Know
In this Wix review, I take an in-depth look at one of the most popular website building platforms available. This article will help you if you are considering using Wix to build your website, or want to know exactly what it is and what it does. Do feel free to leave a comment or query at the end of this review — we are always keen to hear thoughts on the product from anyone who currently uses Wix or is thinking of doing so.
Our overall rating: 3.5/5
You probably want to know:
- What is Wix?
- Does Wix have all the functionality I need for my website?
- Can I use Wix for free?
- Is Wix really as mobile-friendly as it claims?
- Is Wix any good for eCommerce?
Read on to find out the answers to these questions, and more.
1 What is Wix?
Wix is a cloud-based service that allows you to design and build your own website without needing to know how to code.
Wix was founded in 2006, and is one of the larger website building companies, with 1,800 employees and 110 million users. It has several offices in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, but only one in Western Europe at this time (in Germany).
For perspective, Squarespace has about half the number of employees and ‘millions’ of users, Jimdo has 200 employees and 20 million users, and Moonfruit has 5 million users and a small office in London.
The large size of the company gives long-term security (i.e., reduces the risk of the organisation folding, taking your website with it), and means you can look forward to regular feature updates.
Does Wix provide all the functionality I need for my website?
Wix allows users to create websites using a simple and intuitive drag-and-drop user interface.
A Wix website can be used for:
- hosting an online forum
- building an online store to sell digital and physical products
- appointment booking
- collecting contact details
However, you will need to pay to use some of these features - which brings us to...
2 Pricing - can I use Wix for free?
There are 6 Wix plans available - a free plan and 5 ‘premium’ paid plans.
If you want to get an online presence, with minimal effort, for a temporary purpose, then you may be able to get away with the free plan. Think a 50th Birthday, wedding, or small community garage sale. For pretty much anything else, you will need a premium (paid) plan.
The free plan doesn’t allow you to connect your own domain, use an external mailbox, or collect payment online.
Each plan includes all the functionality from cheaper plans. All plans include mandatory free hosting (more about that ‘mandatory’ later).
Free Wix plan
The Wix free plan allows you to use all 500 of the Wix templates, and as noted above, also provides free hosting. You can make use of images, clip art and icons provided by Wix, and can add apps from the Wix app market (this provides both paid and free apps).
On the free plan, you get 500MB bandwidth of storage, and 500MB bandwidth. This should be plenty for a new website with less than 2K visitors per month. The free plan allows you to play around and build a website without giving out credit card details.
Connect Domain plan ($5 per month)
In addition to the features provided on the free plan, the 'Connect domain' plan provides you with the option to you to use your own web address, e.g. www.stylefactoryproductions.com, rather than a subdomain of Wix, such as www.wix.com/stylefactoryproductions. It comes with 500MB storage and 1GB bandwidth.
Combo plan ($10 per month)
The ‘Combo’ plan removes Wix brand advertising from your site. This advertising is fairly intrusive, inserting a noticeable call to action at the top of your site.
This plan also gives you a free domain registration for the first year. However, this represents a minimal saving. For example, the first year of registration of a .com domain with www.name.com is $8.99USD. The Combo plan comes with 3GB storage and 2GB bandwidth.
Unlimited plan ($14 per month)
The ‘Unlimited’ plan is the cheapest Wix plan that you can realistically use to run a small business website with.
Crucially, this plan allows you to collect contact information from visitors to your website using custom web forms. Web forms are essential if you want to use your site to build an email list.
This plan also offers $300 of ‘Ad Vouchers’. These can be used to pay for advertising with Google Adwords, Bing Ads, and Local Listing. However, it’s quite easy to get similar ad vouchers elsewhere.
The plan also provides access to the site booster app – a third party app by AppSharp that submits your website to search engines.
Finally, the Wix ‘Unlimited’ plan comes with 10GB storage and unlimited bandwidth.
eCommerce plan ($17 per month)
This plan adds online selling capability, allowing you to accept credit cards, PayPal, and offline payments.
The payment processing options vary depending on your location, but include Stripe, Square, and Worldpay in the UK. The eCommerce plan provides 20GB storage and unlimited bandwidth. (We'll discuss Wix's e-commerce features in more depth later on in the review).
