In this article, we’ll break down the strengths and weaknesses of the two leading website-building platforms.
Picture this: You have a fabulous agency partner all lined up and ready to build you a phenomenal website. Now you just need to pick the platform your website will live on. Whether your new site will be personal or business-focused, you have quite a number of options in the form of website builders, and, like your options at that Italian place down the street, the best decision for you may not be so clear cut.
A quick Google search will yield a smorgasbord of different platforms to help you build your next site, and, we’ll be honest, it’s overwhelming at first. WordPress, Weebly, Wix, Webflow, Squarespace…the list goes on.
Now you may be asking yourself: Are they easy to learn? Do they offer the same capabilities? What do they cost? Why do most of them start with “W”? Well, you’re in luck because we’re here to address all those questions and more, except the last one (sorry, we can’t have all the answers).
In this article, we’ll examine arguably the two biggest website builders on the scene right now, WordPress and Webflow, and compare them in some key areas: usability, cost, functionality, and support. We’ll also briefly touch on other options you may want to pursue if you decide not to go with either of these platforms.
WordPress is an open-source content management system (CMS) that’s been around since 2003. It’s practically a household name at this point; it’s what Google is to search engines or what Oreo is to cookies. According to WordPress themselves as of 2021, their platform powers more than 41% all sites on the web. It’s a CMS juggernaut with nearly two decades of service under its belt, and you’ve no doubt already browsed a site created in WordPress even if you didn’t know it at the time.
The Pros of Using WordPress:
– It’s free to use (you just have to pay for your domain and hosting).
– It offers more than 58,000 extensions and plugins for nearly endless customization.
– It has a large and supportive community of users.
– There are thousands of themes out there for every business or industry.
– Its sites are optimized for mobile.
– It’s one of the most robust CMS platforms out there for blogging and other content marketing.
The Drawbacks of Using WordPress:
– WordPress sites can become a bit slow if you use too many unnecessary plugins (don’t worry, your agency partner can help optimize your site’s speed).
– Though it’s free to use, costs could add up quickly depending on how many premium themes/plugins you want to utilize, on top of the hosting/domain fees you’ll need to pay.
– Plugins require regular updates and can stop working if you aren’t on top of maintenance (again, your agency partner can help with this).
Launched in 2012, Webflow is a closed-source, cloud-based web design tool, CMS, and hosting platform that continues to grow in popularity due to its focus on visual design and development without the need for coding. Webflow touts itself as the “modern WordPress alternative” on its site and it has been described as the “Photoshop for websites” with a drag and drop style editor that offers a vast amount of customization options.
The Pros of Webflow:
– It allows you to edit any aspect of your site directly with its visual editor.
– You can easily create custom site interactions and animations.
– It bridges the design/development gap.
– It offers SSL and ISO 27018.
– It has native SEO and GA functionality.
– It has a variety of support options: Webflow University, email-based support, and forums.
– It takes care of site maintenance for you.
– On paid plans, website code can be exported so you can host wherever you want with no attribution required.
The Drawbacks of Webflow:
– It has a steep learning curve if you aren’t familiar with web development or design.
– Plans are more expensive than other website builders.
– Though it has integrations, most don’t work out of the box and require extra steps.
– You may have to purchase a Zapier plan for certain software integrations that aren’t natively supported.
– Compared to WordPress, it’s CMS capabilities may seem limited.
– Though you can export Webflow code, CMS and ecommerce content (databases) aren’t exported. Also, some elements will cease functioning outside of Webflow like site search, forms, and ecommerce functions.
Now let’s see how these two platforms compare in some key areas:
Both WordPress and Webflow have a bit of a learning curve you’ll have to overcome after your agency partner builds your site and hands it off to you (Fun fact: We include a 1-hour web platform training session for our clients 😊).
WordPress beginners will need to familiarize themselves with concepts such as themes, plugins, posts vs pages, categories vs tags, and more. Similarly, the Webflow visual editor has a ton of features so beginners may feel overwhelmed at first when trying to navigate it, especially if they have no previous web development or design experience.
Webflow has a page builder which allows you to create a custom website in a completely visual way. The page builder uses a ‘drag and drops’ style interface, so you can start with a blank slate and simply add any elements such as sliders, tabs, background videos, and images anywhere on the page. Just point and click on any element to change its properties and add new elements with the push of a button. This gives you almost complete design freedom to create the site of your dreams with ZERO coding skills required.
Two of WordPress’ biggest strengths are its open-source nature and active developer community. This means anyone can create plugins or themes and the sheer number of options out there are staggering (remember we’re talking nearly two decades of options). WordPress also has intuitive drag and drop builders like Divi and Elementor that let you build your page layouts in a visual way.
Both platforms also have robust CMS capabilities. WordPress was originally built for blogging so it’s set up to get you writing and publishing online quickly right out of the box. Webflow might seem a bit more limited since there’s no native comments feature, fewer options to add categories and tags to your content types, and the design elements can slow things down if you don’t have design experience.
As we mentioned earlier, WordPress is free to use, but you’ll need to pay for your domain and hosting. You’ll also be paying for premium plugins, themes, or any other 3rd party integrations (though most usually have a free option).
Webflow plans start at $12 per month for anyone who wants a website without a CMS. The CMS plan starts at $16 per month and their ecommerce features start at $29 per month. Keep in mind all plans include hosting via Amazon’s reliable Cloudfront CDN with the ability to handle millions of concurrent visits. Despite the hosting being included, Webflow’s plans tend to be a bit more expensive in the long run compared to the hosting fees you’ll pay with your WordPress site.
Both platforms have a support system in place in case you have questions (which, let’s face it, we all do).
WordPress’ popularity also comes with a vast number of online resources from forum posts to online articles to user-created videos. If you run into an issue somewhere with your site, chances are someone has had the same issue and posted about it online.
Webflow offers a massive library of articles, videos, and tutorials on their site called Webflow University. Just be aware it will take some time and dedication to work through these resources and build your familiarity with the platform. They also have a user forum and email-based support.
Though, ultimately, when it comes to your site, your friendly, neighborhood agency partner will have ALL the answers and will set you up for success with your platform of choice.
Don’t feel like WordPress or Webflow meet your needs? There are some lower-end ‘drag and drop’ website builders like Squarespace and Wix. These options don’t offer the level of customization of WordPress or Webflow, but might be a good option for a freelancer that wants to create a quick portfolio or a personal blog to share your thoughts with the world.
On the other end of the spectrum, if you want a *very* specific site (in terms of looks and functionality), you can ask your agency partner to build you a custom site from scratch. Keep in mind that custom sites are a more expensive and time-intensive option.
When you pit the hardened veteran, WordPress, against the fresh contender, WebFlow, there’s no clear winner. It all comes down to your specific needs. WordPress is such a popular site builder because it offers a lot of functionality at a reasonable price (we even wrote an article about how much we love it). On the other hand, if you have more design experience, want complete customization control, and can afford the higher fees, Webflow might be the choice for you.
Want to chat more about your website needs? Give us a shout!