WordPress vs. Wix: Which CMS Should You Use for Your Website?

11 Min.
WordPress  vs. WIX: Which CMS should you use for your website?

Websites can be created in different ways. You can program them yourself, use an open content management system like WordPress or use a website builder. One of these website building kits is Wix. But which system performs better? We tested: WordPress vs. Wix.

If you want to build a website, a blog or a shop, there are a variety of ways to do it. Since very few people will be able to program a website themselves (and nowadays that makes only limited sense), there are ready-made content management systems (CMS) that you can set up according to your tastes.

What is a content management system?

Behind the somewhat unwieldy term "content management system" is nothing more than software you can use to can build websites. The software takes care of the management of your content.

WordPress is an example of such a content management system. Once installed on your server and set up, you can start right away creating content, customizing the design and building a shop.

In WordPress, you'll find a largely open system over which you have full control (and thus full responsibility!) at all times. In contrast, there's a more convenient solution in "closed" website building kits but these do have their own disadvantages, however. Big names for website building kits include Squarespace, Jimdo and - the subject of today's comparison - Wix.

Overview: WordPress vs. Wix

First, let's take quick look into what WordPress and Wix are all about.

The world's most popular content management system is WordPress. In your daily web surfing, on average, you'll stumble across a website built with WordPress in over 40 percent of the websites you visit. WordPress was developed in 2003 by Matthew "Matt" Mullenweg and has grown rapidly ever since. In addition to the self-hosted WordPress, there is also WordPress.com, a website builder that would be partially comparable to Wix. This article is about the self-hosted WordPress variant.

Wix was founded in 2006 by Avishai Abrahami, Nadav Abrahami and Giora Kaplan in Tel Aviv, Israel, and has been listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange in New York since November 2013. With Wix, websites can be created according to the modular system mentioned above. This means users can put together their websites in a clearly defined system. Creative outliers or special functions are not really part of the idea.

According to its own data, Wix today has over 150 million users in 190 countries. This makes Wix the 5th most used CMS behind WordPress, Shopify, Joomla and Squarespace.

WIX Homepage
The Wix homepage

WordPress and Wix aren't, well, the best of friends - to put it kindly. WordPress inventor Matt Mullenweg has already addressed Wix and their policies in public - and Wix, for their part, have been very forthcoming with their responses. I'm just mentioning this briefly here now, we'll go into more detail below about the various points of contention.

Open content management system vs. website construction kit

Now we've had an overview of the differences between WordPress and Wix, let's dig deeper and see where the advantages and disadvantages of open content management systems like WordPress and "closed" website building kits like Wix lie.

WordPress is like owning your own property...

The fact is: if you want freedom and self-determination, you really need an open CMS like WordPress. You can act almost limitlessly to your liking, adapt your websites, expand them with plugins from a gigantic community and change code until the result is exactly as you imagined it. This is a huge advantage but, at the same time, it's a big disadvantage too. Because with all this freedom and self-determination comes a lot of responsibility.

Think of it like moving into a property you actually own after moving out of your parents' home. You have this freedom to do everything the way you want now. But in return, you have to remember the key, close the windows when you go out and take care of the insurance.

The same is true for WordPress. It's your responsibility to make the website as secure as possible, not to overdo it with plugins that drag down the performance, to implement and solve customizations, extensions and problems yourself or purchase such services from developers.

This sounds very dramatic for beginners, but I'm not trying to scare you off. After the first few steps, you'll quickly learn what's important and feel more and more confident in using WordPress. This learning curve is very fulfilling and can take you further - not just when it comes to websites. After all, these skills are becoming increasingly important in our digital world.

Those who've already built websites, know HTML, PHP or CSS, or blog successfully to a large readership often have advantages in job interviews - depending on the job, of course.

...with Wix, you're more like a renter...

The antithesis of this is website construction kits. With Wix, it's like you're moving into a rental apartment. You may paint the walls or hang a picture yourself, but you can't just remodel the bathroom or tear down walls.

In return, Wix thinks of the keys for you, cleans up after you and lets you do your thing up to the point where it wouldn't be advisable to continue - from Wix's point of view, not yours. Less metaphorically, this means Wix does updates and backups for you, configures the server and even creates your logo if you want - for a monthly fee, of course.

Both systems have their strengths

Both systems make sense; not everyone wants to deal intensively with the topic of websites. They want to build the website once, they want it to run and be secure. In this case, WordPress is definitely the wrong system. Because that's simply not how an open CMS works.

On the other hand, those who need more scope and freedom to express themselves creatively and technically are better off with WordPress. There's raison d'être for both systems.

Optics, design and customization: Who offers the better options?

