At this point, you don’t have a choice. You absolutely need a website. But more importantly, you need a responsive and professional-looking website. And that’s an important distinction to make, because your site, its performance and its overall design can make or break your business. 40% of customers will abandon a website if it takes longer than three seconds to load. Furthermore, 44% of shoppers will tell their friends and family about a poor experience they had online, which is bad news for an eCommerce portal.
The problem, however, is that designing a professional website is not cheap or fast in any way. If you want your site to look great, in most cases you’ll have to dish out quite a bit of money to a developer or designer. If you want to support various eCommerce systems, analytics tools and business platforms, you’ll also need to pay for a few different subscriptions.
As an online apparel business, for instance, you might not have much capital to invest in your site. Where do you go? Who do you hire? Can you design the site yourself even with little to no experience in web development?
The good news is that there are several tools and platforms you can use to build your own site — even from scratch. Even better, you don’t need extensive web development or design experience. But you will need to have a bit of creativity.
One of the better tools to turn to — especially if you lack experience in the field — is WIX. There are advertisements everywhere about how other professionals created amazingly attractive sites in little time. It almost sounds too good to be true. But is it?
We’re going to take a closer look through a unique, in-depth review. Rather than simply talk about the service and what it takes to build a site, and whether or not it’s any good, we’re going to walk you through every step. We’ll compare it to similar services and render our judgment on how successful the platform is for professionals.
What Makes the WIX So Special?
First, let’s talk a little about what makes WIX so special and alluring to anyone looking to create their own website. After all, there are roughly 3,000 beta users of the WIX online site building tool.
WIX makes the entire process much simpler. It’s akin to installing WordPress to set up a blog or site, except there’s no need to install a thing. You sign up for an account, choose a site template to serve as your core design foundation and then work from there. Most of the interface is drag-and-drop, which means even if you have no experience coding you can still create a fully-functional and impressive-looking site.
Of course, if you do have coding experience, you can unlock some more advanced options and fully leverage your knowledge and skills.
Of particular note is the “dynamic page design” components. These allow you to create your own templates to help carry a visual theme across your entire site. You can even add cell attributes to a page field and they will auto-populate when you copy and move the element over to a new page using the template you create.
WIX has its own database, too, which is ideal for web development and does not require separate hosting. If you have past experience building websites, you know how much simpler it is to have a single portal for everything. It’s convenient and useful.
Let’s Design a Site: Online Apparel Brand
For the purpose of this review, we’re going to walk you through designing a website to match the needs of a generic online apparel company. The goal is to create a professional-looking site to showcase fashions, styles and products. We’ll also want various pages to provide user customization, shopping support, contact details and more.
Essentially, we’re creating a professional-quality business site for a marketing and retail company.
Step 1: Sign Up or Register for an Account
Any service or platform like this requires you to both register and log in to a personal account. This allows you to customize the experience, build your site and brand content and more. You can sign up using your personal or business email address along with a password. You can also link a Google or Facebook social account.
Step 2: Choose Your Website Model or “Type”
One thing you’ll notice right away with WIX is that everything is designed to be fast and convenient, yet powerful. For example, right after signing up for an account, you choose the model or genre for your site and it brings you to a pre-configured series of templates that match your needs.
What makes it really powerful, however, is that you can customize any model, template or component so it does and looks exactly how you want. You’ll see what we mean by that as we get further in the guide. For now, just know that the next step is to choose a site model or initial design. This is denoted by the industry or category of site you will be creating, from Photography to Beauty and Wellness.
In our case, we’re going to choose the “online store” model because we want the site to serve as a business portal and as an online retail site where we can sell our apparel and products.
Step 3: Choose a Design Template
After choosing the type or model of your site, you’ll be presented with another set of options. You can allow the WIX design system to build an initial site for you after you answer a few personal questions about your brand and goals. Or, you can choose to create the base of your site from one of several pre-configured templates.
It’s important to remember that these are nothing more than a foundation. Once you choose a template, you can customize just about every element or component. The visuals, content and colors will likely be completely different — you’ll alter them to match your brand’s theme.
If you want more control over the entire process, go with the template option. If you just want to get started as quickly as possible, let WIX build the site. Either way, the system is rather convenient and works well.
The template area is essentially a marketplace for themes and site designs. You can choose from popular templates, browse randomly or even search for something specific. You can also sort templates by features, options and usage scenarios — like for a business or personal blog.
