The Catalyst Team at Sussex Innovation has worked on web design projects for our members using both Wix and WordPress – two of the market-leading options for building your own website. But which will suit your business needs better? Our four-part series tells you all you need to know. Click here to read Part 1 – Usability.

Rounds Two & Three: Design Options & Functionality
Both of these website builders begin with the idea of a template (for Wix) or theme (for WordPress). Effectively, these are very similar – they provide a base design from which you can build a website with the content you want to include. However, they emphasise the importance of themes to different extents.

When you first begin to build a website with Wix, you’re taken to the templates page, which allows you to select a base design template for the website, including a banner and footer as well as some example content. These templates are all free and sorted into subtypes – designed with different sector categories, such as finance or technology, in mind – so you can choose one that suits your needs. While you can’t change your template choice after you’ve selected it, Wix offers a huge amount of customisability options, meaning that everything can be modified to your liking and the template acts as more of an initial step than a final design choice.

Templates in Wix and themes in WordPress are very similar concepts, but WordPress’ themes are far more important to a page’s design.

Wix offers a wide variety of heavily customisable modules that you can add to your page, from text boxes and buttons to scrolling image galleries and social media bars. It offers an additional 500-plus free and premium apps in the Wix App Market that add modules and functionality to your website. From the App Market, you can add basic functions like visitor counts and booking calendars, or more complex additions such as comments sections, online stores or mailing list sign-ups. Wix doesn’t have everything you can imagine, and perhaps not for free – for example, finding an app to build a functional timeline was difficult – but for the vast majority of design features, Wix has what you need. Most importantly, Wix’s drag-and-drop interface is incredibly versatile – you can literally place modules wherever you want. Wix provides the ability to design your website exactly to your liking with ease – provided they have what you need.

On the other hand, WordPress (even when using the Elementor add-on mentioned in Part 1) is far more constrained in what it allows you to do. Choosing a theme for your WordPress website has less finality – you can change it whenever you want and explore your options – and there is a far greater range of free and paid themes, but you are far more restricted in what you can do to adapt them. The theme’s creator essentially decides what you are able to change about it – for example, you can usually change your header’s image and colours easily, but altering the title font is often a little harder. Issues like this may require you to investigate what line of code you need to change, or just to accept what you have. The greater range of themes mitigates this somewhat, but it’s important to keep in mind that the search for a relevant theme in WordPress is a much longer process. A good compromise for this is to select a theme that you like, and then build your banner in Photoshop to use as the header image, which enables you to customise the design however you like.

Page builders
Wix and WordPress with Elementor both have visually-based page builders, with different approaches and restrictions.

WordPress is slightly more restricted than Wix in layout options. When using Elementor, you have a range of well-designed modules to choose from, again ranging from text and images to Google Maps widgets and more, but the design process focuses on grid-based construction, which prevents you from being too creative with your layout. However, Elementor does support the addition of widgets via shortcodes, so you can shop around on the WordPress plugins store to find more widgets, such as contact forms, CAPTCHA and online shops. The store also offers plugins with more significant functionality, such as forum software, SEO managers and self-hosted video. The old slogan in blogging circles is “if you can think of it, there’s a WordPress plugin for it”, and this rings very true in actual use. With WordPress, the sky is the limit in terms of functionality, even if your design is a little constrained without going into code.

Winner – Design Options: Wix