Marketing Tools Review – Wix: The Web Design Platform for Small Businesses
As we head into the new decade, many small businesses, entrepreneurs, consultants, and agencies are in the midst of budgeting and planning for the year ahead. If you fall into this group, you may be considering a new website to help you promote your business online. But if you aren’t a web developer and don’t have thousands to spend on a purpose-built, custom designed website, what can you do?
This was a question I was asking myself when I first got started back in 2016. After doing some research and trying some of the available platforms, I chose to build my website on Wix. And while the first version of my site wasn’t necessarily pretty, it was something I could point clients to as I established my business.
Since then, I’ve improved the look and functionality while achieving the feel that I wanted, and though there are still areas that need to be improved, it’s easy to make changes, create new pages, and tweak the design if I need to.
In this article, I’m going to review Wix and explain some of the pros and cons of using the platform to create your business website. This is the first in a series of marketing tool reviews I’ll be doing over the coming months. Some, like this one, will be aimed at smaller businesses, while others will be geared more toward larger companies and enterprise users.
And in the interest of full disclosure, these articles will contain affiliate links to the tools being reviewed. You don’t have to click on them, but if you decide to sign up after clicking through, I’ll receive a commission. That said, everything I’ll discuss will be tools I’ve used personally, either for Bridge the Gap Marketing or for clients, and all opinions will be based on these experiences.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about Wix.
In a Nutshell
The most flexible platform I’ve tried
Advanced capabilities such as e-commerce, lead generation, email marketing, and automated email responses
Low price and multiple subscription levels depending on your needs
Not necessarily designed for larger companies
Some mobile responsiveness issues and limitations
Has a steep learning curve when getting started
Why I Recommend Wix
It’s easy to use once you understand the site builder, and it offers the most flexibility out of all of the platforms I’ve tried.
What is Wix?
Wix is an easy-to-use, what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) website development platform that makes it possible for anyone to build a professional, attractive, and functional website. Users are typically small business owners, consultants, entrepreneurs, or creative individuals such as photographers, bloggers, or artists. That’s not to say larger companies wouldn’t benefit from Wix, but there is definitely a point where getting a professionally designed custom site makes sense if you can justify the expense.
I chose Wix back in 2016 for a few reasons, but the main one was that I found it to be much easier to use and more customizable than competitors such as Squarespace or Weebly. I tried both as a free trial, and I got frustrated by the lack of flexibility and the difficulty of using their website builder.
One thing that was important for me, for better or worse, was the ability to start from scratch rather than use pre-designed templates, and Wix made that possible. Since then, I’ve continued to build pages from scratch, though this has introduced some limitations, especially on mobile, which I’ll discuss further below. Overall though, Wix is considered the biggest player in the space with over 160 million websites, and offers all of the capabilities you need in a website building platform.
Reviewing Wix – Incredible Flexibility, Solid Functionality, Low Price
Flexible Website Building
As I mentioned, Wix leads the way when it comes to customization. There are over 500 templates which are aimed at different types of businesses, and all of the elements in these templates can be modified, moved, or removed completely. The template, in this case, is simply a starting point, a refreshing change from platforms that limit you to a pre-determined layout.
However, where Wix really shines is when you want to create something truly your own. You can choose to start with a blank slate and build whatever you want. Wix offers a wide variety of pre-designed elements, ranging from simple text, image, and video boxes to more advanced modules such as contact forms, interactive sliders, lists and grids, and lightboxes. All you have to do is click "Add", select the element you want, and drag it to where you want on the page. Then you can customize everything from the colour to the font to what happens when a user hovers over it.
All of this freedom does introduce a fairly steep learning curve to start, and the options can be overwhelming. Staring at a blank page and trying to determine what elements you need to put is tough, and you definitely risk creating something that won’t look good. You’ll need at least some understanding of design and page structure to take this approach, and it won’t necessarily be a quick process, especially when trying to get finer details like spacing or sizing consistent across pages.
In addition to the learning curve, I’ve run into some challenges with responsiveness and mobile design as a result of not using a template. On the page builder screen, Wix allows you to view how the site would look in mobile and make basic changes. However, it’s fairly limited in its scope, and this can make it frustrating to try and make the site appear properly across devices. My site, for example, struggles on tablets, because Wix only allows you to modify the layout on mobile or desktop.
While you can change the size and location of elements on mobile, you can’t have mobile only elements and you can’t make changes to text or images. Other platforms, such as WordPress, allow you to designate certain elements for mobile and others for desktop, meaning your site can actually have two different versions of content depending on the device the user is on.
