New Website! PLUS: A Comprehensive Review of Wix.com and Creative Motion Design
I’m happy to announce my recently completed and now live website, www.stephenmasker.com.
Both services offer affordable options that provide consumers with quality products and allow for easy editing. Additionally, both provide text and video tutorials for users not familiar with website jargon, including questions about DNS, domains, hosting, servers and the like.
Importantly, Wix offers their customers free websites (with Ads), which is an awesome way to create a trial site and reach your own conclusions. If upgrading to premium, you have several options to choose from, including: Connect Domain, Combo, eCommerce and Unlimited. For most users, you’ll probably want to consider the yearly agreement which in all cases, except for the ‘Connect Domain’ plan, provides you the option to connect your domain (through Networks Solutions or GoDaddy) and a $125 voucher. Personally I found the voucher(s) a little confusing to execute, but Wix does provide you with a $75 voucher for Google AdWords and a $50 Facebook voucher, although I don’t think I ever used either of mine.
Regarding the unlimited account – which I think serious customers will find the most practical – you’re provided with several features. First, you get your domain connected. This is easy to do by following Wix’s set up instructions. However, do not misunderstand the ‘Connect your own domain’ feature to mean ‘receive a free domain.’ You must pay for a domain name (your unique website URL) through a domain registrar service such as Network Solutions or GoDaddy where the minimum anual cost (on Network Solutions) is $39 (for a URL ending in ‘.com’). Of course, you get a bigger discount the longer your register the domain, but you shall be billed for the total sum at the time of check out. For instance, if your purchase 3 years at $28.99/yr, your total cost would be $86.97. For more information, reference the NS chart below:
Second, all of the advertisements are removed, helping your website appear clean and bright. Third, the Wix logo is removed and your provided with the opportunity to add a Favicon. A Favicon is short for ‘favorites icon.’ Also known as a shortcut icon, website icon, URL icon, or bookmark icon, it is a 16×16 or 32×32 pixel square icon associated with a particular website or webpage. Fourth, you have the option to use Google Analytics.
Google Analytics (GA) is a free service offered by Google that generates detailed statistics about the visitors to a website. The product is aimed at marketers as opposed to webmasters and technologists from which the industry of web analytics originally grew. It is the most widely used website statistics service, currently in use on around 57% of the 10,000 most popular websites. -Wikipedia
Fifth, you’re provided with 2.5GB of storage on the Wix servers which allows you to upload large files and high-resolution content with ease. Last, but not least, customers are provided with a supposed unlimited amount of bandwidth, ‘A measurment of the data transfer required to present your website to visitors,’ the idea being the more bandwidth you have, the more visitors your can service. Despite all of these features, however, you are not provided with an eCommerce shopping cart, which may or may not be a big deal. In short, if you plan to sell any products through your Wix site – photographs, art, etc. – you may have to consider the eCommerce account option instead.
Also worth mentioning is Wix’s user interface. What’s so awesome about using Wix is taking advantage of the free accounts that they offer. Granted they come with Ad’s, the Wix logo, and limited space, they provide you with a great opportunity to test out the site and explore the user interface. In my opinion, most new users will find that it’s very simple to use and easy to navigate allowing them to make changes quickly and hassle free. What’s more: Once you’ve completed editing your free website just the way you like it, all you have to do is apply an upgrade (such as the Unlimited account) and all of features associated with it become yours instantaneously, the ads and Wix logo are removed, and you’ve got a decent looking site.
Now, for all of the benefits and simplicity Wix offers its customers, there are also some issue areas that I experienced as a two year user. The first and most important complaint I have about Wix is the quality, especially with respect to photographs. As a photographer I’m well versed with features such as colorspace, resolution, and image sharpness, but no matter how I edited my images – or how much I sharpened them in post production softwares, such as Photoshop – the images consistently appeared on the Wix site with a look that seemed almost out of focus. Regardless of the image, upload method, or post-production revisions, the images always appeared slightly blurry. As a professional photographer seeking a professional image, this was somewhat problematic for me. You can read about this issue here, here, and here as well as many other places on the internet.
Next, Wix does not offer any email services. This may or may not be a consideration for prospective consumers, but on the other hand it is something that Creative Motion Design does offer. But, to clear up any confusion, you CAN (after creating a ‘contact’ page) easily direct messages written in the ‘contact’ template to your email address at no extra cost.
Lastly, as I briefly touched upon, you have to consider the total cost of the Wix site and your domain name. Simply, most users purchasing the ‘Unlimited’ account will be subject to the $149.04 annual agreement and the $39 annual domain fee (assuming they opt for Network Solutions with a ‘.com’ account). As mentioned earlier, you can save some cash by purchasing a domain name for a longer commitment period – 3, 5, 10 years – but again, be aware that you shall be billed the total sum at the time of check out.