Step 4: Update Your Primary Details
After choosing a template and activating it, you’ll be brought to the actual design and development stage. The first thing you’ll want to do is update the primary details, including the name of your brand and site, tagline and additional text content. If you have trouble updating the information, just know you can come back later. However, if and when your site goes live, any information left will be displayed to your audience. That’s why it’s important to handle the crucial details before anything else.
Any edits you make on a single page should carry over across your entire site — at least with the main elements. It’s also a good time to select the font, colors and various elements (like section dividers) you’ll be using throughout your design. You need a coherent, seamless visual theme throughout the site.
In the left sidebar, the top option (which has a square icon) is used to select and customize the website background. If you want to use a theme, color or option for this element, be sure to choose it now. You’ll want to make sure your text colors, elements and fonts don’t clash with the background you choose and that everything is clearly visible.
Step 5: Update the Media, Including Videos and Images
Next, you’ll want to update the visual content and media in the template. This includes your site logo, product images and videos, content on the featured carousel or slider, and much more. You can do this simply by uploading your images to the WIX editor in batches or one at a time.
Re-purpose any existing visuals or delete them from the template. This saves space and ensures that it won’t show up on any variant, including mobile or desktop.
To upload your content, choose the fourth option from the top in the left sidebar, which has a cloud icon. Here, you can also upload custom fonts, images, videos, music and audio tracks, and documents like guides, user manuals or PDF contracts.
Once your content is loaded, you can then add it to your site by replacing the existing section and images or creating new ones.
Step 6: Add and Customize Your Elements
On the sidebar of the WIX UI, you’ll notice a button that says “add,” which indicates adding various elements to the template or site. By choosing this button, you can further customize the design by adding separate components, text or content sections and fields.
For each element, you’ll be able to select different options from each. Text boxes, for example, can be in multiple sizes, layouts and styles. And that’s barely scratching the surface. There’s a lot here to update and customize your site.
You can also use the WIX app marketplace (third option from the top) to install plugins or apps to your site that do various things. This cuts down on the amount of coding and development you’ll have to do overall. For example, you can install apps to implement things like a full site search function, live messaging and chat support, Facebook like buttons and more.
One thing you can do, for example, is implement Google Analytics for your site traffic.
Step 7: Rinse and Repeat
For each page you create on your site, you’ll need to do the same thing. That includes setting up a template, components and elements, and customizing all the content. It may sound silly, but that’s really how simple designing a site on the platform is.
Step 8: List Your Products
In the sidebar, you’ll also notice a store manager option. This is where you can configure everything about your online store or business — including products, descriptions, page layouts and shopping cart messages.
Payments, shipping and store settings can also be configured here, which is important to get ironed out before you open your virtual doors to customers.
Building this content yourself from scratch would be incredibly difficult, but WIX makes it super simple. More importantly, it’s quick to build a proper retail site with products, descriptions, demos and more. That means if you have the extra development and coding experience, you can spend more of your time customizing the various components instead of building basic functions.
WIX handles its own store functions like user profiles and accounts, shopping carts, shipping and tax, and much more.
Final Step: Publish Your Site
When you’re happy with the design of your site and all its content, you’re ready to publish or make it live. In the admin panel in the top right of your WIX UI, you can preview your site — see what it looks like live — and publish in full.
When you choose publish, you’ll be given the option to use a domain associated with your WIX account or to use your own branded domain. Follow the instructions to do so and you should have your website up and running in no time.
WIX Review: Final Thoughts
All in all, WIX is a remarkably powerful and convenient website building tool for anyone with little to no experience — or lots. The beauty of the system is that you can have a site live and published in a matter of minutes or hours. If you have the development experience, you can further customize your site through more advanced coding techniques. If not, you can simply install one of the many WIX apps or extensions.
It’s a versatile system for anyone looking to build a professional-quality website — even with eCommerce and retail components. You’d be hard-pressed to find a decent competitor with support this robust.
Does that mean it’s perfect? No, but nothing ever is. There are some areas where the platform could stand to be improved. The layout and UI is approachable, as we’ve discussed, but could still be intimidating for someone who’s new to the whole experience. There’s a tutorial to walk you through using the system, but it should be more informative. Also, some of the buttons and components are part of a guessing game. You don’t really know what they do until you start using them, which makes for a more complicated experience at times.
Still, it’s easy enough to follow even for folks who have never done anything with web development in the past, and that matters.