At a Meetup last week, a travel writer friend asked me a perennial question about websites:
Which is better, WordPress or Wix?
My friend is kinda old-school when it comes to technology. He’s worked in print and on broadcast television, but he’s still getting his head around the new mediums. Until now, he’s used Facebook as a blog of sorts, but something’s telling him he needs to have a dedicated blogsite to express himself and present his clips.
He’s right about that. Any creative or business person should have their own website to call home.
But the question remains: how much more value does WordPress provide over Wix, or any free Content Management System (CMS) like Tumblr, Medium, or Ghost?
My answer: It’s all about control.
WordPress or Wix
If you want full control over your public image, you do everything yourself. Or, you know what every aspect is so you can direct someone in the tasks at hand. Control does not leave details to serendipity. Control leaves nothing to chance.
By using WordPress.org, you have full control.
I’m not talking about WordPress.com, which is an entirely different animal, more related to Wix.
I mean the open-source software distributed through the non-profit arm of WordPress.org. That’s what you want.
There are two main reasons why you should build a website on WordPress instead of Wix and other “free” platforms: Ownership and Plugins.
Building a site on WordPress.com, Wix, Tumbler, or Medium, costs nothing to start because you are effectively a digital sharecropper. You are planting on someone else’s property.
That means you’re subject to their terms and are vulnerable to their vagaries. If they change a setting, or algorithm, or design – you change too.
It’s kind of like Facebook. Free to use, but when they decide throttle your posts, what are you going to do? Sue? You’re not even paying for the service.
Let’s say you want to make changes to your sharecropped website but your free service doesn’t allow that? What can you do?
Your only recourse is move your files to a space where you’re free to design what you want. That’s called Self-hosting and costs money.
More on self-hosting in a moment.
The other reason for having a WordPress.org site is to take advantage of some of the thousands of free and paid plugins available on the market.
Plugins are the little apps that work in harmony with your site’s theme to give it extra functionality beyond the core WordPress software.
Starting out, you might think “I’m going to keep my site simple” or “I have everything I need right here.” But over time, you begin to see other sites doing cool things and you start to want what those webmasters have. Lacking the functionality you desire, you start feeling inferior about your site and a big hole of envy opens up and cannot be filled until your site has that same cool feature, as well as that one, and that one too.
Before you know it, you’re cursing your decision to go the cheap, easy route, and you kick yourself for not having the gumption or fortitude to build a more complex WordPress site in the first place.
That’s ok. It’s never too late to move and rebuild, this time on a self-hosted site.
Self Hosted Sites
To have all the control and plugins you’ll eventually want, you need a self-hosted site. That’s where you buy server space from a hosting provider like Bluehost, Hostgator, Host Papa, MT Temple, etc. where you are free to build the site of your dreams.
Once your account is purchased, your hosting provider will provide the latest version of WordPress and serve it to you through an easy install system.
Your host will, of course, offer services like installing WordPress, installing a premium theme, creating a backup system, etc, – and charge you for everything along the way – but most of these things can be done by you with very little software knowledge.
Then, you can go out and buy the theme of your dreams and install it. Install all the various plugins you want, it’s your choice.
And, when you feel confident enough, you can edit code in your site. That is definitely NOT something you can do at Wix!
As far as money goes, when you add up all the extras you’ll pay your free provider for – themes, domain name, widgets – you might as well pay for a self-hosted site.
Build a Site on WordPress
Essentially, there is nothing you can’t do on a self-hosted WordPress.org blogsite. All you need is a lot of time, as well as a desire to look incredible on the Web.
The choice is yours.
Now, someone, tell me why a Wix site is better than WordPress. I’d love to hear your reasons.