A little while ago now I decided to rebuild my site and blog from scratch using Wix.com as the host. I thought it would be of interest to write down my experiences. These have been mostly positive and I'm glad I made the move but there are two massive gotchas that I didn't find out about until too late.
I had a few problems with Wordpress.com, my previous host. One big problem was that of inflexible layouts. You were constrained by the particular template you chose as to whether you could do particular things. If you wanted to do something else you then had to find (by trial and error) another template that would do that but that new template might have other things you didn't like.
The second big problem was the split between my site and my blog, which were under separate URLs. I didn't find a way to allow the two to be under the same URL.
Thinking I'd like to improve the site I looked round and, sticking a metaphorical pin on a map, I chose Wix.com to try out. Initially it was just playing, seeing what the site builder was like, but very quickly I was impressed by the power and flexibility and richness of the thing. Fairly quickly I built up a new site skeleton as a proof of concept and I was convinced. A week or so later and the new site and blog were live. It was just after I'd paid the first bill that I discovered the two massive gotchas.
The first thing I noticed on trying out the editor was the ease of use. Instead of being constrained by a particular template I could start with a blank sheet and lay things out any way I wanted them. I could choose any colours and fonts I wanted. It was all pretty intuitive.
The second thing I noticed was the rich array of widgets, gadgets, and such like that do some quite fancy things. Then you have the apps. These are very rich pieces of functionality that can add a lot of power to your site. Some (or perhaps most) of these need to be paid for but there are quite a few useful free ones.
Thinking to the future I was interested in the possibilities for taking payments and creating a shop-front directly in the site. Currently all my e-commerce is done on Etsy.com and I redirect potential buyers over to my Etsy site when they want to purchase.
I'm pretty happy with the new site and the process of building it has been pretty easy. I like some of the widgets available to me.
On the downside, the whole experience often feels like it's a work in progress. There are some problems you'll come across where it feels like the particular feature is a pre-release version. The upside of this is that you hope they'll get fixed soon.
The same might be true of the third-party apps that you can include in your site. This is an interesting concept, an app market whereby third party developers can offer functionality that you can include in your site. However an awful lot of them seem to get mediocre reviews so you wonder who is providing the apps and whether they, also, are in a very early state. Although it will be interesting to try adding e-commerce features directly to my site I'd be a little worried about it right now, especially compared to a dedicated e-commerce site like Etsy, which has been built from the ground up for this purpose.
It's good to have the blog directly under the same URL as the main site but the blog interface isn't so good as wordpress.com . Wordpress started life as a blogging site so it's pretty well developed while the Wix blogging interface isn't so good. The editor interface isn't so powerful. Text formatting is limited (you can't choose font, for example, as far as I can tell) and if you add a photo carousel it doesn't allow the viewer to expand each photo to full size.
The biggest problem with the blog is the follower/subscriber interface, which is highly confusing to me as the site owner. There are multiple ways to allow a viewer to follow your blog and it isn't at all clear how to configure them or what the difference between them is. I'm still confused by it. Wordpress, on the other hand, makes it easy and obvious. Also, Wordpress has a whole ecosystem of other bloggers who use the Wordpress Reader interface to find and follow blogs. With wix.com you're on your own in regard to getting people to find you.
Now we come to the two biggest problems by far:
No .co.uk domains
Yes, you can't have a .co.uk domain name. I only found this out once I'd paid the subscription fee and tried to move my artoflandscape.co.uk domain name over from Wordpress. I couldn't believe it. Fortunately there is a workaround for me but it costs. I'm having to maintain my Wordpress site and pay £36 per year for it and the domain name is registered with them. I then redirect the URL using the domain name configuration at Wordpress so that it points to the Wix site.
No tablet interface
Wix recognises desktop screens and phone screens but doesn't recognise tablets. On the plus side, you have infinite flexibility to tailor your site to the small smartphone screen, which is good, but viewers on Android tablets see the smartphone version of your site while viewers on iPads see the desktop version of your site. The android tablet view is particularly crap. Wordpress recognises tablets as a separate size of device.
EDIT - I'd implied previously that Wix couldn't differentiate between tablet and smartphone in the analytics figures but it can and does. The reason I hadn't noticed is that the number of tablet users to my site is so small (less than 10%). So the problem is perhaps less bad than I'd thought (not many viewers using tablets) but still crap.
I'm mostly glad I've made the move. The site is better and I have more options for the future. The process was fairly easy. However if I had known about the lack of tablet interface and the lack of .co.uk support I might have though twice and looked at a different host instead.
I've been noticing more things I'm not happy with since I wrote this post.
Can't reply to comments - if someone comments on a blog post, I can't reply to it as the site owner. I can log in to the site as a visitor and add my own comment to the post and hope the previous commenter sees it but I can't reply directly. Nor can I see a list of comments in the blog dashboard. These are both things that Wordpress can do and again I think it shows that Wordpress comes from a blogging background and Wix doesn't.
Blog unreliability - quite a few times in the last week I haven't been able to get to my blog's dashboard. It just sits there spinning a wheel. I can see the blog as a viewer so I know something is working. And just now, having previously added a comment to a post (replying to someone else's comment) I went back to the same post to make sure the comment had been published and all comments seem to have disappeared. Not good.