Wix vs. WordPress – User-Friendly vs Fully-Featured
There was a time when it seemed like WordPress was the only game in town for building reliable websites with relatively little effort. Sure, the platform wasn’t the easiest to work with but its many templates and plugins simplified the process while coding was entirely optional. Well, times are rapidly changing and building a new website in this day and age can be done literally overnight with the use of a wide range of platforms. WordPress remains a very popular choice even in 2020 but companies like Wix are now giving it a run for its money.
WordPress may have simplified website building but Wix took it one step further by including web hosting, domains, apps, and other useful tools into one package. A very user-friendly and affordable package. Wix didn’t pioneer the concept of all-in-one website builders but it managed to popularize it, arguably more than any other company. Nowadays, Wix is the most widely-used platform of its kind and is generally considered the go-to choice for those looking to build a new website quickly and painlessly.
WordPress remains an absolute juggernaut that powers countless websites across the internet but is it a better option than Wix? There’s no real easy way to answer that question because the two platforms are designed for different types of audiences, though there is indeed some overlap between. Instead of trying to come up with a one-size-fits-all answer, we figured it would be more helpful to take a close look at each platform and see how they stack up against each other in various key areas. So without further ado, let’s just jump straight into it.
Even though Wix is used by millions upon millions of users, the builder can’t really compete with WordPress in terms of popularity. Wix is estimated to power anywhere between 100 million and 150 million websites in 2020, a figure that is certain to grow exponentially in the years to come. However, WordPress powers more than 35% off all websites (yes, all), which amounts to about half a billion websites. Naturally, it’s hard to find precise figures when it comes to something like this but suffice it to say that WordPress is used by a lot more people.
However, there is a little caveat to this that I think is very relevant. There are actually two different types of WordPress out there. One of them is WordPress.org, a self-hosted free and open-source CMS (Content Management System) that’s primarily responsible for the popularity of the platform as a whole. The other variant is WordPress.com, a SaaS (Software as a Service) that in many ways works very similar to Wix. Namely, WordPress.com is a paid service that offers packages that come with a site builder, web hosting, domain name, and most of the other things you can also find in Wix plans.
The reason why I wanted to point this out is that even though the WordPress CMS is more popular than Wix, the SaaS isn’t. It was also important to make a clear distinction between the two versions of WordPress because each of them has its own pros and cons when compared to Wix.
Popularity – It’s hard to win a popularity contest against the platform that powers over one-third of all websites on the internet, though Wix does come closer than any other builder. WordPress is undoubtedly the more popular platform in this comparison.
Navigation and Ease of Use
There are some pretty big differences between Wix and WordPress when it comes to ease of use. WordPress has a steeper learning curve and is more difficult to master but offers a lot more flexibility than Wix. Meanwhile, Wix is often touted as being the most accessible website builder for newcomers thanks to its intuitive nature, however, the builder is more limited than WordPress in some areas. To put it another way, Wix is easier to learn but you can do more with WordPress once you learn how it works.
Wix offers one of the best site editors we’ve ever seen. Not only does the editor come with drag-and-drop functionality but it is also less restrictive than similar builders like Squarespace, Weebly, and even WordPress in a few areas. The editor isn’t block-based or section-based. Instead, it gives you complete freedom to drag anything anywhere on a page. Wix uses a WYSIWYG (What You See is What You Get) editor that gives you an accurate representation of what your site will look like once you publish or update it. As opposed to WordPress where you usually work in the backend and need to preview the site in order to see what the live version will look like.
Wix’s template selection is very impressive. The platform gives you over 500 designs to choose from, all of which are neatly sorted by category. There’s a template for pretty much any industry or niche you can think of, as well as a few blank templates that only come with the basic building blocks. Working with a pre-configured template is certainly easier for newcomers but choosing a blank one gives you more freedom. Adding or editing elements is very simple but the sheer amount of elements you have at your disposal can feel a bit overwhelming at first.
If you want to take the easy way out, you can use the Wix ADI (Artificial Design Intelligence) instead of using a template. All you have to do is answer a series of questions to tell the ADI what sort of features and tools you need and the system will build a new website for you based on your specifications. A lot of builders use a system like this but the one offered by Wix seems more advanced than most as it attempts to create unique websites by mixing together elements from many different templates and the results are often fantastic.
WordPress isn’t really known for its ease of use but it’s not as complex as people make it out to be either. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. WordPress also comes with a drag-and-drop editor and even though some may claim otherwise, you don’t actually need any technical skills in order to build a good-looking website with it. Knowing how to code can definitely make things easier but, with enough time and patience, you can achieve good results even if you don't. The learning curve here is closely related to the theme you’re using.
