Digital presence is currently essential for businesses to prosper. There are various means they can use in that context. One of them is creating websites.
There are various tools available to help you in developing them quickly and easily, even without coding or software development experience.
WordPress and Webflow are two tools that many companies are considering for this purpose. The advantages of one tool over another are a hot topic in web application development. And for a good reason.
Both offer businesses the ability to design either simple or complex websites without advanced technical knowledge. However, they do so with very different approaches, so you should be aware of their pros and cons before creating a website.
Let’s take a look at their capabilities.
What is WordPress?
WordPress hosts at least 42% of websites across the Internet. This makes it one of the world’s most well-known content management systems (CMS).
WordPress is free to use and open-source. It began as a blog hosting tool but has since evolved. It can handle all types of websites, including landing pages, ecommerce stores, directories, and more.
WordPress combines PHP code with a MySQL or MariaDB database. Its features include a plugin architecture and a template system, referred to within WordPress as Themes.
Despite its established market position, we can notice the progressing decline in usage. It does not mean it will not be the right choice for your project. It still has a massive community of users, many plugin options, and plenty of benefits.
Pros of WordPress
There are many reasons WordPress continues to be the most popular website-building tool around. As an open-source CMS, it works for millions of users and countless businesses.
Many ready-to-use 3rd party plugins
Themes and Plugins are key to WordPress. Take a look at this brief glossary if you are a WordPress newbie:
- Themes - control the overall aesthetic design of your site.
- Plugins - add new features or functions to your site.
The open-source nature of WordPress means it has a variety of 3rd party plugins. You can use these to add extra features and functions to your WordPress site.
The official WordPress.org plugin directory has almost 60,000 free plugins. However, you can also find thousands of premium plugins via 3rd party marketplaces or independent developers. Developers can use these for any number of things, like making a site SEO- or mobile-friendly.
The vast majority are easy to plug into your WordPress site, ready-to-use additions which will help you create a complex yet slick business website without much technical experience.
The plugin ecosystem includes deep integrations with all the popular marketing automation tools. It enables you to promote your site more effectively.
Plugins like HubSpot, WooCommerce, WPForms, Jetpack, and Akismet Spam Protection are amongst the most useful ones, but there are many more to consider, depending on the purpose and goal.
Large developer community
WordPress is the most widely-used CMS in the world. As such, there is a large community of developers and business users. It translates to an
amount of support and information available to you when using WordPress and its various plugins and extensions.
The large WordPress community means it is easy to find the information or resources you need. WordPress has well over 1.3 million followers on Facebook and 1.6 million followers on Twitter. There are also countless community forums across various sites and always plenty of people on hand to offer you advice when you need it.
The official WordPress forums are a great place to start - the company’s staff are active members of the forums, though there are also many volunteers ready to help. You can use the search function to see if the answer to your issue is already there. If not, you can always post it on your own.
There are also loads of ‘WP shops’ that can come in and fix/rebuild your WP site as needed. You should be able to find all the resources you need to build your WordPress site on your own - but even if you cannot, help is never far away.
Vast selection of high-quality templates
WordPress is flexible, powerful, and able to build complex sites with vast extensibility. Even beginners can create beautiful websites thanks to the large selection of templates (also known as themes). That includes thousands of free themes you can use to set the look, feel and overall design of your website.
Another plus of these templates is that you can customize them. They come with their own options panels, enabling you to change colors, embed your company logo, change backgrounds, and create sliders. You can adjust these templates to your needs - such as matching them to your brand guidelines - without needing to write any code. Here you can find some free WordPress templates to use.
Cons of WordPress
While WordPress remains popular, its usage is plateauing and beginning to fall for a few reasons. That does not mean it would t work for you, but that there may be more suitable web-building software available for your specific project.
That's why you should be mindful of the WordPress down sites.
Poor editor experience without third-party plugins
One of WordPress's major strengths is the high volume of plugins available to developers. But it also shows the limitations of the standard WordPress site editor, Block Editor.
