Webflow or WordPress: what to choose for a website development

WebFlow vs WordPress. What platform is better for website development? Here are vital points you need to consider when choosing the platform for your website.
Webflow Wp

In the wide world of making websites, developers may need to be very careful to choose the right platform. People still like the name WordPress even though it was created a long time ago. This blog post will discuss Webflow and WordPress’s pros/cons using real-life examples and comparisons based on users’ experience. We also collected different opinions from real developers on forums who are discussing this topic as well.

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Here is what Reddit users say about it:

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Another opinion:

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Let’s take a closer look at both tools and find their benefits and drawbacks for different scenarios.

Ease of Use– Drag-and-drop interface.– Steeper learning curve.
– Visual design approach.– Customization can be challenging.
Design Flexibility– Advanced design without coding.– Theme options; coding skills beneficial.
– Intricate animations and interactions.– Customization requires HTML/CSS/PHP.
E-commerce– Integrated e-commerce with limited capabilities.– WooCommerce plugin for online stores.
– 2% fee from all orders.– Free but sometimes requires plugins.
SEO Capabilities– Built-in SEO tools.– Plugins for SEO customization.
– Mediocre performance.– Needs optimization but works faster.
Hosting– All-in-one hosting solution.– Users choose their hosting provider.
– You can’t change hosting.– More control over server configurations.
Third-Party Integrations– Limited + monthly fee for apps.– Plugin ecosystem for various needs.
– Challenges with specific tools.– Wide range of third-party integrations.
Community Support– Less extensive community.– Large and active community.
– Limited official support channels.– Varied support forums and resources.
Cost– Subscription pricing is higher.– Free, but you pay for hosting & plugins.
– Limited features on the free plan.– Potential additional costs for plugins.
Security– Good security but not immune.– Vulnerable to attacks if not updated.
– Relies on own hosting security.– Management required for security.
Scalability– Suitable for smal project sizes.– Scales well for any size of projects.
– Good for small-sized businesses.– Used by enterprises.
Collaboration– Limited free collaboration features.– Unlimited collaboration options.
– Challenging for large teams.– Built-in editorial workflow and roles.
Dependency– Hosting dependency on Webflow.– Users can choose hosting.
– Tied to Webflow’s services.– More flexibility in hosting options.
Comparison table: Webflow vs WordPress

Webflow’s cons

Webflow’s cons are that it is expensive and complicated to use. Some of their rules could be clearer, like limiting the number of form entries you can make. If you are a creator working for clients, you must choose the independent workspace plan. When you buy something online, they charge an extra 2% fee on top of the PayPal strip fees. For that matter, even a simple online store costs a lot. That’s not all, though; there are more cons below.

Technical debt and CSS bloating. One of the most frustrating aspects of Webflow is its handling of multiple global classes for items. Webflow requires class chaining rather than a basic function. This deviates from the intuitive method and contributes to bloated CSS. Chaining classes violates the fundamental “Don’t Repeat Yourself” (DRY) principle and increases technical debt for designers and developers. It’s a challenge that might impact design and development efficiency, necessitating more effort to manage and maintain the codebase.

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Technical debt refers to accumulating inefficient or incomplete solutions in a software project, which can slow development and jeopardize product quality.

Custom fields for extra money. One major problem with Webflow is that it costs extra for unique fields. This adds another cost to think about for people who need custom data models.

What other experts say in this regard:

“What you call custom fields in WP is called CMS in Webflow, and guess what? You need to be on the right plan to build and deploy CMS for your site. Do you want to be an e-commerce store now? Sure, you need to upgrade your plan accordingly. Want file uploads with form fields? There’s a plan for it. Need more team members? You guessed it, there is a different plan you need to be on. While I’m sure the team has already looked at these, it can be frustrating to build within plan limitations.”

