I Analyzed Wix, a Popular Website Builder, and found these issues
I constantly hear that people don’t like WordPress because it is “difficult”! Which always surprises me. I have been working with hundreds of business owners for over a decade now and I have found WordPress to be easy to use and the most versatile website builder and content management tool on the market.
When I ask why they dislike WordPress they claim it’s either too hard to update or too confusing and complicated. They might think the only way to get a website up and running quickly, is from “drag-and-drop” builders like Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace that dominate your Google ads. and YouTube these days (I’m just going to say Wix in the remainder of this post, but this will generally apply to all similar services)
I always warn against using hosted page builders like Wix especially for e-commerce, it may work be fine for personal portfolios or small startup websites that you aren’t planning on updating frequently or growing as your business grows, it comes with cool built-in features as well as limiting features too, limiting a business owner’s ability to add functions, control the website loading speed or adding important stuff, like online payment gateways without having to upgrade to a higher tier and payment!
Watch me review some of these popular website building tools here or read the summary below:
These “ready-made” sites and website templates are not inherently bad but it depends on your business and what you expect from your website.
Keep an eye out on some of the features that designed to draw you in with cheap plans with limited functions that you will need to upgrade to once your business grows.
- Pricing tiers that rack up your bill
- You aren’t in control of your own site
Likely the first thing that attracted you to a website builder like Wix and the like is the low sticker price they advertise for their hosting. These websites are also known for steep first-year discounts that can help hesitant entrepreneurs make the confusing choice about website creation. It is much easier to pick a platform, trusting it will meet all your hosting needs than research and understand the best option for your business site.
The pricing can be worded kind of tricky as well. It’s important to understand some common jargon to make sure you’re getting the right access. I’ll outline some of the most important here:
- The difference between shared hosting and dedicated hosting
- The two essentials: domain name and hosting
- What is SSL?
Shared Hosting VS. Dedicated Hosting
Shared Hosting: You share the server (where your website lives) with other websites. This server has a set amount of bandwidth (how many clients can be served at once) which can affect the speed of your own site.
Speedy service is vital for e-commerce websites today. You can read more about why you should be ‘tuning up’ your website speed here, but in a nutshell people’s attentions spans are lowering and if your page doesn’t load in just 2 seconds there is a 40% chance that your potential visitor will click out of your website.
Dedicated hosting: You are the only user of a server and all its bandwidth and storage is your own
Depending on the site you might not even be able to tell if your package has dedicated or shared hosting. I tried finding Wix’s policy on hosting on their pricing page but it isn’t explicitly said.
I don’t want to jump the gun, it could be for a relatively innocent reason such as Wix being geared towards new website owners that likely don’t understand or know what to expect for their hosting features. However, either way, the information should be available somewhere on their site but even searching for it on their help page brought me nothing.
I clicked on the Wix page itself to find answers but the closest Google answer brought me to the difference between hosting and domain names.
Searching their help menu also led to nothing concrete. They say they offer free hosting and if you want more space to upgrade to a premium plan. That raised the white flag for me. Based on the lack of a clear answer I can’t help but feel Wix doesn’t have dedicated hosting which does make sense considering their business model.
Ultimately, Wix and other click and drop website builders are in it for the volume of sites they host and they do it for many personal portfolios or small business sites that might get abandoned and will likely not have many visitors on it at any given time. This is perfect for Wix because they can afford shared hosting and the lack of traffic likely won’t make any one of these small sites noticeably slower.
It is only when a business does start succeeding that the shared hosting can lead to problems which are all businesses’ goals. So unfortunately smaller sites end up paying in dollars and traffic when one business takes off on Wix. Your success is no longer tied purely to your own efforts but can be affected by the sheer dumb luck of the Wix hosting gods.
Domain Name Vs Hosting
The second thing that all people interested in building a website should know is the difference between domain names and hosting. This isn’t something that is typically hidden from owners on purpose but the terms can be confusing and not understanding their meaning can quickly lead to unexpectedly rising monthly costs.
