Many churches are asking, “Should I use WordPress or WIX for a small church website?” WordPress is the most popular website builder in the world, but it isn’t the only choice you have for your small church website. Easy to use, drag and drop page builders like Wix (or Square Space or Weebly) offer site owners with no technical background the tools to create attractive, fully functional sites within minutes.
Wix and self-hosted WordPress both can make really nice looking sites, but they are very different in terms of features, functionality and costs.
We won’t explore every platform in this article, but here’s a look at the differences between WordPress vs. Wix and what they both have to offer.
Website Builders and Content Management Systems
Wix is a full-service site builder that makes it easy for even the newest of users to quickly set up a website for your ministry.
The self-hosted version of WordPress from WordPress.org makes a number of different page builders such as Elementor, Gutenberg, and Divi available to its users. However, at its heart, WordPress was conceived as a content management system. Its standard interface features a bare-bones content editor that closely resembles most email programs and can be easily populated with text, media, and links.
Both Wix and WordPress can be used to set up a working website without knowledge of code, but there are significant trade-offs between the fully hosted Wix and the mix and match the flexibility of self-hosted WordPress that new site owners may want to consider.
Ease of Use
As many already know, there are many benefits of using WordPress, which is why so many churches are switching to this platform. However, it’s also important to note that Wix also offers a variety of features that are highly desired among ministry leaders as well.
Wix advertises itself as a full-service site builder that anyone can use. With a busy ministry schedule, easy often sounds appealing! Using one of the more than 500 website templates Wix offers, a church secretary can drag and drop elements to create a site in minutes without any coding.
Because Wix is a hosted platform. That creates a few issues. Here are a few problems you’ll quickly run into:
- You don’t have control! Developers at Wix maintain control over all the available tools and applications, so users can’t import outside tools from other sources.
- You’re stuck with your template! Once a new site owner chooses a template, they’re stuck with it. Website templates can’t be quickly changed as a site’s identity evolves,
On the upside, the Wix interface is user-friendly, made with beginners in mind, and it offers round the clock support for troubleshooting and answering questions.
With WordPress, many more functions are left up to the user. Self-hosted WordPress sites come with an administrative dashboard that provides access to the tools needed to install a theme, make basic customizations, compose a page or post, and add any plugins needed for added features.
WordPress is a little more difficult at first:
- Learning to work with the WordPress dashboard and the many available theme and plugin options requires a somewhat steeper learning curve than Wix does.
- Additionally, finding support can be a do-it-yourself effort that involves sifting through thousands of forums, tutorials, and websites devoted to the workings of WordPress.
The Benefits of WordPress: Although WordPress users don’t have direct access to a dedicated user support portal, the worldwide WordPress community offers advice and information on just about any aspect of using WordPress.
Flexibility and Versatility
We all want our churches to be ready to grow. Your website needs to be able to grow with you! WordPress give your church the ability to manage future online expansion and the ability to scale up to meet additional demands as your church grows.
Although Wix offers tools for creating and running a fully functional website, it may not include all the features you need to accommodate growth as people start finding your church and bringing their friends. Wix is fully hosted, which means that its shared platform allots storage and bandwidth among Wix users, depending on the hosting plan they have purchased. This limited hosting ability could be a problem for a site that experiences a sudden surge in traffic, or if a lot of people are downloading sermons or other media regularly from the site.
Wix also limits a user’s options for customizing the site. When the pastor or a ministry leader wants to make a change or include a custom feature, the answer is too often, “No” or “That will cost too much.”
- Although Wix users have access to hundreds of well-crafted templates for setting up a ministry site, it isn’t possible to import one from an outside source.
- And although Wix allows users to add extra functions by choosing from its library of “applications” (analogous to plugins in WordPress), users may have to pay additional monthly fees to use them and, again, they are limited to only those applications provided by Wix itself.
One reason for the enduring popularity of WordPress is its virtually limitless versatility.
Once the core WordPress code is installed, users can draw from the official WordPress theme and plugin directories, as well as from the products of developers worldwide to customize their site, and add features to meet its unique needs. WordPress makes it easy to switch themes as your church graphics and personality changes over time. Churches also have the ability to add and delete plugins as needed. Also, while WordPress users don’t need to know coding in order to set up and run a site, those with development skills can fine-tune WordPress even more by working with the core code, as well as theme and plugin files to fine tune the site’s appearance and features.
Costs for Setup and Maintenance
The cost of setting up and running a website depends on a wide range of factors, and that can change considerably over time as a site evolves.
Because it’s a hosting platform, as well as a site builder, Wix makes it easy for churches to calculate costs from their budgets with a tiered series of monthly plans that also include a domain name and varying levels of storage, access to add-on apps and more. There is also a completely free starter plan, but don’t be lured to quickly into the “free trap.” The free plan from Wix has extremely limited features and requires users to accept advertising on their site. Most ministries don’t want any advertising on their site at all! As a site grows and changes, churches can scale up to a higher pricing plan that offers the features they need.
On the upside, Wix offers all of its tools in packages with fixed monthly fees, so churches don’t need to factor in external costs, such as hiring web developer services from outside the church. This kind of one-stop shopping makes it especially attractive to small churches and new church plants looking for an easy and relatively economical way to set up a site, even though it limits options for customization and specialized functions in the future.
WordPress can also be inexpensive while giving you virtually unlimited flexibility!
WordPress itself is free to download and install – and it is possible to set up an entire site nearly for free with a basic hosting package and free themes and plugins from the official WordPress directories. My favorite theme for WordPress, Avada, it typically under $100 and the functionality it adds to a site is mind-boggling!
However, depending on the features and functions a particular site needs, the actual cost of setting up and running a WordPress site can be highly variable. Those costs include buying and registering a domain name and can also include purchasing any premium themes and plugins needed to get the right look and functionality for the site, or hiring a developer to work with the site’s core code.
Support for Online Giving and Church Online Bookstores
Online giving is booming – and just about anyone can set up an online Christian bookstore or insert giving options with both Wix and WordPress. Wix includes a number of templates geared for online bookstores, but to get full e-commerce functionality that includes the payment gateways PayPal and Authority and other key e-commerce tools, you would have to buy their e-commerce web hosting package at a higher monthly price than the standard fees.
WordPress bookstores can be added for free and can be integrated later into the site as the ministry grows. With powerful e-commerce plugins like the worldwide favorite Woocommerce, WordPress offers an array of e-commerce themes and plugins to create an online bookstore of any kind and scale it up as your church grows.
WordPress is Clearly the Better Choice… Most of the Time!
Both Wix and WordPress put the tools for creating a visually appealing and fully functioning church website.
- Wix is a hosted site builder that promises an all-in-one site building solution, but ministries are limited to the features and tools created by its own development team. That’s a trade-off new churches with small sites might be willing to accept – but for growing churches who need control over all aspects of their site and the flexibility to build in new features as it evolves, Wix will simply not suffice.
- WordPress offers unlimited options for unlimited growth.