Wix or WordPress | What’s The Public Spat All About?

Apr 17, 2021

In recent weeks Wix has been engaging in a public spat with WordPress through a series of video advertisements. While business feuds are nothing new (just think back to the Cola Wars of the 1980’s), this recent battle has caused quite the stir, in which conflict has been seen between both conglomerates, customers, and even their creators…

Each video follows the same narrative structure in which WordPress and it’s user are sat side-by-side in a councilling session where they proceed to discuss the problems that they have with each other. The user’s complaints vary from conflicting plugins and hackers to manuel updates, while WordPress continuously attempts to defend its practices.

Audiences responses to these advertisements have certainly ranged. There were those who argued that they were a humerous attempt to dig into WordPress’ faults, while others have been more critical of Wix’s negative campaign. One commenter would write:

To all marketers and influencers out there: this is how defeat looks like. Make sure you learn through the mistakes of others.

The Update Button of Doom | You Deserve Better | YouTube Comments Section
Wix Advertisement | Conflicting Plugins

Matt Mullenweg’s Open Letter To Wix

Matt Mullenweg, founder of Automattic (who’s products include: WordPress, Tumbler, WooCommerce, Akismet, JetPack, etc.), would hit back at Wix’s campaign through his personal blog.

The creator of WordPress would go on to state that, ‘if we’re comparing website builders to abusive relationships, Wix is one that locks you in the basement and doesn’t let you leave.’ While many other website builders such as Squarespace (which as Mullenweg acutely notes, ‘just passed up Wix in market share) allow users to natively export their site to WordPress, Wix prevents customers to transfer their content from their platform to another.

The Full Collection of PC + Mac Ads

They can’t even come up with original concepts for attack ads, and have tried to rip-off of Apple’s Mac vs PC ads, but tastelessly personify the WordPress community as an absent, drunken father in a therapy session.

Matt Mullenweg

Avishai Abrahami’s Response To Mullenweg

Avishai Abrahami, Wix’s CEO, would respond to Mullenweg’s post just a few days later where he would defend Wix’s media campaign and the issues that it brought up surrounding WordPress.

We only wrote about valid issues with WordPress: high maintenance, issues with plugins, memory issues and security (adding the links for anyone who doesn’t know what we are talking about).

Avishai Abrahami

Regarding Mullenweg’s criticisim of locking Wix customers on the platform, Avishai would go on to state that:

In your recent post, you wrote that Wix makes it “difficult to leave” for customers, but this isn’t true. If someone wants to cancel the subscription, all they need to do is click the button, “Cancel Subscription”. If a customer cancels within 14 days of a purchase, getting a refund is automatic, so I’m not sure what you meant.

Avishai Abrahami

While it is certainly true that customers can cancel their subscription with ease, Abrahami has either innocently missed the point of Mullenweg’s remarks or has rather disingenuously decided to skip over his commentary on a users ability to transfer their websites content.

As someone that has used both platforms I can say from personal experience that the process of transfering content from Wix-To-Wordpress was an absolute nightmare. At the time, my website contained over 50 articles and 100’s of images; all of which had to be painstakingly copied-and-pasted one-by-one. And before you shout – ‘there are easier methods‘… Yes, there certainly are but then you face the problem of formatting issues, which is a whole other can of worms.

So when Abrahami says that ‘I think that people deserve the full picture‘, it seems strange that he would not tackle this criticism head on… Why shy away from this point when it is even clearly supported on your own documentation?

They are so insecure that they are also the only website creator I’m aware of that doesn’t allow you to export your content, so they’re like a roach motel where you can check in but never check out. Once you buy into their proprietary stack you’re locked in, which even their support documentation admits:

Matt Mullenweg

This Isn’t The First Time This Has Happened Either…

This isn’t the first time that these two have butt heads. In 2016, Mullenweg would post an open letter to Wix titled: The Wix Mobile App, a WordPress Joint. Within this article Mullenweg would contend that Wix’s mobile app’s editor ‘stole’ code from Automattic’s mobile team (the developers of WordPress’ mobile app).

If I were being charitable, I’d say, “The app’s editor is based on the WordPress mobile app’s editor.” If I were being honest, I’d say that Wix copied WordPress without attribution, credit, or following the license. The custom icons, the class names, even the bugs. You can see the forked repositories on GitHub complete with original commits from Alex and Maxime, two developers on Automattic’s mobile team. Wix has always borrowed liberally from WordPress — including their company name, which used to be Wixpress Ltd. — but this blatant rip-off and code theft is beyond anything I’ve seen before from a competitor.

Matt Mullenweg

The back and fourth commentary that we have recently witnessed over the last few days would similarily be seen back in 2016. Abrahami would defend his developer team by pointing out that there were ‘3 million lines of code in the Wix application‘, in which only a minor part of application incoporated Automattic’s code.

Yes, we did use the WordPress open source library for a minor part of the application (that is the concept of open source right?), and everything we improved there or modified, we submitted back as open source, see here in this link – you should check it out, pretty cool way of using it on mobile native. I really think you guys can use it with your app (and it is open source, so you are welcome to use it for free). And, by the way, the part that we used was in fact developed by another and modified by you.

Avishai Abrahami

Can We Learn Anything From This?

Campaigns that target a competitor negatively are always tricky and delicate operations… Hit too hard and you will almost certainly recieve a great deal of backlash from both the supporters of the company you are railing against and/or alienate your target market who see your advertisement as an unnecessary and distasteful attempt at customer conversion.

So far, it appears that Wix has fallen into this trap and has done more damage than good from this campaign. However, this still remains to be seen… After all the saying that ‘all press is good press‘ likely remains true even after the pitfalls they have faced with this campaign; we are, after all, talking about them at this very moment.

While these adverts may have been slightly crude and lack a sense of depth (particularly for the experienced and avid website creator), this isn’t exactly who Wix is aiming their arrows at. Although they are certainly keen to tap into the more professional userbase that WordPress currently commands, they have always targeted the more casual user and as such this campaign may prove to be successful for capturing their imagination.

Will Wix triumph over WordPress? Well, we will just have to wait and see…

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