Domain name: This is the URL of the website. It is the name address of your website so the server and the computer you are searching with can connect and deliver the right pages to you. You need to purchase the domain name rights and generally, this will require a small fee each year to maintain your rights. You can see the domain name in the search bar at the top of your browser. For example, the domain for this website is amrselim.com.
Hosting: The location of all your website pages and posts. A website is just a collection of these two things that are themselves just collections of HTML, CSS, and JS code. The hosting provider keeps these pages on a server which a company like Wix owns and then ‘serves’ them to your computer when you make a ‘request’ like typing Amrselim.com.
Many website builders like Wix offer free domains for a year. You won’t have to pay the registration fee but will start paying for the annual subscription after the first year.
Generally, this is a small fee, it has come in around $10-20 yearly so make sure you keep this in mind when you are evaluating different packages. A free domain may sound great because it saves you time and sounds way too technical for you, but ultimately registering a domain isn’t as complicated as it seems. So businesses that promote their hosting service simply on the promise of a free domain may require a second look to make sure the rest of their services and features stand up to their competitors.
The final thing to understand before you start deciding your hosting services is SSL which stands for Secure Sockets Layer and is the standard for website security. It encrypts (codifies) your data so it cannot be deciphered if intercepted by a hacker in transit between the server and your computer.
A website that has SSL encryption is denoted by the HTTPS rather than the normal HTTP that comes before a website. This is important to know as websites without SSL are now automatically assigned the “unsecure” Google designation and your browser may warn users away from these websites. There is also evidence that shows visitors are more likely to bounce from a website that is unsecure immediately over the secured version. I’ve definitely done it. Websites are increasingly responsible for their clients’ personal information that they input into the site and if you don’t have the SSL certification you are both putting your current customer’s trust in danger and losing potential clients at the same time.
The good news is that it is easier than ever to get your site SSL certified. It feels safe to say that every major website hosting service provides it or they would quickly be out of business (that being said make sure you clearly see it for yourself when making a hosting decision).
What happens when you don’t pick the right package from the start
All these features are important to know because they will influence your choice of a pricing package if you go with one of the builders like Wix. Many providers will let you upgrade your package no problem (you’re just giving them more money, yes please) but in doing so you can be shocked to find you’re spending much more than you planned on monthly maintenance and become stuck with a provider that has all the control.
You Aren’t in Control of your own Site
Speaking of control, I can now plug in the main differences between WordPress and web builders like Wix. You might not see much of a difference on the surface they both are essentially CMS (content management systems) for building and maintaining websites. You can generally get a free website (with very limited features) with a branded domain name (starlight.wordpress.com or starlight.wix.com)
The difference between them that matters though is that WordPress allows you to switch hosting instantly because they don’t own hosting themselves. It is contracted out, and yes they do have recommended partners that they earn some sort of commission on, but if you switch hosting they aren’t immediately screwed. Wix is the hosting provider and the site builder. You cannot just pull those HTML files I was talking about earlier and bring them to another host.
Now there are guides online that have found a workaround to this but just the fact that it requires “complete guides” and have at least 3 reformatting steps shows you how annoying it was designed to be. I also can’t vouch that they’ll work having never tried it but either way I feel for those owners that had to do it.
It’s why I always recommend my clients find their own hosting. You can get plans with comparable prices that come in under $10 monthly which are generally much more transparent with better value because they are competing on the open market with clients able to easily pull their site and find new hosting.
I operate my own hosting on my business page if you want to see the type of transparency I’m talking about.
Having your own hosting gives you back control of your website. If the hosting service you have bumped up the price and you think it’s unfair you can find a new provider. If Wix adds a few dollars to its price you either have to abandon the platform and start again or go through some unusual guides just to end up back at WordPress.
I know you might still be thinking WordPress is too difficult and you wouldn’t even know how to start, but I don’t want that to stop you. It’s why I made a course that can teach you everything you need to know about launching a WordPress website in just 20 hours. You can read more about it here.
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Learn how to improve your website speed using Google’s site test tool which gives recommendations for caching, compression. Learn website optimization basics from Amr Selim whose been improving website security and speed for 20 years.
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