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Courtesy of Wix.com
Fantastic drag-and-drop website editor
Good variety of “apps” that can be added to sites
Service masks the complexities of web hosting
Easy to add additional functionality by raising service tier
Free service level is extremely limited
E-commerce isn't available outside business tiers
Most service tiers limit video content by run time
No tiers offer unlimited storage
Wix’s Pro Website service is a great place to start if you’re not a techie, but still want a beautiful and functional website
The service from Wix targets those who might be new to building websites, and who aren’t in the technology business. In addition to providing the hosting for the websites, which is to say the space to store the text and media that appears on the web pages, Wix also provides website builder tools to make it easy to put a beautiful site together. As it’s not a traditional web hosting environment, you don’t have the flexibility to install your own software such as WordPress. But on the other hand, you don’t have to maintain any of that software either.
There are two main categories of service available from Wix: Websites & Business and E-commerce. Websites include several tiers of service, as follows:
Free: There is a free plan available, although it is constrained for storage and bandwidth (at 500 MB each).
Combo: For $13/month, the next tier ups both storage (3 GB) and bandwidth (2 GB). But more importantly, it allows you to remove Wix’s ads on your site, use a custom domain (it also provides you a free domain name for a year), and add 30 minutes worth of videos to your site.
Unlimited: At this level and above you have unlimited bandwidth for your site. This $17/month tier also adds more storage (10 GB), more video (an hour’s worth), $300 in vouchers to advertise your site, and free access to the Site Booster and Analytics apps (valued at $60 each).
Pro: The $22/month Pro level includes the extras of Unlimited, but also adds access to the Events Calendar (worth $48), includes a professional logo (a $50 value), and provides logo files to use on social media. It also further ups your storage (20 GB) and video (two hours worth).
VIP: If you have a mission-critical site, you can get the VIP tier, which is exactly the same as Pro in terms of specs. But the extra cost (it’s $39/month) gives you Priority Response and VIP Support, meaning if you have an issue, you’ll be on the top of the list to get it resolved.
The main thing absent from the services in Websites is the ability to sell anything from your site. This requires the Business & E-Commerce services, which as you’d expect are quite a bit more expensive.
One important thing to note: all the bonus goodies (premium apps, vouchers for services, free domain, etc.) are only valid if you choose a yearly plan. If you choose a monthly plan, you won’t get any of these things. Of course, you can always start with a monthly plan if you’re still on the fence after using the Free tier and then upgrade to a yearly plan (one, two, or three years are available) at the end of one of your months.
“Wix provides a very slick and well-integrated application that lets you click, drag, and otherwise put content just about anywhere.”
Unlike traditional web hosting providers, Wix insulates you from a lot of the technical things happening in the background. While the Wix service certainly runs on some operating system under the hood, you won’t be exposed to it, even if you want to. You have access to the tools Wix provides, and that’s it.
As you may have noticed when perusing the service levels above, storage is one of the primary things you’re paying for with Wix premium services. In order to get a level of storage that’s comparable to other hosting providers, you need to go all the way up to the Unlimited level, which is quite a bit more expensive at $17/month.
There’s also no tier available that will provide you unlimited storage, as is available with other hosting providers for a modest upgrade. The only saving grace here is that you don’t need to count software like a content management system against your storage allotment. Since the website builder component is an integral part of the service, it’s not something you need to install yourself.
As with storage, bandwidth is one of the commodities Wix charges rather steeply for. And it’s important to keep in mind that bandwidth can easily get away from you as a site owner. Imagine you’re giving away a free 15 MB e-book on your free Wix site. Each time someone downloads that book, it takes 15 MB out of your allotment. And if that book goes viral, you will only be able to give away 33 copies before people will not only not be able to download it, they won’t be able to access your site at all. This is because every page, every image, every bit of text counts when you’re working on metered bandwidth. So it's best to go for the Unlimited option.
“As it’s not a traditional web hosting environment, you don’t have the flexibility to install your own software such as WordPress. But on the other hand, you don’t have to maintain any of that software either.”
Fortunately, the upgrade to unlimited bandwidth is pretty modest. The $17/month Unlimited tier will provide it, although as mentioned this is more expensive than the same level of throughput with a traditional web host.
As Wix has a free level of service, the overall registration is split into two parts: initial sign-up, and upgrade to premium service. Getting up and running on Wix is straightforward, as all that’s required is an e-mail address and password. You can also sign up using your Facebook or Google account.