“Full stop: if the project is complex, Webflow will be a nightmare. It’s the definition of Crockford’s law. Imagine caps on the # of CPTs (collections), custom fields, # of levels you can nest query loops, # of query loops you can use on any given page, and being forced to chain classes instead of adding multiple global classes to an element (bloating CSS)—limitations and tiered price gouging galore.”

Here is another opinion from Reddit about field limitation:

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Lacks of deep linking functionality. When someone sends you a link to an app when you click on it, it opens the app on your phone instead of a web browser. This is known as “deep linking”. Other tools for making your website let you add the necessary files to make deep linking work on iOS and Android devices. Webflow, on the other hand, keeps you from doing that.

Migration challenges. The process of moving from Webflow has a lot of problems. Instead of just being able to export and zip their websites, you need to decide how to leave the Webflow platform since it may need help rebuilding them from scratch. This inability to move quickly could be a big problem for users whose hosting needs or tastes change.

Limitations and breaking changes. Webflow’s ability to change over time can add new features, but it can also make websites less stable, which makes them less effective. The main issue is how reliable websites created on Webflow might be in general. This lack of certainty in the development and update process can be a big problem for people who want a stable and predictable place to build websites.

Webflow’s SEO could be better. Webflow’s SEO results and performance could be better compared to WordPress’s. Often, you get better results after leaving the platform because of problems with Webflow’s core JavaScript and CSS, which affected important web files. There are limitations in the SEO optimization of Webflow as well, but hopefully, founders will improve it.

Monolithic core JS and CSS Impact. Problems with Webflow’s single piece of JS and CSS affect essential parts of the web. It’s frustrating that these things can’t be tweaked to work better. Your website needs to work well and pass speed tests. It affects SEO as well.

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Limits on the plan. The way Webflow sets its prices is way too greedy. Different plans need different features and functions. With this tiered price system, keeping track of your money can be tricky, and it limits what you can do with your chosen plan.

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Limitations with complex projects. There are limitations on the number of Collections (CPTs), custom fields, levels of nested query loops, and the requirement to chain classes. These limitations can be a significant obstacle for projects with diverse and intricate requirements.

Dependency on Webflow hosting. Websites built on Webflow are typically hosted on Webflow servers. You may feel limited in terms of hosting flexibility, and migrating away from Webflow could pose challenges. So, you are building your business on the landlord’s land.

Export Limitations. Want to go away? Slow down. You can export some parts of the code, but Weblow limits what it can export, which could change your mind. It will be hard if you want to move your website to a different hosting service or make significant changes outside of Webflow. Most of the time, you’ll have to start over with your website.

Limitations of e-commerce. You can do business online with Webflow, but there are limits on how big and complicated your web shops can be. Companies that need to do a lot of e-commerce should stay away from Webflow. Or pay 2% of all your transactions based on one of Webflow’s plan conditions.

It has limited third-party integrations. Webflow’s ecosystem offers fewer third-party integrations compared to other platforms. This can limit the range of tools and services easily incorporated into a website. You can use Zapier, but remember that it also raises your project’s monthly maintenance cost.

Speed and performance issues. Webflow has problems with the speed and performance of projects. Almost all performance metrics are worse on Webflow than WP. Below are Reddit users’ complaints.

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Webflow’s Pros

On the flip side, Webflow is a versatile web design and development tool that offers a range of benefits for users. Below are some of the main advantages of using Webflow.

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No Coding Required. Webflow’s visual interface allows users to design and build websites without extensive coding knowledge. This makes it accessible to designers and entrepreneurs who may not be proficient in coding.

Responsive Design. Webflow enables users to create responsive designs easily. With the ability to customize layouts for different devices and screen sizes, designers can ensure a seamless user experience across desktops, tablets, and mobile devices.

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Interactive Animations. The platform provides robust tools for creating interactive animations and transitions without relying on third-party plugins. This allows designers to bring their websites to life with engaging and dynamic elements.

Hosting Included. Webflow provides hosting services as part of its platform, eliminating the need for users to find external hosting solutions. This integrated hosting feature streamlines the deployment process for websites built on Webflow.

