Six important differences to understand before deciding between Wix and WordPress.
WordPress and Wix are both tools for building a website, but they have completely different approaches: Wix is a website editor and WordPress is a CMS (or content management system). Understanding this difference is crucial in deciding which one to choose.
To generalize, website editors like Wix are easier to use but less customizable. They also include hosting, so you don’t have to set up a web host, but that means you can never move your website from Wix to a new web host.
Wix vs WordPress at a glance
Wix is a website “builder” while WordPress is a CMS: both have advantages and trade-offs.
Wix has a drag-and-drop visual editor while WordPress is extracted from the page – it doesn’t show the whole page inside the editor.
Open Source vs Closed
WordPress is open source with thousands of plugins and themes, but these plugins and themes can be difficult to implement.
Website Editor vs CMS
A CMS like WordPress has a steeper learning curve but is highly customizable. You need to set up WordPress on a web host, even if it’s less intimidating than it looks (there are many hosts that offer one-click WordPress installation). WordPress is open-source, which means anyone can use and modify it for free (although hosting, themes, and plugins can cost money).
Wix is easier to use but less flexible while WordPress is more flexible but has a steeper learning curve – deciding between the two is a matter of trade-offs.
I’m just scratching the surface of the differences – as you’ll see in the rest of this article, the difference between Wix and WordPress manifests itself in templates, hosting, features, customer support, and so much more.
Remember: Wix vs WordPress is not an ideological debate – there is no right or wrong answer. Instead, the tool should match the needs – let what you are building guide your decision.
Note: This article is about WordPress.org, not WordPress.com. WordPress.com is a separate service that is more like a website builder and is completely different.
One of the most obvious differences between Wix and WordPress is the editor.
Wix has a visual, drag-and-drop editor. It is similar to Powerpoint or Keynote in that it allows you to move any element anywhere on a page:
You can drag any element anywhere on your page with Wix, even pixel by pixel.
WordPress recently relaunched its editor as a block-based editor known as Gutenberg.
The WordPress Gutenberg editor is abstract and away from the page – it doesn’t show the entire page within the editor (for example, you don’t see the header, sidebar, and footer). For this reason, you will still find yourself switching from the editor to the published website to see what the published page looks like:
You may find yourself switching from the editor to the published website to see how everything is going.
WordPress often abstracts the block interface from the page. For example, forms created with plug-ins such as WPForms are created in a separate interface and then embedded into pages using a “short code”.
Conversely, most things in Wix are changed visually. If you see something, click on it and edit it. The website remains visible and changes occur as they are made. For example, creating a form is done within the page editor:
Everything done with Wix is done visually, with the website still in view.
Overall, the WordPress interface is often more cluttered than Wix, but that’s not surprising. WordPress is more sophisticated than Wix, and more sophisticated software needs to be more utilitarian and abstract.
Wix aspires to friendlier pages. Like website editors, Wix is messier than Squarespace or Weebly, but they’re definitely friendlier than WordPress.
Open vs closed
WordPress is an open source CMS, which means anyone can contribute to it. This is a great strength but also a weakness.
One advantage is that WordPress has a huge amount of plugins and themes created by the open source community. At the time of writing, there were over 55,000 plugins on WordPress.org and over 12,000 themes on Themeforest. That’s it, much more than any website builder.
But the breadth of WordPress is also what can make it a hot mess. WordPress backends can get notoriously confusing. There can be long pages of technical settings, and the language can often get abstract and slang.
Furthermore, taking advantage of the many WordPress themes and plugins never works perfectly. Incompatibilities often arise, and getting fixed can require users to make code changes, which not everyone is comfortable doing. All you have to do is browse the plug-in reviews to get an idea of the frustration:
Wix is completely different. An App Market is offered which looks similar to WordPress plugins, but in reality it is not. It’s a curated little collection of 300 apps, nowhere near as good as WordPress’s huge library of plugins. But unlike WordPress, Wix checks all apps for compatibility, so you can rest assured that they will integrate seamlessly (there are rarely compatibility issues or you need to change your code).
The same is true with themes. Wix has around 500 themes which are less than WordPress … but all the themes work right away – you don’t need to change the code. (Plus, Wix’s visual theme editor is so customizable that you can design your own theme from scratch right from the start.)
