Founded in 2013, Webflow has since been gaining popularity among designers and other web specialists across the globe. Bridging the gap between code and design, this tool has quickly become a strong rival to WordPress and other web-building platforms. We created this Webflow review to help you get an insight into what all the fuss is about.
Webflow is a San Francisco based company created by two brothers. Sergio and Vlad Magdalin created Webflow in 2013 to help designers with a simple yet powerful no-code tool. Vlad started to sympathise with this idea in university. He studied how tools that allow drag-and-drop design can transform into clean code. His vision was to lower the entry barriers for entrepreneurs to create the next big platform. Webflow promised to enable you to create a professional-looking website, without knowing how to code. After an initial struggle, this Y Combinator alum finally took off and received 72 million funding.
Albeit Webflow got off to a pretty slow start, its popularity and reputation have exploded. Today, Webflow helps more than 750.000 users - including entrepreneurs, front-end developers, web designers, and other professionals.
Webflow today is a no-code tool that helps you create a website without writing a single line of code. It can also be used to streamline coding and as a platform for web hosting and ecommerce. The tool is creating a bridge between design and programming in a relatively accessible way. Yet, Webflow is not just a tool, but also a CMS, hosting service, and an ecommerce platform.
It is a user interface for front-end development. As you build your site in visual canvas, the code is generated under the hood. But how does it make it different from WordPress or Wix, you may ask?
The main difference is that other platforms are template-based and not fully customizable. Webflow is completely custom and enables you full creative freedom. You can customize even the tiniest element on the site.
To better understand how Webflow is different from other website builders, check out the following comparison posts:
Webflow's main features
Since Webflow enables you much more flexibility compared to other similar systems, it is also a bit more complex. While it is true you don't have to code yourself, you still need some technical knowledge to get the most out of it. That’s why Webflow targets web designers as well as webmasters and freelancers.
In the next chapters, we will review the following features:
- Webflow designer
- Webflow hosting
- Webflow CMS
- User friendliness
Webflow designer review
Webflow designer a.k.a. website builder is a visual interface that sets Webflow apart from the competition. It is built to handle the full power of CSS, HTML and JavaScrpit without you ever needing to touch the code. It works as a visual canvas that enables you to build and design websites in sync. Visual canvas enables you to direct on page editing, displaying the page almost exactly as it will look live at all times.
Throughout your whole design process, you can adjust the layout for different screens with CSS cascading. This is a process that determines the properties applied to each element on the page. This means that styles can fall from one style sheet to another and allows you to design your site for different screen sizes responsively.
For even building a layout, you will have to be familiar with the CSS box model. This model defines how different elements are organized in rectangular boxes. The box models consist of padding, borders, and margins.
To style your elements, you will have to use style tools and the manager. Here you can adjust and style every single element. You can customize colors, typography, spacing, borders, margins, and more. If you press on a lighting icon you can even add animations to your site.
Webflow hosting review
Webflow allows every new user to create two sites completely for free, and pick a plan only when the site goes live. You can edit your site as long as you want on a Webflow free subdomain, and pay for a hosting package on Webflow to link the site to a custom domain.
Going through the available pricing tiers, Webflow's most affordable hosting is the Basic site plan. It will cost you $14/mo billed yearly for 50GB bandwidth.
Webflow hosting is also backed by Amazon Web services and Fastly. As a result, your site should be able to scale on its own depending on the traffic. This is making their hosting extremely reliable and fast. Hosting is also HTTP/2 compliant, meaning page loading time is faster than on standard HTTP websites.
Webflow hosting processes over 10 billion page views per month. Other benefits include features like free SSL, backups, SEO management, and CDN.
SSL compliance certificate ensures that the site adheres to the current web encryption standards. Supplementary CDN will speed up the delivery of your content to site visitors located far from your server's position.
If you want to run an ecommerce store, you will have to go with Webflow ecommerce hosting which starts at $29/mo. Running an enterprise-level online store will cost you up to $212/mo billed yearly.