Collaboration Features. Webflow includes collaboration tools that facilitate teamwork on web design projects. Multiple team members can work on a project simultaneously, and designers can easily share and receive feedback.

Template Marketplace. Webflow features a marketplace where users can find and purchase pre-designed templates. This accelerates the design process and provides inspiration and guidance for those new to web design.

Regular Updates and Improvements. Webflow consistently updates its platform, introducing new features and improvements. This commitment to ongoing development ensures users can access the latest tools and functionalities for their web projects.

Fast Prototyping. Webflow’s visual design capabilities and rapid prototyping features enable designers to iterate and test ideas quickly. This can be particularly beneficial during the initial stages of a project.

Integration with Design Tools. Webflow seamlessly integrates with popular design tools like Sketch and Figma. Designers can import their designs directly into Webflow, streamlining the transition from the design phase to actual implementation.

While Webflow excels at delivering a user-friendly environment with web design options, it is critical to understand the financial implications of expansion. You should be aware of the tiered pricing system, which requires upgrades for enhanced functionalities and may incur additional fees as their projects or business requirements grow. When evaluating Webflow, you should compare the benefits against the related payment requirements to establish a financially viable and sustainable long-term solution.

WordPres’s Cons

WordPress has its drawbacks, too. Let’s reveal them in detail.

Complexity for beginners. WordPress’s extensive features can be overwhelming for newbies. The learning curve may be steeper for users with limited technical experience, especially when managing themes, plugins, and settings. It takes a minimum of 2-3 years to become a skilled developer and understand what is happening under the hood.

Security concerns. Being a widely used platform, WordPress can be a target for security threats. Users must actively manage and update plugins, themes, and the core software to prevent vulnerabilities.

Customization limitations without coding. While WordPress is user-friendly, extensive customization often requires knowledge of coding. Users may be limited and need help adjusting certain design elements without using custom code.

Plugin quality and compatibility. The vast plugin ecosystem contributes to functionality, but the quality can vary. Incompatibility between plugins or new WordPress updates may arise, leading to site malfunctions.

Performance concerns. Heavy reliance on plugins and themes, especially poorly optimized ones, can impact website performance. Slow loading times may affect user experience and SEO rankings. However, it should be mentioned that you can eliminate this by coding a custom-designed theme.

Constant updates. While updates are crucial for security and performance, frequent core updates and updates for themes and plugins can be time-consuming and occasionally lead to compatibility issues. There might be plenty of issues when you update your CMS core.

Resource intensive. WordPress can be resource-intensive, particularly for large websites or those with high traffic. Users may need high-quality hosting and performance optimization to maintain speed and reliability.

Theme quality disparities. The quality of themes can vary significantly. Free themes may need more advanced features and support, while premium themes can be costly. Users need to choose themes carefully based on their needs. But it is your concern if you plan to use the ready-to-go theme. We have never used it since all our websites are built from scratch.

Cluttered interface. WordPress comes with a wide range of features, and users may find themselves dealing with unnecessary features or a cluttered interface if they only require basic functionalities.

Dependency on 3rd party developers. WordPress sites often depend on third-party developers who create plugins and themes. If developers discontinue support or updates, it may pose challenges to the site’s maintenance and security.

Database bloat. Over time, WordPress may accumulate unnecessary data in MySQL tables, leading to database bloat. This can affect site performance and make it challenging to manage content efficiently.

Yes, WordPress has many issues at first glance, but many of the issues mentioned above can be mitigated with careful planning, regular maintenance, and a good understanding of the platform’s capabilities and limitations. Therefore, you might need professional web development services.

WordPres’s Pros

Open Source Advantage: WordPress is an open-source platform that relies on a big developer community to drive growth. This allows for continual improvement, security upgrades, and innovation. You literally can do everything with WordPress.

Custom fields and relationships. WordPress overcomes the limitations that specific other systems impose. Unlike Webflow, which restricts the amount of custom fields and post-type associations, WordPress empowers developers by removing such limitations. You may arrange your data and connections as needed to meet project requirements.