WordPress offers a lot more themes than Wix and many of them were designed with functionality rather than accessibility in mind. Therefore, some themes are quite complex and difficult to wrap your head around at first. If you also add a bunch of plugins in the mix you can definitely end up with a situation where it’s hard to make heads or tails of things, especially if you’re a novice. That said, some plugins can make life a lot easier for you. For example, a plugin like Visual Composer allows you to build very impressive pages with amazing functionality while working on the front end, just like you would with Wix. The problem, of course, is that such plugins aren’t free, though they do come bundled with certain premium themes.
The WordPress CMS is standalone software, which means that you’ll need to purchase web hosting separately. This can add an additional level of a challenge since you’ll need to spend some time looking for a good hosting provider that offers the features and tools you’re looking for. However, you can circumvent this problem by using WordPress SaaS. Doing so will give you access to a slightly more user-friendly version of WordPress that comes with free web hosting, among other things. However, this version of the platform is also more restrictive so you would have to give up some functionality in exchange for accessibility if you decide to subscribe to the SaaS.
Navigation and Ease of Use – Even though WordPress isn’t quite as complicated as some users might expect, the platform does indeed have a much steeper learning curve than Wix. The builder is renowned for its ability to allow even complete novices to build a website with ease. Not to mention the fact that you can have the Wix ADI essentially build a website for you, which isn’t really possible with WordPress unless you purchase very specific packages offered by only a handful of hosting providers.
WordPress has the potential to scale a lot better than Wix but only when paired with a solid hosting provider. WordPress is essentially just a piece of software you can install on a website so the scalability potential ultimately depends on your hosting plan. WordPress recommends using either Bluehost, DreamHost or SiteGround as your hosting provider, which are all great choices. Each of these companies has various pros and cons but all of them offer multiple types of hosting (shared, dedicated, VPS) and very low starting prices. Each of these providers hosts countless websites of all shapes and sizes so there’s plenty of room for growth with either of them and, of course, the platform itself can accommodate any sort of customization you throw at it.
Outgrowing Wix is unlikely for most people but it’s definitely a possibility. Wix is perfect for small and medium-sized websites and even certain eCommerce platforms but that’s usually as far as it goes. The largest amount of storage you can get with the regular plans is 50 GB and most packages will only let you upload up to 10 hours of video content. Limitations like that prevent certain types of websites from growing past a certain limit. To put things into perspective, most websites built with Wix are very stylish and eye-catching, but fairly simple and usually don’t contain more than a handful of pages. By comparison, WordPress accommodates massive platforms built by well-known companies and organizations like The New York Times, Sony Music, TechCrunch, Disney, The Rolling Stones, BBC, and more.
It’s worth noting that most of the big WordPress websites you’re going to come across were built using the CMS combined with enterprise-grade hosting solutions. The WordPress SaaS also allows you built sites that scale pretty well but you’re going to run into the same limitations found at Wix. If you plan on building a website that can grow exponentially over time, the CMS is definitely the way to go.
Scalability – WordPress is in a league of its own when it comes to scalability. When paired with a solid hosting provider, the platform can support websites and online stores of any size. Wix is capable of scaling better than many other site builders but can’t quite compete with the likes of WordPress in this department. However, if you were to compare Wix to the WordPress Saas, the situation changes and the two are pretty evenly matched.
Design and Customization
A lot of people would consider WordPress to be the undisputed king of design flexibility and customization. While that may be a bit subjective, there’s no denying that WordPress allows you to create any website you can think of, provided you’re a somewhat tech-savvy user. Wix has more restrictions in regards to what you can and can’t customize but the builder’s hundreds of templates and apps make it a very versatile platform in its own right.
While some builders charge a pretty penny for some of their (premium) templates, Wix offers all of them for free. The only caveat to this is that you can't use some of the specialized templates unless you’re subscribed to a certain plan. This primarily applies to templates that come with eCommerce functionality, which is unlocked by purchasing one of the high-tier packages. You may come across professional designers that sell custom Wix templates, however, the company itself doesn’t charge for any of its designs.
