(This blog article was updated on 2 January 2018.)
Most entrepreneurs (sometimes also private people) come across one specific question at some point: How do I get my own website? In this blog article, I’ll share my personal experiences about Wordpress and Wix with you.
As regards IT, my focus lies on implementing and designing apps for mobile devices such as tablets and smart phones for iOS and Android. But when it comes to programming websites, I don’t belong to the „IT species“. Hence: Every time I needed a website for me or my clients, I had to hire IT experts from outside or create the website myself without any hard-coding knowledge. A major factor here is the CMS for the website. My experiences cover the following website systems:
Wordpress (www.tirol-box.com) → Design by me, implementation by several external programmers
(As the Typo3 website was implemented several years ago, my experiences would not be very up-to-date, so I focus on Wordpress and Wix here.)
In the beginning I always had to raise the question what the website has to do, how complex does the backend have to be and how would the design look like. A pure info page or a web "business card" don’t need to be as complex as an online shop where you have to consider data security, payment methods and stock numbers. A very complex website, like Tirol Box, required hiring several programmers that were Wordpress-savvy. Even the programmer of our bank was involved as the payment system had to be programmed specifically for our needs.
After switching the website live, you have to care about the ongoing administration of it. I personally always want to administrate websites myself. I also recommend that to my clients. Unfortunately, I often hear that companies are very unhappy with their website programmers – also I had to go through this negative experience several times in the past.
Wordpress and Wix – what they have in common
Wordpress and Wix offer ready-to-go templates. Result: The website is finished quickly, the backend is not complicated, quite okay. The big disadvantage: The website might look like most other websites out there. It lacks individuality, the company’s character doesn’t show through and you are replaceble very easily – at least look-wise. As a designer I of course know how important first-class and tailored design is because you only have a few seconds for the first impression – which is mostly the deciding one. In the world wide web you often only have less than a second. If the first impression is not good, you already lost customers. I believe that a website has to wow people and must be based on a good corporate design concept – not upside down! This is why a ready-to-go template is never an option for me.
Wordpress and Wix – the differences
In Wordpress you have access to the code. I made sketches of the design in Photoshop and the programmers had to translate this into their coding language (keyword: CSS). (In this example I’m talking about the Tirol Box website, by the way.) As I could not create the site myself, I simply lack CSS knowledge, I was dependant on the programmers having at least some sort of feeling for web DESIGN in order to correctly translate my design sketches. So, the communication between the designer and the programmer has to be very good. As Wordpress allows you to access the source code, I was dependant on the programmers’ expertise. Meaning: You can do so much with Wordpress, but only if you know how to. This means: In the worst case, the code of the website is so bad that the website has problems in the long run, which you then have to solve with a lot of money and nervs (spaghetti code).
Generally speaking, Wix is a so-called WYSIWYG system ("what you see is what you get") which is based on HTML5. As the name suggests, you have a big canvas in front of you on which you can place all your website elements on. The end result looks exactly how you created it on that canvas in the editor. (Wordpress is very different to this!) Working with Wix is quite intuitive, you cannot destroy any code – perfect for people who lack IT knowledge. However, you do need to have a feeling for design to a certain extent – otherwise your Wix website can quickly look cluttered.
Wix wins this category, because: What you see is what you get – I don’t have to say more. Wordpress turned out to be much more complicated than Wix.
Wordpress wins this category, because: everything is possible! But only if you are CSS-savvy or have a CSS expert by your side that understands design sketches and can execute them accordingly. In Wix you are a bit limited, even though you can of course create beautiful websites with Wix too. Since the launch of Wix Code in early 2018, though, you have much more power and flexibility with your HTML5 CMS. A big dilemma in Wix used to be the very limited usage of typography – until mid 2016. When creating websites, I always used to have to think of a typography scheme that works with those very few that Wix offered. Wix only offered a few standard fonts, mostly in one weight; the other fonts were often completely unusable. When Wix finally introduced the upload of font files after many years of waiting and many negative comments, many people in the Wix universe were sooo happy – me included.
