Over the summer, I was tasked with rebuilding my company’s website. I was excited about the opportunity: our current site is dated, cluttered, and a chore to navigate. Our online presence is in desperate need of a facelift.
Unfortunately, I have no idea how to build a professional-looking website from scratch. Thankfully, there are many template-based web building services available online: several years ago, Aaron reviewed Clover and if you’ve watched the Superbowl in recent years, you’ve likely seen ads for Squarespace. After poring over my options, I decided to sign up for a free account on Wix to do a test-build.
The major draw was their “Get Inspired” page where they showcase hundreds of different websites built on Wix. In addition to having some beautiful examples, there was also a lot of variety among them. I found the latter particularly impressive; I was concerned that using a template-based web builder would produce a site that looks like hundreds of other sites out there. And of course, with over 62 million users, you’re bound to end up with a website that shares similarities with other Wix sites. Still, it seemed like I would have enough control over my design to make it uniquely mine.
It helps that Wix has over 400 templates to choose from. While it only took a cursory glance to know that I wasn’t interested in the majority of them, I considered a dozen or so different templates before finally settling on one. After selecting my template, I got my hands dirty with the site’s page editor and came away with mixed feelings.
There were some powerful and flexible tools at my disposal. Though I was starting with a template, the template was mine to do anything I wished with it. I could move anything and everything around and make my final product look nothing like its modest beginnings. I could add videos, buttons, menus, and even add a blog to my site. Recently, Wix updated their toolset and you can now use images and videos on your site’s background. The amount of things you can do on your Wix site is really remarkable.
But using most of the tools were a chore. Anything that I added to my page, whether it was a block of text, an image, or a simple shape, had its own menu full of options. Navigating the workspace was laborious and time-consuming. I recognize this as a necessary evil: cycling through menus created a lot of clutter on the workspace but it was through these menus that I was able to control the look and feel of my site down to the smallest detail. That said, after a few hours, it felt like I was drowning in menus and it didn’t help that many of them looked alike. At times, what I considered to be simple changes or additions ended up taking a lot longer than I expected.
Although Wix has a lot to offer, it still left me wanting. Despite being able to build a shop and submission forms, you can’t add an SSL certificate directly to your site; since I was working on a professional site, security was very important to me. While Wix does offer a mobile option, you essentially have to build it from scratch. And if at some point you decide you want to change your template, you literally will have to build your website from scratch.
The biggest disappointment though was my site’s performance. It loaded slowly, even on a blazing-fast internet connection. This occurred occasionally with images, even small ones, but was particularly noticeable with apps. Apps are tools that serve specific purposes on your site: a submission form for example or an event calendar. As you can imagine, having tools like these on your site is really nice, but often times, an app on one of my pages wouldn’t load until a few seconds after the rest of the page loaded.
Ultimately, I decided against using Wix for my company’s site. Though it’s relatively cheap (ad-free plans begin at $9) I found the editor too much of a hassle and the performance too slow to consider using it for professional purposes. That said, if you don’t know HTML and you’re looking for a cheap and easy way to build a site for personal use, you can do much worse than Wix.