Hosting freedom. WordPress does not bind you down. You can transfer servers anytime, ensuring the platform does not influence your hosting options. You may self-host your website on your server, giving you total control over your data.

Backend freedom. Furthermore, WordPress enables you to customize its backend, giving you complete control over the inner workings of your website.

Pricing stability. WordPress is committed to affordability. Unlike other platforms, which raise pricing as you grow, WordPress stays affordable, making it an appealing option for enterprises of any size.

Unlimited custom code. While cloud website builders limit the amount of custom code you use, WordPress does not have such restrictions. With a limitless character count for bespoke code, developers may create unique and complicated solutions.

To sum it up, WordPress doesn’t

  • Limit the number of custom fields (Webflow limits to ~30 per collection at its lowest paid tier);
  •  Limit the number of relationships between post types (webflow limits to ~5 multi-reference field relationships per collection);
  •  Stop you from moving servers at will;
  •  Increase the price;
  •  Restrict you from modifying its backend or stop you from moving servers at will.

ID-level styling. WordPress stands out for its versatility in frameworks and custom themes. Unlike Webflow, which requires class generation for styling, WordPress enables developers to make changes at the ID level, reducing unneeded clutter in stylesheets. The lack of forced nesting of classes improves efficiency, particularly when employing utility class systems.

Empowering developers. WordPress regards CMS as an essential component of the development process, providing a smooth data handling experience. Conversely, other systems like Webflow or Wix see CMS as an afterthought—an add-on function. The end effect is a more natural and integrated approach to content management.

Plugin library. WordPress has an extensive plugin library offering numerous functions and solutions. This enables you to connect third-party solutions effortlessly, expanding your website’s potential.

Content management and blogging. WordPress was initially built as a content management system (CMS) and effectively handled content. This is especially advantageous for websites that focus on content production and blogging.

Systematic Taxonomies. WordPress has powerful taxonomy capabilities that enable you to organize and classify information systematically.

Custom themes scaling. A skilled developer may create custom-designed themes that improve the user experience while scaling effectively. But remember that poor decisions, such as using many plugins, Elementor/Divi /WP Bakery, and other bloated page builders, might result in unsatisfactory performance.

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Full SEO Control. WordPress’s SEO-friendly structure includes clean URLs, adjustable meta tags, and SEO plugins for further optimization. It handles SEO more efficiently than cloud builders. If you need support with the SEO promotion of your business, let us know!

Advanced solutions. WordPress allows developers seeking sophisticated solutions to create headless sites using frameworks such as Atlas or Gatsby, which React drives. This enables a more dynamic and engaging user experience, pushing the limits of what WordPress can do.

Even NASA depends on WordPress for its online presence. A significant institution like NASA has chosen WordPress, which speaks volumes about its reliability, security, and capabilities.

Last but not least, you can use frameworks like Tailwind / ACSS + Custom-build theme based on Bricks or Pinegrow:

  • Stop you from editing at the ID level. Webflow forces class creation for styling anything whatsoever, bloating the stylesheets.
  • Force the nesting of classes and bloating stylesheets. Try using a utility class system in Webflow. You will be surprised.
  • Don’t limit the amount of custom code—webflow limits to 10k characters.

But if you are going to use Elementor/Divi or any other bloated page builder, please don’t make this mistake. Or you will have to rebuild your website, which is highly likely.

