If you want to get a website online with minimal effort and maximum creative freedom, look no further than Wix. It offers standout features, such as online storage for your site assets, e-commerce tools, cool video backgrounds, title animations, mobile apps, and even a useful, free service tier. Plus, the new Editor X interface stands tall as one of the most intuitive, slick, and powerful in the ever-growing field of website-building services we’ve tested. In short, Wix is a simple-to-use, multi-faceted tool, one that’s an easy Editors’ Choice pick along with Duda and Gator.
Getting Started With Wix
Wix is a website builder, an easy-to-use tool that lets you quickly create an online presence via drag-and-drop interface—no coding or FTP knowledge is required. All you need is an email address to get started with Wix’s web hosting. In fact, if you don’t mind the advertisements, you can spin up a site for free.
On the other hand, if you want an ad-free site with a custom URL, or e-commerce options, you must upgrade to a paid account. These range from the $14-per-month Combo account (3GB of storage and 2GB of monthly data transfers) to the full, $39-per-month VIP plan (35GB of storage, a domain name, unlimited monthly data transfers, a professional logo, and priority support). If you want a shopping cart and other money-making features, business and e-commerce plans cost between $23 and $49 per month. Finally, there are the Enterprise-level plans that require a bespoke quote from a Wix representative, and start at $500 per month. For a full rundown of account types, see Wix’s premium account grid.
That pricing is reasonable. Duda’s paid plans start at $14 per month, while Squarespace’s options begin at $12 per month. Weebly has a free option like Wix, but has an early-grade Personal plan for only $6 per month. Weebly’s top business plans are $44, $40, and $26 per month, respectively. A less-expensive exception is Gator, which starts at $3.84 per month and runs to just $9.22 per month for its ecommerce plan.
After creating an account, you search for a general site type—business, designer, event, blog, and so on—and then choose whether you want to use a site template or have Wix automatically create a site for you using Artificial Design Intelligence (ADI). More on ADI in a bit. There are 12 top-level site types, each with several Subcategories. For instance, there’s a Restaurant choice with Subcategories that include bar, café, and catering. For our Wix test site, we picked the Blog category, which offers 70 beautiful template options.
In all, Wix offers hundreds of template choices, more than Squarespace or Weebly. Many are free, though some business choices require an ecommerce level subscription. The templates each have a full demo, so you can get a feel for the theme before you begin editing. The template preview helpfully shows you how your site will look on a smartphone screen, too.
One downside: Unlike Squarespace or Weebly, Wix doesn’t let you switch templates once you’ve chosen one. That’s a significant ding against the service, as you need to create a separate site and transfer your files over to the new pages if you want to give your online destination a fresh look.
Web Design Options
After you’ve chosen a template and started editing your site, you’re treated to a one-minute introductory video. The templates are modern and attractive, with many pinning your navigation icons to the top as the site viewer scrolls down. Eight, round buttons let you add elements, change the background image, access the App Market (from which you get third-party site widgets), see your uploads, and start blogging. You can easily minimize or hide these controls if you need to edit the area under them.
Wix contains all the usual options for text, media, social media widgets, buttons, shapes, and so on that you’d expect in a website builder. If there’s something you want that’s not included by default, check out the App Market. You can also embed HTML, and easily add SoundCloud or Spotify playlists to treat your site visitors’ ears, too.
Editing the template design is a cinch. Just click any element, and you’ll see resizing handles and dragging buttons. You have a lot more freedom to place objects where you want them than in Weebly or Squarespace. Double-click text to edit and format it. As you move objects around, guides appear when they’re in line with other objects, to help with alignment. A toolbar offers tools for sizing and arranging objects, including size matching, alignment, and overlap options. If you select more than one object, you can move them together around the page. We like that any object can be animated on load, with effects like Bounce-In, Glide-In, and Spin-In. Overall, Wix offers an outstanding basic editor.
