In this guide we'll be running through the process of setting up a site using a site builder on wix.com. For this tutorial you won't require any prior knowledge of coding or setting up websites.
Wix provide a simple drag-and-drop interface for creating your web site, without needing any knowledge of coding. In this tutorial we'll take you through the complete process from choosing a package and registering, through to publishing and linking your new site up to your own personalised domain name (www.yourname.com).
Is WIX right for me?
The benefit of using sites like Wix is that their site builders make it quick and easy to get a web site up and running, that would cost significantly more if created by a web developer - but there are some downsides to be aware of.
Wix uses a template system within their site builder, which is great because it means you can browse their range to find a suitable template for your business, and all the layout and styling will be ready for you to use. The downside of this, is that anyone else can use those same templates, so if branding and individuality is important for your website then this might not be the option for you.
The second consideration is flexibility - Wix's site builder provides plenty of options for changing the layout, colours and content, and they provide hundreds of different template options - however there are limitations. With a self-hosted site a web developer can modify the code to achieve any requirement, however with a site builder you will be restricted to the options they provide. If you like the templates available and are flexible on the layout and functionality then you shouldn't find this a problem.
Lastly, in using a site builder over a self-hosted site you will be relying Wix for the availability and speed that your site loads, the good news is Wix historically has good uptime ratings and a good reputation.
In summary, if you're looking for a service that takes care of hosting, you're happy to use a template and want to keep costs low then Wix is a good choice for you.
Package & Cost
Before we look at the package options and cost, there's two useful bits of terminology to introduce you to:
- Bandwidth - from a web site perspective this means the amount of data consumed by users visiting your website, for example each time a visitor sees an image on your website this will use up some of your data allowance. In simple terms, bandwidth = how many visitors you can have, so even on low bandwidth options you're unlikely to need to worry about this until you're experiencing high traffic.
- Storage - the storage allowance (in gigabytes GB) dictates how much media you can use on your web site (images and videos). Usually you'll want to shrink and optimise images before uploading them to a web site, so even 1GB of storage should allow for over 500 large images in web terms. This might be a consideration if you're intending to create a photography web site with a growing number of full size images.
Basic - £2.55 ($3.68)
The Wix basic option allows you to connect a personal domain name to your site, though it will feature Wix branded adverts. The package offers a low threshold for bandwidth, but should be sufficient for low traffic web sites (i.e. hundreds rather thousands monthly).
Combo - £5.16 ($7.44)
The Wix Combo option is a step up with twice the bandwidth at 2GB and six times the storage at 3GB. It's promoted as for personal use, though this would suffice for low traffic business sites too.
Unlimited - £7.76 ($11.18)
If you're expecting your site popularity to grow quickly then the unlimited option is a good choice providing unlimited bandwidth usage and up to 10GB of storage.
eCommerce - £10.10 ($14.56)
The eCommerce option offers a little more storage on the unlimited option, but they key additional feature is that you can add an online store to your web site. The only option if you want to sell products via your website.
Wix also offer a free option, however it isn't possible to connect up your personal domain name, instead they will give you a domain like www.yourname.wix.com/your-site-name. The site will also feature Wix branded Ads, so this isn't the best choice for a professional look.
Prices accurate as of May 2016, for the latest visit the Wix subscription options.
To get started, head over to www.wix.com and register your account by clicking 'I'm a new user' and filling out the short form. You won't be asked for payment details at this stage, so you can try it out without committing.
- Go to www.wix.com
- Click the 'Start Now' button or the 'Sign In' button
- Choose the 'I'm a new user' option
- Enter your email address and set a password, repeat both
- Click GO to complete
- Login to the site where you registered your domain
- Find the particular domain, and go to the management area for it
- For the site, find a section to manage 'DNS' settings
- There may be an option to use the registrar name servers, change this to other name servers, or third party name servers
- Set name server 1 as ns5.wixdns.net and name server 2 as ns4.wixdns.net and save the changes
Next, you'll be asked what type of site you would like to create, this allows Wix to make template recommendations that are likely to suit your needs.
Choose an appropriate category, then on the following page click the button to get started.
Now that you have an active account and have chosen your site category, you can browse the themes and choose one that suits you.
Wix has hundred of themes to choose one, organised into categories to make it easier to find one more suitable to your site. You can change to a different template later, but it will require re-populating the site with information as this isn't transferable. Hover over the images and click 'Preview' to see a demo.
Once you've found one you like, simply hover over the image and click edit, or if you're already in preview mode you'll find an 'Edit this site' button at the top of the page.
Layout & Content
Now you're ready to start editing your theme!
Editing your site with the builder is simple as you are essentially editing a live preview. You'll see in the top left there is a pages option which allows you to view the pages available in the site, simply click on any of the pages in the menu to switch the editor to that page for editing.
Starting with the HOME page, let's try changing the page title. To edit a content area simply double click, or single click and then click the 'Edit Text' button. You'll see this loads the text settings allowing you to change the font, size and other formatting features of your text.
