The Face-Off: Wix, WordPress or Custom Software?

When building websites, big decisions come early

Websites, being the digital embodiment of organizations, bring with them a tide of strategic decisions. That tide can be as easy or frustrating to weather as you want it to be – it’s all about asking the right questions up front.

There are two crucial decisions you make when you decide to put up a website for your organization. The first one, obviously, is the domain name you will choose. Most of the good ones are usually taken (unless you are willing to shower the owner with enough cash to convince him to give it up), so you have to be creative and think of a name that will get stuck in the minds of your visitors like that jingle they heard in that commercial last Tuesday that they can’t stop humming.

The second most crucial decision you will make before your website goes up is the kind of software you will use to run it. Once you’ve already established most of the content, decided on formatting, and installed all the plugins and widgets you want to use, it becomes rather difficult to change your mind. The level of difficulty grows more as time passes and you not only get accustomed to the software but also have tons of content that cannot be easily transferred onto another platform.

Therefore, the level of complexity you want to achieve (whether you’re automating your entire business or just launching an informational website) is crucial to understand beforehand. Before you get started on your site, it would be prudent to get as familiarized with the pitfalls and advantages of using the most popular choices for your backend. Usually, it’s a choice between Wix, WordPress, and hiring developers to build your custom software. So, let’s compare those! We’ll start by putting Wix and WordPress head-to-head, then comparing both to the prospect of custom software.

 

The Biggest Difference Between Wix And WordPress

With both Wix and WordPress, you can start a website for free. The difference is that with Wix, you can’t connect your own domain to the site (i.e. you will have to use one of theirs) and they will plaster advertisements on your content, none of which will offer you a single penny. That might sound like a disadvantage, but it is a good opportunity to familiarize yourself with the software and try out different design choices then compare what you have with what you can get with WordPress.

The good part about Wix is that the software has a very tiny learning curve. You basically point and click at what you want and it’s there. WordPress on the other hand requires a lot of customization and its support network doesn’t offer a whole lot of help for non-technical people at the best of times. On the other hand, WP offers you the advantage of being able to code your way out of any situation since the software is not only open-sourced but also allows you to make your own plugins to get things done the way you want them done. If you cannot code, you will have to hire developers that can work their magic for you.

 

Flexibility & Customization vs. Pre-Packaged Easy-To-Use Awesomeness

In the grand scheme of things, Wix vs. WordPress is kind of like Windows vs. Linux. One is an easy-to-use commercial product professionally packaged for businesses just getting their feet wet, while the other one is a free alternative that offers an incredible amount of flexibility if you know how to work with it properly. They’re both useful for their own purposes. If you want the best of both worlds, you can use Wix for the front-end pages and WordPress for the blog under a subdomain. Wix even shows you how to do this.

Initially, Wix was designed as a commercial product for building e-commerce sites and other sites that present more static content, while WordPress was designed as a blog. You can use either for any of these purposes, but you will notice over time that they tend to do the things they were originally designed to do best.

 

What About Getting A Developer To Make The Site?

Both Wix and WordPress are packaged platforms, meaning that they have code that’s already written with a purpose in mind. Although WordPress allows for an almost infinite level of customization, it’s still coded by someone else. It’s not your code. This means that if you want to do a complete overhaul, you’re literally going to have to spend months on trial-and-error before you even modify the platform slightly. And what happens when the software gets an update? All of your code gets thrown into chaos and you either have to make your own updates to it or check the “diffs” between revisions to make sure you can still apply the update without it breaking all of your modifications.

Alternatively, you could add code snippets in a way that won’t get torn down every time you update the system (although this isn’t guaranteed to work perfectly all the time).

This problem is something you don’t encounter if you just get a few developers to pick up their wrenches and hammers and just stab away at the keyboard until a site magically appears out of thin air. If there’s one major drawback to this, it’s that you’ll need quite a hefty budget to get quality coders to work for you compared to what you’d need to just get Wix to do everything. If you don’t have extraordinarily particular needs, you’re probably better off choosing the pre-packaged platforms which provide additional support with security updates and new features as time passes.

 

Conclusion: Dabble before deciding

There are no wrong choices here. Only ones that present more complications along the way than others. The one piece of advice you should take away from all this is that you should dabble in the software for a good period of time before you decide to use it, just to see what all its quirks are. If there’s a piece of software with quirks that you can easily live with, then you’ve hit gold!

Posted by Ralph Lasry

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