Webflow is a web service for creating and running websites, with a strong focus on the design experience. The cornerstone principle of the Webflow philosophy is “codelessness” – the tool has been specifically crafted to allow its users to do most of the work without ever touching the code or writing a line. Which is good news for the visual types out there, since such approach empowers designers to unleash their imagination directly onto the web canvas, skipping the graphics suites such as Photoshop or Sketch. Whether that is a strategy that actually works in practice, will be discussed below.

Webflow Features: It’s All About Priorities

There are three main components to Webflow’s offer: the drag-and-drop web design tool, the content management system (CMS), and the hosting – the first one arguably being the flagship feature of the service. It’s a professional-grade visual editor which allows designing web pages in real time, in a Photoshop-like environment. The user is free to add, position and style elements as she pleases, while the underlying system automatically generates the markup and all other necessary code, including CSS and Javascript. Speaking about the latter – animations are an essential part of the Webflow design tool, adding an extra layer of interactivity to the resulting websites which can be daunting to achieve and test using more traditional tools. The interface of the visual design tool is rather complex and clearly takes after Adobe’s iconic creation, yet it cannot be denied that it’s one of the most powerful and multi-functional real-time website builders in existence today.

The CMS part of Webflow focuses on on-site editing, i.e. gives the possibility to change any text or media right on the live page, without the need to access a backend. This is cool because you can now build your pages using real content from the start, instead of meaningless lorem-ipsum mockups – which is currently widely accepted as the best practice for responsive web design. Another handy feature for demanding webmasters is the open content system which allows manually defining custom content types (posts, projects, etc) with custom fields, which can greatly improve the life of those who manage larger web projects with complex structures. Overall, Webflow strives to make the content management part as subdued and seamless as possible, in order not to steal the spotlight from Design – which is great when you’re showcasing things, but might not be the best choice of priorities if your website’s goal is to actually convey useful information.

Finally, Webflow offers paid hosting services to its users, under the “start building for free, add hosting to go live” principle: you can design a prototype (limited to 2 static pages) in their staging environment, i.e. on a webflow.io subdomain, and then connect your own domain name (not included) and transfer the entire thing to one of Webflow’s hosting plans. The latter range from the basic, $12 per month* option with 25k monthly visit limit, to the $36 per month* business version with more features and a 1m monthly visit limit (* with annual billing). Apart from the setup described above, there are also specialized offers for those who create websites for a living (more on that – in the next section), which include a set monthly fee for the additional features as well as the hosting fees.

Pros and Cons of Webflow

To recap, let’s list the advantages and the not-so-strong sides of Webflow’s user offer, as compared to other similar website builders and popular content management systems (we’ll not include any standard features like mobile-friendliness as well as those items which are common among most competitors, like on-page content editing):

+ Pro-grade real-time web design tool
+ Auto-generated code with easy export
+ Granular control over styles and animations
+ Custom content type constructor

– Comparatively steep pricing
– Little focus on content
– No e-commerce capabilities
– Rudimental marketing tools

Based on the features and product offering, read below for our verdict on Webflow and recommendations to prospective users.

Should I Use Webflow?

The particular set of features and their prioritization make the service’s focus quite clear: freelance designers, web agencies and organizations with strong visual focus will find it a really handy tool to streamline their activities. The last point is an important one: it should be noted that Webflow does not do anything that other, existing tools can’t already achieve: teams have been designing with Photoshop and creating eye-candy websites using traditional development toolkits for ages. Webflow can compete in cases when the traditional designer-coder collaboration isn’t enough for the designers, and they wish to take more control over the entire process, leaving the developers with auto-generated static code. This isn’t to say that it’s not a viable working mode – it’s just not for everyone.

As for the “everyone”, i.e. people and organizations wishing to create a functional website for themselves, Webflow does little to stand out among the competition: by focusing its efforts on visuals over functionality, this site builder lacks the feature variety that allows webmasters to actually do stuff after going live, like promoting their websites, selling products online, or communicating with their audiences. In addition to that, Webflow’s hosting plans are priced significantly higher than those of similar site builder services, with the cheapest option being almost 2x more expensive than such competitors as Weebly (which, by the way, provides a custom domain name for free with its Starter plan).

To sum up, one cannot deny that Webflow does a good job of being a highly capable drag-and-drop web design tool, yet its feature set and pricing make it useful for professional web designers with an allergy on code, as well as web agencies with a very specific philosophy (“design first, everything else second”). All others can safely choose alternative services like Weebly for a simpler, more expandable and functional solution.

Your Opinion!

Thank you for taking your time to read our analysis of Webflow! Have you found this review helpful? Got something to add or disagree with certain points? Let’s discuss in the comment section below:

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1 comment

In general I found the review to be a good effort. However, toward the end it slipped a bit with the paragraph that started with “To sum up” when the article used the term “drag-and-drop”, which Webflow is not if the intention is to compare it to so-called drag-and-drop site builders. In other words, it’s not a valid comparison.

While it is true that elements in Webflow are dragged from panels and placed into the design page, that’s where the similarity ends. In Webflow you must enough about html to know where that element can, or can’t, be dropped and how where it’s dropped will affect it and other elements. You can’t just drag things around until they look good.

Bottom line, in my opinion (and being able to write code), Webflow is not the tool to choose for casual users, especially those just wanting their own site. While the user of Webflow doesn’t need a comprehensive understanding of html and css, for any chance at success, they’ll have to spend quite a few hours learning at least the concepts and the names of the elements (tags) used in html in order to have a successful design.