"Sorry, we're going with another developer for this project"
She said, over the phone.
"What's the reason?"
"It's because we really wanted to use Wordpress, but you wanted to use Webflow."
After a few pleasantries, I thanked her for the opportunity to provide a proposal, and we hung up.
I had lost the project.
I couldn't believe it.
My price was more cost-competitive, Webflow as a platform had satisfied their technical requirements, and ongoing maintenance would’ve been easier.
I had still lost.
In other words, this is what happened.
I came to the conclusion that they didn't choose me for the project because they were unfamiliar with the Webflow.
They weren’t aware of it, and obviously, didn't trust it.
Hence I don’t blame them for not believing in a product they didn’t trust.
This is the reason I decided to write my thoughts and opinion on Wordpress vs Webflow.
If you are firmly in the Wordpress camp, perhaps what you read below may sway your mind.
In other words, if this is you, then you’re at the right place.
If you’re an experienced web developer, I might hear you say,
I build all my websites from scratch
And that’s fair enough.
But it takes time and maintenance will be difficult for your customer.
That’s why website and page builders are so popular these days.
And that’s why I don’t build from scratch either.
All the following comparisons will be made for Webflow vs Wordpress with the Hello Theme and the Elementor Pro plugin. Elementor looks to be the runaway winner in terms of a page builder, and their suggested theme is the Hello Theme.
Webflow generates clean code.
What is clean code?
It is code that is logical and easy to understand, yet is as small as possible.
Why is this important?
Website Speed. The faster the better.
Why is speed important?
- User Experience. We all live in the digital age where we expect an answer as soon as we think of the question. The slower your page is to load, the more likely your user will leave.
- Google Rankings. Google announced they will penalise websites that take longer than normal to load.
How can we have a faster load time?
One way is to use good quality, clean HTML and CSS.
This is what Wordpress generates for a simple section:
Exactly as you would expect.
This is what Elementor generates:
As you can see, the HTML generated by Elementor contains unnecessary elements.
This adds bulk to the site and reduces site speed.
As we established earlier, site speed is critically important for a number of reasons.
It is not just code quality that impacts site speed, there are some other factors that we need to be aware of.
Minifying is the process of removing all unnecessary code from the file such as comments, and blank space.
Once again to increase speed.
With wordpress, you’re going to need a minifying plugin such as W3 Cache.
Caching is the process where your browser downloads a file and doesn’t need to download the same file again.
For example, you have all your stylesheets located on company.css.
Your visitor will download company.css on the first time they visit your home page. If you have caching enabled, they won’t need to download the same file again if they visit another page on your site.
Once again, Wordpress doesn’t offer this natively.
You’re going to need a separate plugin such as W3 Cache.
Content Delivery Network (CDN)
A CDN will serve your website files to your visitor’s device from a server that is closest to them.
This is not important if you only serve local customers.
But if your visitors are likely to be from all over the world, a CDN will significantly improve your website experience with them.
Webflow has natively integrated Amazon Cloudfront CDN. It is unlikely to ever be down.
Wordpress doesn’t. If you need it, it will be another invoice, another payment, another thing to worry about.
I have to admit that SEO is done quite well with Wordpress.
Quite well when you compare it to Wix.
Most websites do not suffer ranking penalties from using Wordpress.
But of course, there could still be improvements.
Being able to change the page’s meta description should be vital for any content management system.
What is meta description?
It’s the description under the Page title in the search results.
As of the date of publishing, you still can’t edit the meta description without a plugin like Yoast or Elementor.
You certainly need a dedicated SEO plugin (like Yoast) to be able to update the opengraph settings.
With webflow, this can all be done natively.
On Wordpress’s article on their permalink structure, they say:
By default, WordPress uses web URLs which have day and name in them
I still scratch my head thinking why.
Your posts should be updated regularly to reflect latest trends or standards.
Outdated posts do not rank well on Google.
What is the best post structure then?
If you search for the term “Wordpress Permalink Structure”, the first post you see is Rob Powell Big Blog.
What’s their 1st tip?
Change the permalink structure to post name only.
Google Analytics is a tool developed by Google that gives you information on the behaviour of visitors on your website.
If you care growing your website, you’ll probably want to have Google Analytics installed.
It looks a bit like this:
Almost every website should have it installed.
On Webflow, no additional plugin is required. All you need is your Google Analytics ID. Paste it in, and off you go.
With wordpress, you will need to download one if you’re not sure how to create a plugin yourself. There are dozens to choose from.
Google Search Console
Google Search Console (previously known as Webmaster Tools) helps you find website issues, check backlinks and fix issues.
But most importantly, it’s a tool that tells Google what pages exist on your site and how they relate to each other.
Once again, Webflow has it natively enabled, so all you need to do is put in your Google Site Verification ID.
And once again, for Wordpress, you will need another plugin.
If you’ve previously installed the Yoast SEO plugin, you’re in luck, because that has the Google Site Verification tool built in. If not, you’re going to have to find one from this list.
