It’s a do-it-yourself website builder tool, so you would expect the Wix.com home page to have engaging graphics. And it doesn’t disappoint. But it’s the words FREE, NO PROGRAMMING and SEARCH ENGINE FRIENDLY that give you the confidence to build a website on your own using the Wix website builder platform.
For the uninitiated, Wix truly excels in providing users with the information they need for do-it-yourself website building. For example, you can scroll down the home page for a quick video demo, or click on the Learn More button from the demo page for a step-by-step Getting Started guide. There’s also the Wix Forum, accessible from the Wix home page, that offers additional support on getting started, search engine optimization, publishing your site, creating an ecommerce store and many other topics.
The Wix website builder is free, however it should be made clear that the free service only enables you to create a website and have it hosted under a Wix sub-domain. If you want your own domain, unlimited bandwidth, extra storage, the ability to remove the Wix tags, Google Analytics site stats and no Wix ads appearing on your site, you would need to upgrade to one of four Wix premium plans. Prices range from $4.95 to $19.90 a month, depending on the extra features you want, with reduced pricing offered when paying in full for the year.
Getting started using Wix couldn’t be easier. Simply click the Start Now button on the home page. You’ll be prompted to create a new account with an email and password, which are required even for the free version. Once a Wix member, you can begin building your website by clicking on Create. From there, you’ll be prompted to choose a design template. A nice thing about Wix is the vast number of design templates. These are creative, professionally-designed templates that evoke different business styles. The templates are nicely arranged by category for easy browsing. However, subcategories under some of the broader categories, like Lifestyle, Food and Drink, Consulting and eCommerce, are sadly missed, especially when you have to click through more than five pages to find a design template for your type of business.
Once you choose a design for your website, click Edit and the Wix editor will launch. With the intuitive drag and drop editor, you can easily customize your website by simply clicking on the item you want to change. For example, I was able to crop a picture in the design template by clicking on the picture and selecting crop from the drop down menu. I also liked the option of moving or replacing text with my own content by simply using the change option on the content drop down menu. By using the property panel at the bottom of the Wix editor, I could effortlessly change the color scheme, add more SEO keywords and modify other design settings, all without having to worry about programming or search engine HTML coding. It should be noted that even the free Wix websites have the metadata tags and other coding necessary to make your site found, ranked and indexed by the top search engines.
Another nice feature of Wix is the ability to add additional photos, videos, animation, clip art, icons, or more content to a design template without compromising the initial design. Wix has a substantial gallery of images free to use or you can insert your own. If you don’t like a design feature that you added, you can easily undo it using the Undo option at the top of the editor menu. That brings us to saving your design. The Save function works like any other desktop application. The first time you save, you’ll be asked to name your page, which is then saved under My Account. Once saved, you simply hit the save button periodically as you make page edits.
At any point in the create process, you can click Preview to see how your design will look online. The Back to Editing button conveniently takes you back to the Wix editor. When you’re happy with your website design, click Publish and your site goes live on the Web. If you want to know the Wix URL for your site, simply go to My Account and click View. This is the same page where you can make updates or changes to your website. Simply place the arrow over your Wix URL and click Edit. Once you click Save, your modifications are automatically updated to your live site.
Another good feature of Wix is the ability to create more than just websites. Wix also provides design templates for building blogs, mobile websites and Facebook pages. And if you’re more comfortable having someone else design your site, Wix provides a directory of freelance designers where you can browse their portfolios and hire one.
Platform – Flash and HTML options
Free Plan Includes – Use of Wix design platform, 500MB bandwidth, 500MB storage and Wix sub-domain
Premium Plan Prices – eCommerce plan at $16.17 a month for yearly agreement/$15.60 first 6 months then $19.90 for monthly agreement; Unlimited plan at $12.42 a month for yearly agreement/$14.90 for monthly plan; Combo Plan at $8.25 a month for yearly agreement/$9.90 a month for monthly agreement; and Connect Domain plan at $4.08 a month for yearly agreement/$4.95 a month for monthly plan. Yearly premium plans except Connect Domain include a $50 voucher towards advertising on Facebook, a $75 voucher towards advertising on Google Adwords and a free domain for one year.
Domain Registration Cost – Can purchase a domain from Wix once a premium plan is purchased or use your domain purchased from a domain registrar with the Wix Connect Domain plan.
Number of Templates – More than 100
Bandwidth – 5GB for eCommerce plan; unlimited for Unlimited plan; 1GB for Combo plan; 500MB for Connect Domain plan
Storage – 2.5GB for eCommerce and Unlimited plans; 1GB for Combo plan; 500MB for Connect Domain plan
Shopping Cart – Included in eCommerce plan only
Support Options – Toll-free number available Monday-Friday6am-5pm PST. Accepts email inquiries. Learning center, demo video, webinars, FAQs accessible 24/7 on website
Free Trial - No
Wix claims that nearly 15 million sites and counting were created with its free website builder tool and it’s easy to see why. Wix managed to build a user-friendly interface for the most novice beginner without compromising the ability of all users to customize their own website as they see fit. I like the availability of a blank template for those who want to design their own website from scratch. Perhaps the most beneficial part of the Wix website builder is the seamless handling of all technical aspects, including programming, coding and search engine optimization (SEO), essential components for getting a website up and running live and found by search engines.
However, I would like Wix to be more forthcoming about pricing and other technical aspects. For example, some design templates display a free price, while others display an eCommerce price, but it is not explained on the site what this means. Likewise, there is no plainly visible information about the differences between support and premium support. A pop-up explanation on the Wix Premium Plans page, like the explanations provided with other topics, would suffice. Also on the Premium Plans page, I would like to see the plan comparison include the free plan, so users know exactly what they are and are not receiving for free.
While the Wix website is rich with information, it does take some digging to find it. Perhaps a search link on the home page would be more helpful than having to figure out that you need to click on an option on the Support page in order to access theWixSupportCenterwhere you can type in a question.
But where Wix lacks in presentation and organization of information on its website, it certainly makes up for in the quality and extent of features it offers for the price. It is certainly an exceptional value and an excellent choice for those looking to build a website on their own, but in need of step-by-step guidance along the way.