If you're a marketing manager at a large company, you already know WordPress isn’t the gold standard website builder it used to be. Many enterprise companies have begun looking towards Webflow as the soon-to-be successor. But is there any truth to the buzz?
In this article, we’ll let the facts speak for themselves.
The facts are that Webflow isn’t just easier to use than WordPress; it offers more robust security, scalability, and flexibility for developers while simultaneously providing a rock-solid visual designer and CMS so intuitive that a 5th grader could use them.
- A WordPress site won’t include any design tools out of the box, so you'll have to either code from scratch or utilize a plugin like Elementor or Divy. Even with more plugins and functionality, however, you are restricted to pre-built modules that are generally column-based and not grid-based, making them harder to test and adapt responsively.
- Webflow lets you drag and drop elements right onto the page and customize to your heart's content. Unlike other visual builders, though, Webflow's modules are not wrapped in its own coding language. Instead, you're working with clean HTML code. That makes your site easier for search engines to crawl and leads to faster loading speeds.
Both platforms let you start from a template, but WordPress website templates are more restrictive than templates on Webflow. WordPress templates (aka WordPress themes) can only be edited with manual CSS coding, but Webflow templates can be customized with their visual tools.
Animation & Interactions
- WordPress doesn't come with animation tools, but interestingly, the plugin market seems sparse as well. If you look at the official WordPress plugins list under "animation," you'll find that most of them are very specific use cases like "text fade" or "tabs transition." This system encourages plugin bloat.
- Webflow has built in presets, interaction builder, and Lottie support which gives designers much greater freedom to create custom interactions without relying on multiple third party libraries.
- WordPress doesn't let you design desktop and mobile separately, even though styling by breakpoint has become a standard expectation of most design tools. Changes on mobile affect the desktop and vice-versa. While it's possible to override, it's very difficult.
- Webflow lets you design desktop, tablet, mobile landscape, and mobile portrait independently. It also allows you to expand and shrink the viewport width using precise pixel values right in the designer interface. Thanks to these tools, Webflow websites tend to look better on a wider range of devices.
- WordPress doesn’t offer built-in accessibility auditing tools, besides the ability to add alt text to images. Other accessibility concerns such as contrast ratio and testing for blurred vision or other visual impairments aren't incorporated into the software. As usual, though, you can always install another plugin…
- Webflow offers on-page accessibility auditing tools that simulate user experiences with blurred vision and color impairments, plus many more. It also identifies problems for people using screen readers, such as skipped heading levels, non-descriptive link text, and missing alt descriptions on images
To be clear, WordPress doesn’t actively inhibit accessible development, but it does make it easier to overlook details that will result in a poor user experience.
- WordPress is only viable for online stores by using plugins like WooCommerce, the second of which has become so massive that people usually forget it’s a plugin. You can, though, manage products and other data through the plugin itself, so that saves you the trouble of keeping two separate tabs open at least. At a large scale, though, these limitations may prove too cumbersome for long-term scalability.
- Webflow has everything you need to sell products built right in, plus a hub for managing orders and fulfilling them. In addition to giving you stylistic freedom over the cart and checkout pages, Webflow also gives you tools for automating emails for shipping notifications and order confirmations. Automatic tax calculation and integrations with Shippo act as icing on the cake.
Selling subscription services
- WordPress + WooCommerce offers a subscription billing system provided you don’t need more advanced options like metered usage.
- Webflow doesn’t have its own subscription billing system, but it’s planning to release it sometime in 2022. Until then, it’s possible to implement a custom stripe solution by using Cloud Run to handle requests and generate secure sessions.
Integration with third party apps
While WordPress relies heavily on plugins, Webflow uses very few. One-click-install plugins with third party applications are rather few and far between, with notable exceptions being Shippo, Google Analytics, Facebook Pixel, Google Search Console, and Google Optimize. All others require some manual coding, although it’s mostly copying and pasting.
Using automation tools
At the same time, WordPress.org is not compatible with automation tools. Wordpress.com is, though. For users hosting with WordPress, it’s a viable option to integrate with these platforms. But .org users are going to have to develop their own endpoints using something like Express.js and make HTTP requests to other API’s programmatically.
