Creating your presence on the Internet has become easier than ever before. There are countless CMS platforms and website builders on which you can build a personal blog, a company web resource, or an online store. Such constructors include Webflow. About what it is, and when its use will save you money and time, let’s talk in our little review.
What is Webflow
Webflow is a tool for creating and running websites. This is not a traditional platform like WordPress, but a hybrid: a website builder + content management system + the ability to edit code manually.
Webflow consists of three main components: a no-code design tool, a CMS, and back-end hosting.
The panel for the designer is similar to the work window in Photoshop. The user can customize elements using HTML/CSS at his or her discretion. And the system automatically generates all the necessary code, without connecting to the developer’s project.
Thus, a web designer can independently develop the design for the site and the layout, knowing the basics of HTML/CSS.
Webflow CMS – internal content management system. It allows you to manually set the types of text material for users (articles for the blog, posts, comments, etc.) using customizable fields. It’s a great solution for those who can’t spend much time studying the CMS and give preference to simple content publishing.
In addition to the CMS, Webflow has a built-in editor with which you can publish content on standard fields. The result is a fully functional website with editable static pages and dynamic content (blog posts, portfolio projects, etc.) without installing additional plugins.
The third part of Webflow is internal hosting. The design team has taken care to ensure that your projects can immediately be launched for indexing by search engines. Webflow hosting services are provided on the principle of “hosting for launch is added after the creation of the project”. This means that you can create a prototype of several static pages on the webflow.com subdomain for testing, and then connect your domain name by paying a subscription to one of the Webflow packages.
One of the latest innovations – is Webflow Ecommerce. The storefront constructor is provided as a separate package and includes everything you need for online sales: product cards, shopping cart, order form, assortment management, and more. Each detail is set up without programming skills with Webflow flexible designer.
The Export code section displays the HTML, CSS, and JS code of the pages. The free version is view-only. You can work with the code on one of the paid plans.
Pros and cons of the website builder
We are done with the components. Now it turns to the advantages and disadvantages of the product, which determine – for which sites Webflow is suitable, and for which options it is better to watch another option for website development.
Let’s start with the pros:
- To create a website, all you need is one designer with knowledge of HTML and CSS. The designer foresees that the user may not know the code, so the code of each element is written inside Webflow itself.
- A flexible toolbar allows the designer to create vivid animations and transitions for pages. Parallax scrolling, multi-step animations, and micro-interactions are just some of the cool things a designer can create for your site with Webflow.
- In WebFlow, the designer shows the software how the blocks are arranged on the layout, and it writes the code for him, which can then be exported to his hosting, outside of the website builder.
- Webflow supports integration with many additional services. Examples are Shopify for eCommerce; Zapier for transferring website data to third-party applications; Hubspot for internal CRM, and others.
- Integrated CMS with a flexible content type builder that can be used to create any kind of static or dynamic text.
- Your website is secure. Webflow has taken care of internal hosting that automatically connects an SSL certificate. This will help protect your site and show visitors that your site can be trusted with their personal information.
- Site Backup. You can save and restore an older version of your site. The free Starter plan provides up to 2 backups, the Premium plan is unlimited.
- Extended SEO capabilities. For better ranking in search engines, Webflow provides built-in Title, Description, Alt fields for images, creating a sitemap, and editing the robots.txt file. Competitors provide these features only with plugins.
- Webflow reports an impressive 99% uptime, which means that crashes and downtime are rare, and you can be sure that the site will work consistently and without errors.
The minuses of the builder are in the peculiarities of the code and the package system:
- Not suitable for large websites. Batch plans for websites support no more than 100 static pages per project.
- Webflow is easy to use because of its drag-and-drop capability. However, if you’re looking for complex code-level customizations for a large-scale project, it’s not yet feasible.
- The confusing scheme of account and site plans. In addition to design services, you’ll have to spend on one of the subscriptions starting at $12 per month.
- Traffic restrictions. For an online store with an approximate attendance of 50,000 people, the Basic package is no longer suitable.
The result of the joint work of Designer, Editor/CMS, hosting, and now eCommerce meets all modern requirements for web development but requires much less initial cost and time to install. But, pricing policies and rate plans with restrictions reduce Webflow’s ability to scale projects.
For which projects Webflow is suitable
Product sites. A prime example is HelloSign has maintained its Web site with Webflow since early 2017. The company’s homepage clearly guides consumers through a set of products, offering visually distinguishable links for more information about each of its key products.
A small online store. LeAD’s sports products website features thoughtful animations. At the top is a countdown to “fuel” customers’ desire to use the services. Below are descriptions of the company’s products.
Business card site. The example shows a personal blog of a musician. Integration with Soundcloud allows you to playback the artist’s tracks right on the site, via the Samples tab.
Landing. Webflow provides both ready-made templates, which you can buy and customize, and rendering solutions from scratch. The latter options turn out to be unique and fully adapted to the needs of the website owner.
A personal blog or small publishing house. These types of websites can either focus on the blog itself, concentrate the site around regularly updated content, or be embedded in a larger website.
Webflow is not a replacement for WordPress or other popular platforms for developing large-scale projects. It helps designers design a website on their own without delving into the technical side of the web resource.
In the past, the designer created layouts in Figma or Sketch and sent them to developers who turned them into web pages: they typeset them in HTML and CSS and built the client’s logic in a well-known programming language. Webflow allows designers to assemble, as from the Lego constructor, pages in the markup language, bypassing the rendering and coordination with technical specialists. This saves time on creating a small webpage, online store, or company website, and less than 100 static pages.