Tool Review: Wix, an online website building tool

There are many website builders available on the web, most of them very simple to use and free. Aside from WordPress there is a wide panel of website builder used for different intent and purposes. There are business oriented builders like simplewebstores.com and webflow.com which enable people to create online stores for clients to visit and purchase goods online. Others are used as online portfolio pages like squarespace.com, while some like yola.com are more for users that want the looks of a professional-looking website without having to put up with third party advertisement. Choosing between one builder and another is a question of taste and purpose of the said site.

All these sites share some basic characteristics in common: They are free of charge for the most part and do not require any coding skills with their variety of customizable templates to work on. They can be shared over the wide range of social medias and some of them even have mobile application formats, making it easy to share and consult whenever and wherever the users, followers or clients wish to.

However great these online tools may be, the one I decided to pick for this review is a very particular one called Wix. Wix.com is a stand-alone cloud-based platform that stands out by its’ fair mixture between complexity and creativity. Wix came a long way, says critic Steve Benjamins :

By far, one of the most popular website builders, Wix has built its reputation on building “stunning” websites. Originally, “stunning” websites really meant “Flash” websites because Wix was one of the best Flash website builders.

However, due to its’ incompatibility with mobile usage and the fact that it doesn’t mingle well with search engines, the Flash format was replaced by HTML5 websites. By giving users access to over a hundred different customizable templates with countless images, clipart and icons, Wix has a very fresh and very unique approach on website design. It can be used to build a site for almost any intent and purposes.

Some say that Wix lacks the structure of many website builders, making it impossible to switch between templates once most of the website has been created without losing or corrupting the format. In simple terms: Unlike many builders, Wix lets users create pretty much anything they want from scratch, adding some animation here, removing some links there and create various sub-sections to a same thumbnail, etc. However great the creative possibilities may be, this can be seen as a drawback on a programming point of view. In a website builder like WordPress for example, as user can switch from template to template and keep their content intact due to the programming structure behind the builder. In Wix, that is not the case since users are allowed such a vast liberty, making it hard for programmed subroutines to adapt between different formats. Regardless, I still believe it gives more freedom to the user and originality to the websites themselves.

Using a simple drag and drop mechanic for all the creation process of the website, users can easily shape their website to their every desires. Another fascinating thing regarding the HTML5 format is that it allows users to create stunning effects and animations on their page, using very simple tools to guide the creator. It is truly a treat to work with this builder because it requires only creativity and a varying level of patience proportionate to the desired look of the final product. This gives users the opportunity to make their website very interactive. As an additional perk, a Wix website can also include a customizable online store using the Ecommerce premium plan. The website can also incorporate a blog or an interactive forum by letting users comment via their facebook accounts on your site. The format is also adaptable for mobile or portable devices such as tablets or phones with a slight drawback: it does not really convert the format from the computer version to a mobile which can result in further adjustments to the format for it to look as slick as it would on a monitor. This again is due to the lack of structure making it hard to simply convert the format from one medium to another.

Wix has been given some very good reviews and is considered one of the most versatile and fun to use website creator by many users. It is said to be a very dynamic and intuitive tool with easy management perks that allows the administrators to maintain a constant eye on the news on their sites through the use of reminders that can be in the form of notification on a phone for example. The site remains customizable at any given time and can be administrated very openly, allowing privacy or liberty when needed.

Personally, I used Wix in the past when I was studying in videogame design, before I was enrolled in Beenox’s team, during my first year of study. At first I was instructed to build an online portfolio in order to promote and upload my work in various classes. Through experimentation with its’ functions, I discovered the great possibilities offered by Wix’s unique platform like: embedding downloadable files, creating slideshow automated animations, creating links, etc. It was a great and fascinating tool to work with and I would recommend it for anyone who has a great deal of creativity and not so much patience for programming. The results are great and can be modified along with the creative process, whereas the typical website programmer will have to input all the data in a blunt format then test it and fix bugs before seeing what the product actually looks like. It’s a great tool for visual people.

From an ESL point of view, I would use Wix as a creative tool to have student create slideshows or presentations available online. This would give them the opportunity to understand better how a cloud platform works as well as give them a new perspective of hard data that they usually carry around on a USB key versus this accessible version of their work. They would get their hands on a tool that would stray away from the standard Powerpoints or other frequent tools used for presenting work to class. That would likely heighten their motivation and encourage originality as much as creativity in them. I would obviously use this in high school at the higher levels, say grade ten through twelve. This being due to the very vast possibilities that could become problematic in the hands of dependent students like the younger ones can prove to be. Students would be introduced to many mechanics of the virtual world such as online publication, uploading data, drag and dropping mechanism and creating basic animations.

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