Webflow – is it any good?

Two years ago I found myself with a pressing need to redesign my website before the  arrival our first baby and total sleep devastation that would follow. 

As is usually the way with these things, all the WordPress devs I’ve worked with and trusted were fully booked for months in advance. Great for them, headache for me. I needed other options.

With limited development experience I knew I needed to be able to design and build the website myself, which initially led me to site builders such as Wix and Squarespace, but I needed more flexibility, the ability to create entirely custom layouts how I always have, but now I was going to build them too. 

At the time there was a lot of noise being made around Webflow and the benefits especially for designers, I decided to trial the platform and two years later I can honestly say it’s transformed the way I make websites.

My site is a constant work-in-progress, I’m always looking for ways to improve the way it looks, how it works and Webflow plays into that mindset perfectly, allowing me to update at speed without any delays in development.

So what are the pros and cons of using Webflow to build your website?

Pros:

Speed

Webflow lets teams build websites faster. It’s common for designers and the devs to spend hours trying to figure out why the build looks nothing like the design? Webflow allows designers to shorten the development time allowing them to make sure the build is pixel perfect.

Webflow University

Webflow provides a library of hundreds of educational videos, lessons, and courses enabling you to learn the platform visually, perfect for those just starting out.

SEO friendly

With Open Graph, you can effortlessly manage your website’s SEO settings. Page titles, alt texts, meta descriptions are easily optimised for all website pages without the need for bloated plugins.

Interactions

Allows designers to create custom CSS transitions and JavaScript animations based on page state and/or user interaction. Having the ability to use interactivity without having to code is a win.

CMS

The Webflow CMS allows you to create fully customisable templates and styles without the need for databases or programming languages. You create Collections which are reusable templates for dynamic items, which can feature products, projects, blog posts and so on.

Sitemaps and backups

Everytime you publish your site Webflow generates a new sitemap, saving you time when you add or remove pages on your site. Webflow also automatically backs up your entire site periodically, giving you peace of mind if you ever need access to previous versions of your site.

eCommerce offering

With this new feature, Webflow eCommerce allows for full customization over all visual components of a typical online store. Though as it’s in beta at the moment some functionality is still missing.

Export the HTML

There may be situations where you can’t or prefer not to host with Webflow, if you’re on the Lite plan you can export clean HTML 5 and CSS3 W3C compliant code and host anywhere.

Cons:

Learning curve

Whilst Webflow was created for designers, it requires you to think less like a designer and more like a front-end developer. Knowledge of how websites work, positioning elements, classes etc are the basic fundamentals you’ll need a handle on and that’s before you start thinking about animations which even for experienced designers takes time to get your head around. 

Cost

You need to pay for a site plan (hosting) which starts at $12, if you want to use their CMS functionality you’ll need to upgrade to the $16 plan. You then need to add an account plan, there is a free version but this restricts you to 2 pages. To unlock multiple projects and pages you’ll need to pay $16.

Not suitable for every project

If you’re looking for complex levels of code customisation or need the ability to have login and membership functionality, Webflow isn’t going to be the right fit. 

Summary:

If you’re looking for a website builder that creates fast loading, clean coded, custom layouts then I’d definitely recommend the Webflow platform. It isn’t perfect but then neither is any other platform, as long as you’re aware of its limitations then it can be a powerful tool to add to your offering. 

For more information head over to www.webflow.com 

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