Wix and Bluehost are two of the most well-known brands (and oldest) in the website building industry. They are both useful in their own ways. But if you are comparing Bluehost vs Wix – which is the best fit for your project?
Before we look at different tradeoffs between Bluehost and Wix we have to define exactly what Bluehost and Wix are.
Wix is an all-in-one “hosted website platform.” A hosted website platform is where all the components needed for a website come in a single bundle with a single monthly price. It’s also known as a “website builder“.
Wix provides the software to manage your website content; they provide the designs and all functionality.
They provide add-ons & extensions for unique functionality. And most importantly, they also provide the hosting (aka the server where your website files live) & security all in one price. There is no way to self-host Wix on your own server – that would defeat their main point of maximum convenience (even though you can have email and custom domain name elsewhere) See Wix plans here.
Bluehost is a web hosting provider. As a web host, their core service is providing a space on a server for you to build your website with an assembly of other products & services. They bundle a lot of free software and tools (such as WordPress) with hosting features to make it easier to build your site. It’s a bit more inconvenient but you have maximum control.
But here’s an analogy that works –
Imagine you are looking for a place to live.
Wix are both like buying a condominium. You own everything inside your condo. You can do whatever you want inside. The condo association takes care of the water, electricity, security and structural issues. They even have furnished unit options. However, you also have to abide by condo association rules. You are limited by their structure and you have to pay extra HOA fees.
Bluehost is like buying a house. You can do anything you want. As long as you are paying the mortgage, it’s your land. There are no rules or limitations. But you have to take care of everything (or hire someone to take care of it). It’s also as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be.
|Domain||Included||Included – 1 Year Free|
|Add-On via Google||Included|
|Website Software||Bundled||Free options (like WordPress)|
|Website Design||Bundled||Free options to custom options are available|
|Website Features||Bundled + Wix Apps||Free options to custom options are available|
|Support||Phone & Email||Phone, email, chat w/ hosting problems|
|Security||Bundled||3rd party options are available.|
|Learning Curve||Fast & Guided||DIY with some onboarding support.|
|Future-Proofing||No Export Options||Total Data Control & Complete Export Options|
Hosted Platform vs. Hosting Company
To look at Bluehost vs. Wix directly – we’re going to look at what I think are the primary considerations for most new website owners. We’ll look at Bluehost and Wix in each section.
Remember that the primary tradeoff will be control / convenience. To get the convenient experience, there’s a tradeoff with control & features (since a hosted platform like Wix has to control the environment to provide the best experience).
If either Wix doesn’t have a feature or design you want, you can’t just add it. If you want to migrate to a new platform – you can’t just pick up, leave and start elsewhere with your exact same website.
When you run your website on Bluehost – you can do both those things. However, it’s also not as convenient as a hosted platform, since you are the one setting up and running the software.
That’s the core tradeoff to remember. But like I’ve mentioned in other website builder reviews, my website setup guide, and my eCommerce platform reviews – it’s not the only tradeoff (which is what we’re gonna talk about).
Bluehost vs Wix Pricing
Wix has 5 paid plans in addition to their ad-supported free plan. You can check out their plans here – though most of their plans are mainly differentiated by storage space.
Keep in mind that with Wix – your plan includes hosting, customer support, designs, etc for a single website.
|Storage||3 GB||10 GB||20 GB||35 GB|
|Free Domain Name||1 year||1 year||1 year||1 year|
|Video Hours||3 GB||10 GB||20 GB||35 GB|
Bluehost allows a range of website software to be installed on all their plans, which are priced by the number of resources allocated. Self-hosted WordPress by far and away from the most popular website software. It is 100% free software that you can install on any server (including Bluehost).
|Free Domain Name||1 year||1 year||1 year||1 year|
With self-hosted WordPress, you’re not only getting a cheaper price month to month, you are also getting the ability to have unlimited features, unlimited design options, unmetered bandwidth, and *unlimited websites* on most plans.
If you have two, three or more website ideas, you can put all of them on the same Bluehost account without paying more. With Wix (and direct competitors like Squarespace and Weebly) & WordPress.com – each new site is a new monthly cost.
Note how there’s no real price comparison between Wix & Bluehost. Look at the storage space line – it’s so much cheaper to use Bluehost + WordPress. Even the Wix premium apps like Analytics and Site Booster are free on Bluehost via the Google Analytics WordPress plugin and Yoast SEO plugin (among other free must-have plugins).