One thing about the Wix site-building interface that really impresses us is that it uses right-click context menus. Most other builders do nothing with right clicks, except launch browser options that don’t help with site building. Wix lets you use right-clicks to change images or edit text. You can customize page design to your heart’s content, including the number of columns, their sizes, and their alignment. In addition, you can easily add new pages, and drag them around to change the site’s navigation hierarchy. Wix lets you password-protect particular pages or require a membership sign-up or sign-in to access content.
Enter Editor X
Wix recently added its new Editor X tool as a website-building option. The feature just came out of beta, so you start with a smaller number of templates (only 27 during our testing period). The templates are cleaner and more design-centric than their basic editor counterparts. More importantly, they’re responsive templates, unlike the ones you deal with in using Wix’s classic editor interface. Editor X has its own built-in demo to show you the ropes, as well as a link to the Academy X website. The latter option showcases the power at your fingertips via lessons and video tutorials.
Editor X operates more like Adobe Photoshop or InDesign than a traditional site builder. Layers let you stack elements, while Masters let you quickly copy a design element to other pages. Click a text element, and you’re presented with a series of collapsible menu options for changing sizes, positions, anchors, and other items. The basic editor’s right-clicking functionality is repeated here, launching context-sensitive menus when activated. If you’re working on a responsive website, Editor X starts with three different page sizes that you can toggle between to see how your site looks. You can also add more breakpoints, different resolutions that become a part of your togglable choices. Overall, it’s far faster to move elements around on your site using Editor X, even compared to Wix’s already-smooth website builder.
Typography and color swatches are available, and you can save your choices to design libraries. This gives you the ability to quickly change a page’s overall color, or perhaps the header text, while not losing your previous design choices. Editor X is also built for multi-user collaboration, with design libraries being a way to let a group test different ideas without throwing anything away.
Wix’s main account administrative interface is clearer than Weebly’s, too, with a full page listing your sites. Click one, and the site dashboard appears with a side rail of site option buttons. You also see a feed of site activity, and there are buttons for common tasks.
One disappointment is the lack of included site-traffic reporting. However, you can use the free Web-Stat app or set up a separate Google Analytics account (which requires a paid account level) for this functionality. Web-Stats is pretty informative, telling you where visits came from and what display, computer, and browsers visitors used—even for free users. Premium account holders can add Facebook Pixel reporting.
Ascend by Wix is “a suite of 20 products that lets entrepreneurs start, manage and promote a business directly from the Wix web development platform.” The tools include chat, site membership, invoices, workflows, tasks, automations, and price quotes.
Wix Artificial Design Intelligence
We tried using the Wix ADI to build a test local business website. It dramatically simplifies site building, it’s surprisingly fun to use, and it offers lots of handholding. You start by answering a few basic questions about the site’s purpose, features, location, and title. It then searches the web for content related to your business or activity. You can optionally add social accounts such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. After this you pick a style, have ADI create a color palette based on your logo, and click Create My Site.
It takes some time to complete its automatic designing. It tells you what it’s doing through the process, like adding menus and optimizing your mobile site. We tested using a local bagel shop’s info, and ADI created a site that looks better than the place’s actual site! We’re also impressed by the site we made for an artist friend, who was actually wowed by how good the automatic design was. After ADI builds the initial site, you customize things like boilerplate text and sales items. If you aren’t interested in designing your own site, Wix ADI is definitely worth a shot.
Working With Photos and Videos
Wix has a big advantage over Weebly and Squarespace when it comes to photos: It lets you reuse images you’ve already uploaded by saving them in online folders for you. The other services make you re-upload photos if you want to use them in another place on your site.
Wix also lets you add images from other online sources such as Flickr and Facebook. Ditto for videos. You can use video in places where the others only let you use photos, such as the main theme background. The service also provides lots of stock images and videos to use on your site. Much of this content is free, but you can also purchase reasonably priced stock images from BigStock.
