You don’t need to understand code to build a website. That might sound preposterous but web builders have come so far in the last decade that anyone with only the most basic understanding of computer can build their own website in a matter of minutes. The result might be generic and slightly basic but it would still be an actual full-fledged website.
Generally, when it comes to website builder, most people would only be able to name WordPress off the top of their head. It’s the granddad of website builders and is still the most popular platform being used right now. WordPress is like the Starbucks of web builders. They’re pretty much everywhere, known to almost everyone and are actually decent but they are far from being the only game in town.
There are a number of web builders out there that offers a unique proposition as a differentiator. Wix and Weebly values themselves as the go-to choice for the quick and easy solution while still retaining quality. Due to the sharp rise of e-commerce website in the past few years, Shopify emerged to fill the niche of an e-commerce website builder. And then there are others like Squarespace, giving you the look of classy and professional web design at a fraction of the cost and effort.
Doing a comparison on all of web builders out there would take more than a day so I’m going to focus on the two most popular options out there, WordPress and Wix. Now, there are two different platforms for WordPress available online. The first one, through WordPress.com, acts as a hosting platform in addition to a web builder while the other, WordPress.org or self-hosted WordPress is the one I’m going to talk about. It is in essence the “real” WordPress in that it is a fully functional web builder that gives you unfettered amount of flexibility in editing your own website.
WordPress and the capability of an open-source platform
Think of the difference between an Android phone and an iPhone. Android phones are numerous (you can go with Samsung, LG, Huawei or even Google’s own Pixel), flexible (the software looks different from one manufacturer to another) and are relatively open (you can load or download an app from outside the Play Store). iPhones on the other hand are limited to Apple, iOS always looks the same and legally, everything has to be downloaded from the App Store, the so-called Apple’s walled garden.
That is what makes WordPress and Wix so different. WordPress’ open-sourced nature means that it allows a degree of flexibility not possible with Wix and that as long as you know what you’re doing, you can add tons of functionality with your website using WordPress as a jump-off point. Some of the other unique characteristics of WordPress include:
- Getting started is slightly complicated
Using WordPress requires you to jump through several hoops. WordPress isn’t an online web builder and they don’t provide you with a hosting service. The process of using WordPress goes like this, you sign up for a domain and/or a hosting service and then you download WordPress, after which you can actually start the web building process by choosing which theme you’d like to go with.
Building a website with WordPress isn’t exactly hard but it is designed in such a way that it requires users to be familiar with the platform itself and some of the terms used before using WordPress. Additionally, WordPress doesn’t allow you to see what your website would look like before you preview the page unlike Wix.
- A lot of options. Some might say too many
WordPress is open-sourced and highly modular. While going basic is an option, WordPress has a lot of themes and plugins (both free and premium ones) that allows you to customize your website however you see fit. If that’s not enough, WordPress also allows you to get inside the underlining source code and modify your page on a more granular level. The sheer amount of options available can be overwhelming if you don’t know what you’re looking for.
At last count, there are over 50,000 plugins available for WordPress. Not all of them are unique (or even good), in fact a lot of them actually covers the same functionality save for one or two differences but it is safe to say that if you’re looking for a specific functionality then it’d be available here. This sheer flexibility is what makes WordPress so attractive to those already well-versed in web development.
- No set pricing
The WordPress platform itself is free but since you need your own hosting service for WordPress, money will be going out of your pocket at some point. On top of that, most of the quality themes and plugins in WordPress naturally aren’t free so the amount of money you’ll be paying for your site will depend on how much functionality you’d like to add and how attractive you want your website to look.
Wix’s ease-of-use is perfect for beginners
Wix’s approach is much more restrictive than WordPress. It is the iOS to WordPress’ Android and as such, your options are severely limited compared to WordPress in exchange for usability as will be detailed below:
- Sign-up, design, publish
Wix is pretty straightforward with their approach and you don’t need to account for anything with Wix given that it doubles as a hosting service of its own. You sign up for the service, choose what type of website you want to build, pick several templates available and you’re dumped straight into the web building process.
Wix was designed to give the best rookie-friendly experience you could have in building a website and it shows. Wix employs a visual editor using the what-you-see-is-what-you-get approach in which what you see in the web builder is exactly how your website would look like once it’s live.
- Limited, curated options.
Just like iOS, Wix offers added functionality within their similarly-named Wix App Market. The app selection is meager, coming in at only more than 250 apps compared to WordPress’ 50,000 library of plugins. The thing is, Wix’s selection are curated and are subjected to the measures of quality control Wix has applied. Think of it as the difference between going to a flea market (WordPress) and shopping for clothes at Uniqlo (Wix). There are always some hidden gems waiting for you at a flea market but you have to dig through layers upon layers of junk to find them.
- Transparent pricing plans
While Wix offers a free, restricted option, they also offer 5 different premium plans depending on your needs. Now, some of the apps on the Wix App Market do come with a premium tier but most are available for free as well. As such, Wix’s pricing plans is much easier to navigate than WordPress since Wix doubles as a hosting service as well.
In the end, choosing between Wix and WordPress boils to down to the time you’re willing to spend on your website. If your plans on the long run involves adding a host of functionalities to your website, going with WordPress is the natural fit since it rewards the time and effort you’re willing to spend to learn its intricacies. On the other hand, if you’re looking to make an attractive design but lack the time and skill needed to create one, going with Wix is a smart choice. Just don’t expect the level of control and flexibility you might get with WordPress.