Wix is used by more than 4.5 million websites, so it’s easy to see why people are starting to wonder whether it will replace web developers altogether.
The platform is one of the most popular drag-and-drop website builders on the market and is used across the globe. It allows people with zero coding ability to quickly and easily put together simple websites.
However, Wix is unlikely to replace web developers because of the platform’s various limitations. It is used to run 1.7% of all websites online but can’t provide the level of customization and number of features required by most websites.
No-code platforms like Wix are on the rise and they have replaced web developers in certain situations.
Let’s take a look at situations where Wix could replace web developers and areas that are unlikely to be affected by site builders.
Will Wix replace web developers?
A front-end developer is no longer needed to get a basic site launched. The rise of website builders has given potential clients a cheaper alternative to getting a site up and running.
There are areas where Wix is going to replace web developers but some things will always need the expertise of a professional.
It’s easy to understand why some would-be developers are worried if web development is dead and has any prospects as a long-term career.
However, many of these concerns are unfounded. Web development is going to be largely unaffected by drag-and-drop page builders.
1. Customer Requirements
Understanding what a client needs is a huge part of being a developer. Being able to ask the right questions and extract requirements is extremely important. Building the end product is far simpler when you know exactly what the customer is looking for.
Wix can be very useful when customer requirements are constrained and don’t go beyond a specific scope. However, web developers will never be replaced by Wix in situations where the client has complicated on unclear requirements.
A developer’s expertise can help a client navigate the rocky terrain of a project and smooth out the journey.
Building the product is often the easy part of a project. Understanding what a customer needs can be incredibly time-consuming, and there isn’t software to automate this process.
Whether it’s building a site with a focus on SEO, speed, conversions, or other elements that need integration, there isn’t a substitute for a good developer.
2. Support and Education
If a business decides to use a platform like Wix to build a website they are essentially on its own. Wix has a lot of documentation on how to use their platform but they don’t have someone on call to answer business-specific questions.
You may be able to achieve certain things with Wix but not understand the why of it all. A developer will be able to educate you on the specifics of a webpage optimized for SEO whereas Wix will not.
A website is just a small part of a company’s approach to digital marketing. A good agency can support customers by getting the best ROI and value from their site. With Wix or Weebly clients won’t get this support and it’s why they’ll never fully replace software engineers.
3. Wix replacing simple sites
The battleground where Wix is most likely to be victorious over web developers is for simple sites.
Their pricing structure and approach are perfect for small businesses that need a simple site and are on a budget. Wix is incredibly cheap, with plans starting under $10 a month. But a website made by a software engineer is going to cost thousands of dollars.
So web developers looking to carve out a living by servicing small businesses who don’t want to spend much are going to find it difficult. However, more professional and experienced programmers are unlikely to face any issues, as long as they go for a better clientele.
Drag-and-drop site builders have improved a lot but are still limited in their scope. These limitations make them perfect for static sites or those with limited functionality.
In reality, this type of work hasn’t comprised the bulk of web development in a long time. Developers are now more worried about whether they need to learn algorithms, rather than changing the background of a div.
4. Complicated and Customised Projects
When people need something coded from scratch it is because a solution is not readily available. Wix will never replace web developers in projects that require customization or are complicated.
If a company is looking for a bespoke e-commerce site or needs a single-page React app, then a software engineer is needed. A lot of big brands want a unique product that stands out from the crowd. Page builders like Wix and Weebly don’t offer this.
Many big brands aren’t happy with the cookie-cutter solutions that a template-based design offers them.
While there is a market for customization and people want complicated products, then web developers will never be replaced by machines.
5. Barriers to entry
Many developers are stuck worrying about whether they should learn HTML before Python, or in which order to learn algorithms.
Questions like the above are commonplace for developers as the industry changes so quickly. The constant changes in technology are barriers to entry for new and existing programmers.
Page builders have lowered the barriers to entry for simple website building. It is easier than ever to whip up a static site. Lowering barriers to entry increases competitive forces on web developers but doesn’t mean they will be replaced.
It has meant those wanting to spend as little as possible on a site can. It has made it a lot easier for this segment of the market to have a website.
However, the type of business that opts for Wix as a platform is unlikely to be the type of client that would pay software engineers a living wage anyway. So they are best avoided.
Microwave meals are cheap, quick to prepare, and stress-free. But there is a reason not everyone eats them because the quality is missing. Microwave meals haven’t done away with chefs, in the same way, that webpage builders won’t do away with developers.
6. Better Alternatives
Wix won’t ever trump web developers because it is not even the best drag-and-drop page builder on the market.
Some alternatives are free to use and offer a better all-around solution for those who want to make their own site.
