You have come to this article because you are probably about to build a new website for yourself or your business. You probably know why every business needs to have a website and why it's so important to have an online presence. Or maybe you already have a website, but one that was built a few years ago. The site no longer looks nice and doesn't fulfil its business purpose. A change is necessary.
In the following article, I will show you what the main advantages and disadvantages are of two popular solutions for building websites. One of them is the very well-known in Poland and around the world WordPress. The other one is the solution popular in the United States and Australia - Webflow.
I think it is a matter of time when the number of sites running on Webflow will match those with the WordPress engine.
What is the difference between Webflow and WordPress?
Before we delve into the advantages and disadvantages of each platform, let's get to know each one in more detail.
What is Webflow?
Webflow is a no-code web platform. It provides the ability to build responsive websites without writing lines of code. Designers with knowledge of HTML and CSS can easily build advanced websites on the visual designer. For one fee, Webflow provides hosting and takes care of the security and performance of the website.
What is WordPress?
WordPress is an open-source content management system (CMS). It is used by more than 40% of all websites worldwide. Designers control the appearance of their site through templates (free or paid) and add new features through plugins. Using WordPress, designers take care of hosting, security and website performance themselves.
Generally speaking, both tools will do the job - they help you build a website. However, you certainly don't want another mediocre website on the internet. That's why you should look at the key features when considering Webflow vs. WordPress. They matter a lot! We'll deal with them in the next chapter!
Preparation of the platform
Some count both platforms as part of the no-code family. Personally, I would disagree with this. For me, Webflow, unlike WordPress, is a classic example of the nocode family. You can start building websites on Webflow practically as soon as you log into the platform. We click "NEW SITE" and we are up and running. The environment is immediately ready and we can start building our website.
Before we start, we need to get all the infrastructure ready before we get down to the build phase. We need to buy a server, create FTP accounts, create a database, download WP installation files and upload them to the server, connect the Installer to the database and ... finally we can get on with creating a site on WordPress.
Building the site
Building a website on Webflow is done via the Designer view, where we move components from the available menu to the workspace. We then configure the component by adding CSS classes. Thanks to CSS classes, we can precisely define the appearance, size, colours, positioning on the page, scrolling or clicking behaviour. Virtually no limitations. Ideal for the designer.
We build the pages on the backend. We add ready-made components, which we fill with content. Depending on the downloaded template, the components have a certain predetermined look. We can, of course, set the colour or font size. However, changing the appearance and arrangement of elements on a component is already problematic. You cannot do without digging into the PHP code. Even searching for files on the server becomes quite problematic, as each template has a different file layout.
Comparison of Webflow vs. WordPress
I have prepared a comparison of the two aforementioned platforms below. I am comparing pure installations. Those that do not contain templates, plug-ins or other add-ons.
A website on WordPress - is it a good choice?
Let's take a look at this most well-known open-source platform. What advantages and disadvantages it has.
Why use the WordPress CMS in 2022?
There are currently more than 59,000 free WordPress plugins and countless paid solutions available. They allow you to extend the capabilities of your website with additional functionality.
On the most famous marketplace, ThemeForest, you can buy a website template. You can choose, from more than 15,500 available templates, the one you like best and fill it with content. This is a great solution if you don't have a designer or developer in-house.
c) Low maintenance
The WordPress engine itself is an open-source solution, developed by volunteer developers. It is free software. WordPress requires server space and a database to operate. The hosting itself is quite cheap. On this page you will find hosting with the best performance.
If we do not want to pay for the maintenance of our website at all, we can build it on www.wordpress.com. However, do not expect spectacular results from such a website. It will be difficult to position it, let alone care about performance.
d) CMS (Content Management System)
It has to be said that WordPress has a great solution called Gutenberg. It allows us to build pages and posts on our site by adding elements to our post or sub-page. I recommend watching the video where you learn how to get started with Gutenberg WordPress.
Why don't I recommend WordPress CMS in 2022?
a) Errors in the code
The installation of WordPress itself is clean and pleasant. However, we will not make an interesting website on it without installing a theme or making changes to the site code. Any such interference results in the addition of 'third party' code.
It also sometimes happens that the plugins installed have 'holes' in the code, so that our site can suffer. An example is the popular visual page builder plugin: the Kaswara Modern WPBakery Page Builder Addons, whose low-quality code has damaged thousands of WordPress-based websites.
b) Endless updates
Want a contact form on your website? Install the plugin. Want to do a survey on the site? Install the plugin. Want to implement pop-ups? Install the plugin.
It's great to be able to expand the capabilities of the site in such a simple way. Plugins really add value. However, it is important to remember that you need to keep them updated. In addition, the WordPress Foundation itself will release a new version of its software, which also needs to be updated regularly. Find out how to update WordPress safely here
Without updates, our site becomes hollow and can be shacked. If this happens, at best our developer will rescue it or recreate the last working version. At worst, the site will have to be removed from the server and built anew.
c) Dependence on the template
If you are not a programmer who knows PHP, HTML, CSS and JS then you will have to accept the look and function of the components available in the template. It will be virtually impossible to change them, apart from editing colours or font sizes (this too, not always). Several thousand website templates can be found on the WordPress Themes website.
d) Lack of support from WordPress
WordPress is provided for free and has no support of its own. There is, of course, an official forum launched where people seek help in difficult times. However, there is no official support, from WordPress staff/programmers.