You get full photo editing and enhancement capabilities with the integrated Aviary editor. It’s simple to add a link to an image, either external or to a page in your site. You can also add a border, and animation such as a fade in, and choose among resizing behaviors such as autocrop, center, stretch, and fit.
You can set videos to auto-play on page load and to repeatedly loop, and as mentioned you can add a video as your background image.
Making Money With Wix
Wix offers rich e-commerce capabilities. The Store element from the main toolbar adds a Shop page with a product gallery prepopulated with sample products you replace with your own. You need an e-commerce premium plan to actually receive payments. The web store can have multiple pages of its own, including, by default, a product page, shopping cart, and Thank You page. Wix also offers customizable storefronts and recurring payment and subscription options, further expanding your money-making possibilities. There’s a detailed product-editing panel, and you can group products by collections, and offer coupons. Credit card processing options include Stripe and Square, and you can accept PayPal and snail-mailed cash. You can enter shipping and tax rules, but the built-in store doesn’t help you actually figure these things out with, say, UPS or FedEx integration.
Selling digital downloads is now built into Wix; it’s a simple option right when you start adding a product to your store. You can also sell music with no transaction fee through Wix’s own Music app. The app even can play music on your site, and it accepts MP3, WAV, FLAC, and ALAC file formats.
For marketing your goods, a Wix mail-blast app called ShoutOut lets you send up to 5,000 emails per month. Third-party integrations for email marketing are available from MPZMail, CakeMail, and V.I. Plus.
Ascend by Wix is a marketing service for your site. It lets you interact with customers via forms, chat, invoices, price quotes, and trigger actions. It even offers workflow organization tools. The Ascend Inbox can aggregate your email and chat messages. Ascend also provides email marketing, along with SEO, social posting, and video tools. Its Automations include things like sending reminders to customers about invoices due, and Workflows are useful for lead follow-up and contact management. Its Tasks tool saves you from using an external (though excellent) option like Asana. Finally, it lets you create a Members area, with special pages and features like a forum, store accounts, and user profiles. In sum, Ascend brings together a lot of useful tools for web businesses.
Adding a blog to your site is easy as clicking the Blog entry on the main site element toolbar. You design your blog page layout just as with any other site page or choose a single-entry style or one with no header. Subscriptions and comments are options you can offer your readers. You can tag posts, and even display a tag cloud, RSS button, Facebook comments, and Disqus comments.
Wix has a separate, simple blog-posting interface, as opposed to Weebly, which just uses the same webpage interface for blogging. In Wix, you can add photos, galleries, video, and of course text, all formatted to taste. You can schedule any post for later publication and designate it as Featured if you like. In all, it’s a rich blogging tool with everything you need.
Sites made in the basic editor aren’t responsive in the strictest sense (meaning you can resize a browser to see its contents squeeze to fit a smaller size), but that shouldn’t worry site creators: Wix produces mobile versions of your sites that pass Google’s test for mobile-friendliness. Tap the smartphone icon at the top of the site editor, and you can switch to mobile editing view.
By default, our site had the “Make your site mobile friendly” option checked, and because of this, we really didn’t have to do anything to make it work well on phones. Still, Wix gives you the option of editing the mobile view if you’re not happy with what it produces automatically. In particular, you can hide elements that you don’t want to show up on mobile screens. You can also add a Mobile Action Bar so that visitors can email or call you with a tap of a finger.
That said, Editor X gives you the ability to design fully responsive sites. Not only are there fluid sizing options for certain elements, the breakpoints feature lets you see what your site looks like at any resolution. CSS grid and Flexbox are available in Editor X, as well, making sure you site morphs to whatever screen it’s on.
On the other side of mobile, Wix offers apps that let you interact with site visitors and edit store items like products and prices. You can also upload photos from your smartphone, but you can’t actually create and edit sites from the app, as you can with Weebly and Jimdo’s apps.