I’ve also found that, typically, I will need to make changes to the mobile site every time I create a new page, and moving something on the desktop version always risks moving it to the wrong spot on mobile, especially if elements are overlapped. I suspect the templates would handle this better, but it’s still the biggest complaint I’ve had with the platform so far.
In addition to web design, Wix offers a number of other functions and capabilities that increase it’s usefulness. The one I like most is the online store, which is being used by a client. The store is simple to set up and allows you to create products, add a photo, set the price, and include an “add to cart” button, all things you’d expect in a basic e-commerce platform.
It automatically tracks purchases in your dashboard, calculates the tax at checkout, and sends a confirmation email to the customer. It also allows you to create promo codes for discounts, and it takes care of the return and refund process through its own payment system. While I’m sure platforms such as Shopify, which are designed around e-commerce, offer more capabilities, this is a solid platform that gives you the basics for running an online store.
You can also create events and sell tickets through a separate function, but for some reason they don’t allow you to collect tax in this mode, so you’ll need to factor that into your price. Tickets are also treated separately in the dashboard and do not offer the same return and refund capabilities. I’m not sure why, but a Google search revealed they are not currently planning on adding this ability, so keep that in mind if your business is primarily event focused or you need the ability to sell tickets.
From a lead generation perspective, it’s simple to create a form, include the questions you want, and set up a notification that is sent to your email whenever someone completes it. Wix tracks all submissions in a submission table which, once created by the user, can be exported.
You can direct successful submissions to a thank you page, link them to a document such as a whitepaper or eBook, or simply display a thank you message. Forms can either be embedded on the page or pop-up in a lightbox format. While dedicated lead generation and customer relationship management tools such as Ontraport and LeadPages offer more capabilities, which I’ll review in future posts, this is good enough for my purposes and keeps everything in one place.
For bloggers or businesses with a blog, Wix offers a built in blogging tool that lets you post content. You can add images, video, and other rich media directly to your post, and posts can be categorized by topic or type, depending on what works best for you.
On occasion, I’ve found that the way articles are previewed on the blog page isn’t always the best, and you have less customization over blogs than the rest of the site. Overall, it’s a solid experience that’s simple to use when publishing your knowledge and increasing your search visibility.
In addition to these features, Wix also offers email marketing and social media tools, though I haven’t explored either in much detail. It integrates with leading platforms such as Google Analytics, Google Ads, Mailchimp, Facebook, and Hotjar, among others, and setting up meta titles and descriptions for SEO purposes is simple to do directly on the page builder tool.
Low Prices For Various Subscriptions
One of the reasons you’d be choosing Wix over developing a custom website is cost, so the price of the platform is important. All Wix sites can be created and used completely free, but you’ll want to upgrade once you’re ready to launch since the free version displays Wix branded ads and does not allow you to link your own domain.
The plans range in price from $10 USD/month to $29 USD/month, and all plans remove the ads and allow you to connect a domain. The more premium plans offer unlimited bandwidth, larger storage, additional apps, and priority support, so choose the plan that best aligns with your needs.
Businesses that want to accept online payments can choose from three packages as well, ranging from $20 USD/month to $35 USD/month. All accept payments without any commission and provide you with a $300 Google Ad voucher, in addition to offering more storage than standard accounts.
Squarespace, for comparison, ranges from $12 USD/month for a personal account up to $40 USD/month for an Advanced Commerce account which offers the widest range of features. Both Squarespace and Wix offer a discount for paying annually.
Linking your domain is easy, and domains can be purchased directly from Wix or synced from a third-party provider. Wix offers a free domain for a year with some of their plans if you buy through them, which I took advantage of. Note that multiple domains can point to your site’s homepage, but only your primary domain can be used for any other page, a minor inconvenience when I wanted to brand landing pages with a separate URL for advertising purposes.
The Verdict – A Solid Platform For an Easy-to-Use, Functional Website
Wix will never match up with a purpose-built and custom developed website, but that’s not the audience it’s trying to reach. Instead, Wix is intended for the individual or company who has no interest in coding or paying someone thousands to develop a site but still wants a professional looking website that can be used for their business.
If that’s what you’re looking for, then Wix offers a nearly limitless range of possibilities once you understand how the platform works. With e-commerce, lead generation forms, simple SEO functions, email marketing, and social media tools, Wix provides a flexible, powerful, and cost-effective suite of features so that you can design the website your business needs to grow.
Have you used Wix, or another web platform such as Squarespace or Weebly? Let me know what your experience has been and which platforms you’d recommend.