Changing the Background
On the left hand side there are several round icons, the first is to change the background of your site. Click the icon and you'll be provided with several quick options to change your background to either an image or video, or if you click on the image or video buttons you'll be provided with a more comprehensive list of options you can browse.
On the full image list, switch to the 'Free from Wix' tab for a large selection of free images. You can upload your own on the 'My Images' tab, but you'll want to make sure this is an appropriate size to use for a full screen background. There are also 'Bigstock Images' for a wider choice, but you will have to pay for these images commonly around £2.
When you've found an image you like, just select it and click the 'Change Background' button at the bottom.
You might find you need to adjust some of your text colours if they don't match the background image, to do this just double click the text you want to change as before, then in the text settings box choose the 'A' icon with the droplet to change the colour (note you will need to select the text with your cursor).
Changing and Linking Images
Images can be edited in the same way as text by double clicking, and you will also notice this loads the same media management as you used to change your background. You can upload your own images by selecting the 'My Images' tab and dragging pictures from your computer folder onto the dashed line area, or by selecting the 'Upload Images' button on the top right to browse your computer. Once the images are uploaded just click the one you want to use and click 'Choose Image'.
If the image is part of a collection (i.e. a gallery), then you can manage all the images in one go by double clicking the gallery area, or single click and click the 'Change Images' button.
You can then link the images through to another page, so the gallery for example may be of projects linking through to project pages. To link an image, select one from the collection and click the link option on the right hand side. You can then choose to link to a 'Page / Anchor' which will provide a drop down of the pages in your website. If you need to add a new page, use the menu in the top left titled 'PAGES' and click '+ Add Page' at the bottom.
Modify the Layout
The default theme previews are designed to show off all the features that are available, however it is likely there are sections within the theme that you either don't want, or would like to customise.
To delete a section simply select the area you wish to remove, and you should see it becomes outlined with a thin blue line. You can then use the delete icon in toolbox that appears to remove the section. You'll probably find this now leaves a blank area, or reveals some of the background image. To rectify this, select the section below in the same way, and then hover over the small white ball on the blue line, this should show an arrow icon, which allows you to click and drag the content higher.
Note if you delete an area that is linked to from the menu, you'll also want to select the light blue area (see clients in the below screenshot), and delete this too, also using the same toolbox.
If you just want to move a single piece of content, simply click and drag to the new location. You should find there are useful guidelines to show that your content is lining up properly.
Wix templates don't scale down fluidly but do provide a mobile view so you can customise how the template will look specifically on smaller devices.
Switching to the mobile mode will allow you to edit the content in a similar way, but the layout will be confined to a smaller space.
Tips & Tricks
Tools, guides and snapping
You can toggle the grid layout, if you would like the content to 'snap' in line with other content, and if you want to view the tool bar under the 'Tools' menu.
History, Saving and Previewing
The toolbar offers undo and redo options if you make a mistake, and don't forgot to regularly use the save button when you're happy with your work. You can preview how the site will look before publishing by using the 'Preview' menu option in the top right.
Once you're happy with the layout and content of your theme you can finally publish your work. Note, you can come back and make changes any time you like.
To publish your site, simply click the 'Publish' option in the top right corner when in edit mode.
At the next screen, you'll be asked to choose a name for your site on the free website url that Wix provide you. If you want to set up your domain now, jump ahead to the next section, otherwise just choose a name then click 'Save & Continue'.
Lastly click the 'Publish Now' link to go live.
To link up a domain to your new site you'll now need to choose package to use. Wix offer a 14 day money back guarantee if you later decide they're not for you.
To upgrade your plan to paid, click the 'Publish' button from the editor and click 'Upgrade Now' (or from the Wix home screen click the head icon in the top right and choose 'Premium Plans').
Choose the plan that suits you and choose 'Buy Now'.
Provide payment details for the new subscription.
If you're registering a new domain, which is free with premium options, then use the first option and type the domain you wish to use in the search box. If the domain is available you can continue to link it to your Wix account.
If you already have a domain, then choose the second option 'Already have a domain? Connect It >'.
At the next step, enter the domain you wish to link up, and choose the company the domain is registered with.
Wix will now provide you with step by step instructions for your specific domain company. Because your domain is registered with another company, these steps will essentially guide you through updating the settings on that site to tell the registrar company to point your domain to Wix, allowing it to link it up to the site you've made. This involves changing what's called the sites DNS records.
You will find the steps are broadly the same, it is just a case of finding the right areas on the site where your domain is hosted. Here are the generic instructions that apply to any domain registrar:
Back on the Wix site you can click through to confirmation.
That's all there is to it, you'll usually be informed this will take up to 48 hours to take effect, but in reality it usually only takes a few hours.
In this tutorial we've demonstrated Wix is a powerful site builder for getting your website up and running quickly with your own personal domain name. To move on to more advanced customisation of your site, check out the Wix Help Center for a range of tips and tutorials.