VIP plan ($25USD/month)
The VIP plan gives you higher priority for user support. It’s slightly concerning that Wix felt the need to include this option – what is their standard customer service like, to make it worth an extra 30% for VIP service? You also get a one-time website review by Wix experts. Otherwise, it’s the same as the eCommerce plan.
Domain name registration
You can register a new domain name through Wix, or connect a domain you already own.
If you are registering a new domain you get a 1-year free domain registration voucher with Wix premium plans.
Wix’s renewal fees are comparable to providers such as www.name.com, and you can transfer the domain away from them later if you choose to.
If you don’t already have a domain registered, and if you decide to use Wix to build your website, then registering via Wix is a reasonable option.
You don’t have a choice with hosting – you must use Wix’s ‘free’ hosting. In practice you are paying a monthly fee for your website, and it’s just a matter of marketing as to whether the fee is called a hosting fee or a Wix premium plan.
Wix claim 99.8% uptime, which is acceptable. They rather vaguely say that they have servers ‘all over the world’ – this may be a disadvantage if you want to use servers located in Europe, for example, or to avoid servers in a particular country due to privacy concerns.
You can either buy email mailboxes through Wix (these are provided via G Suite), or alternatively, you can configure your Wix domain’s DNS settings so that your email solution of choice can be used.
Helpfully, if you have an existing mailbox which you’d like to use with a Wix-purchased domain, Wix will perform the setup for you if you send Wix support a screenshot of the configuration required by your email provider.
If you purchase email accounts through Wix, the fee is $5 USD per month per mailbox, with discounts available for annual payment. This includes 30GB of inbox and cloud storage space.
External mailboxes can only be used with premium (paid) plans.
3 Wix Templates
The templates look professional and are visually appealing — Wix websites certainly don’t look like a do-it-yourself creation. The templates make good use of spacing and fonts to create impact, and are particularly effective when used with high quality photographs.
And speaking of photography, Wix also provides a large library of professionally shot images that you can use for free; and on top of that, you can access Shutterstock directly from Wix Editor.
The templates are organised into intuitive categories, which mean you should be able to find a template which meets your needs fairly easily. The large number of templates means you can get very specific: for example, in the online stores category, there is a category for Fashion and Clothing, with 19 different templates. Compare this to Jimdo's four main categories with one or two templates in each, and you can see that templates are a major strength for Wix.
Wix has created good quality sample text, pictures, and layouts. These get you started, give you a sanity check about what to include, and help avoid writer’s block.
One big caveat is that you need to find the right template and stick with it, because you can’t change templates. That’s right — if you change templates part way through your website creation, you will need to start again from scratch. Not fun. Many of Wix’s competitors are more flexible - Jimdo, for example, allows you to switch templates part way through without losing any content, and the same goes for Squarespace.
Wix makes it easy to add functions like parallax scrolling, animations, and video backgrounds to your website. These functions are automatically disabled in mobile view to improve performance.
That said, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should - animations are a common source of usability and performance problems.
4 Content management and interface
Wix offers three options for building websites:
- Wix Artificial Design Intelligence (ADI)
- Wix Editor
- Wix Code
Wix Artificial Design Intelligence (ADI)
Wix ADI is usable by anyone, no matter how much they hate computers. Wix ADI creates your website by asking you some basic questions and collecting whatever information is available from an online search of your business. Editing is done via a drag and drop user interface that automatically lays out the pages for you.
Wix Editor requires some basic computing skills: it's roughly equivalent in complexity to using Microsoft Word to lay out a newsletter. Wix Editor gives you flexibility to alter the layout, but there are still limitations compared to a fully-fledged HTML/CSS solution.
Wix Code allows you to create database collections. If that sounds scary and not at all like something you’d ever want to do, then instead think of Data Collections as spreadsheets.
Wix Code is definitely on the technical end of the spectrum - but even if you never use it, it opens up possibilities if you decide to hire a web developer down the line.
Is Wix really as mobile-friendly as it claims?
More and more users are moving to mobile access, in some cases exclusively. This means mobile-friendliness is essential for your website. Wix claims your website will “Look amazing on every screen with a mobile-friendly version of your website”, and makes much of your ability to customise the mobile friendly view of your website.
However, Wix uses something called absolute positioning, which means web elements are positioned by pixel rather than relative to the user’s screen. Absolute positioning gives you more flexibility in positioning elements, but means your website will not adapt as well to different screen sizes.
