How to choose between a website design agency and WIX
The rise of companies such as WIX, Squarespace, Ionos etc. demonstrate that there is a market for this type of website production; but how do you know when to use one of these tools versus going to an agency?
Firstly, what is WIX?
WIX is a “proprietary hosted platform” which is an easily accessible service or tool for anyone without any technical background or experience to be able to set up and manage their own website.
The use of templates based on your sector and drag-and-drop interfaces make it a quick and easy way for you to establish an online presence; it can also be done cheaply as it’s essentially a DIY job where you just pay them a monthly fee for the duration of your use of the service.
So why isn’t everyone using WIX?
Although it is an easy, accessible and cheap option for many, as with any out-of-the-box product, it comes with limitations and some cons along with the pros which means it’s simply not a good fit for everyone.
Also, being a “proprietary hosted platform” means that you will never actually own your own website, you are essentially renting it from them for a monthly fee.
When deciding how to set up and maintain your online presence, you should be aware of all positives and negatives of using a site builder like WIX before deciding if it’s right for you; or if you would be better investing in an agency that can support you along the way.
What are the positives?
As mentioned above, sites such as WIX were created so that people with no technical/digital background can set up their own websites without the need for any assistance from a designer, developer or specialist marketer.
Because there’s no bespoke design or build and they have a large library of templates, it is very quick to select some page options and populate them – meaning you can spin up a website very quickly.
Functions and features
WIX comes with some useful functions and features which you can ‘add-on’ for you to extend a basic site to include things like live chat, forums, events, bookings, email capture and send, and more.
It has an automated SEO feature to help you start to establish your organic search results ranks.
Help and support
WIX provides a comprehensive resource centre to help get you started and a contactable support team if the resource library doesn’t answer your question.
Because you set up the website yourself, you’re not paying a designer or developer for their time to do it for you, meaning the only cost is for the use of the platform which ranges from £4 for the most basic option up to £27 for eCommerce plans. They also have Enterprise Plans for anyone requiring a more involved set up process with a dedicated account manager and one-on-one support though this is only accessible through talking to them directly to assess your needs and there’s no transparency about actual features or costs.
What are the negatives?
Keeping the interface simple for non-technical users means it is necessarily restricted; there may be some changes you wish to make that simply aren’t possible so if you want a lot of design flexibility, you won’t be satisfied. The templates are also not interchangeable; once you’ve built your page with a template, it has to stay on that template or be completely re-built and content re-entered using a new one meaning it’s not easy to simply ‘try out’ a template.
Your time investment
If you are trying to do your day job at the same time as building a WIX site, you are going to have to juggle your time. If you’re a busy entrepreneur, you may need to decide whether your time would be better spent on your core business tasks. If you’re already at capacity running your business (as well as your personal life), then outsourcing to an expert to deliver the website for you may be a better option – especially if you have more complex requirements.
Costs can escalate
The basic entry option at £4 per month is the cheapest, but be aware this will require you to display WIX branding on your company site. Having the WIX branded banner at the top of every page takes screen space away from your own content, detracts from a good user experience and shouts “DIY cheap site” to your potential customers.
The different price bands depend on other things such as the amount of storage space your site requires, length of videos hosted on site (and amount of products, transactions and reviews for e-commerce sites) and the ‘add-ons’ from App Market also come with their own monthly subscription fees which can see your monthly cost start to creep up.
Similarly, if you are using WIX to deliver an ecommerce website, you should be aware of their fees when ensuring you have got the right margins to be profitable. The built in payment option takes a flat fee plus percentage of transaction value (United Kingdom: 2.1% of the transaction amount + 0.20 GBP).
Wix Payments also no longer provides free processing for refunded payments. Standard Wix Payments processing fees apply so if you issue a £100 refund to your customer, the original processing fee of £2.90 (2.9%) + £0.20 for that customer's purchase will not be paid back to your Wix Payments account.
Although they are not transparent about the monthly cost for enterprise customers, it is reported to go into the hundreds per month which is a huge jump up if you exhaust the smaller plans.
Each plan is for single site only, so if you operate more than one website, you could be doubling your costs.
Although the automated option is great for those with no knowledge of search engine optimisation, if you choose to invest any real time and effort into improving your organic search rankings, the options you have out of the box are limited. Direct access to the code is often a bonus when fine tuning your site to perform to its best ability.
The one-to-one support through the tickets and callback service are a great selling point; however, there have been complaints about the promptness of these services, especially on the lower paid bands. If you need a response quickly to deliver a high level of user experience and customer satisfaction, you may find yourself impeded by a delay at their end through no fault of your own.
You are tied to WIX
As mentioned above, because you are renting your website rather than owning it, it cannot be transferred away from WIX and hosted elsewhere, meaning that if your site grows to a point where it is no longer sustainable on the WIX platform, you will have to rebuild your site elsewhere from scratch meaning your scalability could be very much restricted and you will still need to invest in a specialist to build you a website that is fit for purpose.
As you can see from the other cons above, one of the main drawbacks of WIX is its very selling point; by being so easy for business owners or ‘one-man-bands’ to set up, they are removing the scope for growth and continued improvements.
A website should never be built and remain static, you should use your data and user feedback to make continued improvements to the user experience and technical capability of your website which will, in turn, increase traffic and conversions allowing for further growth and improvement. Successful users of WIX will sooner or later hit a ceiling and need to rebuild elsewhere for the original investment they could have made at the start of their website process.
So what does this mean for you?
If you are a small business with limited scope for growth, or if you have no technical knowledge and a very limited marketing budget and must simply create an online presence, WIX is a great choice for you as it is simple to set up with no specialist requirements.
However, if you don’t have the time to dedicate to building, and improving your website, or have growth in mind for your business, your time and budget would be better spent on investing in specialist help to create and keep on improving a website that performs to its optimum ability and can grow with your ambitions.