The topics of optics, design and customization are, of course, highly subjective. That's why we prefer to look at the objective facts: Wix currently provides its users with 977 so-called "design templates". In the WordPress theme directory alone there are currently 8,233 themes to choose from - 8 times as many as Wix. In addition, there are thousands of paid premium themes from developers who don't offer their products via the theme directory.

WIX Designs
Wix offers you many design templates.

To summarize, WordPress gives you a huge range of choices that Wix simply can't. This is only logical as WordPress is, after all, an open and therefore accessible system. On top of that, it's the largest CMS in the world and so developers and designers are, of course, more likely to use this platform than a closed system like Wix.

But it's also true that choosing and customizing the design templates are - within the limits of a website builder - much easier for beginners with Wix. The whole Wix system is reminiscent of classic WordPress builders like Elementor. You click on an element and can drag and drop it, change the colors and sizes or delete it completely.

But if you try to make too many adjustments, you'll quickly reach the limits. It you want to customize to a large extent, WordPress is more suitable.

Functionality and extensions: What about plugins?

Almost no website can do without plugins. Plugins allow you to extend your website, blog or shop with functionalities that are important for your specific website but not included by default. This can be for example social media icons, a newsletter systems or contact forms.

The advantage of WordPress becomes clear in this area too. While there are only a few hundred apps on the Wix app market, WordPress users can access 58,362 apps in the official plugin directory alone - plus tens of thousands of free and paid plugins offered elsewhere.

So if you're building a website, the chances are much higher that you'll get exactly the functions you need for it with WordPress. In addition, you can also more easily create code yourself (or have it created) than with Wix. So WordPress is the clear winner in this area.

E-commerce and shops

WooCommerce is a plugin (system) for WordPress you can use to implement shops. You do need to spend some training time learning about it, but then works very well and can be expanded with other plugins and add-ons as desired. Depending on the selected premium subscription, Wix also has an e-commerce system available. For this you need one of the so-called "Business & E-Commerce Premium Plans". These start at 20 euros a month. Anyone who'd like to have more functions, needs to spend 30 to 41 euros per month.

Good WooCommerce plugins and add-ons often cost a few hundred euros but it's usually just a one-time fee. So after a few months, you'll have probably evened out on monthly fixed costs of the Wix subscription if you use WordPress. At the same time, however, the e-commerce sector in particular is so complex that the simplicity of a website builder does have advantages here.

If you don't want to deal intensively with all the components of a shop, Wix could be an easy way for you to set it up. Of course, you're also dependent on Wix meeting the legal requirements for shops and online purchases in every country. This wasn't always the case in the past - at least in Germany. There's no getting around dealing with all the important legal questions and checking whether Wix also fulfils them.

Updates, security and (individual) responsibility

We already touched on this point above when we compared owning and renting a property. With WordPress, you're fully responsible for updates, backups, security and the technology. You could always use automations, e.g. for regular backups and plugin updates, but these also have to be set up first and then monitored. Depending on the complexity and size of your website, you should set aside a few minutes or hours for these things right from the start. It can be fun though, so it shouldn't scare you off right from the outset.

It's a little different with Wix. Every time you make a change, for example, a revision of your website is created. That means you can jump back to the old version with one click if you're not happy with the change you made. Moreover, Wix takes care of the server and its configuration. You have no say at all in this area - and so no responsibility for security or functionality.

Wix also has a round-the-clock support so you can always ask the customer service team for support. This isn't at option with WordPress so you have to resort to forums or programmers, which either cost time or money. 

Costs: What do WordPress and Wix cost in practice?

Wix offers a free option but it's really only suitable for the smallest private websites. Why? Because your site will display ads for Wix and your domain will be yourname.wix.com. Naturally, this looks anything but professional and shouldn't be used for any serious business.

With the premium plans, Wix distinguishes between normal websites or blogs and e-commerce websites or shops. Normal websites or blogs cost from 5 euros per month. The lowest priced plan still has Wix advertising but you do have your own domain at least. Without Wix advertising, the costs run into 10 euros, 15 euros, to a maximum of 29 euros per month.

The differences are mainly in the storage space, whereby the 3 GB in the smallest package for 10 euros should be enough for most websites. However, if you need statistics and analyses, you have to switch to the 15 euro package. The most expensive package also includes a professional logo for the website and your social media channels.

E-commerce websites and shops cost from 20 euros per month. If you want more, such as subscriptions, more products, ratings or different currencies, you have to pay 30 to 41 euros per month. The irregular numbers are, by the way, due to the currency conversion.

WIX Prices
Wix website costs for e-commerce and shops

With these prices, Wix is in a similar price range as website builder competitor Squarespace. On the one hand, this is a good thing, but on the other hand, Squarespace scores in many areas that need improvement at Wix. More about that later.