Why build a website on Webflow?
a) Page design without coding
The Webflow platform runs on Amazon's infrastructure, more specifically on Amazon Web Service. The security of the Webflow application, and by extension your website, is taken care of by Amazon and Webflow specialists. They make sure that the services are always available and working properly, and that uninvited guests do not wander into your installation.
c) Webflow does not need plug-ins
In WordPress, to link to Google Analytics or Google Tag Manager, you need a plugin. To put a Facebook Pixel on your site, you need a plugin. To speed up your site, you need a plugin. To set up a contact form, you need a plugin. In Webflow, these and much more are built in. You go into the settings and fill in the relevant fields. Simple.
There are several sites where you can find templates prepared for Webflow. On the Webflow templates page you have access to more than 1,000 Webflow templates prepared by certified designers. They are not just any people. You have to go through a review and approval process from Webflow designers to be able to offer your templates on the aforementioned site.
Unlike WordPress, the templates are fully editable. We can change the appearance of buttons, font colours or modify Webflow animations.
e) Speed and guaranteed performance
As I mentioned above, Webflow runs on Amazon's servers. As a result, sites running on this platform have an availability of 99.99%. It should be noted, however, that only sites running on the highest plan have a full guarantee of this from Webflow.
Webflow supports instant resource scaling. If we have a lot of visitors to the site, Webflow automatically adds memory and processing power to our website so that our visitors use the site in comfort.
We can easily optimise (minify) the HTML, CSS and JS code. This will make our website load faster.
Find out what minification is in the video below.
All plans include a CDN for high page-loading speed. More advanced plans include an advanced global CDN.
What is a CDN? When a website uses a CDN, the user's request is sent to the nearest CDN server. This greatly reduces the latency and - consequently - makes the website or e-commerce site load much faster.
As a result, users around the world receive the content they are looking for without long waiting times, regardless of the location of their computer on the Internet.
f) Very flexible CMS
In Webflow, we create the CMS (Content Management System) ourselves, so to speak. It is up to us to decide which fields are visible to the user when adding a new entry or case study.
Each of these fields can be conditioned. For example, it is possible to set the maximum number of characters for a text field or the minimum/maximum size (width, height and weight) of an added medium.
g) Support for ecommerce
Although Webflow is not explicitly designed for building online shops, you can build a basic, simple shop on it. Of course, without installing additional plug-ins :)
The shop's functionalities are limited. You can of course sell products. There is integration with Stripe as a payment system. However, it is not possible to create user accounts. And integration with courier companies is difficult. If you want to set up an online shop, it is better to use the Shopify platform. Why Shopify? It is a dedicated platform for building e-stores.
Why shouldn't you use Webflow?
Unlike WordPress, Webflow is not free. I.e. it is, but for educational purposes and when building a website. Ultimately, in order to plug in your domain, we need to purchase a subscription on a monthly or annual basis for website maintenance.
There are five subscription plans to choose from. In most cases, it is sufficient to purchase the Basic plan. If you do not plan to edit the site then instead of this plan, I would recommend exporting the code and placing it on a standard server, such as OVH hosting. There is also the CMS plan, which gives you much more possibilities. It allows us to create a blog, case studies, a jobs page, etc., and the ability to edit these pages is delegated to the relevant departments. Adding new elements is done from within the CMS.
If we have trouble choosing the right plan for us, we can always contact Webflow support. A consultant will select the right plan for our needs.
b) Long learning curve
Webflow has many built-in functionalities. To get to know them and to use and exploit them properly, we need to delve more deeply into the subject.
Personally, I think the best instructional videos have been made by... Webflow. You can find a great Webflow 101 Crash Course on the Webflow University website, which totals about 2 hours. Once you have passed it, you will be able to build a basic site on Webflow.
To work seamlessly with Webflow, you need to know at least the basics of HTML and CSS. Without this, you won't be able to build a website that displays well on computers and mobile devices.
I have worked on both platforms. I built sites on WordPress for over 7 years. I have been involved with Webflow since 2020. I will admit that both platforms are great for building websites. You will put up a personal or corporate website on both Webflow and WordPress. It all depends on your personal preferences and budget.
You will build a standard website on WordPress using a template. You'll spice it up with plugins and have great functionality without programming the whole thing. All this without any help from programmers or designers. Unfortunately, you will need to remember to maintain your site regularly.
If you are a designer or a company that needs complete freedom in building a website, then Webflow is definitely the best choice for you. Webflow gives you the ability to reproduce a design (e.g. from Figma or Adobe XD) virtually in its entirety. On top of that, adding custom animations is available without writing a line of code.