Ease web design
Classes are a term used to group similar looking elements together.
When we make changes to one item, the properties of the other item follow suit.
Elements not only look similar on the same page, but they should also look identical across pages. This creates consistency and a better user experience.
The use of classes is encouraged across all of web development. That is why cascading stylesheets (CSS) were created in the first place.
Unfortunately, Wordpress and Webflow seem to have pushed that aside.
Changes that are made on single elements don’t affect other items in the same class.
Every time a new element is created with its own parameters, a new class or new ID is created.
This makes design difficult and time consuming.
Preview and Update
I didn’t realise my frustration with Wordpress until I started using Webflow.
To review a change in the backed with Wordpress and Elementor, we need to complete these steps:
- Press the “save draft” button.
- Click the “preview” button to the left.
- Navigate to the new preview tab that was just created.
In my experience, I found multiple tabs were appearing and I started to lose track of pages.
With Webflow, what you're designing is shown on the screen is almost exactly what is shown in the live browser.
There is no additional tab. Just click on the “Toggle Preview” button, and without reloading the page, you can see the result of your creation immediately.
I love that I don’t need to worry about constantly pressing the save draft button.
Everything that is created in Webflow is automatically saved.
Making minor changes on Wordpress is simple.
But when large scale changes are needed, what do you need to do?
- Make a copy of the files,
- Make a copy of the database table,
- Create a subdomain within cPanel called test.domain.com.
- Make the necessary changes.
- Copy files back to the main directory.
- Copy table contents back.
This is far too complicated and not a task we would typically allow our client to perform by themselves.
One wrong step and it could bring their entire site down.
With Webflow, you can publish the content to yourdomain.weblow.io. This becomes your staging server.
You can review all changes before publishing to the main domain.
This is a simple enough task that any client would be able to do themselves.
Webflow can help create impressive animations without custom code.
Here is just an example:
For those aspiring designers who don’t know how to create effects like this, they may need to use another plugin or spend the time to learn the craft.
For web developers who know how to do this, Webflow will cut development time.
Wordpress boasts the largest 3rd-party developer marketplace in the world.
And it is something to be proud of.
Some amazing plugins:
- Advanced Custom Fields
- W3 Cache
- Contact Form 7
All above plugins have a free version for you to use indefinitely.
You can’t beat that kind of value.
Okay, let’s talk about the downside of using so many plugins.
The Wordpress community was all in an uproar last year when Yoast decided to put this banner in your wordpress backend if you haven’t paid for their premium version.
Now, the Yoast plugin has been helping millions of websites, for free, for years with their SEO.
So I don’t blame Yoast for wanting to use Black Friday as a way to boost their revenues. They are a for-profit organisation in the end.
Whilst I don’t disagree with the principle, seeing ads pop up in your website backend is not good user experience.
The backlash lead to many developers removing Yoast and installing one of their lightweight SEO competitors, SEO-Framework
Both Free and premium plugins are developed by a 3rd party.
If you don't understand the code, you don't know how it affects the rest of the site.
Especially with free plugins, you are placing your trust on the developers. As well as other users who have downloaded their plugins and reviewed them in the past.
There's no responsibility for a 3rd party plugin developer to test their plugin against all other available plugins in the wordpress plugin repositority.
Of course, that would be ridiculous.
So it would be up to the website maintenance personnel to do that.
There is a chance that every time you press this button, your site may not look right.
What this means is that there can be, and often is, a compatility issue that occurs.
This is why you see 16 out of date plugins, you still refrain from pressing the Update Plugins.
Ideal for my customer base
My final reason is personal. Webflow is best for the type of customers I want to help - solar companies.
Website builders started off in a specific niche and catered for their own audience.
Wordpress was originally built for bloggers.
Shopify is built for eCommerce websites.
Wix is built for amateurs.
Okay, I’m being mean.
What I actually mean is that I believe each website builder has their own special niche in the market. They serve a specific sector and did an excellent job at all.
The popularity of Wordpress accelerated and they started to cater for non-blogging websites.
One of Webflow’s main features is that you can create anything you want *without coding*.
Now, we can all agree that it’s not possible for the time being.
So I believe the websites Webflow are fantastic at creating are information type websites without much deep custom code or integrations.
This is perfect for the websites I want to create for my customers - Solar websites that need information to be presented clearly and simply.
Very rarely do they need eCommerce, payment platform integration, extensive blogging, large portfolio.
Custom code is also unlikely to be needed.
In terms of capabilities, any website built by Webflow can be built with Wordpress (with custom code).
But you can’t do the opposite.
This makes Wordpress a better solution if a website is complex.
But what Webflow does well is unmatched in the marketplace.
Speed of designing, convenience of integrations, and easy staging makes this a tool that is incredibly hard to beat.
It allows us designers and developers to focus on delivering the project for our customers instead of focusing on the unimportant admin work.