As mentioned before, I teach Web Design at LCC International University. It’s about my 10th time teaching the course, and I feel like it’s a well-developed course.
One thing that my students have had trouble understanding recently is the limitations of different site building tools. In the course, they build a site with HTML&CSS, WordPress.com, Wix, and a final project where they get to choose how they want to build the site.
The past two semesters, I’ve spent one class period in the semester asking students to reflect on the differences between HTML&CSS, WordPress.com and Wix. (I’ve used a modified Headlines activity from Making Thinking Visible for this.) The student results have been interesting, and have made me add more context to the course about why the different website building platforms exist.
More specifically, students greatly prefer Wix for their projects, over either of the two options. It has a very shallow learning curve; they can jump in and get started. They find WordPress difficult to get started with; yes, it has a block editor now, which is a big improvement. However, Featured Images and the nuances of menu and widget setups make for a steep learning curve at first.
However, the students who build more complex sites for their final project sometimes find themselves regretting choosing Wix. The requirements for this project require at least 10 pages on the site, with substantial content on each page. When something isn’t ‘easy’ in Wix, it often means that it’s not possible – the students run into places where they want to import or change a specific detail, and it’s just not possible.
Occasionally, they end up working for a larger client for the final project, and the client expresses concerns about Wix’s ability to be exported or backed up in future. With WordPress or HTML&CSS, this isn’t an issue – WordPress exports are a standard, and relatively easy to work with.
We also talk about larger websites – I ask them to think about trying to get 50 pages all working in Wix, compared to WordPress. Or a website the size of the university’s website (which is WordPress) – 600+ pages, with three languages. That would be a difficult monster to maintain in Wix.
Generally, Wix is a fast option for a small website which doesn’t need much integration or extensions connecting to other online services; it does have its limitations, though. WordPress feels more ‘corporate’, less easily-flexible, but scales and has better backup/export options.
Overall, it’s been interesting to try and explain these distinctions; there’s a situation where the platforms that have a higher learning curve often have more power and flexibility in the long-run. Businesses will often prefer the higher learning curve option, even if it’s more complex to create, as they value the power and long-term focus available with WordPress. Sometimes that can be hard for students to see, though, when their focus is on getting the project done. 🙂