Avoid any bloated builder

While builders like Elementor, Divi, and WPBakery have their merits, building a custom theme for WordPress can offer several advantages for developers and website owners. Here are additional reasons to consider a custom theme built from scratch over using these builders:

  • Lightweight Code. Custom themes allow you to create streamlined and optimized code tailored to the website’s requirements. This results in faster loading times and improved overall performance.
  • Minimized bloat. Builders like Divi may include features and elements that a specific website might not need, leading to unnecessary bloat. Custom themes only include what is essential, reducing the overall weight of the website.
  • Unique Design Identity. Custom themes offer complete creative freedom, allowing designers to craft a unique, personalized design that aligns perfectly with the brand identity.
  • No template limitations. Unlike builders with predefined templates, a custom theme allows designers to create layouts and structures that precisely match the website’s vision.
  • Security and code quality. Custom themes are less susceptible to security vulnerabilities because they only include the necessary code, reducing potential entry points for malicious attacks.
  • Clean and maintainable code. You have complete control of the codebase, ensure adherence to coding standards, and create a more maintainable and scalable solution.
  • Optimized responsiveness. Custom themes enable you to fine-tune the site’s responsiveness for different devices and screen sizes. This level of control is crucial for delivering an optimal user experience across various platforms.
  • Developer tool compatibility. Custom themes allow you to choose preferred tools and workflows, enhancing productivity and collaboration.
  • Integration with version control. You can integrate custom themes seamlessly with version control systems, enabling better code management and collaboration among development teams.
  • Tailored functionality. Custom themes can be designed with specific functionalities, ensuring the website’s features are precisely tailored to the user’s needs.
  • No unnecessary features. Builders like Elementor often include a wide array of features that may be optional. Custom themes eliminate this issue, providing a lean and focused solution.
  • Ease of maintenance. With a custom theme, updates, and maintenance are more straightforward, as there is no risk of conflicts with builder updates or compatibility issues.
  • Custom documentation. You can create specific documentation for the custom theme, making future updates and modifications easier.
  • Scalability without limitations. Custom themes can be designed to scale efficiently based on the website’s growth. You can optimize the theme for performance and add features as needed without being constrained by builder limitations.

Here is how the Elementor bloated code is looking. The conclusions are obvious:

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While builders offer convenience, a custom theme provides a tailored, high-performance solution with complete creative freedom and control over security.

Final thoughts

Webflow works excellently if you only need a simple B2B site with basic features. There is no argument that WordPress is a better tool if you need a robust content management system (CMS), extra features like user dashboards, built-in CRM-like features like sending a form submission to a different email address than the admin, more space for content creators and authors, general software flexibility, and so on.

We also found this opinion on Reddit:

“I recently migrated about 30 PPC sites off Webflow due to Google constantly flagging new sites as spam and performance issues. I can build twice as fast in bricks than in Webflow due to using SASS and all the power of CSS. Webflow is very, very limited. Look at the Client First approach to create spacing and total deception. Webflow is suitable for graphical websites and animations. If you need more dynamic data or custom stuff, you get stuck, and you’re stuck with them, as it’s a pain to move those sites over to WordPress. Motion.Page and bricks would be a better option for any website that needs animations and the option to grow later on.”

Although Webflow may appeal to specific users because of its simplicity, WordPress is a robust, scalable, and highly configurable option that gives users more control, ownership, and growth prospects. And you cannot run your business on rented land. With Webflow you will be locked in one platform and ecosystem.

Let’s take a look at the data (W3techs Data Source):

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As you can see, 62.8% of all websites worldwide use WordPress, and only 1.0% use Webflow. And it happens for a reason.

The primary issue cloud web builders solve is not the business’s problems but the web designer’s problem of finding an experienced developer. These justifications are coming from designers trying to persuade clients to get rid of developers and create websites by themselves with fancy animations and design stuff instead of functionality, fast loading speed, and SEO benefits that businesses need.

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And another opinion:

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Webflow will be okay for smaller sites with a few CMS items. But when you have a more complicated site with numerous Collections (their CMS) and Collection Items with multiple references, working with its API, CMS, and e-commerce is a pain.

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WordPress’s capability is evident; its ultimate success depends on the developers who use it. With the correct skills, WordPress can be a game changer, providing unrivalled flexibility, scalability, and creative freedom. WordPress remains a light of dependability, trusted by developers and institutions as we traverse the ever-changing web development world.

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