What is Webflow?
You may have heard of Webflow if you're in the design or front-end developer space. They've had some good influencer campaigns with design Youtubers, and seem to have a good retargeting campaign as well!
A fair number of times, I've explained Webflow to potential clients, clients and other developers. You could almost call me a Webflow salesman - but without being paid to spread the word (yet..).
Anyway - this is never a simple task.
Webflow is a strange one. At a glance, it appears to be a WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get) website builder.
If you've heard of Webflow - you've probably heard of Wix/Squarespace. Especially if you've watched any Youtube videos or podcasts - they seem to be generous sponsors.
But now move away from that - Webflow is not like these at all - other than that you can see changes made on the same screen. Make a change to an element and you'll see it move in the 'editor'.
Here's my take on what Webflow is:
In short, Webflow is a visual editor based on the principles of web design. To be able to use Webflow (properly) you need to understand how to build a website. Wix etc is not built on these principles.
Websites created in Webflow are 'real' websites. HTML, CSS & JS. No spaghetti code generation.
Once you've built in Webflow - you can export the code to said HTML, CSS & JS. Then you're left with a standard website. Drag it into your text editor and you can make changes there - or pass it on to another dev for some further development. Side note: If you're using React - check this out
So - what makes Webflow so good?
For me - it's mostly about efficiency.
Webflow is a tool to create websites. It allows designing and building to take place with very quick feedback. A simple example is adding margin to an element. You can see instantly what the result looks like based on your mouse movement.
This doesn't sound like much - but it stops you needing to switch from your text editor to browser/inspect element to get the visual feedback. Savings can be 30 seconds potentially. This adds up over a big project.
Webflow gives clarity to designing and building. Clarity brings speed. In a lot of cases - fixed price projects or value based projects can benefit from speed & efficiency.
How is Webflow for learning Web design/development?
Great. The documentation on Youtube/ Webflow University allows for quick, concise lessons on different elements & a range of tutorials. Yes - you don't learn how to code. So it depends on what you're building websites for. In a lot of cases - websites are used as a marketing/sales channel. It's not essential that you know code for this.
I would say - it does help a lot to know code.
Webflow is great for client work. The CMS functionality is great once you've learnt how to use it. This makes it easy for clients to edit and add pages going forward without you needing to jump in and 'add this one thing'.
This is somewhat similar to Wordpress. If you're a Wordpress user - take a look at this comparison as I'm sure it's a common question.
What are the drawbacks of Webflow?
A good salesman brings the reasons not to buy.. I will do the same.
Although Webflow is free to use initially and build a limited project - Webflow costs money to use. If you're using the tool for a customer or project that is paid for - this really shouldn't be an issue. If this isn't the case - you can learn or try it out for free.
As mentioned above - this doesn't use code. This means if you're very efficient in coding or using a text editor then there may not be a huge benefit in learning. Also - if you're looking to learn code to be a web dev in a company, for example - you may run into the problems if you only know how to use Webflow in the job interview.
Somewhat similar to the point above - it's different. This means there will be some natural hesitation towards using the Webflow for a client project or within a team.
This is a very short overview of what Webflow's about. I use it as my main tool. I enjoy using it and hope to use it going forward. The Webflow team works hard to keep things moving forward with the platform. They've recently built eccomerce features into the platform.
There's a lot more information on Webflow - and I'd like to write more about. For this post, hopefully it helps people understand a bit more about Webflow and reasons why (or why not) they'd use it.
PS - Hope this didn't sound too much like an ad.
As it's my tool of choice - I need to be a bit of a salesman for Webflow in order to get clients onboard with using it.