What is Webflow? (in non-technical words)

The flexible no-code site builder that also has a built-in CMS

What is Webflow?

Website is software that we can use to make websites. It’s what we call a simple “online site builder”, which means that when you sign up with Webflow, you can log in and start building a website; or have someone build it for you. It’s similar to other online site builders that you may have heard of, like Squarespace, Wix, or Weebly, in that you don’t need to know how to write any code to build a site with it, so anyone can use it. That also makes it relatively quick to build a site with it compared to the more powerful site building software.

With Webflow, you can add as many webpages to your site as you want. And on the pages, you can add any features you can think of, like galleries, carousels (sliders), popups, forms, etc. It even has some clever interactivity, like making pictures slide in as you scroll down the page.

For larger sites, Webflow has a built-in content management system (CMS), sort of like WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla (the most popular CMS software). That means that, when we build a site with it, we can set up “collections” for things that we’re going to have a lot of on our site, like blog posts, products, team members, testimonials, events, promotions, etc. Each of these can have several “fields”, which are single pieces of information like a title, a photo, a date, etc. This makes Webflow really powerful, because it allows us to have well-designed reusable sections on our site (like blog posts) that are really easy to add and manage for other users later on.

What are Webflow’s pros and cons?

Something that’s good to know about Webflow is that the main webpage-builder feature works in a very similar way to  HTML and CSS, which are the core coding languages of webpages. That means that it will take someone new to websites a bit longer to learn how to use it than say Squarespace. But it also means that it’ll be super familiar for anyone who’s made a website before, like web developers, so it’ll be really fast to build with for those people.

Next, Webflow now has built-in ecommerce features, allowing you to use it to sell products and services online. However, these features are still very basic, so if you want an ecommerce site, it’s much better to use something like Shopify or WooCommerce.

Lastly, it’s very important to note that Webflow doesn't currently allow you to log in and edit or manage your site using a phone or tablet, because it doesn’t have a mobile app and you can’t use it in your browser on those small devices; you can only use a regular desktop computer or laptop. This might be a big disadvantage if your team uses their phones a lot for work. This doesn’t apply to your actual website visitors - the site can still look brilliant to them - it only applies to managing and editing your site.

What is Webflow suitable for?

As you’re probably worked out by now, Webflow is great for lots of different types of sites, with the exception of ecommerce. You also can’t really build “web apps” with it, which are websites that act more like apps; think of Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

If you have a small business or organisation, or work at one, then Webflow might be the perfect platform for your site. It’s really great for building beautiful and complex landing pages (like a Home page or lead magnet pages), and it’s great for adding other sections to the site like events, news, team members, etc.

What are the alternatives?

As great as Webflow is, there are thousands of other website building tools and software out there competing with it, and many of them are much better than Webflow at specific things.

If you want to build the website yourself, and you’ve never built a website before, and you don’t think you’re going to build more websites in the future, you should go with an even simpler website building software like Wix, Squarespace, or Weebly.

If your website is primarily about telling stories through posts, like a blog, then you should definitely rather use software like WordPress or Ghost.

In fact, if your site needs any particular feature or functionality that would be tricky to “build” in a website - such as a members-only area, or a appointment-booking system - then your site should be built with a platform that has a really big community of people developing “plugins” for it, like WordPress or Drupal. Your developers might even suggest to you that they build the frontend of the website - which is the part that visitors actually see in their browser - in something called a “JavaScript framework” like React, Angular or Vue. In that case, you should read our article on What is Angular to understand what they’re talking about.

How much does Webflow cost?

As you can see from that screenshot from the Pricing page on Webflow site, Webflow costs $12 (R190) per month for the basic package, but this has no CMS functionality.

They charge $16 (R250) per month for the next tier up, which does include the CMS.

One of the big benefits of using an online site builder like Webflow is that they take care of backups and updates of your site, which will make sure it’s always secure and never hacked. This means you won’t need to pay a web developer monthly to look after your site. And of course website “hosting” is included, so there’s no extra cost for that.

Should you use Webflow?

Webflow is fantastic software for all sorts of websites for businesses and other organisations, but of course it can’t be great at everything. Unless you’re sure you need a particular type of website with features that Webflow doesn’t offer, you should probably go ahead and build your site with it.

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