There was a time when creating a website was the sole province of experts. Those in need of a site either contacted a professional designer or learned to write base code themselves. Those days are long gone and the once niche market is now reaching saturation point, with numerous companies vying for the attention of consumers looking to input clicks of the mouse, not HTML5 code.
One such website that promises to enable users to create quality products without trawling through lengthy tutorials is Wix; a veteran of the industry and one currently sitting at a healthy 54 million active subscribers.
Not that users have to subscribe. The basic package is free and even at this entry level, the service has more than enough options on offer to get you started with your very own website.
No Coding Required
The first thing new users will be confronted with is the template page. Here you can select from predetermined categories such as Online Store or ‘Finance & Law’. Each template comes complete with a preview mode so you can get a sense of what your own finished product might look like and if you so wish, reject a design and opt for something else.
A Non-Formulaic Formula
Wix seem to have worked hard to ensure that users don’t fall into a endlessly repeated identikit site design by adding levels of optional complexity at each stage of the site’s construction. Not only are there numerous categories to choose from, each category is also fully customizable. The template acts only as a starting point, not as a rigid structure.
The result is that Wix grants the ability to add flair and personality right from the get go, by focusing on giving users the manoeuvring space they need to create something truly bespoke.
Having selected a template, users are prompted to edit pages or tabs one by one, granting each a sense of individualism. A short video introduction later and you’re ready to go.
Even without the need to code, beginners might be somewhat overwhelmed, but the simple listings on the control tabs (consisting only of the titles Page, Design, Add, App Market and Settings) are intuitive enough that a few experimental clicks are all that will be needed before things start to become a little clearer.
The ‘Pages’ tab allows you to jump straight into the customization of each individual tab; adding, removing or altering them as you see fit. The tool tip is intuitive and confronts you first with the most basic tasks, such as changing the page name and color scheme, before moving on to optional fine tuning.
There is no noticeable lock-out effect when navigating through the menus and items on the screen can be manipulated or replaced at any time. Changing the template’s placeholder pictures with images of your own is just a right click of the mouse away.
The ‘Edit’ tab opens up further options for users to play around with, rationalizing design briefs and details such as font size across the whole project. Selecting from any of these options will make changes in real time, meaning you don’t have to switch between preview mode and edit mode every time you make an alteration.
This distinct advantage over some other web builders allows for a much more fluid and dynamic process of creation. Instant dismissal of anything that clashes or otherwise fails to please can be handled with a simple gliding of the mouse, leaving the whole process feeling organic and natural.
Adding media or additional menu options really couldn’t be easier either, benefiting as it does from the simplicity of a design brief that the Wix team has applied with an impressive degree of skill. Your website can be up and running in less than 15 minutes and will be live and searchable immediately, complete with links to all your social media content, video feeds, and even online payment details.
Of equal importance is the ability to construct mobile and online versions of your site simultaneously. Switching between these viewing modes is seamless and allows you to optimize your page across both formats without compromising either. There’s also no need to worry over much about SEO since Wix handles this.
Low Cost Solutions
Advert free versions of your site can be bought for as little as $2.25 month. All higher bandwidth options come with a generous $125 worth of gift vouchers, split unevenly between Google AdWords and Facebook.
Where WIX truly shines though is its App market, which offers an eclectic range of options to suit any budget.
Operating on a simple ‘pick and click’ basis, the sheer number of options available is encouraging. Free Apps, such as store links to iTunes or the addition of a Facebook ‘Like’ button, eventually give way to more complex plugins, such as premium level form fillers or e-commerce packages. Installation requires no separate action and all that will be left for you to do is to decide where best to place the app.
A Balanced Product
Ultimately, Wix’s foray into the world of web design can only be judged by the competition it faces in the market itself. Competitively priced and easily accessible, the WIX package allows users to scale their web presence to a level that suits them.
For commercial interests in particular, the software offers a low-risk investment, since an increased need for bandwidth probably means that the site is performing well. The need to introduce paid apps and premium level services will only ever becomes necessary once traffic picks up speed. Server access runs at a satisfactory level with no noticeable waiting times when trying to access the cloud. Little or no downtime should be expected at any given moment.
The ease of use is unmatched by rival systems with Wix having successfully removed specialist knowledge from the equation all together. Spit and polish is added to your site without you having had to lift a finger.
Flaws are few and none are particularly frustrating. The more experienced web designers might find the template system a little too restrictive and an almost counter intuitive desire to peek under the hood is sometimes pervasive, perhaps even overwhelming.
For those who lack the knack for design, the prospect of leaving well alone invites the risk of creating a site that lacks soul; playing around with schemata on the other hand can see cohesive design slipping away rapidly.
That said, Wix at the very least offers frustration free entry into the world of web design, simply by focusing almost entirely on functionality. The site can be updated on the fly with new content, processed, and be live on the internet in seconds.
There is a definite sense of continuity to be found on Wix. I recommend checking it out.