While I have worked on many different content management platforms through the years (Magento, Drupal, Shopify, Squarespace, and Wix, to name a few), by far and away, the CMS that I have used and seen the most is WordPress. A third of all websites are programmed on WordPress, and with good reason. It is open source, easily customizable, and has a robust support network of plug-ins and developers to improve existing sites. I have personally coded many sites on WordPress and have optimized dozens more.
I've been using Webflow for the past couple of months and have thoughts on impressions between the two. Webflow is a newer drag-and-drop CMS that simplifies the website building process. The short version, however, is that for any new projects I'm starting that don't require heavy customization or are super large in size, I will be using Webflow. Let's dig in:
Webflow is a drag-and-drop CMS platform; however, to compare it to similar services is an injustice to the company. Webflow offers the most customizability I've seen, along with impressive functionality and options. That said, the learning curve is incredibly steep for something one would presume to be straightforward. It's a trade-off between having all the options you would want at your fingertips and being able to find them.
- A large number of customizable functions for a drag-and-drop service.
- Surprisingly SEO friendly (I was impressed here, far and away better than Wix and Squarespace, but you're still going to give up something compared to WordPress).
- Ease of use (after you get past the initial learning curve).
- Simple to create templates and then adjust them for different parts of the site.
- Excellent customer service - I've asked basic questions to account questions and more complicated questions, and I've always gotten a response in 24 hours.
- Less upkeep - Webflow keeps the platform updated and site speed quick, so you don't have to do much manual work to ensure security is tight or the site is performing well.
- You're at the mercy of one company. Webflow recently announced that they are significantly raising prices. Their service could go down, get compromised, or go out of business, and you'd be out of luck.
- There is a steep learning curve for a drag-and-drop platform. Their tutorials are somewhat helpful, but I found the best way to learn is to watch people go through the steps of building a site on Youtube. Do not expect to step right in and be able to code a beautiful website; it'll take most people a good amount of hours to learn how to use it.
- No matter how flexible the system is, you're still limited compared to WordPress.
- Since the newer platform lacks some integrations, one might need them based on their tech stack.
- You can be limited with your site size if you don't utilize the CMS page features. These allow you to create the same templatized pages. You are limited to the amount of totally custom pages you can make.
WordPress doesn't need much of an introduction. It is by far and away the most used CMS. If you have been on the internet, you have interacted with many WordPress sites. WordPress is open source and requires building off of a template or custom code. While you can make websites without coding knowledge, creating a beautiful website with WordPress is significantly more difficult and time-consuming if you don't know HTML/CSS/PHP.
- Truly and fully customizable.
- Open source, so you are not reliant on one company to make it.
- Well established with thousands of integrations already created and ready to go.
- It can be cheaper depending on how you set up your hosting.
- A large number of WordPress developers are available if you get stuck.
- With significantly more resources for learning the platform, it took me a while to find videos worth watching for Webflow.
- Since the platform is not hosted, you are responsible for upkeep and maintenance.
- There are many security issues if you do not keep the site entirely up to date, allowing people to inject malicious code into your site.
- Plug-ins can break areas when updated if the plug-in is not on top of development.
- Significantly more coding knowledge is needed to create a better-looking place.
- No direct support; you're stuck searching or asking for community help (admittedly, not that much of an issue as many people have written about any problem you'll run into).
After the initial shock of the learning curve, I have been delighted with Webflow. Due to ease of use and lack of maintenance, I will be moving future projects to Webflow from WordPress. While more costly, the trade-offs are worth the higher price to me. WordPress is still a super valuable CMS; it will be interesting to see if a SaaS company like Webflow can make a dent in market share.