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For almost a year now, I have been searching for an easy-to-use static website builder. I can already hear my SEO pals cringing right now, but sometimes I need a simple, clean, static front page to post information about my business, special events or my portfolio.
Wix has been around since 2008, but they made a lot of updates in 2011 that make it great for anyone who wants to build a polished website, Facebook page or mobile site without having any design skills or code knowledge.
Instead, Wix gives users a wide range of design freedom through its drag-and-drop style platform. Instead of worrying about HTML and pixel dimensions, you can choose from different text, video or graphics options, insert what you need onto the page, and then move or manipulate each item with your mouse. If you aren’t feeling creative, Wix offers over 100 customizable templates, almost all of which are attractive compared to other free options. (I’m looking at you Google Sites, with your ugly templates.)
In addition to their templates, Wix offers a free stock photo library. While you will most likely want to update your site with your own photos, their stock library makes it simple for you to get your site and up and running quickly. When you are finished with your design or ready to replace the images, all you need to do is click on the image and hit “change photo.” When you add a new image, it will maintain the same settings and dimensions as the original photo.
Wix offers websites in both Flash and HTML5. While most of us with iPhones cringe at the idea of a Flash site, they also give you the option to create a mobile-friendly version of the site. Plus, all Wix sites are created with SEO-friendly features such as metadata and an HTML mirror site, so search engines can rank and index you even if you opt for a Flash site.
If you want to set up a storefront on your site, you can choose an eCommerce template with shopping cart, checkout, and PayPal buttons. You can also add blogs, social media buttons, and video content with a few clicks.
So, what’s the catch? If you want to add a custom domain, you have to pay for it. And if you want to get rid of Wix ads, you have to pay a little more. Luckily, most premium options aren’t too pricey, and they offer vouchers for Google AdWords, Facebook ads, business cards and other perks. The most expensive plan is just $16.17 per month, and that includes the cost of your domain. The cheapest graphic designer I know charges $40 per hour, so if you are paying someone to help you make updates just six times a year, you would still be paying much more.
If you are the type of person who enjoys having hands-on control of your web design but don’t have the code knowledge of a graphic designer, I suggest that you try Wix or one of these competitors: Weebly, Webs, or Yola.