Competitors such as Weebly use the ‘container’ approach, which limits your flexibility but supports responsive design. Responsive design means that page elements are positioned relative to the screen of the viewing device.
Google recommends responsive design, which is a pretty good indicator that it’s the way of the future. But it's difficult to see how existing Wix websites will be able to transition to responsive designs going forward.
The use of absolute positioning means that although Wix claims to provide some responsive elements, Wix websites are not fully ‘responsive’. ‘Pixel perfect’ layouts have a tendency to look good on the screen of the person who designed the website, but not on mobile devices, or even other monitors that are a different resolution.
In practice this means that Wix websites (including Wix’s own website!) are prone to usability issues when it comes to layout, with parts of the webpage going missing off the screen.
To be fair, Wix does make it easy to hide, resize, and move elements on mobile devices, and provides a ‘mobile view’ for you to do this. So, with a bit of thought and effort, you should be able to create a website that displays nicely on a mobile device.
However, websites using absolute positioning will inevitably be less mobile-friendly than a website built using responsive design.
Do I have access to the code for my website? Can I change providers or export my website?
In short, no. Wix doesn’t allow you to access the code for your website, change or access the CSS files or export your website to another provider.
(A workaround for exporting your site is possible by copying and pasting the content from it into another CMS — fine for small to medium sites, but not so good for large ones).
Also, Wix hosting is mandatory - you can’t use another company to host your website. This means you need to be really sure you will be happy with Wix for the long term - if you decide to change provider you will need to rebuild your website.
5 E-commerce functionality
You will need to be on a Wix eCommerce plan ($17USD/month) or higher to access online selling capability.
If you are, you’ll find that the platform does a pretty good job of making eCommerce accessible and ‘non-scary’ for entrepreneurs trying online selling for the first time. Getting started is quick and straightforward - enter the data, set up payment options, and off you go.
Core e-commerce functionality in Wix
Wix provides a good range of e-commerce functionality, although some of it is only available in the U.S. You can:
- sell an unlimited number of products (digital or physical) in an unlimited number of variants
- permit users to filter and sort your products
- manage your store from your phone, using a mobile app
- enter tracking information for physical products (via FedEx, UPS, USPS, or any other carrier you choose)
- use Point of Sale Functionality via Square (U.S. only)
- provide customers with real time shipping calculations (Brazil and the U.S. only)
Wix makes it particularly easy to sell digital products - a complete novice can build a website and start selling digital goods in an hour or so (provided they have already produced the product, of course!). It provides built-in functionality for your customers to download their products, and sends automated emails to acknowledge purchases.
Wix also has quite flexible tax and shipping options. You can set up tax on a per-region basis, which you may need to do in order to support VAT MOSS (VAT Mini One Stop Shop) when selling digital goods to European customers. Unfortunately, this will need to be done manually — unlike competing platform Shopify, there is no way to automatically set VAT rates for digital goods.
You can also set shipping rates per region, and configure rules to calculate shipping based on weight or price, as well as flat rate and store pickup.
So far, so good, but Wix eCommerce has a few significant limitations, which you should be aware of, with the most serious omissions being:
- no support for dropshipping
- no abandoned cart autorecovery
- no bulk import of products (Wix says it is currently working on re-enabling this feature, however).
That said, Wix is adding new eCommerce functionality at an impressive rate — so if a feature isn’t here today, there is a good chance the company is working on it.
Payment gateways and transaction fees
Wix works with a reasonably large number of payment gateways. The options vary depending on your location, but in total 17 are available, and these include big hitters such as Paypal, Stripe, Square, and Worldpay.
Wix’s payment gateway offering is less impressive than that provided by rivals Bigcommerce or Shopify (which offer 40+ and 100+ payment gateway options respectively), but is considerably more extensive than that provided by Squarespace (which provides only 2).
In terms of transaction fees, although your payment gateway provider will take a cut of your sales, Wix won’t. This compares favourably against some other competing e-commerce solutions (notably Shopify, which charges transaction fees if you use an external payment gateway provider).
Ultimately however, Wix is not the best option for a business operation where online sales are the main income source — such businesses would be better advised to investigate Bigcommerce or Shopify instead — but for a small business selling a few products on the side, or just getting started, it is an acceptable option.
