Wix vs. WordPress: Which is Right for Business Owners on a Small Budget?
At The KR Agency, we offer website design services on either WordPress or Wix. It wasn't always this way. The client's budget, their level of technical savvy, the purpose of the website, and their need to be able to DIY any aspect of the site in the future will in part determine which platform we recommend they use. How do we figure that out? The right platform for you by and large depends on what you're building a website for and your level of comfort with website maintenance and expectations for your site and its service provider after you launch. As Wix has become more advanced and evolved in terms of their features and flexibility, we've seen a greater and greater demand for Wix builds. In fact, Wix themselves has a design team who also design websites for businesses. But, of course, that doesn't mean that Wix is for everyone. If you are not tech-savvy and have a low operating and/or marketing budget for your business, come hither. We've got some important things to cover.
The danger about Wix is the same reason why it (and website-based platforms like it) became popular. The ease of use of the platform, as well as the company's messaging, lulls people into a false sense of confidence that they can build an effective website without needing to know anything about how to build an effective website. Just because you can double click to type in text or click and drag in a picture does not mean that what you build is going to be effective in terms of garnering sales or generating leads, and it is very short-sighted to think this way. There's typography, color psychology, sales strategy, the psychology of your demographic, good taste (what your demographic considers good taste, that is), and knowledge about visitor behavior to take into serious consideration, and these elements work in concert to create a site that looks great, is modern, and actually does what it's supposed to do - get you leads and sales. Duh. The emergence of Wix lowered the barrier to entry. In the beginning, when Wix emerged into the space, any Tom, Deb, and Harry was using the platform thinking they were designing websites that were effective or worked, when in reality they were shooting their businesses in the foot and creating websites that weren't thought through and didn't resonate with their demographic in a way that encouraged sales or engagement. This is, in part, why Wix struggled with being taken seriously by professional website designers for so long - the end result of the websites created by their users were the worst representation of their businesses and of the Wix brand, not to mention the flexibility of the platform was initially downright problematic when compared to WordPress. When people are given the power to design a website without actually knowing what goes into designing an effective website, things can quickly go left without them even realizing it - until they check out their exit rates and conversion rates, that is. Basically, Wix gave 10 year-olds the ability to drive a car without knowing the rules of the road. Car crashes ensued - and still do, among those who attempt to build a website without any knowledge of the elements of a great site.
While WordPress has a slight edge, Wix has made serious (and we mean SERIOUS) strides in SEO as of late. As of early fall of 2016, Wix sites are no longer AJAX applications that use a deprecated method to allow for indexing by search engines. That means they now support “clean” URLs, which is huge. Before that update, the URLs didn’t work with a variety of Google and third party tools (Universal Analytics, GSC’s Fetch as Google, etc.). And if you were a small business promoting a local event that is published on your website, a URL like http://www.mywebsite.com/#!%$#checkthisaweomeevent/n3782h looked like crap on a flyer or poster, so it drove us marketers nuts. Now, problem solved.
So, while this time last year I would have cautioned against Wix sites for local businesses with a good amount of local competition, at this point Wix's SEO is no longer a drawback so we no longer have qualms about recommending a build on this platform for certain clients. Professionals can help you keep an eye on site speed, properly optimize your pages, and avoid having too many image popups, so that your SEO game is just as strong as it would be on WordPress. Now, with that said, let's dive into identifying which platform is best for you.
When it comes to eCommerce, for most businesses, Wix is superior. Yeah, we said it. If you are seeking to build an online store, Wix reigns supreme for technically inexperienced store owners, particularly for those with small marketing or operating budgets and require DIY post-launch. In terms of technicals, the setup is straightforward, and there are more eCommerce functionalities built into the Wix platform compared to WordPress out of the box, which means business owners don't get overwhelmed or weighed down with the technicals of running their online store after the designer is already out of the picture. Some business owners dig that because it means they don't have to pay anyone in the future to make changes and updates to their online store unless they want to.
The Wix platform is configured to serve eCommerce needs from the start, which people really seem to love. You begin with the mountain of niche-specific themes (not templates, which have their limits) and customize any aspect of the design from there, or you can start from scratch and build your way up. This is most helpful for restaurants, hotels, musicians or artists, clothing retailers, and virtually any merchant imaginable. Wix eCommerce customers will benefit from:
Secure, hassle-free shopping carts
Modern product galleries that when customized correctly, grab attention
Streamlined inventory tracking
Custom shipping and tax rules
Multiple payment processing options
Offering discounts and coupon codes
The icing on the cake is that Wix, even as your hosting provider, takes a 0% commission on each transaction your online store makes. You don't get a choice as to who your hosting provider is, however - Wix requires that you host with them. Arguments against WordPress for eCommerce websites include: It’s not really setup for transaction-based sites at the start (you need to add plugins for product displays, payment processing, inventory tracking, etc.), it’s subject to security vulnerabilities thanks to those necessary third-party applications, and its learning curve is generally too steep for the average store owner in terms of maintenance. However, WordPress may be better suited to eCommerce businesses who are well beyond the startup stages and have hundreds of product pages, for instance.
Getting support with Wix can be easier because you go to the same company for everything under the sun. You don’t have to deal with separate hosting companies and Wix offers 24-hour technical support via phone and email and a library of knowledgebase articles and FAQs, which is great for clients who are not tech-savvy, have small marketing budgets and can't afford to hire someone to manage their website for them on a monthly basis. You’re not going to find the sort of attentive network monitoring common with most web hosts that support WordPress, but chances are high that, any Wix query you ask has been asked and answered before - plus you've got people on standby who can answer your questions by phone or email, in case you don't feel like doing the digging in their library online.
