It used to be that when you needed a website, you had to hire a web developer and get it up and running from scratch. But thankfully, we've moved out of the dark ages and into an era of healthcare, democracy, and readily available website builders.
While we're all likely familiar with platforms like Squarespace and Wix, we're going to be focusing on platforms with a little more oomph: Webflow and WordPress. Throughout this post, we're going to be looking at what each of these platforms has to offer, good and otherwise. It's going to be a long one, so strap in, and feel free to click around using the links below.
Let's get into it!
What is Webflow?
Aimed at designers and marketing people, Webflow is a no-code web design tool created for visual web design. It can be used for designing responsive websites, landing pages, eCommerce sites, blogs, games and more.
Beyond being a web design tool, it also has a CMS (content management system), which is great for managing a blog, product catalog, and countless other types of media; Webflow’s CMS allows for the quick creation of incredibly dynamic websites. It even has built-in hosting, which keeps things simple and all-in-one.
Thanks to all of these features, and more we’ll touch on later, Webflow is particularly popular with the more aesthetic crowd. If you're a graphic designer or someone who has a clear vision for your website, Webflow has all of the support you need to realize that vision. And for internal marketing teams looking to make quick updates or launch new sites for different campaigns, Webflow is perfect. It’s also great for freelance and development teams because Webflow allows you to provide high-quality work in way less time than writing all of the code by hand!
What is WordPress?
WordPress is the web’s most popular, open-source CMS, which is why nearly every blog from the blog craze of the oughts was created with WordPress. When looking at its back-end, you'll see that publishing content to WordPress is far easier and feature-rich than coding your site by hand.
That's why people tend to use themes and plugins to create their WordPress site. WordPress has a lot of “plug and play” right out of the box thanks to easy to add plugins and themes, which makes it attractive to less techy users.
Unfortunately, all those additions can create problems of their own because even though WordPress is immensely popular it’s also super dated, but we'll touch more on that later!
For now, let's turn our attention back to Webflow. Coming up, we'll break down all of the pros, cons, and features you'll find packed into Webflow.
Fluid, user-friendly process
Webflow provides a user-friendly process. Anyone can get started with Webflow and quickly get the hang of what it's all about.
This makes it a great option for getting up and running in a short amount of time. If you're in a time crunch, Webflow is a great option. In a few hours you can have a great basic website with your name on it!
Webflow makes responsive design easy with plenty of feedback for you and users, aiding in navigation and helping you understand the mechanics of your website. Always at your fingertips are controls that allow you to quickly change how your website looks and flows on any type of device.
This is key to keeping things feeling fluid and intuitive. No custom code required.
Something you'll come to appreciate when using no-code web builders is customer support and community. When you bump into issues, break your site, or just have a question that Google can't answer, Webflow's customer support team and the amazing no-code community will be there to help you out.
Webflow also comes with a lot of amazing resources. The Webflow writing team does a great job of breaking down complicated (or boring) topics into easy to understand pieces and include plenty of visuals to keep you engaged. They also offer Webflow University, a truly fantastic asset—but we’ll talk more about that in a second.
Built-in site backups
One of the worst things that can happen to a site owner is a corrupted, broken, or lost website. There is no better way to say it, it fucking bites. You can lose hundreds of hours of work over a simple mistake, misunderstanding, or freak accident.
That's part of what makes Webflow's built-in site backups so useful. You can restore your website to any previous version with a single click and Webflow will then create a backup of your website from before you performed the restore. Hopefully, you never need them, but if you one day do, you'll be glad they had your back.
Built-in staging site
Another feature that comes built into Webflow is a staging site. This allows you to see the website you're building as if it were already live and arms you with the ability to share that link with key stakeholders to review before launch. It's simple, straightforward, and as clear as can be.
Other web-building solutions require the use of a plugin or having an entirely different website to get this kind of functionality, which can be a hassle. With Webflow’s built-in staging site, if everything looks good after review, it takes one click of a button to push the changes live!
