Wix and Their Dirty Tricks

Wix, the website builder company you may remember from stealing WordPress code and lying about it, has now decided the best way to gain relevance is attacking the open source WordPress community in a bizarre set of ads. They can’t even come up with original concepts for attack ads, and have tried to rip-off of Apple’s Mac vs PC ads, but tastelessly personify the WordPress community as an absent, drunken father in a therapy session. 🤔

I have a lot of empathy for whoever was forced to work on these ads, including the actors, it must have felt bad working on something that’s like Encyclopedia Britannica attacking Wikipedia. WordPress is a global movement of hundreds of thousands of volunteers and community members, coming together to make the web a better place. The code, and everything you put into it, belongs to you, and its open source license ensures that you’re in complete control, now and forever. WordPress is free, and also gives you freedom.

Wix is a for-profit company with a valuation that peaked at around 20 billion dollars, and whose business model is getting customers to pay more and more every year and making it difficult to leave or get a refund. (Don’t take my word for it, look at their investor presentations.) They are so insecure that they are also the only website creator I’m aware of that doesn’t allow you to export your content, so they’re like a roach motel where you can check in but never check out. Once you buy into their proprietary stack you’re locked in, which even their support documentation admits:

So if we’re comparing website builders to abusive relationships, Wix is one that locks you in the basement and doesn’t let you leave. I’m surprised consumer protection agencies haven’t gone after them.

Philosophically, I believe in open source, and if WordPress isn’t a good fit for you there are other great open source communities like Drupal, Joomla, Jekyll, and Typo3. We also have a great relationship with some of our proprietary competitors, and I have huge respect for the teams at Shopify and Squarespace, and even though we compete I’ve always seen them operate with integrity and I’d recommend them without hesitation.

I have to believe that users will care about that in the long run, and maybe that’s why Squarespace just passed up Wix in market share. They natively support exporting into WordPress’ format and don’t have to resort to dirty tricks to be successful. I expect Squarespace’s upcoming IPO will be a great one.

Wix, though, continues to show their true colors. Regardless of their product, I hope people consider the behavior of companies in the world they support with their dollars. Wix really wants you to see their new campaign though, so let’s take the bait and watch the creepy, misleading way they are trying to represent themselves.

66 thoughts on “Wix and Their Dirty Tricks

    1. I was surprised when I heard last year that Wix was the #1 website provider, so I checked them out to see what all the fuss was about. I discovered that not a single one of their themes was responsive, so I concluded that they must have a huge base of users that know nothing about web design. Then recently I started to hear podcast ads for a new website builder called Editor X, “the new standard in website design” featuring “responsive CSS powered by smooth drag & drop.” That sounds like Squarespace! A note in the footer states “Editor X is part of Wix.com Ltd.” Be forewarned.

  1. Trying to have a jab on WordPress at this time doesn’t seem any logical. It is not that they have added any new features that they are boasting about. Nor have they improved their pathetic SEO Wizard. So glad that you mentioned their you-cannot-move-away-from-us policy as well. Many don’t know about this and I have had my own share of troubles. With Wix like websites you don’t own even your own content and work.

    In my opinion Wix is suitable only for knockoff hobbyists. It’s 2021 and I won’t use a tool using that I cannot use localhost to showcase the progress to my clients. No matter how good they say they are.

  2. I remember the apple versus pc campaign and although it was a very delicate communication strategy it did justice to reality, apple evolved and modernized the computer for the user, on the contrary with pc we continued configuring drivers, apple announcement made justice and represented reality.

    The wix ad does not do justice and distorts reality, your opinion is clearly justified

  3. It’s hard to have an objective conversation about a products strategy if they do not have a strategy.
    Strategy is how we capture the goals of a brand intellectually.
    Messaging is how we communicate the strategy rationally.
    Advertising is how we express the messaging creatively.
    WIX advertising might be on brand, and it appears that this brand is at war.

  4. One thing I learnt from my time at IBM: “the fastest way to appear unprofessional is to disparage your competitors”.

  5. On the “getting out of Wix” front; I have had luck with copy/pasting the entire contents of each page from Wix into MS Word.
    It’s a giant pain but not as much as continuing on Wix 🙂

  6. I kind of like the corduroy jacket with the WordPress logo embroidery un the ads. Maybe we should add it to the swag store.

    1. Let’s own that s**t. Wix making fun of WP and the community? Wear it like a badge of honour. Call me a nerd? I use it when I introduce myself to people. Boom.

  7. Ah that explains why I’ve been seeing these ads pop up on my Twitter feed. And even without reading this post I thought those ads severely lacked style.

  8. Hey Matt, did WordPress downloads Increase since this news happened? I can see this a bit of a booster for WordPress too, despite the negativity, many people do things out of curiosity 🙂

  9. Looks like they have no good feature to promote and make their clients trust for the value they pay so they decided to get into these shady marketing practices.

  10. Proud member of the WordPress community I have never liked Wix and their business model. But I didn’t know that they stole part of WordPress code. Thanks Matt for the info. I hope that WordPress and Gutenberg will take them down !

  11. I’m not a technical guy and now I’m relieved that I stumbled upon WordPress first and not Wix.

    The whole thought of Wix having my content and not being able to export it is scary. I honestly don’t see how anyone can understand what I just said and still use Wix.

    1. By not releasing your modifications under GPL (or similar).

      I really hope that the WordPress community can have a serious discussion about what Google vs. Oracle will mean for its future.
      The decision strengthened Fair Use, but at the expense of copy-left.
      I do not believe that this was necessary, but I believe that the code at issue was sealed in the docket.
      We are told it was declarative code, but without actually seeing it, it is not possible to independently assess Fair Use – which means that this is likely going to lead to many sub-optimal decisions by the lower Courts for many years, as Google vs. Oracle is likely to be the only binding precedent in the U.S. for a long time.

  12. It’s sad that they’re attacking the self-hosted segment. They themselves do not cater to that segment. If they did, their users would have to weigh the same risks and rewards. And because of that, they’d not be able to make these commercials. A more direct comparison would be with WordPress.com. But WordPress.com has nearly twice the rating on Trust Pilot, so maybe that wouldn’t work either. It’s just pitiful.

  13. Typical low life behaviour from a company that posted record earnings in Q4 2020….and by record I mean record loss..$62.79M of other people’s money down the drain in 3 months… $216.52M lost on the year.. and no it wasn’t pandemic related – they have never posted a profit. So whilst very unspirited the silver lining is sooner or later they will run out of ignorant investors and disappear into the ether.

  14. This type of childish and vindictive behaviour tends to have unforeseen consequences. (Well, they are unforeseen if you don’t have the wits to see further than the end of your nose.)

    One of the consequences is a boycott. I may only be one visitor among billions, but every good boycott has to start somewhere. As from today, if I end up browsing to a site and NoScript tells me I need to enable Javascript for wix.com to view the site, I’ll be going somewhere else instead.

  15. Extremely concerning to see with what practices Wix aspires to compete in the market. Shocking really, but in the end – everyone can decide with their own wallet.

  16. The reality here is that Wix is the Comcast of site builders. Both spend heavy money marketing, lock you in so nobody can leave, and raise the price each year.

    The only difference here is that Comcast is a monopoly in many parts of the US, so you may have no option anyways, whereas with Wix we could caution webmasters against them.

    Fortunately I never had Comcast or Wix. I have used WordPress in the past (both self-hosted and WP.com) but my personal website runs Hugo.

  17. You should do a side-by-side showing all the things you cannot do, or are difficult to do on Wix, Squarespace et-al. Don’t target them and “make them relevant”, just put out some educational content about site-editing and maintenance in general. Half of their power stems from there being no cohesive source of information on “being a site owner”, or “owning a site in {niche}”.

    Having such market-share would make it hard for anyone to push back on data-led insights, regardless if case-study or aggregated.

  18. Right? I set up a site for a family member thinking Wix would be a no-brainer. Underneath all the marketing and flash, it’s just not very good — and extremely slow!

  19. As Kevin O’Leary from the shark tank says, “they are cockroaches, and as the cockroaches that they are, they will be crushed”. WordPress is not perfect, there is no such thing as a perfect software, but when the Gutenberg development comes to an end, it will be as close to perfection as any CMS out there.

    There is no way in hell I’m EVER looking elsewhere – I’m married to WordPress until death do us part… (don’t tell my human wife about this…).

  20. Very disappointing read. Just shows where the world is heading. Or at least some people within it. There is such a thing as fair game. But this is simply embarrassing. I have nothing but love for wordpress. Yes, I’ve used other platforms, but nothing comes close to the community around wordpress. Love always wins and there is ‘nuff love’ and respect around WP. They are a joke and are probably looking for a lawsuit. Good luck to them.