But those plugins are exactly why comparing pricing between Bluehost and Wix is like comparing apples and oranges. The big pricing asterisk with Bluehost is that there are a lot of things you aren’t paying for – but are still responsible for.
For pricing with Wix will generally be better for most users who just want to buy a website subscription and be done with it all.
However, for anyone trying to figure out the most cost-effective and best long-term deal to get a website, purchasing a hosting plan and building your website with WordPress (which Bluehost will automatically setup) represents a much better financial deal.
But it’s not always about numbers. Let’s move to the next set of considerations.
Onboarding & User Experience
“Onboarding” describes the process of moving a brand new customer from signup to active user.
In other words it’s helping new customer figure out your software. Nobody likes to purchase something and immediately hate it simply because they can’t figure it out.
Like I mentioned in my Wix review, Wix not only has solid onboarding, they also have a fairly intuitive interface with a simple drag and drop setup.
Wix has a range of pre-loaded designs for different website types (ie, music, business lead-gen, portfolio, etc). To improve and customize the site, it still takes a bit of experimentation. But they have customer support on call to answer any questions.
Bluehost has some of the best onboarding of any hosting company, especially if you plan on using WordPress. Bluehost’s target market is beginner’s, bloggers, and first time website owners, so they try to streamline the setup process as much as possible rather than just giving you your account password and leaving you to it.
That said, it still is nowwhere near as simple as Bluehost, because *you* still have to decide on everything. For example, you still have to work out connecting your domain to the right install.
You can email support for specific questions, but there’s no obvious “do this, then that” process after you install WordPress.
For a more typical website, Wix might be a better fit if you use one of their templates. From purchase to launch, Bluehost can’t really compete with Wix for ease of setup. However, if you don’t mind a short learning curve, Bluehost will give you more options and control over your website, even if the onboarding isn’t as easy.
A common myth in website building is that a “WordPress website” or “Wix website” or “Shopify site” is a specific web design or look. Too many customers choose or rule out a platform because they “don’t like the look.”
Here’s the thing – just because the software uses “themes” or “templates” as a base does not mean that you can’t have whatever design you want.
The look of a webpage is created with HTML/CSS. Any software that allows you to edit CSS is software that can generate nearly any design you can imagine.
When you use Bluehost, you can edit anything you want, including HTML / CSS because you have direct access to the actual files on the server.
However, Wix does not allow HTML/CSS editing in the Wix editor. You have to make all changes with their software, which, in fairness, creates some pretty amazing designs. They have the Wix ADI (artificial design intelligence) which can create a custom, premium design on the fly.
This difference puts Bluehost ahead on design options. So let’s look at the three questions that I usually ask with platform’s designs.
The main three questions are –
- How accessible are their “plug & play” designs?
- What is the variety of their premium “plug & play” designs?
- How far can a professional developer/designer go with the design?
On question #1 – both have great, accessible plug & play designs. Wix has a variety of pre-loaded designs based on website type (real estate, music, portfolio, etc). Some are a bit dated, but others are pretty good.
For Bluehost, there are thousands of free WordPress designs that you simply select in the Appearance menu.
On question #2 – both have a pretty great variety of designs with Bluehost + WordPress providing the most options. For years now, professional designers/developers have created premium “off the shelf” WordPress theme options for WordPress to build any type of website.
There is no 3rd party theme marketplace for Wix. They do have premium 3rd party themes on their internal app marketplace.
For question #3 – both allow for designers (not developers) to do their thing with self-hosted WordPress offering the greatest freedom (for better and for worse).
Wix is not designer/developer friendly (see HTML/CSS). There are plenty of professionals who will work with a Wix template, but (even though they might be HTML/CSS ninjas) they are more experts with Wix than HTML/CSS when working with Wix. In other words, if you have an amazing web designer, he/she might not be as good when building a website for Wix – since Wix requires Wix-specific design knowledge. Wix has a marketplace where you can find a Wix pro.
For design options, both have good options with different “flavors.”
Wix has freedom within their own design setup. If you like their system, then that’s where it starts and ends.
Self-hosted WordPress offers unlimited choice & control, which is great, but can create problems of its own with quality control, security and/or code conflicts.