Block Editor does not have a good reputation in the WordPress community. It can be very user-unfriendly. For example, you might have difficulties with using external fonts, it doesn’t space images particularly well and is restrictive when it comes to body text layout. There are ways around these issues, but they are time-consuming and take away from what used to be one of Wordpress’s main selling points: its ease of use.
Without using 3rd party plugins, you might struggle to obtain the website you want. Many are available, but finding the right ones and getting to grips with them takes time and resources. If your business doesn’t have them, WordPress might not be the best option for you because of Block Editor’s drawbacks.
Maintenance and security risks
This is another possible issue arising from the need to use multiple plugins on WordPress. Because the CMS is self-hosted software, you are responsible for maintenance and security, including updates. That’s fine if you’ve got the team and time to do so, but if you use plugins - which you would most probably need to - you need to keep track of any updates to open-source or third-party plugins. That can lead to major resource overheads and maintenance headaches for your business.
Performing manual updates, as well as relying on 3d party plugins and PHP code also presents security risks. Every business has regulatory responsibilities, and keeping all information secure and compliant with those regulations is a high priority. When you have to rely on external tools, you are broadening the potential area of vulnerability for the information your business needs to look after.
WordPress websites typically take more server resources and carry redundant code. Outdated core software adds to the vulnerability and sluggishness of WordPress sites. The need for plugins also means it is easy for your site to become outdated if you don’t keep on top of updates. This could mean features stop working, or the entire website fails to load and can result in a poor user experience which is likely to drive people away from your business.
The requirement for multiple plugins and excess server resources means WordPress sites can become bloated. Plugins are unavoidable with WordPress and can quickly bog your site down with heavy pages and slow performance, which can also have a knock-on effect on your Google ranking. Frustrating load times can turn customers away, or make your site harder to find in the first place.
While WordPress has made improvements to how non-tech people can build pages (namely, their Block Editor release), developers are constantly creating new components. That slows down marketing teams that have to wait until development is complete before going on with their work.
WordPress is still a popular tool, but it is gradually declining in usage. It is largely down to the disadvantages listed here. With new technologies available that avoid these, WordPress will likely continue to lose users over time. That translates to less community support, more obsolete plugins, and, most importantly, less chance of success for your WordPress website.
That's why you should consider alternatives. Webflow is slightly newer, but it has been around since 2013, so it has had time to become established and improve.
What is Webflow?
Webflow is an environment that allows you to build responsive websites and make content changes easily. It also lets you build engaging interactions and leverage the power of motion to provide users with unforgettable experiences. It's a no-code tool which means there is no coding necessary. You can use it in a SaaS (Software as a Service) subscription model. Webflow enables you to build a website using a visual drag-and-drop builder.
It is mainly directed toward designers looking for a low- or no-code tool, but anyone can use it to create their business website. And as far as there are people (no-code developers or Webflow developers) that build websites professionally, literally, anyone can use it to create simple websites. Webflow is a good fit for designers and marketers. However, it’s key to note that while you can build a website without writing the code yourself, you should still have a grasp of engineering knowledge. But most people shouldn’t have big problems learning Webflow.
Webflow is rapidly gaining popularity. Currently, it has a $4 billion valuation and this is increasing all the time.
It removes the barrier between developers and designers, offering enterprise-grade hosting with caching and content delivery network tools. This enables developers to build a comprehensive business website.
Pros of Webflow
Webflow is growing in popularity for many reasons, including:
Quick to get changes live
Webflow lets design and marketing departments change the content without relying on developers. The Editor experience is simple yet flexible to empower marketing to implement modifications independently. This means it’s easy to get changes to your site live almost immediately, adding speed and agility to your business, and enabling you to react to new market realities or surges in customer demand in real time.
It offers visual development and autonomy
Webflow cuts out the need for developers and lets design and marketing teams own and update the website on their own. This reduces the resources you need to invest in to get a site up and running and provides a more fulfilling experience for design and marketing teams. Webflow has an easier learning curve and a lower barrier to entry, providing autonomy for small or inexperienced teams.
Webflow sites are extremely performant. They offer a better, out-of-the-box performance optimization, without much need for manual intervention. Without depending on third-party plugins, Webflow sites can be more streamlined. It also offers built-in image optimizer, webp image formatting, and AWS server hosting, which lets them run at a much higher performance level.
