TL; DR: Dramatically expanding the website builder’s capabilities, Wix Code introduces application development tools that appeal to both professional developers and inexperienced beginners. New site owners can use the company’s familiar drag-and-drop interface to add advanced interactions and dynamic content without having to write a line of code. For programmers, Wix Code accelerates application development by connecting databases and APIs in a serverless environment. Product Manager Uval Blumenfeld enthusiastically shared the Wix Code features that most excite him and shared his insight into how Wix’s overall product philosophy eases the burdens of getting online.
As a longtime Program Manager at Microsoft, Uval Blumenfeld long considered Excel to be among the company’s most important technological advancements.
Making difficult tasks more accessible to people, as Uval describes the purpose of democratizing technology, empowers users and small business owners to unlock new revenue streams and save time by working more efficiently. He spent two years on the Microsoft Excel team before joining Wix in 2014 to manage the website builder’s newest project.
Three years later, Uval’s team debuted Wix Code, a rich set of developer tools that narrow the gap between professional programmers and inexperienced site owners. Appealing to both audiences, Wix Code hastens application development in a simple environment devoid of code or server maintenance.
“Excel lets you do a lot of things you previously needed to hire an analyst for, and I thought it was the ultimate game changer,” Uval said. “Wix Code, however, is blowing that out of the water. This is the most fulfilling product I’ve ever worked on, and I’ve been in the industry for about 20 years.”
5 Ways Wix Code Helps Non-Developers Create Dynamic Websites
For rookie site owners, in particular, Uval said his team strived to enable users to create content-rich websites that feature dynamic content without writing a single line of code. He described the five main features of Wix Code, frequently using a fictitious travel website as an example.
“Together, these pieces allow you to create a really large percentage of the types of sites that are common on the web,” Uval said. “If you think about an online directory, community, or any site that has user-generated content, that’s now really easy to do.”
A common tool in content management systems, databases enable users to separate website data and content from their website’s layout and design.
For example, the hypothetical travel site might use a database to collect information on various destinations. Site owners can set up databases to store visitor information, location info, and other fields.
“You choose how and where to use this data on your site and can control who can add, edit, and view the database,” Uval said.
2. Data Binding
Once a database is created, data binding connects the information to page layout components. Users will use Wix’s familiar drag-and-drop interface to design a page before using data binding to connect each element to the corresponding database field.
“I can very easily showcase the travel destinations on the example site without writing a single line of code,” Uval said.
3. Dynamic Pages
Established connections mean that the Wix Code platform is now ready to generate the individual pages — or, in our example, the various locations to be featured on the travel website.
“I can design and lay out the destinations pages once, get them just the way I want it, and then the system will automatically create a page with its own URL for each item in my database,” Uval said.
Following the same design made in the Wix editor, each dynamically created page is SEO-friendly and able to be indexed by Google. Dynamic pages update as changes are made in the database.
4. User Inputs
Put simply, user inputs allow site owners to create forms without coding. Administrators can select text areas, drop-down menus, radio buttons, or checkboxes to create an interactive website component that collects information.
“The more exciting part of that is that I can set the form to feed into my database,” Uval said. “I can allow my users to fill out a form, using these input elements, and easily make that available to everyone in a collaborative way.”
5. Repeating Layouts
Instead of separating database information into dynamic pages, repeating layouts display data in a grid or list layout.
“I could create listings of all my travel packages or destinations,” Uval said. “It’s easy to design one of those items and ask the system to repeat itself for every entry in my database.”
“You lay out your interface visually, then you can write code that very easily references and reacts to it,” Uval said.
As an example, Uval described a site owner using a secret API key to pull from Facebook or Google that can’t be exposed to the browser for risk of being stolen. On other platforms, if a user wanted to write something on a server in the cloud, that person would need to find a hosting provider and understand how to call the server from the frontend code.
“What we’ve done is wrap that up in a really simple way to indicate that I want a function to run on the server,” he said. “We run that in our cloud without you having to deal with all the hassle of getting a server up and running and having to maintain it. When you want to call it, you simply import that function into your page and call it as if it were right there. You don’t need to know AJAX and all of the orchestration of how that call is made.”
How Wix’s Product Philosophy Allows Users to Avoid Overhead and Waste
As the Wix website builder started, the platform aimed to simply allow users to create a website without having to understand or configure a web hosting account, content management system, or code.
“Wix has always been about letting our users do things themselves, democratizing technology, and making it so you can create custom experiences without necessarily having to understand the technology behind it,” Uval said.
As Wix grew, the company looked to offer solutions tightly connected to specific industries, according to Uval. As such, Wix provides premium solutions for event management, eCommerce, online booking, streaming and selling music, and running a restaurant, among other business objectives.
“With 118 million users, though, you get every kind of business out there,” he said. “There’s an endless permutation and endless variety of different business cases. We realized we could never cater to every single one, so we wanted to give our users the power to more simply create a sophisticated site.”
Wix Code marks a turning point for the company, according to Uval, by bringing Wix’s do-it-yourself DNA to the concept of coding. Instead of worrying about security and server maintenance, users can focus solely on what information to display on their website.
“There’s absolutely no setup code, display code, or things that are overhead and wasteful in the development workflow,” said Uval, who added that he created a Wix Code application with 10 to 15 lines of code. The same app, he said, would require hundreds of lines in other frameworks.
“There are so many people who are trying to create these things but don’t have the necessary knowledge or the time to learn,” he said. “They really shouldn’t have to, right?”
Looking for More Ways to Impact Small Businesses and Site Owners
To Uval, the most fulfilling part of his role as Product Manager is seeing how Wix Code enables small design studios to bring in new clients and expand their offerings.
“The professionals are now able to take on customers with needs that are much more complex than they used to be able to do,” he said. “We’ve seen a bunch of them taking on really big projects now, and it is really exciting to watch how we’re impacting their businesses and their livelihoods.”
Moving forward, the Wix Code team will listen to a broader community of users as the platform gains popularity outside of the pool of beta testers.
“What we really want to do is keep on pushing those boundaries,” Uval said. “We want to keep on introducing new things you can do without having to code or go to a really hardcore programming framework. We’re listening to the market and trying to understand what people are building and where they hit those boundaries, so we can keep on chipping away at them.”