Technical & Customization Features
The technical feature set illustrates the control/convenience tradeoff spectrum better than anything with these three options.
Wix holds the highest amount of control (no scripts and no FTP access) but also has the most convenient setup. It has built-in features that simply work. And the features that most users need/want are there. You can make changes and tweak many technical settings – but only those approved by Wix.
That said, the Wix system ensures that the features that they do have work – and they work well; no crashing or conflicts.
Bluehost allows unlimited technical & customization features. It’s also fairly convenient for beginners to add new functionality if you use Bluehost’s website builder / WordPress. Self-hosted WordPress allows “plugins” which are little mini-apps that you can add to your WordPress install with the click of a button.
Whether it’s for better SEO functionality, setting up an ecommerce site, adding appointments, bulk uploading information, adding a social network or really anything you can think of – you can do it with self-hosted WordPress on a Bluehost account.
On the downside, it’s also possible to create a code conflict in Bluehost and crash your website. It’s not common if you stick to well-supported plugins, but it is something that can happen.
It’s just like owning a house – you can build a deck or add shutters if you want to. Things will probably be fine, but if you accidentally damage your house – it’s on you to fix.
On this consideration – there’s no real overall winner. It’s all about what’s best for you.
SEO & Marketing
Marketing & SEO considerations are very similar to the technical considerations.
Both WordPress and self-hosted are “good” for marketing & SEO in that they generate well-coded, crawlable, HTML & CSS.
In fact, there are plenty of other caveats.
Wix has plenty of in-house marketing “apps” that are easy to install and sync with other business tools. They even have an in-house SEO tool. But even with Wix’s apps, you can’t do all the SEO or technical marketing work. On the upside, for many beginner / small websites, implementing tags & technical fixes are not (and should not) be high priority.
The best thing you can do is publish quality content that gets linked to and shared by lots of people (and will not crash under sudden massive popularity). In that case, Wix both allow you to do that.
If you want to do all the marketing things – a Bluehost website will allow even beginners to implement highly advanced tactics ranging from implementing tags, tracking data to advanced SEO changes to running email opt-ins, schema, a/b tests and anything you could possibly want to do.
So again, with marketing features the “winner” really depends on your priority. If your priority is straightforward, user-friendly publishing then Wix do that well.
If you want/need a complete technical marketing toolset – then you’ll need a self-hosted WordPress website on Bluehost.
Customer Support & Service
No matter who you are or what you’re building – you’ll likely need customer support.
Wix offers more traditional customer support via support tickets. They also offer phone, email, chat and knowledge base support.
When you run a website on a hosting company’s servers, you go to your hosting company for technical issues and Google/forums for other issues. I’ve reviewed a bunch of hosting companies and service levels/approaches vary wildly. Bluehost generally has solid beginner support via lots of different channels.
That said, even if you have excellent hosting support, your self-hosted WordPress website is inherently unique.
Since Wix operates a hosted platform – their customer service has fewer variables to work with. They know that you can only customize your site so much, thus potential problems are limited.
If you have a highly customized self-hosted WordPress website with lots of plugins and theme edits, you will have to go through a troubleshooting process no matter how good Bluehost’s support is.
If you are comfortable problem-solving and troubleshooting, a Bluehost site with a widely adopted software like WordPress will be the best fit.
Otherwise, Wix will have a better setup due the integration of service with their product.
Speed, Backups, Security & Maintenance
Related to customer support are the issues of speed, security, and maintenance.
If you are using Wix – these are not your problems. They take care of all three as part of the bundled deal.
If you are using Bluehost, you’ll need to regularly update your WordPress install and plugins. Additionally, you’ll need to install a basic security plugin and understand what makes your site fast/slow.
None of these topics require a developer or deep technical knowledge, but they are topics that you need to be aware of.
Going back to the house analogy – it’s like changing the air filter monthly and setting a security system. They aren’t complicated, but they are your responsibility. My post on essential plugins for WordPress is a good resource.
Bluehost vs Wix Conclusion
Bluehost and Wix are well-known brands for good reasons. They have both made getting a website so much easier than it used to be.
They are both good choices for certain projects. If you value control over convenience and you have the time for the learning curve – then go with Bluehost + WordPress. Use my website setup guide here.