The Surprisingly Easy & Powerful Platform (That Keeps Getting Better!)
I remember when "websites" were brand new.
At my first job in 1994 where we designed presentations on 35mm slides using Powerpoint, they decided to experiment with the brand new online world, bought a server and became an internet service provider.
After spending time in FrontPage and DreamWeaver (and watching my brother write pure HTML code in a plain text editor) in the late 90s, I felt frustrated by the medium.
I'm a designer. I work in print and presentation applications like InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator, and I'm used to fluidly moving elements wherever I needed them to make a beautiful & effective design. The Printed Page and the Web Page felt miles apart.
I think I started using Wix close to when it first launched in 2006. Even then, I felt like I was "home." I remember thinking, "THIS is what I've been waiting for. THIS is how web design should have been all along."
I've grown with the platform since then, building my own personal brand site for job-hunting, then again when hanging my own digital shingle in 2016.
I've tracked with them, not only as a web-building tool, but also with the wider discussion: "Should we use Wix? Is it OK? Is it good? Is it good enough for what we need it for? And - just how good is it?"
For a long time, Wix got a bad rap in the web-building world. From serious web developers and heavy-hitters in the industry, it was "poo-poo'ed" as a cute consumer-based tool, but certainly, nothing to really rely on or take seriously.
However, that has changed.
Even just in the last four years, I've been extremely impressed by watching the consistent, steady growth of Wix in many ways. It has matured into a very significant tool that's being widely adopted by serious web designers and developers with remarkable success.
Here are a few of the things I've observed about Wix.
The most obvious feature of Wix is its super-easy drag-and-drop WYSIWYG interface. After trying several other editors, Wix is a breath of fresh air. Their templates are good (and getting better), and even without a design background, they walk you through steps to build pages quickly and efficiently with their user-friendly tools.
Beyond the standard elements of web design (images, text, photo galleries & user input forms), Wix has created several robust business applications that and be activated in seconds, dramatically increasing the functionality of your site.
Bookings, Events, Blogs, Forums and even a full eCommerce platform is native and contains the same easy interface styles as the main web tools.
Sites even include the ability to add membership, allowing users to sign in to various modules and manage their accounts and data.
In its early days, one of the biggest hesitations of serious web developers was the lack of customization of Wix sites. They're within a closed system. You get what you get in the modularized pieces. Often, it was quite limiting.
Wix changed that when they released Corvid, the ability to custom-code endless aspects of their sites to suit whatever clients could dream of. Aligning with a talented coder, Wix sites now become even more functional and dynamic.
Speaking of "dynamic," Wix also introduced a CMS (content management system) into their platform around the same time as Corvid. The ability to create custom tables and databases and link them to elements on pages allow for truly dynamic pages to come into view, all populated by data on the back-end.
This has been the part of Wix that I've seen advance dramatically over the last several years. Behind the great web-building tools exists a full-featured CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) called Ascend. This suite contains many integrated tools that help to manage several aspects of business and communication directly within the platform.
Developing and managing a full email list complete with tags and notes, email marketing, financials (collecting & managing payments, even invoicing directly from the system), and several layers of easy-to-access reports.
SEO & INTEGRATIONS
Search Engine Optimization has been another point that's drawn skepticism over the years from Wix sites. Again, Wix has continued to work hard on their core system, leveraging several in-depth tools to allow fine-tuned SEO across the site.
Each page is equipped with areas to input critical data, both core tags and descriptions as well as advanced SEO elements like JSON-LD markup, canonical metatags and other custom information.
Their "SEO Wiz" is a step-by-step checker that inspects the site for important elements required by Google prior to launching the site to ensure that you're in the best spot possible to get ranked and increase organic search results.
Even blogs come with specific and unique SEO tools to ensure that all written content helps the SEO goals of the entire site.
Several other advanced integrations with Google, Facebook, Hotjar and other services leverage the industry's top tools to ensure that sites are connected, analyzed and trackable for critical and necessary feedback.
Wix has carefully built its platform to be used not only be individual end-users, but also by Web agencies who manage many client sites. Their tools assist businesses of all kinds to not only build beautiful, modern and functional sites, but also advance their business goals of lead generation, communication and process management.
As you can tell, I've consistently been impressed by the company's dedication to improving. Several weeks ago, a Wix Community Roundtable Webinar unveiled the progress to completely re-code their Viewer, which ensures better, faster performing websites delivered on the Wix platform.
I've even watched as they've significantly advanced their support platform (which has been challenging over the years!), to provide vast amounts of self-help articles, blogs and tutorials, automated chat systems and live call-back customer service.
Earlier this year, Wix's newest innovation came online. Editor X is a completely new interface for the platform, custom-built from the ground up, focused entirely on responsive design.
Another snarl from earlier Wix iterations – and perhaps one of the greatest hang-ups – is that traditional Wix sites are not truly responsive. That is, they don't automatically adapt to various devices via breakpoints. While there IS a mobile editor that works quite well, it is not responsive as the industry defines it.
Editor X solves that by bringing all of the ease-of-use from Wix's original platform to a radical upgrade in the design environment, providing an incredible and powerful new responsive dimension to web design & development unmatched even by Squarespace or WordPress.
While still in Beta at the time of this blog, Editor X is quickly advancing and will be ready for primetime very soon, bringing even more exciting potential to future sites.
Wix does come with a price, and transparently, it's increased over the years as their platform has grown. However, even at their current tier pricing, we've found it to be competitive with other full-platform sites on the market. Factoring in the full suite of tools, features and business-building potential, our experience and that of our clients is that the price is definitely reasonable and manageable.
Clearly, Big Picture Studio is a fan of Wix. As our business has grown, we've built 20+ sites in a very short span of time with more on the way. Clients love the platform, and many are excited to move into a system with a dramatically easier ability to manage and edit themselves.
While Wix is impressively user-friendly, we have also found that it can still be overwhelming to step into for the first time. Planning and developing a website comes with its own unique challenges anyway, and becoming efficient with a new system can add to that complexity.
In this challenging season of managing and maintaining a business during COVID closures, strengthening your online presence may be a very good step. Is Wix the right choice for your next website move? It's not for everyone (and we'll tell you when we'd advise against it), but it is certainly worth considering.
Whether training & consultation, oversight on planning, or full design & development services for any size site, we'd be delighted to answer questions and introduce you to this fantastic platform. We offer brand new site design as well as current site update, re-development & remediation, no matter your platform.