I love Wix! I love it so much that I enthusiastically recommend it to the frighteningly large number of people who ask me for advice for which such a recommendation would be appropriate.

What is Wix? Wix is a cheese factory. Kind of like the modern MySpace. And why would I love that? I will explain.

When I started programming as a kid I was excited by the feeling of power, of true magic. What could be done with a computer was intense and a radical departure from the capabilities of the past. This was a potent tool that was going to open new worlds. Today, however, when I look around at what most ostensible "computer professionals" are doing I feel like 99% of them are building cheese. They are buried in the minutia required to sustain some marketing dork’s vision of "making it pop".

When people come to me because they have some conception of a web site, they invariably want to tell me what it looks like. I am not interested. I have studied art and art history in museums around the world and amassed my own large personal collection of fine art scraped from the internet. What makes it to a typical web site is not art, it is cheese.

Take the striking example of Banksy’s website. It is awful cheese. The contrast is clear because the content (anyone remember that?) is so brilliant. Just look at the slide show arrows being all wrong and poorly placed as a detailed example. The whole slideshow is simply annoying - am I clicking through it or is going by itself? Or both? Banksy’s site is "mobile friendly" but do you think Banksy’s artistic sensibilities went into the hamburger icon that appears when you restrict the display width? Do you appreciate seeing the content with less information than you’re actually downloading? Look how much more detail there’d be without the clumsy web site "features". This website’s ASP lameness is easy to overlook since it’s overshadowed by the brilliant artwork which is its content. It’s also easy to overlook the tasteless composition and confusing navigational layout because it is completely unremarkable; almost all sites on the web are no different. I definitely do not want Banksy wasting his time worrying about web site minutia.

Perhaps the surest sign of cheese is the presence of templates. (I’m undecided about whether STL counts.) Letting normal people get on with their lives is fine and choosing your style from a menu of choices is probably often a good way to go. But do not forget - if you chose "your style" from a collection of templates it is not your style. It will have the verisimilitude of creativity but do not mistake it for actual creativity.

This brings us back to Wix whose main page paradoxically says, "100s of fully customizable HTML5 templates available in every category. Choose yours and create something totally original." I’m serious. It says that. I guess they think original is sharing characteristics with the claimed "64,567,128" users divided by "100s" of templates. In the past when people with no clue about web sites (and often precious little clue about any compelling content) would have an idea for a mediocre clumsy web site that they could not implement, they would often come to me. Now I can just turn them loose on Wix. Problem solved! In other words, I’ll never have to work on creating a web site that is lamer than a Wix template. That’s a surprisingly big step forward.

The larger point should not be missed here. This does free up talented people to worry more about higher level things than struggling with the inordinate annoyances involved in a project like making a trendy web site. Maybe people can focus on higher level things like ideas that are actually interesting. This is why Wix is great.

One may look at my website as a horror of what not to do, but my website is rather illustrative. While I have taken some rudimentary steps to modernize it for practical purposes, keep in mind that my website looked very stylish in 1998. People easily forget that web site fashions change more quickly than sartorial ones. Do you want to judge a person on their clothes or their value as a person? I like to think that my website decisions (for example, using the efficient and practical Apache mod_autoindex) are a kind of subversive commentary on the state of the art. Banksy would be proud if he cared one bit. I tend to like this kind of web site though I also can appreciate stuff like this. But hey, don’t take any web site advice from me. I’m weird! Go to Wix.com and I’ll get back to interesting work.

And if your work in general is boring and tedious and uninteresting, get ready for it to be taken over by the first company that brings templates of your product right to the end user. Now we just need an automated service with "hundreds of templates in every category" that turns an insipid idea for an app into an insipid app in minutes!

UPDATE 2018-06-25

A nice article on the brutalist website movement. Here’s a fantastic collection of brutalist websites. And wow, I really, really love this one.

UPDATE 2018-07-09

Ah ha! I knew it couldn’t be long before there was a service to allow people to create apps without knowing what they were doing at all. This acoyler.org writeup describes a paper that brutalizes the security of many of these services. Caveat emptor — especially when the goods are "free".