Databases, Dynamic Pages, and Forms require no formal knowledge of coding. The use of these prefab databases is similar to filling in a spreadsheet. Custom forms and user input controls are useful for collecting information from site viewers. A food site could let users submit recipes, for example.
Data-driven Dynamic Pages sound like they’re for developers, and indeed, using these capabilities increases difficulty of site design quite a bit. It just means that your site pages are built on the fly depending on entries in a table. A college course page designed in Wix can display different pages for each course, all using the same template. Duda’s InSite feature, which lets you send different content to viewers depending on criteria like time of day, date, location, and number of previous visits, offers similar dynamic customization. The Duda feature is simpler to use, but it’s not as powerful as Wix Code.
When we first tapped the Wix Code menu, a panel appeared with an explanatory video and links to resources to get going with the feature. It does indeed add complexity to the site-building interface, adding Backend and Database entries to your Site Structure sidebar. From those, you can add modules and collections, respectively. The latter are similar to spreadsheets in which you add specific types of data, such as images or text.
A wizard helps you fill in the info necessary to create a usable collection, to enable things like dynamic pages, forms, or member-generated content. You can either add dynamic content to a page, dynamically created pages, or index pages drawing from the database. Though all of this is indeed powerful, it pushes Wix away from the easy site builder category toward being a developer tool. Those who prefer to keep things simple don’t ever have to turn on these developer tools. We managed to create dynamic pages with an index to a few of our reviews, and while there are a few hoops to jump through it produced the result we wanted.
Wonderful Wix Support
Wix is one of the more intuitive site builders around, so there’s a good chance you won’t need to contact the support team. The Wix editor displays a question mark in its top-right section that launches the well-stocked Help Center. If that doesn’t contain the answer to your problem, you can submit a support ticket or request a 24/7 phone call back. That service is, impressively, even available to free accounts. WordPress.com, on the other hand, only offers its free users access to a knowledge base.
When you first contact support, a chat bot asks for your site information and walks you through logical steps to remedy your problem. When you get to a point where the text robot can no longer help you, you’ll see a Contact Us area with two options: Submit a Ticket and Talk to a Support Agent. Of course, we chose the latter. You then enter your phone number and the problem’s description. We made our initial request on a weekday morning, and a customer service representative contacted us roughly a minute later. The customer service representative walked us through scheduling posts and what we would need to do if we wanted to change our website’s theme. Wix is to be congratulated for its combination of thorough online support and real human support.
Website uptime is a vital element of web hosting. If your site goes down, clients or customers will be unable to find you or access your products or services. It’s in your best interest to find a reliable web host that can keep your site up and running. Otherwise, customers may go elsewhere—and they might never come back.
To evaluate reliability, we use a website-monitoring tool to track our test site’s uptime over a two-week period. Every 15 minutes, the tool pings the website and sends an email if it is unable to contact the site for at least one minute. The data reveal that Wix, a website builder that also acts as a web hosting provider, was incredibly stable during the testing period. In fact, it didn’t go down once. You can count on Wix to be a rock-solid foundation for your website.
Wix Has All the Tricks
For ease of use and breadth of options, you can’t beat Wix. The website builder offers online media storage, a large app store, and a clear, well-thought-out interface. Plus, its optional Editor X and Wix Code features, while adding a degree of difficulty, enable powerful, modern, dynamic site creation. Wix Ascend brings together useful web business tools, too. All this and fast, reliable page loading help Wix retain its PCMag Editors’ Choice award for online website builders. That said, if you value the ability to export site code, you’ll want to go with Weebly or Squarespace instead.
For tips on getting started building your site, make sure to read our primer, How to Build a Website. Check out 10 Easy But Powerful SEO Tips to Boost Traffic to Your Website, too.
Editor’s Note: Michael Muchmore contributed to this review.
The Bottom Line
Featuring robust customization, ecommerce tools, and a new, Photoshop-like interface, web builder Wix lets you create beautiful sites without spending a dime.