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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
Wix is designed to help you build a website fast without a lot of hassle or prior experience. It's more of a hosted website builder than a true web host, which makes it an attractive choice for business owners, professionals, artists, and others who just want a decent website without a lot of upfront costs. As a fully hosted solution, Wix provides both user-friendly website builder tools and web hosting, making it easy to put a beautiful site together and get it online.
As Wix isn't a traditional web hosting environment, it doesn't provide you with the flexibility to install your own software such as WordPress, you don't have shell or FTP access, and your options are limited by the Wix website builder. The trade off is that it's extremely easy to use, even if you have absolutely no prior experience.
There are two main categories of service available from Wix: Websites, and Business & eCommerce. Websites include several tiers of service, as follows:
Free: There is a free plan available, although it places a limit of 500 MB each on storage and bandwidth. The free plan is a good way to get up and running fast, and to see if Wix is for you, but it also forces you to run Wix ads on your site.
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, and add 30 minutes worth of videos to your site. If you pay for a year up front, it also includes a free one-year domain name registration.
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 the Websites service level category is the ability to sell anything from your site. This requires the Business & eCommerce services, which as you’d expect are quite a bit more expensive.
Bonus goodies like premium apps, vouchers for services, free domain registration, are only available if you choose a yearly plan. If you choose a monthly plan, you won’t get access to any of these features or extras.
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 fairly expensive at $17/month. Even then, your storage is fairly limited.
Other hosting providers typically provide an unlimited storage option, which is absent here altogether. The only saving grace 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.
Wix provides a very slick and well-integrated application that lets you click, drag, and otherwise put content just about anywhere.
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 ebook on your free Wix site. Each time someone downloads that book, it takes 15 MB out of your allotment.
If that book were to go viral, you would only be able to give away 33 copies before hitting your data cap. At that point, visitors wouldn't be able to visit 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. The trade-off is that it's extremely easy to use, even if you have absolutely no prior experience.
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 email 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.
Wix doesn't have a traditional control panel, because it's more like a hosted website builder than a true web host. Instead you get a dashboard where you can access the site builder and make various changes to your account.
The Wix dashboard 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, which is 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.
When we say that Wix is more of a hosted site builder than a true web host, that's just a statement of fact, not a value judgment. The fact is that Wix's website builder application is the real key feature of the service, and for good reason.
Instead of providing you with some basic building blocks, or a one-click installer for a content management system, the Wix website builder makes it easy to build sites that are both functional and attractive.
The Wix site builder 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.
Most of the aspects you'll need to build your site are available by default, but some are locked behind certain subscription levels or available as add-on purchases. The important thing is that they're there if you need them, extending the functionality of this site builder beyond most of the competition.
Wix offers 24/7 support, but it's a bit of a journey to actually access that support. When you click the support link on the Wix site, it takes you to a help center that functions primarily as a knowledge base. You'll find a lot of great troubleshooting information here, but no easily accessible phone number or web chat option.
If you expand the list of support documents and scroll all the way to the bottom, you'll find an About Wix section and a Contacting Wix Support link. Click that link, and then clock Contacting Wix Support on the next page to find a Contact Us Now link.
It's great that Wix offers 24/7 phone support, but it shouldn't be that difficult to find. We can imagine a frustrated customer becoming even more frustrated just trying to find the actual support contact page.
Wix self-reports a respectable server uptime of 99.8%, but we were unable to locate any sort of guarantee in writing. That means Wix does not provide any guarantee, in writing, that their servers will be up for any specific amount of time in any given month, and there is no provision to receive a partial refund or other compensation in the event that your site goes down for an extended period of time.
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 typically pay a relatively small amount to scale your storage and bandwidth if the provider even meters them at all. However, you’re largely on your own when it comes to building your site, a feature that Wix provides for free.
Based purely on a 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 and costs $28/mo.
For significantly less than that, at around $14/mo, you could get a shared hosting plan from Bluehost with unlimited storage, or get your very own VPS server with 30 GB of storage for about $19/mo. These options aren't viable if you don't have the expertise to build a site on your own, but they do show how much more expensive Wix really is.
Wix is more of a hosted site builder than a full-service web host, so comparing Wix to GoDaddy isn't exactly comparing apples to apples. Wix costs more, provides less bandwidth and storage, but has a much better site builder.
Looking at Wix and GoDaddy's most affordable plans side by side, GoDaddy's Economy plan provides 100 GB of storage, unlimited bandwidth, and one free email address, all for $10.99 per month. Wix's Combo plan, on the other hand, provides just 3 GB of storage, 2 GB of bandwidth, and no email addresses.
Plans at other levels of service compare similarly, with GoDaddy offering more resources and options than Wix for less money. Compare Wix to just about any web host, and you'll see a similar pattern.
When you look at Wix's key feature, their website builder, they come out on top. GoDaddy does have a website builder, and they also offer a number of one-click installs for things like WordPress, but Wix's site builder is easier to use, more flexible, and offers more advanced options.
Even though Wix limits you by not allowing you to install custom software, you still have access to great features like online 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 pay more.
Best for quick sites with minimal learning needed.
If you've never built a website before, and you want to get online fast, Wix is an excellent option. Wix doesn't provide the same level of service as traditional web hosts, and you'll pay more for bandwidth and storage, but Wix's site builder is tough to beat. The bottom line is that Wix can help you get your personal site, or business site, blog, portfolio, or any other basic site up and running with a minimal learning curve.
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