For Web Applications
- It’s possible to build a web app with WordPress, but that’s not what it was built for. It’s important to recall that WordPress by itself is a CMS only, and the CMS is just one part of building a full-scale application. The rest involves server-side infrastructure that goes beyond the scope of this article.
- WordPress requires manual server maintenance, so you’ll need to either hire a staff member or outside WordPress hosts to manage it. It’s fair to say that for most teams the cost of either of these options far outweighs the benefits of using such a system in the first place. As you grow, you’ll have to build your server infrastructure out along the way.
- Webflow handles all of your server maintenance for you, and it scales automatically. Of course, the drawback is that you don’t have access to any of your front end’s server-side code, so you’ll need to supplement it with your own via Cloud Run. Most, though, don’t find this an issue. Plus, Enterprise clients get the royal treatment with guaranteed uptime, custom CDN configuration, custom monthly visit limits, and custom bandwidth limits.
- WordPress agencies are usually responsible for protecting your site’s data from DDoS attacks and other malicious traffic. That’s why they’ll charge you a fee on top of the actual hosting charges themselves. They also need to maintain your SSL certificate for you, which is far from optional and must be refreshed periodically.
- Webflow provides built-in SSL with any domain that you connect to the site, and DDoS protection comes standard with most basic plans. Enterprise clients can expect additional benefits such as advanced DDoS protection and SSO options.
On-page SEO tools
- WordPress doesn’t have on-page SEO tools built in, but the popular plugin Yoast has earned a solid reputation for excellent on-page SEO ratings. Still, Yoast’s popularity has caused many to forget that WordPress has no marketing tools for you whatsoever out of the box.
- Webflow offers basic SEO audits with their accessibility tools, but it’s compounded by an automatic integration with Google Search Console direct access to Robots.txt. Beyond that, though, you’ll need an external marketing tool like SEMrush for features beyond these.
Both WordPress and Webflow lack automatic schema.org markup, but Webflow’s dynamic code injections make it a bit easier to manage it on dynamic templates. By simply copying the boilerplate for the content type at hand into an HTML embed at the top of the page, you can dynamically populate each key:value pair with the correct data. This method gives you a maintenance-free method for maximizing your chances at showing up in rich results.
In WordPress–yep, you guessed it–you’ll need a plugin for that.
- WordPress loading speed is hindered significantly by plugins, and for enterprise-grade functionality, you’re going to need a lot of them. Plus, when you need to upgrade from your starter server to a proper CDN, it’ll require manual registration and maintenance.
- Webflow, on the other hand, is much faster and puts you on a regional CDN right away and provides a global CDN for its enterprise clients. Its lack of third-party plugins keeps loading weight light, and adaptive image resizing minimizes asset weight as well.
Sitemap Generation and Robots.txt
- WordPress requires you to use Yoast to generate sitemaps for you and then manually submit them to Google Search Console. This isn’t exactly a deal breaker, as uploading a sitemap is easy, but it does add one more thing to the to-do list.
- Webflow allows you to generate sitemaps automatically and submit them automatically as well by linking to Google Search Console through the project settings menu. Each time you publish the site, it updates the sitemap and sends it to Google for you, so Google always has the most recent copy of your sitemap.
To summarize: Go for Webflow
WordPress' open-source framework gives it customizability at the cost of decreased efficiency due to the overt reliance on plugins it necessitates. While it may seem attractive to have control over your web server, the reality is that the "back end" we imagine when we think of the computing power behind web and mobile apps is not what you're giving away when you host with Webflow.
Instead, you're merely passing off the routine tasks that cloud computing has made easy to automate. The frameworks to build applications should ideally run on a separate cloud engine anyway, and those services will absolutely remain under your control.
In fact, I'd even go as far as to say that the very idea of the binary front-end vs back-end we've all grown used to is no longer an accurate description of the way modern applications actually work. That, however, is an argument for another time.
For now, I'll simply conclude that Webflow is the clear winner here on all points. It's a faster platform with stronger security that costs less and delivers better performance.