And finally, if you are not happy with the e-commerce functionality provided by Wix, you could always consider using a dedicated online store product like Ecwid in conjunction with the platform (you can read our full Ecwid review here).
6 Integration with other apps
Wix has an App Market with over 250 apps, some made by Wix and some by third parties. You need to dig a bit to get prices, and most apps involve monthly subscriptions, or have only limited functionality in the ‘free’ version. This could add significantly to the cost of your website.
The App Market is easy to use, and provides lots of neat options you can add to your website, including online chat, popups and calendars.
Another way to add functionality from third-party apps is by using a HTML block to insert a widget from one of those apps.
7 Data capture
Wix provides some basic built-in forms for your customers to send you a message or provide contact information. If you want custom forms you can add an app like FormBuilder from the Wix app store (FormBuilder is free with the Unlimited plan).
Contact data captured on your Wix website is automatically added to your website’s ‘address book’ (a contact list). You can also import contacts or add them manually to this list.
An interesting Wix feature is built-in email marketing. Most of its key competitors don’t yet provide this. Wix allows you to send e-newsletters to your subscribers using its ‘ShoutOut’ functionality.
You get three free ShoutOuts (email broadcasts) per month to up to 5000 emails. If this is not enough for you, you can pay extra for a premium ShoutOut add-on.
The Basic ShoutOut add-on ($4.90USD/month) allows you to send 5 emails to 9,500 email addresses, and removes Wix advertising.
The Business Essential add-on is $12.90USD/month, connects to your domain, and allows you to send up to 20 emails per month to 50,000 email addresses.
The Pro Unlimited add-on is $44.90USD/month, and allows you to send an unlimited number of emails to 1 million email addresses. You also get access to a VIP support line (another example of paying for support - slightly worrying).
You can also connect Wix to an external mail provider (e.g. AWeber, MailChimp, ConvertKit, or GetResponse) by adding an HTML block to your website. You are pretty much left to your own devices if you want to do this - Wix provides some basic guidance, but you get the impression their heart isn’t really in it - they would prefer you to use ShoutOut.
8 Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and analytics
Wix SEO functionality is generally good — it allows you to easily perform key SEO tasks, including:
- adding alt text
- adding meta descriptions
- editing page URLs
- creating 301 redirects
One SEO feature which may particularly appeal to SEO novices is Wix’s ‘SEO Wiz’ tool. This walks you through the key steps for optimizing your website for search engines, helping you to to update your page titles, meta descriptions, alt text, and so on. If you have no idea what all these SEO terms are, not to worry — Wix’s SEO Wiz explains what you are doing, and more importantly, why.
If you’re on a premium plan the SEO Wiz can also help you register your site with Google Search Console.
One quibble I have is that some of the more technical options can take a while to track down - for example, it took me a good 30 minutes to figure out how to edit header code meta tags (the ‘click here’ link to edit them kept trying to build me a new website). When I did finally track the meta tags downs, they were easy to edit.
A significant omission in the SEO department is Wix’s lack of support for Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). AMP pages load extremely quickly on mobile devices and can bring some SEO benefits when used (as well as improved conversion rates).
Key competitors Squarespace, Bigcommerce and Shopify all provide support for AMP in various ways (with Bigcommerce’s offering on that front being the most comprehensive) so it’s a shame to see Wix’s lack of support for this important new technology.
Wix’s blog previously supported Accelerated Mobile Pages - the ‘new’ (released 2017) Wix blog does not. I wasn’t able to find an explanation as to why not, or information on when Wix might start supporting it again.
Analytics and conversion tracking
Wix has good support for analytics tools, providing built-in integrations for:
- Google Analytics
- Google AdWords
- Google Tag Manager
- Facebook Pixel
- Yandex Metrica
- Verification Code
You can use Google tag manager to implement any other third party code or pixels, or add custom code directly to your Wix site to track conversions.
When using Wix, I was able to find answers to almost everything I wanted to know by searching in Wix's Help Centre, which contains a large library of articles and good search functionality. There is also excellent contextual help provided throughout the site.
If you can’t find what you need in the Help Centre, then you can contact support by clicking ‘No’ in response to ‘Did this answer your question?’ at the bottom of each support page. Wix provide support over the phone and via email, but there’s no live chat. Not all of Wix’s key competitors provide phone support — Squarespace and Jimdo, I’m looking at you! — so a thumbs up to Wix for doing so.