Webflow doesn’t require ongoing updates or management on the hosting side. This frees your tech team from ongoing time and money spent “keeping the lights on”. It also ensures that your marketing team can freely promote your site and brand without worrying about whether features and functions are working before they add them.
While there is a strong developer community with WordPress, you still need to search out and validate solutions to any issues yourself. Webflow removes this concern by providing dedicated support.
They also assign you an account manager to help you with onboarding, training, and ongoing technical questions. That means you’re taken care of when getting started as well as on an ongoing basis.
Webflow’s intuitive visual development is the foundation for a no-code development platform. This allows you to start creating your website with little or sometimes no development experience, but that depends on the case, of course. It also reduces the barrier to entry and any business overheads as you don’t need to train/hire experienced developers. It allows you to make sure you get the most out of your website.
Webflow is SEO-friendly
For any website to succeed, you need to optimize it for search engines. Otherwise, people will not be able to find it as easily, reducing traffic to your site and therefore potential revenue for your business. Webflow has all the SEO controls you need to build right in. It allows you to optimize your website’s SEO settings with fine-tuned controls, high-performance hosting, and flexible content management tools. All without additional plugins.
Webflow’s Content Management System (CMS) is very functional and easy to use. It allows sites that have blogs, different team members, and products to grow quickly. You can add new content and generate new pages automatically based on previously defined/created dynamic page templates.
There are plenty of attractive benefits to Webflow vs WordPress - but what about the cons of this newer website-building tool?
Cons of Webflow
As a relatively new tool, Webflow does have some limitations, but the Webflow team will fix these over time as it grows in popularity and functionality. Here are the current disadvantages associated with Webflow.
You need customized code workarounds for advanced websites
Webflow doesn't have a huge plugin library like WordPress. While this makes things simpler, it also limits how complex or advanced you can make your website, meaning that if you do want to create an advanced site, you will need to input customized code or find other workarounds. This requires more development expertise and time spent writing and testing that code.
Limited CMS Scalability
Currently, Webflow’s CMS limits you to 10,000 items and its projects have a 100-page static limit. This can impact the scalability of your site which can, in turn, impede growth. However, Webflow is planning to address this issue by expanding this to 100,000 items for Enterprise clients. Until then, you can use a reverse proxy to connect multiple sites to give you scalability.
No membership functionality (yet)
Webflow doesn’t currently offer the option to build membership or subscription-based functionality into your sites. However, Webflow plans to address this limitation, with plans to release a beta version of memberships in early 2023.
No on-premises option without 3rd solution
As a purely SaaS-based platform, Webflow doesn’t currently offer the option to run your website or host your server on-premises without integrating it somehow via a 3rd party solution.
Webflow vs. WordPress - which one to choose for your website?
Both platforms have pros and cons. Webflow can deliver more secure and faster websites in a shorter time. Also, it doesn't require coding, so you can control the content and layout without the help of a developer.
On the other hand, with WordPress, you can find any type of plugin you may need. Despite the declining popularity, it might be a good choice for more custom websites. Each project is different, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Define your priorities, and evaluate the differences carefully before you make the final decision.
While Webflow has its issues, it is already planning to address them, and it doesn’t fall in the same places WordPress does. As a no-code tool, it removes the need for development expertise. This means it can save you money when building your site and increase your agility to make changes when it’s already up and out there.
There’s a reason why Webflow is becoming more and more common. While the upfront cost can be higher than WordPress, the amount of expert support you’ll receive and the reduced need for maintenance easily offsets this over a short as well as a long period.
So with all of this in mind, it looks like Webflow is most likely the best option for you to build your business website right now. There are some areas that WordPress is still good for, but overall it is gradually becoming obsolete as new platforms like Webflow give businesses what they need in today’s market: speed, agility, convenience, and security. However, every case should be analyzed separately, starting with discovery processes to understand current and future client needs in a site-building platform. In some cases, where Webflow won’t be the best fit, it could still be useful to take advantage of the time it saves and instead build extra functionality using 3rd party tools.