Making Geek Look Cool: Karlie Kloss, Wix Advertising, And The Rise Of Coders Who Can’t Code

I’m sure you all have come across this ad a million times, while waiting impatiently for your favorite video to start…

Love it or hate it, this ad is really effective and it’s no wonder why it has millions of views. In the advertising industry, there’s no doubt that celebrities are able to generate more revenue for corporations simply because they’re household names and they have such an irresistible charisma that no ordinary person can ever replicate. However, as a self-starting writer and DIY web designer, I find that this ad, while engaging and fun to watch, can be misleading to those who haven’t built their own websites before, have no idea what they want to do with a website if they were to make one, and only think Wix is the best because someone famous is promoting it.

I’ve been a DIY website junkie ever since 2005 when my friend introduced me to Xanga. Back then, I didn’t update it too much because of dial-up and there was only one computer in the house. When I got my first Windows XP laptop (which, in retrospect, was clunky and slow, but 12-year-old me thought it was the coolest gadget ever), I made at least five different websites for myself using Wetpaint, Webs.com, Weebly, and some other DIY web service that I forgot the name of.

Shortly after, I experimented with some more website builders and blogging sites like Blogger (formerly Blogspot), Tumblr, and finally, Wix.

My Personal Experiences with Wix

When I first created a free Wix site back in 2014, I thought it was the best DIY website builder ever (that was before I found WordPress and Squarespace). I was enamored by the textures of all the cute little buttons, the gorgeous templates, the customizable layout, and the ease of using the drag-and-drop interface. I experimented with a variety of designs and spent hours just having fun exploring all the features.

However, when I switched over to WordPress, I immediately stopped using Wix because WordPress looks so much better, it loads faster, and it’s easier to upkeep and maintain a blog.

Wix’s Marketing Strategies

  • Use a high-profile celebrity, preferably one who’s supermodel attractive, charismatic, friendly, down-to-earth, and has a reputation for being a philanthropist and an advocate for girls in STEM

  • Explain what Wix is, how it can be used, and why it makes creating a website easy and affordable

  • Show how Karlie creates her own website and how she showcases her projects in an appealing manner

  • Use attention-grabbing words like “professional” and “stunning,” which people want to be known for

  • Has a target audience: young entrepreneurial and creative girls who want to make a website for their passions but don’t have advanced coding skills and probably don’t have the budget to hire a professional web developer

  • Add in a rock jingle that makes people feel pumped up and ready to jump onto the DIY website bandwagon and become a “Badass creative coder-blogger-entrepreneur” that most millennials want to be

Why is there so much hate on this ad?

A lot of people in the comments below seem to love hating on Karlie and dissing her, mainly because they believe that the Wix advertising team is only concerned about money and popularity, just so they can get more people to sign up, especially starstruck, gullible young girls who think that blogging is just something that cool people do and wrongly believe that it’s all fun and games. However, presentation-wise, I think Karlie did a great job with explaining what Wix is about, while doing so in a way that makes beginner-level web design less intimidating and more user-friendly.

However, critics of this ad also are quick to point out that Karlie’s a hypocrite - she advocates coding and STEM education for young girls, but she herself won’t build her own website from scratch (with HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, Joomla, Ruby, etc.) or bother to use professional back-end development skills. And they are right because Wix requires absolutely no knowledge of code at all.

Is Wix really worth the money?

In short, no.

Personally, I believe that if you’re wanting to blog and have a relatively simple and clean portfolio for your work (especially in media, journalism, writing, photography, videography, and graphic design), you should go with Squarespace (most streamlined and low-maintenance). If you are a coder, UX Designer, and web developer, you should go with a self-hosted WordPress blog and create a theme from scratch.

You shouldn’t bother with Wix for the following reasons:

  • Poor SEO rankings compared to WordPress and Squarespace

  • More difficult to optimize for mobile (whereas Squarespace has this already built in)

  • Wix uses Flash, which makes it load much more slowly than HTML-based website builders

  • Themes aren’t as well-designed as other sites: While there are some decent looking sites on Wix, there are many other Wix users who have cluttered and tacky portfolios because there are simply too many options with colors, patterns, and textures. People who lack an eye for good design will simply think it’s cool to throw in a mix of unflattering designs and hope for the best.

  • The Unlimited plan will cost you $14/month, whereas Squarespace will give you a more professional, aesthetically appealing, and highly functional website for $12/month. I’m sure there are also other hosting options that are as low as $3.95/month.

The fact that a self-proclaimed coder is using a service that’s clearly for people who can’t code makes Wix look bad. The ad itself is only fun to watch and it can serve as a motivational video for people who want to build their own websites but not necessarily sign up for Wix. Clearly, people who are serious about making their digital portfolios will at least have the common sense to use a cleaner template on WordPress or Squarespace and not bother with Flash-based systems that decrease speed and overall productivity.

If you want to use Wix, by all means, go for it, but if you want to be taken seriously and have a presentable working portfolio, I’d recommend for you to use another DIY website builder. If you’re a hobbyist and you like having more options with how your design looks, Wix is sufficient enough for your needs.

And if you are an aspiring coder, for the sanity of those who are professional coders, instead of talking about how coding jobs are lucrative and how smart and hip coding makes you look, why not start building your own website from the ground up today?