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2023 Spring Colloquium Workshop - Companion Resource

The rundown on Wix vs Weebly vs WordPress

You can think of these three platforms as lying on a scale of customizability versus ease of use. I should emphasize that they’re all pretty easy to use, just in different degrees:

  • Wix offers you a lot of room to reshape and move elements around in your website, but that means you might have to fiddle with its website editor a little more. Another downside is the ‘Created with Wix’ banner it displays on the top of your site, if you have a free website.
  • Weebly is still very customizable, but its templates are a little more restrictive than Wix’s. Weebly also displays a ‘Powered by Weebly’ banner in free websites, but it is (imo) more discreet. Weebly is also cheaper than Wix if you decide on upgrading to a paid website.
  • WordPress.com is even less customizable. Their design ethos seems to prefer a “set-and-forget” approach, where you pick a template and don’t fiddle around with it much. Templates also vary in how much they let you customize them. All this makes WordPress potentially very easy to use, but it can also be really annoying when your theme doesn’t allow you to change something that ought to be really easy. Since WordPress.com is really popular, and has been around for a long time, this might be the choice for you if you already have

What about WordPress.org?

WordPress.org is a very powerful tool, but it does require some more legwork. While WordPress.org is completely free to use, it does require you to deal with hosting and setting up domain names yourself. It also has a very rich plugin library that allows you to do some really cool things with your website, offering you great customizability. You don’t necessarily need to know how to code to do all this, but if you do, you’ll have even greater control over your site. As you can probably tell, though, compared to Wix, Weebly, and WordPress.com, it isn’t as easy to just get a website up and running quickly.

Doesn’t TarHeels.live host a WordPress.org site for me though?

It does! And it also gives you a free tarheels.live/ domain. You would still need to spend some time learning WordPress.org, though. Also, as far as I can’t tell, you can’t really connect a custom domain to TarHeels unless you’re representing a UNC department or organization.

What about those other website editors that you mentioned?

  • Squarespace.com is the new kid on the block. From a usability standpoint, it seems to combine the best features of Wix and Weebly: it’s very easy to customize, but also very easy to use, and its templates look great. However, Squarespace has no free options, only a 14-day trial.
  • Webflow is like an in-between of a drag-and-drop, WYSIWYG editor, and something more advanced. It has your usual editor, with menus where you can visually create and edit your website, but these menus offer you way greater control about everything. They also use HMTL/CSS lingo, so this is a great stepping stone if you want to get into basic web dev, but still have a visual editor to orient yourself. Webflow has an unlimited trial period, but
  • Carrd is great if you need a simple landing page.

I actually know some programming, and would like to use a static website generator

Awesome! Static website generators typically work by converting Markdown files to HTML. This is likely especially helpful to you if you use notetaking apps like Notion or Obsidian. Even if you don’t, it’s way easier to write the actual content of your pages using Markdown, and let a static site generator do the rest of the heavy lifting.

If you want to go this route, there are many options available, typically based on different programming languages. Some popular options are

  • Jekyll, which uses Ruby;
  • Hugo, which uses Go;
  • Gatsby, which uses the React JavaScript library.

Note that you don’t actually have to be proficient in these programming languages to use these platforms, but you will need to, at the very least, have them installed, know how to install packages, and learn some of their syntax.

Whichever platform you use, you will need to host your website somewhere and potentially purchase a custom domain name. One option for this is GitHub Pages, which lets you host and connect custom domains for free.

What did you use?

I built my first portfolio using Wix. I built this website using Jekyll (and GitHub Pages for hosting).

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