Secure and fast hosting out of the box
As mentioned, Webflow provides fast and secure hosting for its users, utilizing Amazon Web Service (AWS). You don't have to work with a third-party hosting service to make your website available to the world. Say goodbye to cPanel, FTP, and out-of-date PHP versions (thank the gods).
It's just another major convenience that you'll get while using the Webflow platform. It's especially simple for non-technical users, who might not even understand what hosting is.
Webflow also offers a unique feature, the showcase, a gallery where you can view the creations and designs of other Webflow users.
You can clone a lot of these users' entire websites, giving you access to tons of inspiration and fast ways to have your website looking great. Thanks to the showcase, you don't need to be a developer or a designer.
Guess what? Webflow has no plugins! Rejoice, readers! Plugins are a huge pain in the ass. They have to be updated, creating compatibility issues, breaking aspects of your website (or your entire website), and causing problems that you may not notice for months.
Webflow doesn't use plugins, so this isn't a problem you'll have to face and plugins can remain where they belong: buried out back.
Drag-and-drop page builder functionality
A core feature of Webflow is the Designer that provides you with a drag-and-drop page builder in a visual canvas. You can just place the elements of your site where you want them without writing any code. The other added benefit that sets Webflow apart from most other website builders is that you’re starting on a blank canvas. Drag and drop the components you need onto the canvas and have complete control over how they look and feel.
Webflow’s intuitive editor is simple enough that most users can figure out how it works after just a few minutes of poking around. The Editor gives you and your team the superpower of editing your on-page content without being able to break the layout. Finally, we can all stop yelling at Bobby for crashing the entire website by publishing a new blog post.
Work directly with Webflow CMS data
For those that want to get more technical, you'll have the ability to work directly with Webflow CMS data and design it visually. The beautiful thing about this is that you can see your CMS data live within your site build and dynamically filter and sort from the Designer. This removes the need to publish your website to see how your dynamic content looks within it!
Webflow isn't limited to static websites and blogs. You can also create an e-commerce site for selling and advertising various goods and services. Again, no plugins required! For simple e-commerce websites, Webflow’s native e-commerce functionality works great. For more complex solutions there are a growing number of integrations and no-code platforms that can work wonders together with Webflow to create truly mind-blowing e-commerce solutions.
Responsive page designs
The pages that you create in Webflow are equipped to be highly responsive. They'll load fast, work on various devices, and won't frustrate you or your users. As mentioned before, having the ability to quickly alter your website’s design and layout across device sizes is a major boon.
Work with reusable CSS classes
Webflow also includes the ability to work with reusable CSS classes. This is another technical feature that users familiar with CSS and HTML will love. It makes customizing your website faster and more consistent.
Work with Flexbox and CSS Grid
Another technical aspect of Webflow is that it incorporates Flexbox and CSS Grid. Flexbox is a handy tool for quickly building one-dimensional components that easily change alignment on different displays. CSS Grid is two-dimensional and allows you to build components using rows and columns. We’ve oversimplified both of these, but both are fantastic tools to have in your arsenal (especially when you don’t have to code them).
Use any font and adjust everything from tracking to line-height
Webflow doesn't limit you to any specific font, nor does it restrict how you can use that font. It comes with fully-featured font editing, from tracking to line-height adjustments.
Define global color swatches
By using global color swatches, you can maintain a consistent style across your website without needing to memorize and save a bunch of hex codes or RGB numbers. When you want to change to a different color, simply pull up your saved swatches and look for that “Fresh-off-the-stalk Tomato Red”.
Publish straight to the web
Publish your website straight to the web—no looking around for hosting and fighting to find your domain name.
The complete platform
Webflow has the benefit of being a complete platform. You don't need to add anything to it or go outside of it for any other solutions when it comes to a standard website.
With Webflow growing in popularity, the best integration platforms have support for Webflow. Make (formerly Integromat) and Zapier are two of the most powerful middleware automation tools on the web, and you'll be happy to know that Webflow supports both.
