Webflow - Can you build a site like a pro?

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Are you looking for a professional website without having to employ a developer?

The website builder market can seem oversaturated at points, with people unsure what the best option to get a site live is. This article will discuss Webflow, which positions itself slightly differently to the other site builders out there. It requires a higher level of initial input, but with that you can create a site that is professionally finished and built on industry standard code.

What is Webflow?

Webflow is a tool to design, build, and run a website. Like many other site builders on the market, it tries to bridge the gap between actual web development and drag and drop visual editors. It does this extremely well.

As part of its package a user has access to three main functions, a design tool, a content management system (cms), and a hosting platform.

Designer and Editor

Unlike visual editors for other popular website builders, the designer interface with Webflow exports code that is W3C-compliant. This means it follows industry standards and makes it easier for developers to work with if more bespoke work is needed. Unfortunately, this does create a more complex interface to initially get your head around, but once you do it offers a lot of flexibility that other site builders don’t have.

Webflow CMS

Getting a blog live will take more upfront effort on Webflow compared to Wordpress for example. But once done, you’ll have more freedom to develop the blog how you would like, without getting tied into templates, styles, and third party plugins. Webflow CMS is built as a middle ground between designers and developers, structure can be defined and rearranged without ruining the code beneath.

Hosting

Webflow uses Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud computing for its hosting. Within this, you’ll receive a free SSL certificate, HTTP/2 compliance, backups, sitemaps, password protection, form control, and site search. The hosting will scale automatically depending on load and can handle millions of concurrent visits.

How expansive is it?

Webflow has more capabilities than most web design software on the market. It currently has an eCommerce addition in beta stage as well, which will push the site’s reach even further when completely functional.

Comparatively, Webflow is a powerful system that is tailored to professionals who need more flexibility from their CMS and design software. Rather than watering down frontend design principles, the software actively incorporates concepts such as box model, flexbox, selectors, and responsive design.

Do you need a developer?

You don’t explicitly need a developer to get your site live, however having knowledge of front end development is a big plus and will make the process a lot smoother. The software will output industry standard code from the visual elements you put together, so in theory you shouldn’t need a developer. However, sometimes if a project becomes too confusing or you want a bespoke functionality then the services of a developer might be needed.

How to get started

The initial learning curve for Webflow is quite steep and will require a bit of work to get going. There are a lot of tutorials in the webflow university which you could begin with. The official blog also has an article outlining the first stages of your project as well. If you already understand web design concepts involved with CSS and the box model, you’ll be able to get started a lot quicker.

How much does Webflow cost?

You can sign up and build your website completely free. Then when you want to go live you pay for a plan.

A website plan for people with personal sites, blogs, or business websites starts at $12 per month on an annual subscription, and rises up to $36 a month on an annual subscription if you need it to handle higher levels of traffic.

If you are looking to create a professional website with flexible capabilities and style, Webflow is a great option for you. The initial build process might take longer, particularly if you have no web design experience, but the end product can be slick, stylish and built on a solid foundation of clean code.