You’ll then be led through a series of questions in a wizard-style process, although you can select the Skip link to bypass these. They’ll ask some questions about you, like how much website-building experience you have, and what you’re looking to do with your site. It will even offer to build a site for you based on some additional information using Wix’s ADI (Artificial Design Intelligence) feature. Otherwise, you can elect to start building your site manually by jumping straight into the editor.
Upgrading to a paid tier is also easy. You’ll click through a three-step wizard to select a plan, choose your subscription period, and provide payment information.
The Wix admin lacks many of the options you’d get with a traditional hosting environment since you don’t need to worry about any of them. Instead, you’re able to just focus on your sites, which display as big tiles across the My Sites screen. You’re also able to create more sites (via the +Create a Site button), take a look at some of the new things the Wix team has added to the service (the Explore > Updates & Releases menu item), find some websites to use for ideas (Explore > Inspiring Websites), get Help, or retrieve items you’ve deleted (Trash in the overflow menu next to the +Create a Site button).
The account menu, accessible by clicking your name and avatar in the upper-right corner, has well-organized main screens as follows:
Most of the tools that would be considered “advanced” are actually part of the site, not the account itself. If you click on one of your sites from the My Sites screen, you’ll get a dashboard that will allow you to (among other things):
But Wix hides all the technical complexity of web hosting from you. Aside from the screens needed to connect one of your existing domains to Wix, there’s nothing in the application that could be “advanced” configuration.
As above, many administration options are at the site, rather than account level. A site’s Dashboard’s Settings menu, for example, holds the Roles & Permissions option (also available when editing a site in the Settings menu at the top of the page). This allows you to invite other Wix users to collaborate on your site, and to specify what they can and cannot do. This also allows you to set the site’s title, configure social sharing options, and set whether your site will be secured with HTTPS or not.
The website builder application itself is, as we’ve been stating throughout this review, the real key feature of the service. While traditional hosting environments basically rent you the space to store a website, the most any of them will probably give you in actually building it is a one-click installer for a content management system.
On the other hand, Wix provides a very slick and well-integrated application that lets you click, drag, and otherwise put content just about anywhere. You can start with one of their attractive templates, or literally a plain white home page. There's also the chance for plenty of customization as well, from the layout of your page to your text’s font.
The list of website elements Wix makes available to you is very impressive. You can, of course, add audio and video or galleries. But there are also more functional items like a Members area, editable lists, or even database-driven collections. And apps let you add even more useful widgets just by dragging-and-dropping.
It’s difficult to compare pricing for Wix with other hosting providers, since you’re really paying for different things. With those more traditional providers, you’re paying a relatively small amount to scale your storage and bandwidth (if the provider even meters it at all). However, you’re largely on your own when it comes to building your site, a feature which Wix provides for free.
So, based from a purely financial viewpoint, Wix is a more expensive option than competitors. To put this into perspective, in order to put together a moderately-sized e-commerce site, you’d need to get the company’s Business Basic plan, which includes 20 GB of storage. For somewhat less (around $14/month) you could get a shared hosting plan from Bluehost with unlimited storage, or for about the same amount ($19/month) you could get your very own VPS server with 30 GB of storage.
Comparing Wix to "traditional" web hosts isn't exactly comparing apples to apples. Compared to GoDaddy, for example, Wix isn’t really about maxing out your hosting stats. What it provides is a hassle-free way to get signed up, create a site (or let Wix create one for you!), and go about your business. You’ll still have access to great features like managing bookings, and you’ll probably be taking your first appointments when others are still trying to figure out how to add such a feature to a content management system hosted with GoDaddy. The downside, of course, is that you need to pay up to get all the storage and bandwidth you'll need if your site becomes popular.The upside is not having to worry about any of the technical aspects of your site. Sure, GoDaddy provides a one-click installer that will give you a content management system. But details like maintaining that CMS, adding functionality to it, and applying updates are left up to you. With Wix you can be sure that you're always at on the most recent, most secure version of the platform, and that the support staff working behind the scenes aren't struggling to support a dozen other applications besides yours. The extra cost, both monetary and in terms of limits like storage, are what you pay for that peace of mind.
Best for quick sites with minimal learning needed.
If you’re someone who needs to have a capable but not fully-customized website, then Wix is an excellent option. You may miss out on some very in-depth features that a traditional web host would be able to support, and if you have a big site, the storage will cost you. But in the end, Wix can help you get your site (or business, or blog, or whatever) up and running with a minimal learning curve.
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