I often hear that Wordpress is more SEO-friendly than Wix. As SEO is a very complex topic, I don’t want to go into much depth here – and of course the content of a website has a massive impact, not only the technical side of it. Generally speaking, I used to have the feeling that SEO would indeed work better with Wordpress than Wix. However, Wix caught up in 2016. The SEO plugin offered by Wix (also known as the SEO Wizard) was until approx. mid 2016 not very sufficient to rank your website higher in search engines, in my opinion. I had the feeling that Wix’s SEO widget was something they just put on top of the package, just to say "hey, we help you with SEO", because SEO is such a trendy topic. But Wix continued to improve their SEO Wizard and now it's really a very useful tool that pays off. The SEO plugin in Wordpress (I call it the "traffic light system") on the other hand, is very precise and really works very well – even though you can tell that Wordpress originated from blogs.
A quite neutral and very interesting SEO analysis for Wordpress compared to Wix can be found on WebsiteToolTester. This blog actually reflects all my personal experiences with regards to SEO, so it's definitely worth reading.
The loading time of a website is becoming more and more important for the Google ranking (keyword: SEO). The loading time depends of course on your content a lot (especially picture sizes). I compared a few websites made with Wordpress and Wix in terms of loading time – I used pagespeed.de . My conclusion: Sites generated in Wordpress mostly load much slower than sites generated in Wix (even though most online marketers would say something different, but I can only speak from my personal experiences here). Does that have to do with plugins (see my next section for more details)? I don’t know. But take a look at the pagespeed.de test results (from 28 November 2016) yourself:
Created with Wix:
0.527 seconds / www.hcg-corporate-designs.com
0.455 seconds / http://www.tobiasbecs.com/
0.391 seconds / http://www.beachaswimwear.com/
0.362 seconds / http://www.blushbeautiful.com/
Average loading time of my selection for this speed test: 0.4212 seconds
Created with Wordpress:
0.958 seconds / www.tirol-box.com
1.264 seconds / blog.innsbruck.info
1.628 seconds / http://dolegetupandgrow.com/
0.458 seconds / http://www.deliciousdays.com/ (yipiee, a fast site finally!)
1.678 seconds / https://finland.fi/
Average loading time of my selection for this speed test: 1.1972 seconds
There are many more plugin possibilities in Wordpress than there are in Wix. Both platforms offer free and payable plugins, whereas Wix turned out to be cheaper. In Wix you can do a lot also without plugins. In Wordpress you need a plugin for almost everything – this is my personal experience. And for every "fart" (sorry my language) you need to pay extra. You always hear of outdated Wordpress plugins that impair a website – you won’t experience that with Wix so easily. When using plugins in Wordpress, you have to be constantly watching them so they are up-to-date and working smoothly. With Wix you won’t have to do that. Besides that, plugins slow down the performance of the website – as I need way more plugins in Wordpress than in Wix, that means that Wordpress loads slower than Wix in many cases.
Location of the server
This point definitely goes to Wordpress. You can host Wordpress pages wherever you want. Especially for companies in the EU area, it is important to host a website in the EU area in order to comply with data protection laws. A very delicate topic, especially for online shops!
Wix is an Israeli company and works with servers that are spread across the globe. Asking Wix where the server for my website is located, I was given the answer that it’s probably located near me. But Wix could not give me a 100 % precise answer. This was the defining moment for the Tirol Box website where we decided to go with Wordpress, so we could definitely host in Germany and comply with EU law.
Wix is my personal hero here. Very complicated with Wordpress according to my experience. In one of my past blog posts you can read why I recommend using the HTML5 system Wix for mobile websites.
I definitely recommend creating a mobile website too – in particular, when you work in the B2C segment. This is also demonstrated by the following statistics dated 28.9.-27.10.2016 on a B2B and a B2C website:
www.hcg-corporate-designs.com (B2B): 85.11% desktop, 8.09% tablet, 6.81% smart phone
www.tirol-box.com (B2C): 46.6% desktop, 8.8% tablet, 39.9% smart phone
The year 2018 brings some important changes, for example Google's mobile first policy, as described in Brian Dean's blog (scroll down to chapter 4): Google now crawls websites based on their mobile website - even though you're not on your phone but searching something from your desktop computer! Yes, you read right. Your mobile website will determine your Google ranking in future, not your "normal" homepage. So if you don't have a mobile website yet, it's now definitely time to get one.
Wix is the winner here. You get lost very quickly in the Wordpress backend. Always checking if your site really looks like how you plan it, takes up a lot of time. The WYSIWYG system of Wix is intuitive and – apart from the built in blog app – you don’t have to double-check if your site really looks like the way you planned it.
If functionality is the most important thing for you and the website demands a complex backend (i.e. online shop), then Wordpress is for you. However, you need some IT knowledge or extra budget.