WordPress doesn’t have a run-of-the-mill support team on call around the clock. The code is written and maintained by contributors, and since they're not being paid, you’re at the mercy of their schedules and willingness to help you. Fortunately, a lot of people use WordPress, which means a quick Google search or a post in the WordPress support forums will usually get your questions answered in a timely manner. The WordPress Codex is a particularly useful resource for software-specific bugs or coding questions for those who want to fully maintain and tweak their websites on their own long after they've launched.
Sometimes it pays to have an advanced web host, rather than a browser-based web builder. Most WordPress-friendly hosts boast 99.9% uptime rates or better, 24/7 network monitoring, and a team of experts on staff to assist you. Some even handle updates to the WordPress Core and/or plugins.
WordPress updates its core program three or four times each year and plugins and themes are frequently updated. Luckily, you'll get an alert from WordPress when an update is available. When you see these alerts you will have to perform the updates manually. In other words, you'll need to perform any backups before hitting the update button, then select all of the files you want to update. It sounds tedious, but you can totally do thus in bulk – plugins, themes, then WordPress core separately). After that, you'll have to perform any and all tests that need to be done to ensure your site is still working properly.
If you just have a blog this might not be much of an issue, but if you have an eCommerce store, an education website with tons of pages/subpages or any other site with a lot going on, this can take a substantial amount of time. This can be an even bigger challenge if you have a custom theme (which many designers and developers prefer) instead of a WordPress template. You might have to make updates to the code itself, which some find a hassle to deal with, especially when WordPress updates during a particularly busy time for entrepreneurs and business owners (which, let's be honest, when are you not busy?)
There is, of course, a remedy to save yourself the headache there - you can always subscribe to a service that will perform your updates for you. Like us! This can get pricey over time, but it can also save you a lot of time and headache if you're not technically inclined, making the ROI worth the cost. However, if you have a small budget this may not be an option you're able to entertain.
Wix, on the other hand, automatically performs updates. Most of the time you won't even be aware the updates are taking place and they occur seamlessly with your website.
WordPress is open source - anyone and their mother can hop into the code and make any changes and modifications their heart desires. They can create their own themes/templates and plugins that they can give away or sell, which has led to the emergence of companies and innovative developments in the WordPress world that has lent to its popularity.
One down side to anyone being able to make their own themes and plugins, however, is the potential for low-quality and dangerous code to get in the way of having an effective, functional site (many have learned this the hard way). Even if the code is safe, the features can sometimes be lacking, so it might take some trial and error, or the right expert on the case, to identify what's right for your website's needs.
You can make your WordPress site into anything you want it to be because there are so many plugins and themes to choose from. If it doesn’t exist it can be developed via code. This is partially why it's easier to scale websites from a one-pager to the biggest, baddest behemoth on the internet with WordPress. If you need a massive website with massive traffic (think hundred of thousands of people at any point in time), WordPress should be your go-to.
Wix is not open source, so not just any ol' person can modify it. All of its website-building tools, which are called apps, are actually built, in-house, by the Wix development team. This means that there are fewer tools for Wix and that Wix sites will have fewer functions (300+ vs. thousands on WordPress). However, if you select an app to include on your site, you can have greater confidence that it's going to be of high quality and will get the job done. As Wix grows and becomes more sophisticated over the past few years in particular, the number of capabilities has skyrocketed - take the emergence of lightboxes, for instance, that now give the ability to build and grow email distribution lists in a less passive way.
SO WHAT'S RIGHT FOR YOU?
For sophisticated businesses that need or want highly customized features and are building with an eye to scalability in the future, WordPress is where it's at - but only if you've got the budget to hire an expert for monthly maintenance and/or updates after launch, or if you've got the time in your schedule to tackle the steep learning curve that's necessary to build a nice-looking site and then tackle the steep learning curve necessary to build an effective one that'll generate leads and sales for your business, to boot. If you're a business owner and you've got a large marketing/design budget, don't have an eCommerce store, aren't looking to build a website with a lot of moving parts, and are looking to scale up quickly, we recommend WordPress. If this sounds like you, WordPress wins on flexibility and scalability due it's broad range of plug-ins and its more economical hosting options for uber high-bandwidth websites available from WordPress-friendly hosts. Should you wish to hire someone to build on WordPress, it's worth noting that these builds are materially more expensive than Wix builds, across the board, due to the time-commitment and level of expertise required. For busy business owners who aren't tech-savvy and have small budgets that need to stretch as far out as possible, Wix wins hands-down on simplicity. Simplicity means less hassle – it's ideal for business owners who don't want to confront a steep learning curve when it comes to maintenance, updates, or at-will redesigns down the road. It’s always been hard for tech types to grasp this. As professionals, we're more often sold on features, but unlike some designers, we realize that most businesses usually aren’t. Business owners buy benefits – and "simple" (as well low cost in the short-term) is often a significant part of that perceived benefit. If you're not tech-savvy or don't have the time or inclination to put in the work to conquer steep learning curves, if you have a small budget and would rather DIY when you want to materially change the layout of your site or make material updates in the future but still want to have the ability to customize at a solid level, Wix wins. It hasn't always been the winner, but with recent updates, features, and SEO-friendly enhancements, it's made our list.
Either way you decide to go, we've got you covered. Apply today to schedule a discovery session and see whether we're a good fit to work together. Whatever platform you decide to build on or commission to have built for you, the nuances that are necessary to create a website that actually converts visitors to customers are exactly the same. And further, the work isn't done just because the website is. Without that knowledge and the ability to expertly build with those concepts in mind and properly integrate your site into the entirety of your sales process and strategy, you'll be stuck with an expensive, time-consuming, and unappealing website that gives you no ROI and does little to nothing for your business.