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 needs better? Our four-part series tells you all you need to know. Click here to read Part 1 - Usability, or Part 2 - Design Options and Functionality.
Round Four: SEO Management
The SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) of a website decides how highly search engines like Google and Bing regard your website, and how well it is tailored to appear highly-ranked within relevant search engine results. Hence, for a small business, good SEO management is fundamental to an effective online presence.
Wix has made great strides recently in improving its SEO management, but still falls short of the competition. Whilst linking social media is easy and optimisation has improved a lot over the years, Wix is still incompatible with Google's data highlighter tool in Google Webmasters, which allows you to select data for the search engine to parse, and the amount of freedom to customise metadata to conform to search engine standards is limited. Wix will get your website on prominent search engines, but your amount of control over exactly where is a bit limited.
Google's content crawler has some problems with websites built in Wix
By contrast, WordPress has a variety of tools to manage SEO and conforms to many of the search engine's standards. Using plugins, you can easily manage and customise key search engine requirements like structured data, rich cards and accelerated mobile pages (read more about those here), and SEO can also be managed easily within plugins like Yoast SEO or SEO Wingman. WordPress, quite simply, is far more effective at allowing you to tailor your website for search engines.
Round Five: Analytics & Data Capture
Both Wix and WordPress are compatible with Google's free web analytics suite, Google Analytics. This monitors the performance of your website over time, how visitors reach your site, and how they navigate around it. However, Wix has some issues with Google Analytics – for example, Google Analytics is often unable to capture information about navigation around a website, viewing it only as a single page visit. These kinds of disadvantages carry through to more dedicated, commercial analytics and data suites – for example, Wix has only basic support for the HubSpot suite, allowing visitor analytics but not functions like HubSpot's forms. There are apps for independent data capture, but it is limiting to not be able to integrate it with established software.
WordPress has far greater support for such software – HubSpot has its own dedicated plugin for WordPress websites, and there are additional plugins for dedicated support of functions like HubSpot forms. WordPress is fully compatible with Google's visitor monitoring and there are a variety of plugins which can be used to diversify the range of analytics that can be captured.
Round Six: Performance & Optimisation
By no means are we experts on website optimisation, but we try to keep an eye on it – it's important that your website is fast enough as search engines tend to prefer better-performing websites. In recent years, Wix has made great strides in optimisation for responsive and fast performance. Having been built originally in Flash, Wix has moved to an HTML code base and now offers much more in terms of optimisation. In our experience, Wix will compress your content, provide fast server response time and minify your CSS and HTML very effectively; all key rules for page speed identified by Google that will help your website to load quickly.
However, a lot of the other key tenets of responsive content seem to be issues with Wix, or dependent on what content you place on your page. For example, Wix regularly seems to have problems with render-blocking (loading being paused until certain resources have loaded) and poorly-optimised CSS delivery (again, delaying loading of your page). In essence, Wix performs fairly well, can feel responsive, and has made a lot of progress in optimising itself, but – to your computer, at least – it's not ideal. There's not a lot you can do about this, either – without direct access to the code, Wix's performance is more dependent on the platform's developers and its apps to optimise it correctly.
WordPress similarly seems to fall down here in places, but at least offers better potential to be fixed. Being self-hosted, the server response time is effectively dependent on which host you use, but most should be quick. WordPress, like Wix, enables compression of the resources being delivered to the visitor, thus speeding up load times. However, it doesn't automatically compress images and so, for image-heavy websites, more care and effort is required than in Wix to optimise your images for fast loading. As usual though, there are plugins for WordPress, such as Autoptimize and Zara 4, that should be able to improve your performance as needed. By default, WordPress has similar optimisation to Wix, but, with plugins and access to the code, work can be put in easily to improve a website's performance if it's important to you.