Unlike Wix, WordPress is basically free and open source. There are, of course, costs involved for the domain, the hosting and, should you need them, premium plugins and themes. As mentioned above, these are often a one-time purchases you need to make and amortize in contrast to an ongoing Wix subscription. With WordPress, it's thus far easier to spend little money in difficult times than with Wix. Here you're always bound to the monthly fixed costs.

The elephant in the room: The ongoing dispute between WordPress and Wix

Within the CMS industry, there has been an ongoing dispute between WordPress and its inventor Matt Mullenweg and Wix for years. Mullenweg doesn't hide his opinion about Wix and Wix is also not trying to change the situation.

On his blog in 2016, Mullenweg accused Wix of stealing code for the mobile Wix app from WordPress and violating their license terms. This resulted in a dispute that's been carried out via public letters and blog posts.

WordPress & Wix

Recently, a new round started when Wix launched a marketing campaign attacking WordPress quite aggressively via video ads. These clips show a therapy session in which WordPress is portrayed as a confused man. It's difficult to describe just how bizarre these ads are, so it's best to see for yourself.

For Matt Mullenweg, this form of attack is easy to counter. While WordPress is open source and free, Wix is a publicly traded and therefore for-profit company that, according to Mullenweg, forces its users to stay on the platform by not offering an export function. According to Mullenweg, Wix users are also denied refunds. He calls this "Wix and their dirty tricks" in his blog. 

Since Wix doesn't offer an export function to WordPress yet and it doesn't look like it's going to ease up after the drama between Mullenweg and Wix, you should be aware that switching is very complicated. The best idea to decide on where to build your website right at the beginning and then stand by that decision in the long run. As Wix more or less keeps you trapped in its system, you should really consider whether that makes sense for you.

Final thoughts

And what's come out of the battle between WordPress and Wix? As already described above, both systems - open content management system and website builder - have a right to exist. Among the open CMS, only WordPress is worth considering as the top dog with the largest community of developers and a gigantic selection of themes and plugins.

For website building kits, in contrast, there are more players to choose from. If you want to build a shop, you can use Shopify. For blogs and websites, there's Joomla, Squarespace and a zillion other options besides Wix. So what makes Wix stand out? Here is where it gets difficult. While Wix can score points against WordPress with simplicity, convenience and a nice building block system, it doesn't stand out particularly well against other website builders.

The app market is very small, the prices for the premium packages are only on par with the competition, the free packages are virtually uninteresting for everyone due to the annoying Wix advertising and the missing export function make it difficult to switch to other systems - reminiscent of a prison locking in the users.

In addition, Wix is of course profit-oriented (like other construction kits systems, by the way). It's under scrutiny from analysts due to the IPO and must meet the expectations of investors. There needs to be turnover and profit - from the users. Put simply: Wix needs to earn a lot of money in the short, medium and long term.

This restricts a company's management in its decisions and ensures that, in addition to profit maximization, the users can quickly get forgotten about. WordPress just doesn't have this problem. It's not without reason why Wix attacks the market leader so hard with its video campaigns - considered as crude attempts in marketing circles.

There's little to be gained from the other website building kits, the only thing that helps is the "At WordPress, you have to do updates and backups yourself" quip. A YouTube commenter described it well under one of the campaign videos, "To all the marketers and influencers out there: this is what defeat looks like. Learn from Wix's mistakes."

Conclusion: WordPress vs. Wix - well, which one?

If you're currently faced with the question of which system you want to use to build your new website, blog or shop, you should take all of these points into account. In summary: WordPress scores with freedom and an abundance of possibilities, but you also need to invest time and dedicate yourself to the site to keep it running securely with good performance. Once you've mastered the initially steep learning curve, you'll have fun with the open CMS. 

Wix scores with simplicity and convenience, a large selection of design templates, a fancy website builder á la Elementor and steers you in predefined paths. This has both advantages and disadvantages. In addition, Wix takes care of many, mostly annoying tasks like backups or updates. But there are also other builders who do the same but offer more plugins and customization options. In this respect, you should inform yourself well before you open a website with a website builder (regardless of the provider).

Any other questions?

Do you have any other questions or input about WordPress or Wix? We're looking forward to your comment! Are you interested in WordPress, web design, online marketing and more? Follow RAIDBOXES on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or sign up to our newsletter.

Christina is service editor at BASIC thinking, one of the biggest tech magazines in Germany. Her topics include technology, business, and marketing. For many years she has been working with WordPress at BASIC thinking as well as on her own projects.

Related articles

Comments on this article

Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *.