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Wix and Their Dirty Tricks (ma.tt)
264 points by luismanj 10 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 83 comments

I’m close to finishing migrating a site off of Wix to a static site generator. The actual Wix product is horrifically bad.

Unending JS, basic functionality implemented with custom elements and CSS custom variables (wanna support IE users at all? you’re SOL).

The “site editor” is somehow worse than DreamWeaver ever was. At least DW always had a consistent concept of flow content. On wix everything is positioned to the pixel???? Edit: except it’s not. Want to add a border to something? Get ready for mouse precision that would make Minesweeper nerds like me weep.

Want to change font size for something that looks the same in two places? Congratulations! You’re fixing layout on every single thing on every page.

Want to find out what an element’s font weight is? Lol obfuscated for no good reason. Everything is 400.

Oh by the way someone probably did the easiest thing imaginable and copied and pasted text, then made some changes. Now all your text is an h2. Screen readers can go to hell!

Want something on every page but slightly different on one? You can either duplicate the global thing and hide it on some pages or duplicate it on every page manually. Good luck making changes!

Do you have a device or browser window between handheld and “nerdstation”? You’re not in luck, hope you’re into scrolling horizontally.

This is just random stuff off the top of my head from two days making small quality of life improvements on the wix site before the project to migrate off.

I’d mostly kept this experience relatively quiet because I don’t like shitting on other people’s work. But then I saw that ad, which is shameful and disgusting, and decided wix doesn’t deserve that consideration.

I have tried many, many website editors. Wix is one of the better ones. Among the big three managed website builders of Wix/Squarespace/Weebly, Wix has the most powerful editor. Sure it's very unintuitive if your are a frontend web developer. But it maps very well to pre-2008 desktop application builders. Take a look at the Retool editor if you want a better explanation. The ideas behind them are similar; rapid development based on pixel grids.

You can divide UI editors generally into two categories, those that allow arbitrary positioning and sizing, and those that don't. Those that don't are much more familiar to web developers as the underlying structure is based on relative positioning for different screensizes. In other words flexbox and breakpoints. It is also easier to use variables for fonts and other elements as there are fewer hard constraints. But if you try to use a website (or any UI) builder without arbitrary drag and drop, it gets very frustrating as your UI feels as if it is "stuck" to a particular design. Weebly and Squarespace don't even allow much changes to layout at all by the visual editor outside of pre-built components so they are significantly less powerful than Wix relatively speaking.

I was building WYSIWYG CMSes when IE6 was still the dominant browser. The way wix works is fundamentally flawed. Sure the others have flaws. But treating a webpage as InDesign was bad way before any consideration of mobile. Even before there was a concept of the various things that coalesced as responsive, web content has always flowed vertically. Wix treats it as a pdf and just makes you reflow any content any time you edit anything above. That’s awful.

Wix clearly doesn't understand their audience. I run a WordPress shop and am exposed to clients & potential leads who have Wix websites.

They're mostly artists, very new business owners, & volunteers (tasked with building a website for their organization) and all are very, very un-tech savvy. Converting power users isn't even remotely possible for a walled-garden platform built for the technically unsophisticated.

It's the Quickbooks of websites. Intuit probably owns them.

i was one of those devs quoted in the article. it felt weird. i still SUPER appreciate the headphones tho and feel bad that whoever ran this campaign now has egg on their face in part due to me. considered deleting my post but now its kind of an object lesson in marketing for better or worse.

Just as a off-hand personal comment -

If those are the Bose NC700, mine decided after a year to stop charging, and instead smell like melting plastic with smoke coming out of them.

That in itself wouldn't be an _absolute_ terrible thing, except their customer support was _abysmal_.

First of all they suggested I hard-reset the headphones, much to my surprise. When I emphasised that I wouldn't be plugging them in again and repeated the point about smelling melting plastic and smoke coming out, they then asked for pictures before initiating a replacement order process they'd suggested.

I explained that there isn't any visual indicators on the headphones such as melting plastic as I'd noticed it immediately, but they insisted I send them photographs anyway.

On sending them photos as asked (and clarified) they've since gone radio silent for 3 weeks, and ignored any more attempts to get in touch with them.

So yeah... I won't be touching Bose products at all in future.

Strange, I've never had a bad experience with Bose support. On the contrary, when my QC35ii suddenly died, they replaced them (after warranty!) without questions...

yikes. good job they were free.

This just seems like a bizarre and weird ad concept. And I totally don’t understand the point of sending WordPress influencers headphones — seems like a weird ROI to try to get them to post links to ads, when they could’ve just bought targeted advertising on Twitter, FB, Google. I don’t get it.

And the ad itself didn’t really make sense to me either.

There are plenty of ways to make an ad that makes fun of WordPress — I recently had to help a friend who hasn’t used it in a few years adjust to Gutenberg (which is a constantly moving target) and it was not fun. The way full-site editing works right now is a mess compared to the other hosted solutions (Squarespace, Webflow, etc.) and the need to try to find plugins that do what you want them to do, but aren’t constantly spamming you you for upsells in the settings is another issue. Not to mention the ways you can ding WordPress over perceived bloat (even though that is arguably a host thing more than anything else).

But this ad did none of that. Moreover, I’m not super sure who then think their audience is. Is this supposed to be for web developers who build on WordPress (which is who they targeted with the headphones), or regular users who want an easy way to build a website?

Because those are two different audiences.

The first audience wouldn’t use Wix anyway — there’s a strong Shopify customization market and you could definitely build a business customizing Squarespace for people, but I can’t think of any web developer or consultancy that would want to use Wix as the platform for clients.

I would never in a million years recommend Wix to a client (if I were still consulting) or even to a family member. The stuff isn’t that good and as Matt said in his post, you can’t get your stuff out of it. It’s trapped in Wix forever.

But if the intended audience is normies who want an easy way to build a website, well, those people aren’t following WordPress influencers, reading Hacker News, or knowledgeable about who Matt Mullenwegg is. So again, who is this even for?

Big fail for me.

I want to be a fly on the wall at one of the pitch meetings where Wix execs thought “this will definitely work in our favour”.

I mean, it probably will.

Wix doesn't target developers or anyone tech-savvy, they target average people that see an ad, and then buy into it.

If someone had asked me yesterday if I could build them a webpage or if they should use Wix I would have say I'm sure Wix is fine. Today I would strongly advise against it.

The argument of not being locked in the basement is really important for small businesses which is why Wordpress got so huge in the first place.

Having the ability to hire one dev and if that doesn't work out being able to go to another is a major selling point for a small business.

Good luck porting your wix site if they turn evil and yeah that already seems to have happened.

I had almost exactly that conversation recently. Now I wish I'd done my homework more, since that conversation led to a 1 year subscription. They've also already ran into the limits of the editor as a casual user on the premium plan. My first thought after finding out about the lock-in was to advise them to get a refund, but that trustpilot page Matt linked makes me believe it would just be a waste of time.

Yeah thanks for sharing. Really Joomla, Drupal and Wordpress was just such a step forward for small companies that needed websites. Before this they would've been locked in to one smallish sized companies solution and either get stuck with them or having to pay a relatively huge sum to get locked into some other companies solution.

You can bet they really don't care about that, they don't view the market that way. Wix is the Oracle of ... whatever you call the gnarly pile of garbage that their dev product is supposed to represent. They're pursuing technologically ignorant small businesses / organizations and intentionally seeking to trap them as much as possible (and you can bet they'll financially drain their captives in ever-worsening ways as time goes on).

I know we’re supposed to hate Oracle, but they’ve provided Java, MySQL, and several other things for free-ish for years. Yes, not as free as you could want, but they’re useful and available enough that you’ve heard of and probably used them.

They way you describe them makes it sound like a real synergistic aquisitions for Intuit.

Hm, we've had our startup page hosted with Wix for a few years. I had no idea they were doing all of this shady stuff. What are some good alternatives if I'm looking to migrate? Is squarespace less shady?

At the end of the blog post, Matt gives his recommendation to them and Shopify, so I guess so.


Yeah, they’re good AFAIK. I’ve seen a few former clients move their websites to Squarespace and be happy with it.


I'd also recommend Strikingly.

What do you consider shady about it?

Relax, it's marketing. It isn't "Shady" to take aim at competitors (or other solutions) when trying to get attention.

"Relax" is right up there with "no offense, but" as a way to start a message to someone.

I didn't use "but" and I don't care if it's offensive. The WP community clutches its pearls anytime the slightest offense takes place. The CEO of a multibillion dollar enterprise just took the time to write a post about a failed marketing campaign of a competitor instead of letting that failure stand on its own.

He should relax. The person I was replying to should relax. Those offended in the WP community should relax.

Yeah Matt writing this and trying to sound like "a little guy" is hilarious

Did you read the post? The "dirty tricks" also involved "stealing WordPress code and lying about it" and not allowing you to export your content.

Not allowing content exports isn't shady. Happens on a lot of platforms and systems.

Stealing code- there are remedies for that, which Auto and the foundation are free to pursue.

Agree to disagree.

Fair enough. You might be surprised (or not) how much software has stolen bits and how much data isn't exportable in any useful format.

But glad to see all my comments on this topic keep getting down voted.

I will add here that my biggest disagreement is treating a website hosting platform as some sort of proprietary content. I understand if they don't provide an export of their theme. I understand if they don't want to provide an export in some nice-to-use format. IANAL, but not allowing any sort of export at all should be illegal. At a minimum, someone should be able to email Wix support and get a CSV of the data _they created_ on the platform.

The owner of the website is the copyright holder of the user generated content. The fact that they would have to go and copy/paste their own work, download their own images, etc. in order to move to a different provider absolutely cements my position to actively warn people in my sphere of influence to avoid Wix like a plague. The gall of a company to exploit the OSS parts of the web and to only take & take without ever giving is gross.

No one is surprised, you're just not adding anything to the conversation and it's probably why you're getting down-voted.

Replying because this is interesting. I disagree with the article and some of the contents of the thread. I've explained why and answered questions directly.

Contrarian POV isn't adding to the thread? I'm not baiting, asking a serious question.

It's not good to be contrarian for the sake of being contrarian. I noticed in my own comments sometimes when I don't come of as genuine I usually get a bunch of down-votes (usually it's clumsy written shorter comments).

Agree completely. I don't feel I was being contrarian here just to be contrarian. I do think it's silly that MM is posting on this. I do think the WP community is considerably more sensitive than other tech sectors with which I'm familiar.

For as negative as tech/digital professionals are about Wix, it is a $16B company with $1b in annual revenue.

Oh wow, wix has always been bad, that's common knowledge. But that's a new low.

As it happens, the last time I checked Britannica's article on Wikipedia, it was a pretty entertaining read. It was actually pretty hilarious counting how much of the article each section took up -- I think I counted about 2/3 of it being dedicated solely to bashing Wikipedia. It might have changed since then, I'm not sure.

I love WordPress. But Wix missed a good opportunity here to make fun of Gutenberg in their campaign. The Gutenberg plugin review section would write the ads all by themselves. They probably would have converted some WordPress users.

This is an awful campaign but this article is also hilariously tone deaf. Automattic is/was what, a $3BN company and this is the personal blog of its primary owner trying to say they're NOT in it for money?

The WordPress foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

Automattic is not the same as Wordpress

what does that gotta do with what Matt said? wordpress is a open source software, if you don't like it go with something else. do Wix have to put out such negative attack-campaign?

That is timely. I am currently making a manual copy of a wix website I inherited.

It's one of the worst and sleazy pieces of software I have ever encountered.

I thought it was strange that the target of the campaign was Wordpress itself and not the SaaS page builders or theme engines that add the WYSIWYG aspect, like Elementor, Divi and Beaver Builder.

Wordpress out of the box is relatively unstyled. Even with Gutenberg, you're really only changing the layout of the <article> element, and not <body>. Full Site Editing is apparently coming soon, but at this time, page builders created on top of Wordpress have a much better UX.

Even though I somewhat agree with Matt's points, I found the ad both tasteless and funny.

I was hoping it would be funny and as much as I despise WP it wasn't. Not so sure about tasteless - they are trying to appear edgy to a typical mac hipster creative type who don't have a taste. I'm afraid that ad will actually benefit them since their audience is usually brainless, but what would I know, ignorance is a bliss. So more reasons to advise against them to every living soul.

It's funny because the ad itself is ridiculous. Then there is also an ounce of truth about WordPress in there, at least enough to get Matt triggered.

Wix is awful, and everybody should know that. Free and open WordPress, for all its qualities, is somewhat an outdated technology. WordPress is empowering for non-technical people and small businesses. The truth is, it can also be shaky and hard to maintain for the same people, for many reasons tied to its history and development.

Whenever I see Wix, I think of the installer toolkit -> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WiX

I never cottoned to the fact that that is an entirely different outfit from the website people -> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wix.com

They stole wordpress code, so much for being a trusty israeli company

“Stole” is doing a lot of work here. They copied strictly-licensed open-source code, violating the terms of the license in the process.

The next time I get a DMCA takedown notice, I'm going to try some of this quibbling about the word "stole". I'll let you folks know how it turns out...

Which according to current copyright law is theft.

According to current copyright law it is not theft. It is "infringement", a separate legal term. It is also generally not a criminal offense but a civil offense, unlike theft.

In some jurisdictions it definitely is a criminal offense and is compared to theft in the law itself thanks to unregulated lobbying of media conglomerates.

edit: I'm not saying it's good that it has become equivated to theft, we have anti-pirate legislation to thank for this. I would call pirating infringement, but license violation is much more akin to theft than anything.

You wouldn't download a car, would you?

I kid; point is, while all the technicalities being thrown around are lovely, the fact you -can't- literally steal code probably does mean that those using the term 'steal' do in fact mean IP infringement.

I think there are times where "steal" is appropriate — where the code is in some sort of silo, and someone exfiltrates it. Anthony Levandowski was charged with theft of trade secrets for making a copy of Waymo's code.

Yes, but that was removing someone's ability to control access to something. That is, they -have- taken something from someone else; control of an idea. That's irrespective of code (and, in fact, I don't think I recall seeing code listed as something Levandowski took, but rather schematics and blueprints and the like). I.e., Levandowski was not sued for 'stealing' code (by copying it onto a thumb drive); after all, Waymo still had the code. He was sued for stealing the ability to control access from Waymo.

But that furthers my point - this semantic game obscures the core point, which I think everyone agrees on.

I don't understand how the inability to export data complies with GDPR. If a EU citizen decides to use wix and creates a site there, aren't they entitled to all of the data they created, and then one should be able to do anything with that data, including converting it to wordpress data ? What am I missing ?

The only GDPR related FAQ I could find is mostly focused of wix's customer's customers (IE the site's visitors) getting access to their data, but there's nothing about Wix's customers accessing their data...

Wix sites is pretty common for me to see through my work. Though not in a positive light. Most wix links/sites I see are phishing links, so we have been thinking about blacklisting the whole wix domain to stop having that issue.

They have a free tier with visible Wix.com branding. That it gets exploited with spam sites, just as Blogspot did, is why we can't have nice things.

why do people have to bring up Automattic in this thread? i don't use wordpress but i appreciated it for being an open source software. if you don't like wordpress, there are a lot of open/close source CMS out there.

Wix's negative attack campaign which confused people and really speak about it self should be the focus here?

why you even attack an open source software? source code is there for you to review and play with. if you don't like it or it doesn't work for you then move on.

i just don't understand the point of attacking an open source software. it feel like Microsoft attacking linux back then.

