Microsoft announced that it has teamed up with Wix.com. Wix will be integrated with Office 365, and customers will be able to select Wix as a web-hosting provider — or just use Wix to build a website to be hosted with Microsoft.
Natalie Gagliordi pointed out that the Wix fills a web development void that was created when Microsoft shut down the Public Website feature of SharePoint. Microsoft didn't feel the service was getting enough use to warrant continued investment and support.
Apparently, there is enough demand, however, that Microsoft felt it necessary to partner with a third-party to provide that service for Office 365 customers.
What is Wix?
Good question. According to a press release:
"Wix enables anyone to create a complete and professional online presence, as well as manage and grow their business from a single cloud-based platform. Wix.com offers a comprehensive web creation solution, including hundreds of designer-made templates, an intuitive drag-and-drop website editor, the ability to integrate business management applications through the Wix App Market, mobile and e-commerce capabilities, and much more."
I had never heard of Wix before this year's Super Bowl. I actually watch the Super Bowl for the football — but, like millions of other viewers, I'm also anxious to see what kind of marketing magic will be unveiled during the commercial breaks. One of the commercials that stood out to me during Super Bowl XLIX was for Wix.com.
The clever ad showed a number of well known ex-NFL stars launching unique businesses and building their own websites using Wix.com. The tagline for the ad was "It's that easy."
Now, Office 365 customers are going to get to find out just how easy "that easy" really is.
As Wix mentioned in the press release, it has hundreds of HTML5 templates to choose from. You can simply drag-and-drop elements to create a professional-looking website without writing a single line of code.
Wix offers tools that you can use to build an e-commerce website. There's also a Wix App Market that contains a diverse array of elements you can add to your website. There are apps for comments, events calendar, testimonials, social networks, live chat, maps, and more.
You can build a website for free, but much of what Wix has to offer is more freemium. For example, most of the tools in the Wix App Market offer both a free and a premium version. You can use the tool for free, but accessing the full power and features of the tool will cost you.
The things that make a website a business rather than just a slick looking page on the web will likely cost a few dollars and possibly still require some outside help or a fair amount of education and effort to get them configured and functioning properly. Things like setting up SSL encryption or building a functioning shopping cart generally take more than just a drag-and-drop.
Not the only game in town
Wix.com may be the company that caught Microsoft's attention, but it's not the only free / freemium website platform out there. Weebly is another service that offers a similar website-building experience. Weebly even has a TV commercial — just not one that was aired during the Super Bowl.
Even if Wix isn't the only game in town, the fact that it's integrated into Office 365 makes it the simplest. If you're a small business that needs to build an awesome website, you should consider subscribing to Office 365 to take advantage of Wix. If you're a small business that's already signed up for Office 365, maybe Wix can help you give your website a makeover.
Tony Bradley is a principal analyst with Bradley Strategy Group. He is a respected authority on technology, and information security. He writes regularly for Forbes, and PCWorld, and contributes to a wide variety of online and print media outlets. He has authored or co-authored a number of books, including Unified Communications for Dummies, Essential Computer Security, and PCI Compliance.