  21. Yesterday, on my FB feed I saw this sponsored post from Dribble: https://dribbble.com/stories/2021/04/08/why-more-and-more-web-designers-are-moving-from-wordpress-to-wix

    As someone who is using/developing WordPress based sites for more than 10 years, Dribble post is a pile of bull…a non-sense. The whole tone of this, obviously, paid post is to make WordPress looks bad, while the Wix is “a good guy” in the industry.
    Wix has chosen the bad path – instead of promoting their good things, advantages, they have decide to throw garbage at their competitors. From my experience – that’s the act of people without idea how to evolve their product or to make something innovative.

    WordPress went from “bloggers” platform to the platform which can be used as headless CMS (through APIs). It seems that WP technology and community has become “thorn in the flesh” for their business model and the platform itself.

  22. I am 100% sure whoever at Wix did this, was not expecting the recipients of those expensive headphones to start saying “OMG WordPress is bad, try Wix instead!”
    I also do not think their goal was to evangelize WordPress influencers, but to create buzz. A sort of Guerilla marketing campaign that is expecting, maybe, a response from the WordPress community. And if you look at the Twitter feeds, response is what they’ve got 🙂

  23. That’s a terrible and ignorant ad on the part of WIX. They are obviously counting on viewers having no understanding of the history of the web and WordPress, nor of the open source movement. This is an important post to call out bad behavior on the internet.

  24. My experience on WIX, I believe was the worst…
    1st.. Trying to place ads code.
    2nd.. Speed of the site, is like that of a snail
    3rd.. The weight of the site

    *** The worst was their lies on money back guarantee if you want to this continue with WIX, I was told it’s impossible to get back my money because, I had earned little money within the space of 20days. I tried contacting support but to no avail.

    I hope justice is served right.

  25. As someone who have done hundreds of WordPress/Woo websites for clients and know WordPress inside/out this is sooo not true what they claim. On the other hand, I work with one client just recently on WIX and I had so many those crashes with their system losing none saved things. And the freedom of taking things outside their ecosystem. or adding inside of it is night mare. Also, the tools they offer limits you how you can design things in there so you can bring your creativity to max. This dirty campaign they made, is just totally unprofessional.

  26. Twenty Twenty-One made great strides in terms of Accessibility, as the WhiteHouse.gov site shows.
    Getting the FDIC (and similar sites) to switch to WP + Twenty Twenty-One would be a worthy response to a marketing campaign that points out the weaknesses in / drawbacks to WordPress.
    Reading securities law (+IFRS 9 +US GAAP) is already enough of a headache. It is not necessary to make it worse by having font-sizes that are annoying even to people without special accessibility needs.
    Let’s just be better. :woman-shrugging:

  27. Wow, dude they raised a very valid points.

    Your post looks more like a desperate move or vengeance.

    You are basically saying “They are right, we are a piece of crap. but Wix is attacking us and we are so righteous and they are so wicked, so please, go with anyone else, just not with Wix”.

    “Let me die with the Philistines”?

  28. I had to develop for wix once and all I’ll say is: wix is an absolute abomination. It’s the worst walled-garden I’ve ever seen. And the generated markup is just as awful. Horrible. Truly disgusting. I’m no particular fan of the spaghetti code that you see in they WordPress source code (aka the Core), but compared to wix, it’s a god send. WordPress is much, MUCH better.

  29. Serious question. What advantages does Wix have over WordPress? No I am not a shill or a troll. I have used Wix a handful of times and have found nothing redeeming about their product and dread every single time I am asked to do something with Wix. My experience has been the complete opposite of what they depict in their video. Every time I update something with their product it breaks or doesn’t even work… So yes I am genuinely curious what if any advantages they actually have because I haven’t experienced any so far.

  30. I have never had a client that was happy with Wix. I would never recommend them. That being said, there’s a reason they’re doing so well. In a relatively short time, they’ve made themselves a household name. beyond that, I have always been suspicious that you can’t find anything but glowing reviews about them. I find that completely unbelievable. That being said, if Automatic wants to compete with Wix they’re gonna need a marketing strategy. All those of us who develop in the open-source arena can do is politely steer clients away from Wix. Matt, please step up your marketing game.

  31. While the ads are damaging and untrue beyond belief… I have to say that the production value is great. If this wasn’t an ad campaign by Wix themselves but rather a parody on some channel this would have gone over way better… But now, urgh. What a disaster.