Aside from the blank templates mentioned earlier, you can find over 500 pre-configured designs in the library. Each of these templates comes with a slightly different layout and examples of text, images, and videos, which you can then replace with your own content. Many of these templates also come with built-in features and tools that are relevant to the template’s intended purpose. For example, eCommerce templates tend to include shopping carts and customer service pages right out of the box. Similar to templates, elements are also neatly sorted into main categories like Menus & Pages, Backgrounds or Media, each of which contains a variety of tools and features. For example, tools like Photo Studio and Video Maker along with certain social features can be found under the Media category.
WordPress offers a fairly generous selection of free templates (or themes) you can work with along with an equally generous selection of premium ones. Many of the free themes can get the job done pretty well if you’re looking to build a small website or blog. If you want to create a site that stands out from the crowd, however, you’re going to have to buy a premium theme. Some of the premium themes can get a bit expensive but there are plenty of reasonably-priced ones as well. Premium themes are a one-time purchase so you don’t have to worry about having to pay a monthly or yearly subscription for them.
Some themes are a lot more complex than others so it’s very important to do a bit of research before you start building a WordPress site. Luckily, many of the best ones you can find online have video presentations that give you a pretty good idea of what your future site could look like. WordPress themes tend to feature a lot more elements and tools than the templates offered by Wix. Learning how to customize a WordPress theme can be quite challenging due to the sheer amount of options available, though again, this can differ depending on the theme you’re using. Another thing you’ll need to take into consideration is the fact that WordPress itself has plenty of settings and menus even before you install a theme on top.
While you don’t necessarily need to be a developer in order to get the most out of WordPress, it does help to know a bit about coding. You can make a lot of modifications and add tons of features to your site by simply using plugins. However, installing too many plugins will eventually slow down your site and can potentially lead to technical issues that could be difficult to fix. And unless your site is hosted by a provider known for its good customer support, you’ll have to try fixing things on your own, which is never fun. You can often avoid many of these issues by modifying the theme’s code instead of installing a bunch of plugins.
Design and Customization – Wix is more customizable than a lot of other website builders and gives you plenty of great templates to work with. In addition, the “Dev Mode” is a great feature that allows advanced users to tweak their websites even more. Despite all of that, however, WordPress still manages to outshine Wix in terms of design and customization. WordPress offers unrivalled customization opportunities even in its base form. Add a quality premium theme on top of that and the possibilities become endless.
Plans and Pricing
The overall price you’ll need to pay for your site can vary a lot depending on whether you go with Wix or WordPress. You can get away with spending very little with either platform but you can also end up with a monthly bill of several hundreds of dollars or more. But you can build a website without spending anything with both WordPress and Wix as there are free plans available for both platforms
The Free Options
Wix’s free plan is quite generous and gives you access to all templates aside from the ones designed for online sites. The company doesn’t limit the functionality of the site editor either and allows users to take advantage of both the app marketplace and the “Dev Mode” even with the free plan. However, sites built using the free plan are forced to use a “.wixsite.com” extension and display non-removable Wix-branded ads. In addition, the storage and bandwidth are limited to just 500 MB, which isn’t a whole lot all things considered.
WordPress itself is free but you’ll need to purchase web hosting, a domain, and possibly a theme separately. If you want to use WordPress without having to spend anything you’ll actually have to opt for the SaaS instead of the CMS. That’s because WordPress.com offers a free plan that’s quite similar to the one you can find at Wix. The main limitations are pretty much the same only in this case, your site is forced to display WordPress-branded ads and use a “.wordpress.com” URL extension. The main difference between the two free plans is that WordPress only offers a few dozen free themes but gives you more storage to work with. Namely, 3 GB compared to Wix’s 500 MB.
The Paid Options
Wix’s premium plans are split into two categories. The first one consists of four different packages that range in price between $4.50 and $24.50 per month. The entry plan is pretty similar to the free one but allows you to connect a custom domain and gives you more storage, though you’ll still need to deal with the ads. Ads stop becoming an issue starting with the Combo plan but I recommend going for the Unlimited package if you can afford it because that also removes the bandwidth restrictions and gives you access to a couple of premium apps to boot. The second set of plans is aimed at eCommerce platforms and will set you back between $17 and $35 per month. The value you get with these is pretty good but they’re not really worth considering unless you plan to open an online store.
WordPress SaaS uses a similar business model but there are only four premium plans to choose from. The first two packages are priced at $4/mo and $8/mo, respectively, so a bit cheaper than the equivalent plans offered by Wix. However, the best value plan is two times more expensive ($25 vs Wix’s $12.50/mo). In order to truly take advantage of what WordPress has to offer you will need to go for this pricey package because it unlocks the ability to use premium themes and install plugins, among other things. Without these, WordPress is arguably a far less appealing option than pretty much any other builder out there. WordPress’s final plan (eCommerce) offers better value than Wix’s Business VIP package, however, it’s also $10 more expensive.