Phone support is available on weekdays from 5am to 5pm Pacific Time (1pm to 1am GMT), and offers help in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. You will need to request a callback, which at least means you don’t need to wait on hold.
You can also submit an email ticket. Wix doesn’t commit to a timeline for answering these, simply promising to get back to you ‘as soon as possible’. When I submitted a question, they got back to me at the start of the next business day.
If you are paying extra for VIP support, then you will jump the line so long as you use the email address associated with the account. This could be a bit awkward if it’s not the website owner looking for help.
It’s a bit concerning that Wix are selling priority customer service with the VIP plan - it suggests customer service is enough of an issue that people are willing to pay more for a better experience.
10 Should I use Wix?
Wix review conclusions
Wix allows a complete novice to create a website with a LOT of functionality. For a relatively low monthly fee, you can get a site that features a blog, a forum, an online store, a gallery of pictures, a mailing list, newsletters, appointment booking and much else besides...An interactive website that previously would have cost a fortune for a web developer to create can now be yours in a few short hours.
Wix is also very easy to use — there are lots of well designed wizards, support tools, training videos, and help files that provide very effective hand holding for even the most nervous of users.
Wix help is also well written — technical terms are explained in plain English, and when I had questions the search tools provided me with short and to-the-point articles that answered them pretty much every time.
This amount of functionality, particularly on a purely cloud-based platform, does come with downsides, however.
When you are building your website, Wix can be slow to respond, and this is made worse by the animations, which are everywhere. Almost every button has some kind of appear/disappear or hover over functionality, which can be quite annoying, and is certainly unnecessary. The chirpy ‘building awesomeness’ tagline gets rather old when you are staring at it yet again whilst waiting for the Wix Editor to open.
The use of absolute positioning is also a real drawback — although there are workarounds available to ensure the mobile version of your site displays nicely, sites created with Wix are not yet truly responsive.
The other major drawback is that Wix makes it difficult to change your mind — you will have to stick with the template you picked when you first built your website, or rebuild it completely. You can’t use another hosting provider. And you can’t export your website or access the code.
The pricing is also rather opaque: the headline prices are reasonable, but once you start adding functionality, and apps, upgrading to send more ShoutOuts, and so on, it’s easy to see how the costs can add up.
Ultimately, Wix is a good choice for a small business or individual on a relatively low budget, wanting to quickly create an attractive website with a lot of features — if you find yourself in that category, you’ll be pleased with the range of ‘out of the box’ functionality that Wix provides. Wix is far less appealing however for businesses with a strong reliance on online selling, or for larger businesses that want very bespoke functionality on their website.
Below you’ll find a summary of the key pros and cons of the platform. If you’re interested in trying Wix out, you can also take advantage of a free trial.
- It’s easy to use.
- It’s reasonably priced.
- It includes a wide range of professionally-shot photographs for use on your site.
- Phone support is available, which is not the case with several other leading website building tools.
- A large range of templates is provided (500+), which feature useful sample content.
- Lots of functionality is available out of the box.
- There’s a built in email marketing tool - something which is not currently provided by most of Wix’s competitors.
- SEO functionality is pretty good.
- A reasonably well-stocked app store is available to beef up the functionality of your store.
- A totally free version is available, as is a free trial.
- You can’t switch your site to another template after you’ve built it.
- You can’t export your website data.
- Although workarounds are available to make a Wix site display correctly on a mobile, the sites that you build with Wix are not fully responsive.
- The platform doesn’t currently support AMP format.
- The cost of ‘extras’ and ‘upgrades’ may add up, making the true cost of your site difficult to predict in advance.
- If you want a premium level of support, you’ll need to pay for it.
Alternatives to Wix
Squarespace is a more elegant and professional website building solution than Wix, and provides truly responsive websites, but it is more expensive. If you need a cheaper option, you could do worse than investigate Jimdo, because it provides a similar feature set to Wix whilst again providing fully responsive websites.
If you’re interested in online selling, then Bigcommerce or Shopify are likely to meet your needs considerably better than Wix, Jimdo or Squarespace.
And finally there’s Wordpress, which can serve both as a good platform for showcasing and e-commerce. It typically requires a bit more configuration and ongoing maintenance on the user’s side however than a hosted solution like Wix.
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