With Wix, you shouldn’t need to hire outside help from a professional unless you’re doing something really unusual – it’s designed to be suitable for amateurs. With WordPress, you may end up hiring a WordPress professional to help you build your website if you get frustrated trying to integrate themes and plugins.
Overall, Wix is designed to be user-friendly while WordPress is designed to be customizable. It’s not that WordPress doesn’t care about being user-friendly – the WordPress team actually works hard to make WordPress user-friendly. Likewise, it’s not that Wix doesn’t care about being customizable – the Wix team actually really cares about making a customizable website builder.
Instead, these differences are fundamental to the nature of website builders and CMSs. That’s why you should think carefully about what your website needs and use it to guide your decision. There is no universally right or wrong decision.
If you are building a website with conventional functionality, you will probably find that Wix offers everything you need. If you need unconventional features, you will probably be able to find a WordPress theme or plugin that supports it.
Which raises the question: what is a conventional feature and what is unconventional? Well, a photo gallery is a conventional feature. Wix has many photo gallery options. But if you want a photo gallery that scrolls horizontally (left to right), you wouldn’t be able to do it on Wix. It is too unconventional. But you might find a WordPress plugin to do that.
The strength of WordPress is the diversity of its ecosystem: over 55,000 plugins and over 12,000 themes. This means that if you have a specific feature or aspect in mind, WordPress can probably adapt it. Some examples:
bbPress integrates with the WordPress user system so you can add discussion forums to your website.
Buddypress convert your WordPress website into a social network.
Yoast SEO is a hugely popular SEO plugin that adds XML sitemaps, canonical URLs, meta title and description templates, and more.
Redirect allows you to manage 301 page redirects.
Advanced Custom Fields it’s like a real database creator.
Tablepress allows you to create tables in a spreadsheet-like interface (you can even add formulas).
TinyMCE change the WordPress post editor to a TinyMCE editor.
The point is, you can find WordPress plugins for all kinds of features. Wix will never be able to support so many features.
But if you just need conventional functionality, I would recommend Wix.
Conventional websites aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel. They are the typical websites for restaurants, nonprofits, photographers or any small business. They need photo galleries, contact forms, Google Maps, but nothing too unusual.
Wix covers all of these features and often makes it simpler than WordPress. For example, if you search for “photo gallery plugins”, WordPress has literally hundreds of results. How do you know which one is right? With Wix, there is nothing you are looking for. Wix includes an excellent photo gallery, so you can just get started quickly.
And while Wix doesn’t offer as many features as WordPress, the features they offer simply work. You won’t waste afternoons trying out different plugins to see which one is compatible with your theme.
Wix offers more than 500 themes, a good amount for a website builder, but not close to WordPress which has over 11,000 themes.
Like plugins, WordPress has a wider selection, but you will occasionally run into compatibility issues that will require you to debug with your code. Wix has a smaller selection but you will never be able to find a theme that requires you to modify the code to be compatible with Wix features.
Theme customization in WordPress is done via the Customizer, a nice tool that lets you click on elements to reveal style options or browse and customize the style.
Wix takes a completely different approach. Wix elements can be grabbed and moved. Items can be selected and customizations can be made on the fly.
Wix elements can be customized in the context of the website.
It is difficult to compare the prices of Wix and WordPress because they are priced completely differently.
Wix includes everything in one package – hosting, ecommerce, themes, apps, customer support – they’re all included in every Wix package. (Some apps on the Wix App Store cost money, but nearly all of them are free.)
WordPress is different in that the WordPress core is free. But you might end up paying for themes, plugins, and hosting.
For example, BlueHost charges $ 7.99 per month for WordPress hosting. A premium theme from ThemeForest could cost $ 39 (although you get it for life and free WordPress themes are also available).
Then there are premium WordPress plugins. WooCommerce is an ecommerce plugin but it sells extensions (which cost between $ 0 and $ 299) that add specific functionality (for example, a UPS shipping method extension costs $ 79 and allows you to get the rates of UPS shipping). WPForms is a drag-and-drop WordPress form builder that starts at $ 40 / year.
Wix includes telephone, chat, and email customer support in all of its packages, and in the more expensive plans you can get VIP support that lets you skip the line.
Since WordPress is free and open source, it doesn’t include customer support, although often if you pay for a theme or plugin, creators will include support as part of the cost (support is limited to their theme or plugin. , obviously).
Author: Andrea Tamburelli – Programmer of web-based software solutions, WordPress & Woocommerce Expert.