Most people who opt for WordPress use the CMS instead of the SaaS and for good reason. You don’t have to worry about any restrictions with the CMS but there are various costs you’ll need to consider. The entry point for most hosting providers is around $5 per month give or take but you may have to spend a bit more for a robust package that also comes with a domain name. Aside from that, you’ll also need a premium theme if you want to build a serious website and these can range in price between $30 and $300, though most seem to gravitate around the $50 mark. In addition, you may also need to buy a couple of premium plugins, which tend to cost around $20 – $70 a pop. Plugins and themes are a one-time purchase so there’s a high initial investment but then you’ll mainly only have to worry about the cost of hosting.
Plans and Pricing – Wix will generally be cheaper and easier to manage options in almost every situation. The builder charges a fixed monthly price for its plans and you don’t have to worry about paying extra for hosting or premium themes. A WordPress site can be pretty cheap to maintain but the initial costs are definitely higher and you need to go through extra steps in order to set everything up. As far as the WordPress SaaS is concerned, it’s not really worth it unless you go for the $25/mo plan.
Additional Tools and Features
Wix offers a free custom domain for 1 year with all its premium packages except for the cheapest one. The basic plan does allow you to connect a custom domain but you’ll need to purchase it separately. Registering a new domain with Wix will only set you back $9.99 per year, provided you don’t want domain privacy. If you do want to add privacy to your domain, which you should, the cost goes up to around $19 per year. Wix charges the exact same amount for domain renewals.
Connecting a domain to a WordPress site may seem a bit tricky but that’s not really the case. All you have to do is sign up with a hosting provider and choose a package that includes a free custom domain. Generally speaking, the domain will only remain free for the first year. After that, you’ll have to manually renew it before it expires, just as you would do with Wix. Domain renewals usually cost anywhere between $15 and $20 per year, depending on which provider you sign up with. Most WordPress SaaS packages include a custom domain name and the company doesn’t sell them separately.
Wix’s backup system is a bit dodgy but can get the job done for the most part. The main problem with it is that it doesn’t allow users to create manual backups of their sites, at least not in the traditional sense. You can create duplicates of your site but you can’t download or store them externally. Wix also uses a feature known as Site History that allows you to revert your website to a previous state. However, this feature can only be used to restore a relatively recent version of a website.
If you want to back up a WordPress website you’ll have to rely either on your hosting provider or a plugin. Popular hosting providers like Bluehost or SiteGround include backup & restore tools with most of their plans. These tools are often included for free but some providers do charge extra for them. Another method by which you can back up a WordPress website is via a plugin like JetPack or Updraft. Some of these plugins can be used for free but are quite stingy when it comes to their features so it’s generally a good idea to spend a couple of bucks and upgrade to the premium version.
Wix has all the basic built-in SEO tools you would expect from a website builder, including URL customization, meta description editing, sitemap generation, search console integration, and more. In addition, Wix also offers an SEO Wiz that streamlines things and provides guidance for users who are not familiar with search engine optimization.
WordPress has many of the same SEO features but there’s nothing quite like the Wix SEO Wiz, at least not right out of the box. However, WordPress has a massive selection of plugins designed to help users improve the SEO of their sites. Yoast is by far the most popular of these plugins and can be used for free, though it does have a premium version as well.
Wix has a fairly similar but less impressive SEO app known as Site Booster, which is included for free with most plans but can also be purchased separately.
Apps and Plugins
Apps and plugins are two different names used to describe essentially the same thing – a piece of software that you can use to add extra functionality to your site. Both Wix and WordPress offer many free add-ons along with a selection of premium ones, which can range in price between a couple of bucks to $100 or more. As far as quantity is concerned, there’s no real contest here as WordPress has over 55.000 plugins while Wix only has around 200 apps.
There is an argument to be made that many of WordPress’ plugins are not very reliable since they come from various third-party developers, some more experienced than others. Wix’s apps are generally safer to install but many of the popular ones, especially those developed by Wix themselves, have mediocre user scores, so their overall quality seems to be a bit hit or miss.
