Webflow and WordPress are both popular platforms for building and managing websites, but they have some key differences that make them better suited for different use cases.
In this article, we'll explore the pros and cons of each platform and discuss when it might make sense to use Webflow or WordPress for your website.
First, let's start with a brief overview of each platform. Webflow is essentially a visual coding tool/website builder that allows users to design and develop responsive websites without the need for hand-coding.
It offers a wide range of design tools and templates, and users/clients can easily add and edit content using the platform's visual editor. Webflow is often used by designers and agencies to build custom websites for clients that need complete control over every element on the page.
WordPress, on the other hand, is a content management system (CMS) that is widely used to create and manage websites. It's known for its flexibility and customization options, and it's often used by bloggers, small businesses, and enterprises to create and maintain websites.
WordPress is open-source, which means that it's free to use and developers can contribute to its codebase. Whilst WordPress has recently moved into full site editing as a native feature, popular page builders like elementor, divi and bricks builder are arguably the most popular no-code solutions for creating websites.
Now, let's take a closer look at the pros and cons of each platform:
Design flexibility: With Webflow you can control just about every element on the page and have the use of common css properties such as flex and CSS grid.
Managed hosting: Whilst it is possible to export your website code away from Webflow, the hosting Webflow provides is excellent. Everything is run on AWS and managed for you saving a tonne of time and worry.
Fast loading times: When you create a Webflow website you're simply writing html and CSS visually. So as long as you understand how to write your own classes and manage your site effectively, Webflow websites are lightning fast. All sites come with caching and a CDN meaning once again there's no need to have to spend any time setting anything up yourself.
Built in CMS: Webflow essentially has its own built in ACF/custom post types if we're comparing it to WordPress. It's a myth that Webflow is merely for landing pages and fancy animations. Dynamic content is extremely easy to work with in Webflow and with a little custom JS you can create listing websites, blogs and even marketplaces and job boards.
Interactions & animations: This is one of those features that makes Webflow special. The way in which Webflow has integrated animations is the best of any builder on any platform. Trust us, we've tried them all. From basic css transitions to complex timed interactions, Webflow has you covered. Another brilliant aspect is the way in which you can use animations with some of the pre-made components that webflow provide like the Nav element. This means you can create your own custom mega-menus and even use Lottie animations for hamburger icon animations.
Backend limitations: When it comes to the amount of CMS items you can have, there is a hard 10,000 CMS item limit. For most sites this is no problem. A single blog is classed as one CMS item, so you'd have to blog every single day for 28 years to reach that limit...the internet may look very different in that time! But for large web applications this is too limiting. However, even this may be changing as Webflow has lifted its 10,000 CMS item limit for enterprise hosting clients. So there is hope that this will eventually trickle down to standard hosting options at some point. They have actually hinted as much.
E-commerce: The ecommerce features Webflow provides when compared to something like Shopify, is lacking. It's perhaps an unfair comparison since Shopify was created specifically for ecommerce. However, as things stand, there are limitations on product variants, different payment processing solutions, user accounts and tracking features to name a few. Although, there is now light at the end of the tunnel on this front. Webflow have recently opened up their api for third party developers meaning we could see external solutions developed very soon.
Third party apps/plugins: Webflow unlike WordPress, is not open source. So as things stand at the time of this article, there are not many third party solutions to extend the core functionality of Webflow. But as mentioned in the previous point, this may change very quickly in the upcoming year.
Customization options: WordPress has a wide range of themes, plugins, and integrations available, making it highly customizable.
Open-source: WordPress is open-source, which means that it's free to use and developers can contribute to its codebase.
Large community: WordPress has a large and active community of users and developers, making it easy to find support and resources.
Used by both pro's and amateurs: WordPress powers 50% of all websites on the Web. You'll never struggle to get a job as a WordPress developer.
Complexity: While WordPress is highly customizable, it can also be complex to use, especially for those who are not comfortable with coding.
Security risks: As a popular platform, WordPress is a target for hackers and can be vulnerable to security risks. It's important to regularly update and maintain your WordPress site to reduce these risks.
It's ugly: Just look at the WordPress admin. It's depressing. You may not care or think this matters, but I don't want to have to stare at that admin every day of my life as a web developer.
It "can" be slow: This one is only true if used by non-professionals. If your client installs every plugin under the sun, it's going to potentially bog the website down.
It's open-source: How can this be negative? Well if you're not an experienced developer, you'll be using plugins for just about everything. From entering in your SEO data and meta-descriptions to full-scale apps like Buddypress. The more reliant you are on third party tools, the more open you are to things going wrong or clashing. Also a common complaint against Webflow is that you're reliant on a company to build your websites. This is of course true. However, if you use divi, Oxygen, bricks builder or any other, you're just as reliant on a company too. in fact, it's worse since most page builders are build by very small teams. Webflow is valued at 4 billion...it's less likely to disappear over night or be abandoned.
Now that we've explored the pros and cons of each platform, let's summarise when it might make sense to use Webflow or WordPress for your website.
If you're a designer or agency looking to build custom websites for clients that offers complete visual control, Webflow might be a good choice. Its design flexibility and ease of use make it a good platform for building visually appealing and responsive websites quickly.
On the other hand, if you're creating a large media blog site, small business, or enterprise looking to create and maintain a website that requires complex backend functionality, WordPress might be a better fit. Its customisation options and large community also make it a good choice for those who need more advanced functionality and support.
At Lighthouse Digital, we use both but specialise in Webflow. As WordPress users of many years, it just became more and more clear that Webflow was the right choice for the majority of client projects we were getting. No ho concerns of PHP updates, no concerns over clients installing a dodgy plugin, no concerns over security. For us, we feel Webflow will slowly gain on WordPress, and we want to be there at the beginning.