I hate wordpress, mostly from my days doing tech support for blue host (the worst hosting companies belong to their parent group eig Google for a list btw)....

Also because so many plugins have huge security flaws and laravel is much better if building from scratch... And is my bread and butter....

Wordpress just isn't that elegant and it's old and outdated....

That said I'd never ever use wix and I'll never buy from someone who does. It's just not professional. I probably would think twice about Weebly to having had to support it at eig, but I guess they're not as bad as wix which is like the lowest of low.

I mean wordpress or shopify at least have a feel of professionalism, but knowing wix isn't exportable I'd immediately recommend everyone get off and never go anywhere near them.

I respect automatic and Matt, can't say the same for wix. Wp is a lot better community and better for business than wix ever could be.

I think a good business might be creating some sort of wix exporter that uses browser apis to login, copy out data and format it in presentable ways for other platforms.

I just recently got a free pair of Bose headphones from Wix doing a marketing campaign for Wordpress. I'll share it on my YouTube channel eventually (20 million tech views).

Why did they do this? To address this specific problem with YouTube programmer influencers.


Side observation - that is a very cool domain name.

Taking about this would be a very awkward conversation for Germans... There is also Wix Toolkit for Windows Installer I had to discuss some years ago.

Google for Wix Germany ad.

Wix is popular because of their marketing, but as you become their customer, it's pure downhill from here. From their user interface up to their products, I would say that it is unsatisfactory.

I feel like these types of public feuds only result in a pissing match where the consumer ultimately loses not the companies involved.

Aka the open source customer winning, nobody likes Wix let’s be honest. As an SEO they simply don’t do well on getting traffic and should stick to high schoolers and college students who don’t want to learn how to build a legitimate business.

Wix = Yuck

As if Automattic doesn't disrespect their own clients (in similar or other ways). Matt should get off his high-horse.

Can you expand on that with an example?

Sure, accessibility continues to be an issue.

The head of WP marketing - who has contributed a ton over the years - learned she was out of a job when she saw the announcement of a new marketing lead on social media.

WordPress is great, but it isn't perfect. And for the CEO of the largest for-profit part of WP to liken a competitor to a roach motel or an abusive relationship is irresponsible and denigrates the mission.

I love the phrase "roach motel" when it comes to a service provider who won't bend over backwards to give me back my content as soon and as often as I want it. Does that not describe Wix?

The issue that makes me most upset with Automattic is their trademark squatting policy. The rest is buried in notes from years ago. Heck, I've ignored this company since like 2015.

WP is great, this vendor not so much.

Wordpress is a clunky nightmare but Wix is garbage as well. Support a YC funded startup and join the Webflow master race.

I'm not going to support something just because it is YC funded and I have no interest at all in joining any master race. I gotta hope you are trolling.

I can host a WP site on anything that runs PHP and MySQL. Webflow CMS has exactly one hosting option: Webflow. No thanks.

I'm a WordPress guy but don't really understand Matt's post here. He doesn't like how Wix is trying to gain market share. Ok, fine. And? So what. Lots of companies market themselves in ways that some people don't like.

Wix is a good solution for some people. WP is a good solution for some people. Weebly and Shopigy and Web.com and AEM and Google Pages and and and an can be good for different people.

If Matt (and the WP community) don't like how Wix markets itself then don't use the service. I do know, however, that the WP community is talking about Wix a lot in the last couple days, more than they ever have before.

(Also, enjoy the headphones b/c I promise Matt isn't sending you any)

Wix isn't a good solution for anyone. I had experience with Wix websites before I knew what Wix was. Think local mom-n-pops or small-time one-person businesses who want a webpage. It didn't take more than one or two visits to such sites for me to auto-close any site that comes up as a Wix-created site. It's slow, ugly, and just an all around terrible experience.

It all made sense once I discovered that Wix is a "no code" "solution" to basic web page development and not (just) a shop of poorly paid third-worlders half-assing it for crumbs. The quality of output is similar, for similar reasons (you get what you pay for).

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