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Webflow review: How viable is it for designers?

Webflow is a website builder specially created for web designers. It’s a subscription based service that bridges traditional content management system (CMS) principles – think self-hosted WordPress – and standard website builders like Squarespace.

It lets you create websites without web development skills but gives you the flexibility of front-end coding so that it’s highly customisable. You can control many elements of your site without the need to work on its code base. Yet, you can still jump into the source code and tweak everything as you please in your HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Compared to a standard website builder that aims to make creating a website as easy as possible by giving you building blocks that you can arrange like Lego bricks, Webflow is centred around the fundamental concept of web design called box model.

Webflow was founded in 2013 and is headquartered in San Francisco, USA. In the beginning, it was aimed at designers, but now it also caters to freelancers, marketers, and business owners. Webflow consists of tools to help you build, launch and manage your site:

  • Design your site with Webflow Designer
  • Customise your site with Webflow Editor
  • Add a content management system with Webflow CMS
  • Build your animations and interactions with Webflow Interactions
  • Manage your online store with Webflow Ecommerce
  • You can host your site directly on Webflow Hosting or take it to another hoster

Pros and cons of Webflow

Webflow gives you the flexibility of frontend coding but without actually requiring you to code. You do need to know the box model concept and then you can visually manipulate your elements. But, it comes with a complicated pricing structure.

Pros

  • Backup and versioning.
  • Modern templates.
  • Free account.
  • A high degree of design customisation.
  • You can add custom JavaScript (vanilla JavaScript and JQuery). You can also add other libraries, that work on client-side. Server-side languages are not supported.
  • One of the built-in features of Webflow Ecommerce is that you design your transactional emails right in the settings.

Cons

  • It does not work in all browsers, only in Safari, Chrome, and chrome-like browsers. It does not fully support Firefox.
  • Once you have built your site, you can not change the template. The reason is that each template has its unique styles and structure.
  • As Webflow CMS is quite unique, you can not host your projects anywhere. The CMS Collection can’t be exported.
  • Pricey plans.
  • Webflow has a steep learning curve and you need to know the basics of web design.
  • No complex code level customisation.

Who should be using Webflow?

If you’re focused on the aesthetics of your site and know your way around applications like Photoshop, Sketch, or Figma, then Webflow will appeal to you. Also, if you’re coming from Weebly or Wix, and want more control, Webflow will satisfy your needs.

Image webflow designer

It’s however not a good choice for beginners since it has a steep learning curve. Even if Webflow states that users don’t require web development knowledge, you still need an understanding of web design concepts since Webflow doesn’t abstract away from these concepts (take the box model for example). Straddles the world of codeless website building with the complexity of front-end code.

Webflow is focusing on the needs of professional creatives, marketing teams, and their agencies.

How easy is Webflow to use?

When you sign up, Webflow helps you get around and guides you through the process. Especially for first-timers, it’s a good idea to start with the tutorial.

Webflow tutorial

Similar to standard website builders, you can drag and drop your elements. Webflow designer allows you to adjust their layout positions and customise them, while it generates the underlying HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Since Webflow has its particular approach to creating websites, it combines content and visual design. This means that you work in your layouts and design along with concrete information. The CMS handles everything that has to do with your site’s content. Its user interface feels a lot like a premium Adobe program with all its power and functionalities and its corresponding steep learning curve.

Webflow themes and templates

You can start with a blank canvas and realise your design but you can also save yourself some time and customise a template that covers most of your design needs.

Webflow templates

Webflow offers over 100 templates categorised in agency, business, blog, and ecommerce. They’re all modern, attractive, and responsive. That’s a must nowadays – there are still website builders that provide outdated and not responsive templates or themes.

There are free and paid templates. The prices of the paid templates range from $24 to $149. Some templates even let you choose between varying layouts.

How to manage your ecommerce store in Webflow?

Webflow Ecommerce provides the fundamentals for online stores. It comes with product and inventory management, checkout, custom carts, full control over customer emails, and discounts (in beta at the time of this review).

As with the CMS, you add and manage your products directly in your design – products are also content of your site. You can add variants such as colours or sizes right where you describe your product.

Webflow product panel

You can specify the shipping methods, tax rates, payment gateways in the settings. This component is still new and will get more features in the future.

Webflow settings

Webflow integrations

As with most site builders, Webflow too has its own add-on store. The plugins provided are provided by third parties.

What marketing and SEO tools does Webflow have?

SEO

You can add and edit metadata, create image alt text, and target keywords. As you have full control over your content with Webflow CMS, you can define any SEO values that you need.

Blogging

Webflow lets you create your own dynamic blog. Again, a blog is content on your site and ties in seamlessly with the CMS.

Social media

You can add the different social media icons as usual to your site. You can also create interactive posts on Facebook, Instagram, and Google.

Payment options

The built-in payment providers are Stripe and Paypal. Depending on your location you may also find Google Pay and Apple Pay. Stripe is not yet available in all countries whereas Paypal supports a lot more countries. The payment options are included in the plans for online stores.

In the lowest plan for ecommerce, Webflow charges a 2% transaction fee.

Webflow security

All plans, even the free projects are provided with an SSL certificate. In our opinion, Webflow is exemplary in terms of backup and versioning. It also provides two-factor authentication and role based permission.

Webflow customer support

Webflow calls it help and support Webflow University. Here you can find guides on everything, from how the CMS works to how to add animations. There is also a forum where you can ask questions to the community.

For personalised support, you can contact customer support via its chat.

Webflow pricing

Webflow positions itself as a sophisticated website builder that aims at creative professionals wanting more control; and its prices reflect just that.

Webflow plans for websites

At the time of this review, Webflow has 6 tiers: three plans for websites and three for online stores. You can start for free and have an account for life for free, but if you want to publish a site, the cheapest there is Basic for $12 a month.

Webflow plans for online stores

For online stores, the cheapest tier is aimed for projects and businesses that make around $50K in sales a year, but it levies a 2% transaction fee. With this plan, you can run a store with a team of 3.

Then you can choose between Individual Account or Team Account Plans. With an account plan, you’re not charged per site. Depending on the tier, there is a cap on how many sites or projects you can create.

Is Webflow the right website builder for you?

Since website builders are geared towards a very specific target group, they all have their particular strengths and weaknesses. Depending on which audience you belong the, a website builder’s strength can be a weakness for you.

Webflow focuses on the creative industry and as such provides a high degree of flexibility and customisability. Its website development functionalities are clearly its strength and serve an individual designer as well as large teams.

For small businesses and individuals, Webflow has a lot to offer. It allows you to build, manage, and publish your project. For mid-size and large enterprises, it doesn’t feel like Webflows toolset are quite there yet.

Did you already work with Webflow? Tell us about your experiences in the comments below.

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