Open-source solutions like WordPress don’t charge a monthly fee and are completely free to use. There is a wide variety of page builders available for WordPress, most of which use the freemium model of monetization. The best of these include:
All of the above can be used to customize any free theme. They give you full flexibility without having to be tied into a platform like Wix.
7. Lack of Flexibility
One of the biggest disadvantages of platforms like Wix is that they tie you into their way of working.
If your business needs ever change and want to move away from Wix it can be a nightmare. They don’t make it easy for people to switch platforms and take their content with them. It’s why the tech industry as a whole relies on open-source tools rather than proprietary software.
If your site starts getting a lot of traffic and you need to make rapid changes, it can be difficult for these platforms to keep up with your needs. The lack of flexibility means using a developer will also have advantages over Wix.
Is Wix killing web development?
We’ve taken a lot at whether Wix will replace web developers but is Wix killing web development as a whole?
There are already concerns in the industry about whether software engineering is going to be outsourced. So it’s natural to wonder whether these types of tools are a benefit to the industry.
Opening up web development
Tools like Wix have actually helped open up Wix web development. It has made it easier than ever for more people to create websites. For technology as a whole, this is a big positive.
It’s never been simpler for small business owners to get online and make their presence felt. Wix isn’t killing web development but changing the industry.
As we’ve discussed, the lower end of the industry has shrunk dramatically because the barriers to entry have shrunk so much. It’s good for the industry but bad for web developers.
Wix is making web development more competitive. The number of clients has shrunk because many are opting to build their own site. The number of people able to make websites has also increased.
It has been debated whether Webflow may replace developers because of how easy it is for designers to use. The popularity of sites like Webflow is on the rise Their platform is aimed at giving designers the tools to make fully functioning websites backed with a CMS. It means competition has increased even more, which is good for the customer but can impact a developer’s bottom line.
More and more people are looking towards easy no-code options and Webflow seems to be setting the bar for the standards.
Race to the bottom
Unfortunately, platforms like Wix create a race to the bottom. They devalue the effort it takes to create a website by distorting the amount of work required.
It has become commonplace for clients to argue over costs and push back because they see cheaper initial outlays using drag-and-drop builders. Like other site builders, they offer a monthly fee model which works for new businesses not wanting to splash the cash at first.
A race to the bottom doesn’t mean developers will be replaced by these platforms. But it does mean they have to pick their battles and not get caught up in a price war.
Websites can now be created in a fraction of the time it used to take. Page builders and other tools like templates have made it simpler than ever.
The bar has been set high for modern websites. Tools like Wix pushes the bar higher by keeping developers on their toes. Overall, that’s a good thing for the industry.
It forces web developers to be truly creative and specialized. Older, less relevant jobs may disappear but there will always be work for talented programmers.
What is achievable in the browser is thanks to innovations in front-end technology. These changes were brought on by programmers who wanted something more than static websites. They specialized and changed the entire industry.
Doing things right
A lot of Wix websites are cookie cutter. The majority have a similar style which can be spotted a mile off.
Plenty of the sites are shining examples of poor user experience and accessibility. Try the sites across different resolutions and many fall flat. By allowing non-technical people to build sites it can help perpetuate poor practices across the industry.
Whether it’s the flow of the site or SEO best practices professional developers know how to make this stuff work. A fully functioning site needs the expertise of graphic designers, content writers, and developers to get it done right.
Will website builders replace web developers?
Website builders have become more advanced and user-friendly over time but they won’t ever replace web developers entirely. Website builders are great for creating simple websites with pre-designed templates and limited functionality. However, for more complex websites or web applications, a web developer’s expertise and skills are essential.
Web developers can customize a website or web application to meet the specific requirements and needs of a customer. They can also optimize the website’s performance, security, and search engine rankings. Web developers can create custom functionality, integrations, and databases that are unique to the website.
Most customers already have some existing infrastructure that they need to hook into, so custom development is usually always required.
Overall, website builders are a great option for those with limited technical skills and a small budget. But for more complex websites, software developers will always be necessary to guarantee the site’s quality, performance, and security.
With such a shift towards drag-and-drop builders in the industry, it’s easy to see why people think developers will be replaced by Wix.
However, the functionality and complexity offered by these page builders just aren’t good enough to pip professional software engineers.
Wix has its place and is a fantastic tool for small business owners looking to create a website on a budget. But it won’t be the downfall of web development.
Nathan Britten, the founder and editor of Developer Pitstop, is a self-taught software engineer with nearly five years of experience in front-end technologies. Nathan created the site to provide simple, straightforward knowledge to those interested in technology, helping them navigate the industry and better understand their day-to-day roles.