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Wix the free web site building service

Sep 16th, 2014 by Max Tokman

Wix is a new tool for DIY crowd not content with building their websites using only website building tools from Yahoo, Network Solutions, GoDaddy and thousands of other hosting companies - now we have Wix and it is being heavily promoted as the greatest thing since sliced bread.  Let's take a gander and see what it is all about and how it performs in the real world. 

The first question - why does anyone create a free tool and how do they plan to monetize it?  With Wix, it's the same as with other companies mentioned above - it is essentially a hosting service providing free website building tools to establish a long-term relationship with tool users.  Wix-build sites have to reside on Wix hosting and cannot be easily ported over to another hosting company.  Right off the bat, this does not sound revolutionary but who knows, maybe there's something special about their authoring environment or promotional strategy.

Wix is currently geared to create desktop and mobile websites, meaning it is few years behind the whole responsive design approach.  That's not a huge deal, considering that responsive is best addressed from either specialized apps like Muse or by professional development (hint), but still a disappointment.  Immediately, this narrows its use to personal and no-budget commercial projects.  Anything else in the year 2014 will call for responsive design, which Wix will not be able to deliver.

Next is the authoring environment itself, which is pretty decent considering it creates only a hard coded site without any real CMS.  Unlike a WordPress site that can be set up on almost any hosting or something like a Yahoo store that has dynamic site structure controlled via CMS, Wix's authoring environment is the CMS.  Again, not very exciting since it makes Wix a very light web-based version of those old school desktop visual authoring programs like FrontPage and Dreamweaver. 

The final issue for us to review is cross-browser consistency - we ran our test website http://osstest.wix.com/oss-test-wix through our own QA tool and generated screenshots of the homepage in various browsers using Firefox on PC screenshot as a basis.  Results were good in all current versions of Internet Explorer and Safari; poor in Firefox for Mac, Chrome and Opera.  Feel free to download our screenshot archive and review the results for yourself; each screen shows 50% overlay between Firefox on PC and another browser.

Wix does have tools for promoting your site across various social media platforms, which is great way to quickly generate traffic to your non-responsive, non-cross-browser website.

Final verdict: Wix is a decent website authoring tool for personal use.  It should never be used on any projects where identity and branding are of real value, including portfolio sites, commercial and high profile non-profit.  So, if you are not satisfied with authoring on social media, have an issue with your current hosting company's website building toolset, or simply looking for a way to create a web page - Wix will save the day!

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