Regarding costs, Wix is currently offering (at the time of this entry) a 3 day only Halloween sale on all accounts with a 58% savings on Premium ‘Unlimited’ accounts. Customers can either choose from a $14.90 monthly agreement, or purchase a yearly agreement for $74.52 ($6.21/month), typically $149.04 ($12.42/month). In essence, most Wix users who plan to purchase the ‘Unlimited’ account will spend $149/yr + $39/yr (via Network Solutions purchased on 1-year contracts) for an annual total of $188.00.
With all this in mind, I personally rate Wix a 7 on a 1-10 scale judging professionalism, ease of use, flexibility, and aesthetic content.
Creative Motion Design
I have to admit, having come from Wix, Creative Motion Design takes the Gold. On a scale of 1-10, I personally rate CMD a 10 with respect to all of the above considerations. Not only do the CMD templates (available in html and flash) appear MUCH cleaner – in my opinion – than any wix site I have ever used or constructed, but my images appear exactly as I photographed and edited them: tack sharp with accurate color.
In addition to providing high quality content and customization features, I’m most impressed with the total value you receive as a CMD consumer. Not only are you provided the option of choosing between a flash or html template, but regardless of the option you choose you are also provided with a FREE mobile phone and iPad version of your website making it super simple to access your site on either device. What’s more is when you do take advantage of this feature, the viewing experience is extremely nice and requires no additional set-up. Build your template and your adjustments will be mirrored on both the mobile phone and iPad features – no additional work. Now how nice is that?
Wix, on the other hand, requires you to build your own mobile phone site (a feature they recently introduced). In my professional opinion, the Wix mobile phone version of your site is very cheap looking, and it will require extra effort to construct as it does not mirror your internet website. You must add the images, pages, and content yourself.
What’s more, CMD offers you both email services AND provides an eCommerce shopping cart (on ‘Pro’ websites) that is completely customizable. You set the prices and products available (in my case, photographs), establish a PayPal account, and CMD will take care of the rest. AND – (check this out) – YOU keep all of the profit. CMD doesn’t take a dime of any transaction you make.
And last but not least, we have to talk costs. To give it to you straight, CMD will probably be more of an initial investment with respect to Wix services. Importantly, CMD offers three different designs to choose from: HTML Pro ($295), Flash Pro ($295), and Flash Plus ($195). Keep in mind these are 1-time fee’s. You do not have to pay an annual cost for the templates/your website. With respect to HTML Pro and Flash Pro, most of the features are the same. Please view the chart below to compare features and design rates:
Other costs to consider:
Most users will probably spend $100/yr to host their site on CMD’s servers. Alternatively, users can opt to pay a 1-time fee of $100 for a server transfer (something I’m not very familiar with). Either way, you must choose one or the other, and it’s going to cost you $100. The former option is recommended by CMD, and personally it’s the option I chose. Other options are available too (with their respective associated fees) such as a photo cart ($145), if, for example, you choose the Flash Plus Design which does not include a photo cart. Then, for customers who really want something unique, you can choose to purchase a Custom Design Package for $180 (after purchasing one of the three designs, of course). The idea is for you to purchase a template which is then customized by the people at CMD. How exactly this is done is beyond me, but I’m sure you could email them with questions. Hourly custom design fees are $60/hr.
To boil all this ‘cost’ talk down to a simple understanding, most users choosing either the Flash or HTML pro designs will spend $295 on a template, $100/yr on CMD server’s which host your website, and $39/yr on a domain name (via Network Solutions). In total, the initial fee for using CMD services is $295 (one time template fee for html pro and flash pro designs) + $100/yr (CMD server fee) + $39/yr (via Network Solutions domain name purchased on 1-year contracts) for a total set-up fee of $434.00 and $140 every year after (as you do not have to pay for your template again).
However: CMD is currently offering 40% off some of their most popular templates across all three designs (html pro, flash pro, flash plus) until October 31st. For instance, my website (a flash pro design), was originally $295. With 40% off, it brought my cost down to $177 (which I split with my parents as a birthday gift), leaving me to pay $177 (one time template fee for html pro and flash pro designs) + $100/yr (CMD server fee) + $39 (Network Solutions domain name for a 1-year contract) = $316 for the initial set-up fee, and $140 every year after.
Lastly, regarding costs: Keep in mind that you can further reduce the cost of both Wix and CMD services by buying at appropriate times of the year as indicated on their websites. Also, don’t forget that you can cut the cost of your annual domain name fees by purchasing longer commitment plans (3, 5, 10 years, etc) saving you more money in the long run.
In my opinion, although a CMD flash or html pro template costs more for the initial startup, they are undoubtedly the best choice for someone seeking a long-term and professional website, and CMD offers more features and services than Wix for a better value. Conclusively, I highly encourage prospective users to try both services before buying; CMD does offer a free 10 day trial on all of their templates.