Webflow CMS review
If you have ever worked as a designer or marketer you must be familiar with the never-ending discussion. What comes first, the content or the design? Designers want content first, and content creators want designs first.
Webflow solves this problem with its own CMS (content management system). It gives content creators the control they need, without letting them anywhere near anything that could bring the whole site to its knees. CMS enables you to add dynamic content to a website without touching any code. What makes Webflow's CMS special is that allows you to add content without the need of using Webflow Designer.
You handle everything with the so-called Webflow Editor. This tool allows you to do more or less everything in regards to your site's content. Meaning you are not limited just to editing text and media.
But what makes Webflow's CMS special is its versatility. This means that:
- Designers can design around real content without relying on developers.
- Editors can write, edit, and update content straight on the page.
- Content strategists can create custom content types and structures.
- Developers can add, update, delete, or publish right from the terminal via REST API.
The true powers of Webflow's CMS show when you are dealing with complex website structures. By using CMS, you can create CMS collections and items. A collection is a specific content type such as blog posts for example. Each collection is then made up of fields (text, images, publish date, etc.). Each blog post is then an item within the blog collection.
Simply put, with CMS collection you can create just one design template for each of your collections. Let's again assume you created a blog template. This template is applied to every new blog post you create within this collection without messing with the design or layout.
The key selling point is the fact that you can create any web design you want. Yet, Webflow's builder is not complex and doesn't come with a rigid framework. The designer interface looks a lot like that of Photoshop and it works a lot like Photoshop too. It boasts pretty much all the tools and functions a web designer would ever make use of in Photoshop when designing mockups and visual elements. But there’s one huge difference.
Photoshop doesn’t write your web code for you as you go along. Webflow does. This means that a designer can build and launch a website completely without the help of a developer.
Every time you start building a new site you have three options to choose from. You can start building from scratch on a blank canvas, use a template or use a preset. Either way, you will be able to fully customize your site and every element on it. Sites will also be responsive and mobile-friendly.
When working in Webflow, you also don't have to restrict yourself to using the visual builder tool. If you are confident enough, you can dive straight into the code and get your page on another level. You can also freely export the code to a third-party platform.
Having said that, to get the most out of Webflow, you will need some technical knowledge. Knowing your way around CMS, and understanding the fundamentals of CSS and HTML will determine your workflow. However, if you are not so tech-savvy yet, there is no need to worry, Webflow offers its university. Webflow University is a collection of free resources and action-based tips to kick off your site-building. How-to videos are directly available from within the editor, so you can watch them as you are making changes.
We finally conclude this Webflow review. We went over its main features and discussed Webflow’s hosting, CMS, designer tool, and user friendliness. All in all, what makes Webflow stand out is its flexibility and customisability. Although the tool has a steep learning curve, mastering it will pay dividends.
Although there is no need to code, you still need to have a basic understanding of CSS and HTML. To get the most out of using the tool, you need to understand the CSS box model and how styling elements work.
This is also why Webflow might be overwhelming for people with zero coding experience. While it might be overwhelming to launch a website, CMS is making editing easy. Webflow CMS allows you to add dynamic content without breaking the layout or design. Once the CMS collection is created, you can add content without the help of designers and developers. CMS enables you to create blogs, portfolios, ecommerce stores, job boards, and more.
Having said all this, no wonder why Webflow is getting traction in recent years. Almost 200.000 businesses are operating on Webflow in the US right now, with Stockx.com being the biggest one. According to a SimilarTech report, the Webflow site with the most traffic is Eskimi. To add a cherry to the cake, Google trends show steady growth in popularity in the last five years:
As you can see, Webflow is a serious tool that offers a wide variety of features to help your site stand out from the competition. It is more complex than other web-building tools. If you are willing to put in the time, it will pay dividends. Particularly if you are a designer, looking for a tool that can help you create pixel-perfect sites without the need to code. But, if you are trying to make a personal site or a small business, other tools might be a better alternative. While they will not offer so much flexibility, they will help you launch a beautiful template site in a day.