WordPress does SEO reasonably well, but you need to use SEO plugins to get the best rankings. Webflow has a leg up over WordPress by integrating SEO functionality without any plugins or third-party input. On top of this, your website’s code is exponentially cleaner with Webflow and doesn’t have tons of bloat from competing plugins and themes. This keeps Google happy and keeping Google happy should always be top of mind!
Two new upcoming features
There is a bit of a learning curve
Despite being more intuitive than building your website from scratch, there's still a bit of a learning curve when using Webflow. This is especially true if you've never used a no-code platform before.
Fortunately, you can shorten the learning curve with Webflow University—a free and excellent service offered by Webflow on their website. Webflow University has lots of easy to understand courses and is filled to the brim with videos to help you see the lessons in action. Check it out if you're new to this kind of thing, it’s pretty flippin’ fantastic!
Webflow can seem a bit more expensive on the surface
WordPress is largely touted as being “free”.
That said, WordPress has a creeping cost that isn't present in Webflow. You get everything you need, versus WordPress, where you'll need to pay for plugins, themes, subscriptions, and storage, increasing the cost over time. Webflow has already broken this down for readers, so we’ll let them take it from here!
The Site vs. Workspace plans can be confusing
If you're building your Webflow website on your own, you may find that the Site versus Workspace plans aren't the most straightforward to understand. The short version is that Workspace plans equip you to build multiple sites and collaborate with your team whereas the Site plans allow you to host a specific website.
And that brings us to WordPress. WordPress is Webflow's far more famous older cousin, for obvious reasons that have remained true of it since it launched nearly twenty years ago. Let's look at what makes WordPress so great (and not-so-great).
High Performance out of the box
One of the first things that WordPress brings to the table is great performance right out of the box. However, that performance immediately degrades as you add plugins, customizations, and fill up your databases.
Easy and accessible
Despite being a bit more cumbersome than Webflow, WordPress is still fairly easy to get the hang of, especially when compared to starting from scratch. If you've never built a site before but are a bit tech-savvy, you should be able to get the hang of WordPress.
WordPress also has the benefit of being immensely popular. It's the most popular CMS in the world, so you'll have no trouble finding tutorials, answers, and support for all things related to your site if you know where to look.
Low cost to start
WordPress is open source, which means that you can start building a WordPress site for “free”. You will have to buy a domain name and hosting, but you can get those for less than $20. It’s important to note that you get what you pay for when it comes to hosting.
A plugin for just about anything
We’ve been ragging on plugins for most of this article, but they do have their upsides. They can add nearly limitless features to your website. If there's anything you want your website to do that isn't built into WordPress natively, there's likely a plugin for it.
While you don't get a massively feature-rich drag-and-drop interface with WordPress like you do with Webflow, they released Gutenberg, a drag and drop block editor in 2018. Gutenberg is pretty basic and doesn’t allow for much customization, but WordPress has a workaround for that—themes and plugins. The extent to which you can customize your design depends largely on which theme and plugin combination you choose and that can become a gamble. But choose the right one, and you can tinker to your heart’s content.
WordPress also has very flexible user management functionality. Using their Roles feature, site owners can control what different users can access. This is great for letting different people contribute to a site without risking someone accidentally pressing the wrong button and blowing the whole thing up! WordPress’s six predefined roles are: Super Admin, Administrator, Editor, Author, Contributor, and Subscriber. And each role has its own “capabilities” or allowed actions. This makes it easy to assign your blog manager a different access level than your IT team.
Built in comments
You know what they say about comment sections—they’re built into WordPress! Well, okay, maybe nobody says that, but we’re saying it because it’s true! WordPress makes it super simple for visitors to leave comments on your site. This is great for blogs and can help improve your overall engagement. And on the admin side, you can easily approve, remove, or spam comments as needed—all in one central Comments dashboard.
Thanks to WordPress’s long reign as the CMS go-to, there is a gargantuan community surrounding it. If you have a question about basically anything you can bet someone else has had the same question and you can also bet that someone else knows the answer. WordPress has active support forums to get help from volunteers on specific topics. And if you want to mingle with other WordPress users you can check out various WordCamp community-organized events.