You won’t be able to get free domain emails with any of Wix’s plans but you can attach G Suite to your account for a price. G Suite is fairly expensive (between $6 and $25 per month, per user) but it does come with plenty of nice features. The easiest way to get domain emails for a WordPress site is via a hosting provider. Certain providers like SiteGround and iPage include free domain emails with most of their hosting plans. On the other hand, a lot of other providers either charge for them or don’t offer them at all so, once again, choosing the right hosting provider is essential in the case of WordPress.
Wix offers a 14-day money-back guarantee with all its premium plans. WordPress is a free platform so, needless to say, the CMS doesn’t have a refund policy. If you sign up for the SaaS, however, you can expect to benefit from a 30-day money-back guarantee if you ever need to ask for a refund.
Additional Tools and Features – Generally speaking, you can expect better tools and features from WordPress but you’ll often have to jump through a few hoops in order to gain access to them. WordPress users need to know exactly what they want and what hosting provider to sign up with in order to get the most out of the platform. Wix doesn’t have quite as much to offer in this department but there are no strings attached for what you can get, which makes it a better choice for some users.
Performance and Reliability
The performance of a WordPress website can range from amazing to absolutely terrible. WordPress users need to take into account many factors if they want to maintain good page loading speeds and often have to optimize many things by themselves. If you know what you’re doing, you can definitely build a WordPress website that performs better than a Wix one. However, even the most skilled users need to have their sites hosted by a very reliable provider in order to achieve solid uptimes.
According to our data, Wix sites have average loading speeds of around 600 ms and uptimes of around 99.95%. These figures can fluctuate on occasion but because Wix is a closed ecosystem, you generally know what to expect. Measuring the performance and reliability of WordPress websites across the board is all but impossible. The ones we did measure, however, had slightly better stats – 554 ms speed and 99.99% uptime on average. The difference between the two platforms isn’t that significant but with WordPress, you do have to know what you’re doing in order to achieve good stats.
Performance and Reliability – WordPress’s innate flexibility allows users to tweak countless things on the platform in an attempt to improve the performance. On the other hand, there are also plenty of opportunities to mess up and slow down or crash your website, particularly if you’re an inexperienced user. There’s less room for error with Wix websites and fewer opportunities to mess things up. That makes Wix the more reliable choice here even though WordPress has the potential to perform a lot better in the hands of an experienced user.
As one might expect, WordPress doesn’t offer any customer support so if something goes wrong with your website, you’re pretty much on your own. That said, you can ask for assistance from your hosting provider but they may not be able to help you with theme customization, plugin installation or anything else that’s not actually related to the services offered by the company. Subscribing to the WordPress SaaS gives you access to customer support via live chat or email. There’s also a learning center but it looks pretty outdated and difficult to navigate. That’s a problem for any company but it’s especially bad in the case of WordPress since there are thousands of things that can go wrong while building a site.
Wix’s support is a lot better than what the WordPress SaaS offers but there is still a bit of room for improvement. The company offers support via phone and email but there is no live chat option. On the bright side, Wix’s help center is absolutely fantastic and there’s an additional self-help system built directly into the site editor. The system allows users to learn more about various components of the editor by simply clicking the little question mark attached to each element. Doing so will bring up helpful tutorials, tips, and video guides that will teach you how to use the platform effectively. The latest version of WordPress’ editor features something similar but it’s nowhere near as impressive or helpful as the system used by Wix.
Customer Support – The only way of getting direct support from WordPress is by signing up for the SaaS, though that would mean using a more restrictive version of the platform. But even so, none of the support channels and systems offered by WordPress come close to those offered by Wix, especially the self-help system built directly into the site editor.
Wix vs. WordPress: Our Pick
Comparing Wix and WordPress is a bit like comparing apples and oranges. Both platforms serve a similar purpose but there are just as many differences between them as there are similarities. There’s no real definitive answer here and choosing between the two mostly boils down to personal preference.
WordPress is a perfect choice for skilled users who can create complex and unique websites by taking advantage of the platform’s flexibility and endless customization potential. At the same time, though, WordPress has a much steeper learning curve and designing a good looking website on the platform comes with a lot of challenges.
Wix, on the other hand, is a lot easier to use and gives you plenty of opportunities without requiring any technical skills in return. Sure, developers can use the platform to create fancy looking sites but at the end of the day, Wix is primarily aimed at regular users who may or may not have any previous experience with website builders.
Overall – Even though we love working with WordPress, we think Wix is ultimately the better choice for the average user. The platform is perfect for newcomers while also offering plenty of possibilities for advanced users thanks to features like the “Dev Mode”. WordPress certainly has a lot to offer but you’ll need to invest more time, effort and money in order to take full advantage of the platform.