WordPress is extremely SEO friendly, and there are a plethora of plugins that you can choose from to make your site's SEO performance and stats that much better, like Yoast.
Powerful media management
WordPress comes with a built-in multimedia manager. You can use it to upload media, add media to pages on your site, and reuse content across your site in different ways.
Over 54,000 WordPress plugin options
As we’ve mentioned several times now, there are thousands upon thousands of WordPress plugins. No matter what kind of feature you want to add to your site or use to modify the back-end, there's most likely a plugin available.
Mobile apps for managing your site on the go
WordPress also includes mobile apps that you can use to manage your site on the go! That way, you can stay updated and ensure that no issues or ideas go forgotten.
Prone to slow page speeds
Unfortunately, WordPress has its issues, not the least of which is slow speed. While WordPress starts snappy out of the box, it can quickly get bogged down over time because the architecture is outdated by modern standards..
Slow site speeds can happen to websites in general if images and videos are not optimized before being added to the website, but with WordPress there are other culprits lurking in the shadows: themes, plugins, and out-of-date PHP versions (to name a few). Themes can include a lot of functionality out of the box, but they don’t always do a good job of not loading all of that functionality on every page, even if it’s not being used. This causes a lot of bloat that your website has to load and that takes time! Alongside themes are plugins. Plugins are great ways to quickly add things to your website, but the more you have, or if any given plugin was not developed well, the slower your website can become.
In some ways, the fact that WordPress is open-source is a pro. It's why it's free, and it gives you the ability to view and edit the code that makes up the platform.
On the other hand, the fact that WordPress is open-source also means it has potential security vulnerabilities. Because WordPress is so widely adopted it has a large target on its back for cyber attacks and hacks. Anyone can edit the source code to have backdoors and exploits. In fact, that's happened in the past, and it can still happen in the future.
Whether you're talking about the auto-generated code or the decades-old legacy code that WordPress is built on, the platform's programming can become a bit of a mess.
This is especially true as you start to edit and expand the pages on your website. The more features and plugins you add, the more complicated and spaghetti-esque your site's code becomes. The more complicated your code is, the more effort it takes for search engines to crawl your website, which could impact SEO or how Google ranks you.
Like Microsoft's infamously annoying updates, WordPress is prone to getting complicated and frequent updates at inopportune times. We once had a client who had an update for a plugin just so that the plugin could then inform them (with permanent text at the top of the dashboard) that another update was coming to the plugin.
This is the equivalent of scheduling a meeting to determine the time you want to meet for the next meeting. That’s a “good” plugin update story though. Updates can also crash entire websites, corrupt site data, change your website’s styling, and more. This is because most themes and plugins are developed by different people and teams and they can’t possibly test their theme/plugin with the tens of thousands of other themes/plugins available. If you want to avoid these kinds of headaches, then you need to avoid WordPress.
You have to use a theme
WordPress has little to no built-in design options, especially not by today's standards. You'll have to use a theme to get an aesthetic that fits your website.
Themes can be expensive, unwieldy, and difficult to find. Compared to a site like Webflow, it's far from an ideal solution.
Prone to attacks
Finally, WordPress is prone to attacks. The primary program platform is relatively secure, but there isn't a lot of regulation when it comes to making sure the plugins, add-ons, and other third-party services are protected. It’s not an ideal situation when you’re trying to keep your site secure.
Choosing which is right for you
And that's it! Those are key differences between Webflow and WordPress. You can probably tell that, overall, we prefer Webflow. But WordPress is still a good option for some, as it fits a purpose. If you "just want a site" quickly, but don’t have the technical prowess, maybe WordPress is the way to go. If you want to build a stable business (or have more secure functionality, such as public users logging in) complete with business grade workflows, you should probably use Webflow; it's really that simple. The most important thing to consider is which platform will best suit your needs for years to come.
When deciding between the two, remember to look at the price (WordPress wins up front, but Webflow wins long-term), security, and the key features. Ultimately, it's up to you, and hopefully our comparison post here will help guide your choice!