Apr 1, 2020

Webflow is King. But Why is That Exactly?

Marketing
Webflow is King. But Why is That Exactly?
Webflow is King. But Why is That Exactly?



Read Time: 15min

Topic: How Does Webflow Stack Up to Other CMS Providers?

Summary:

It’s really not all about how Webflow stacks up to other platforms and tools but how it works alongside them.

What we do at SVZ is help you navigate through all the tools you're using and how to best optimize and benefit from those tools correctly. Correctly is the keyword.

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While it can be used in conjunction with many platforms, Webflow is not just another “website builder” or WYSIWYG tool.

It is both a professional front-end development tool and a powerful CMS platform.


What’s the difference?

From a design perspective: With any website builder or WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) platform such as Wix or Squarespace, you’re going to be extremely limited on how custom you can get with design. Even if you’re proficient with CSS and have the extra time to spend, there are going to be many limitations due to the nature of the platform’s pre-set themes. This makes it nearly impossible to take a custom page design that has been created and build it perfectly on one of these platforms.

These “website builder” (WYSIWYG) platforms are probably not going to work well for you if you have a use case that requires a completely custom design.

Now on the contrary, with Webflow, an expert will be able to follow any properly organized high-fidelity design accurately from scratch (Sketch, Figma, PSD, Etc) and properly develop it out within Webflow without any issues.

From a development perspective: when you build something on a website builder platform (WYSIWYG), you’re not allowed to export that code and bring it anywhere else, whatever you build is stuck on that platform. However, with Webflow, anything you “build” is actually being developed in clean, No BS semantic code (HTML5, CSS3, JS) that’s accessible & exportable at any time. If you need to, you could use Webflow as a front-end development tool only and choose not to use it’s CMS and deployment features. If needed, you could simply develop your site in Webflow and export the front-end code & assets to utilize within your own Headless CMS or 3rd party platform of choice. (Husbpot, Custom CMS, etc).

Our goal here is to show you the different ways you might be able to utilize Webflow depending on how you’re currently managing your marketing website & landing pages. 


In this article, we will break down how Webflow integrates with -  or can entirely replace - whichever platform you’re using for your marketing website or landing pages right now.

Static Marketing Websites

Okay, so this is pretty rare in 2020, as most marketing websites use at least some form of CMS...
However, we do get requests every now and then from potential clients with completely static websites.

A client with a static website may have made the decision to host the site statically to save time initially, however down the road this can prove to be a nightmare. 



With a static website, the actual files of code for the site are hosted on a deployment platform (such as AWS S3 Buckets) and published. There is no way to update the content on the website without going into those individual files and rewriting code. 


This may seem to be fine to a team of developers running a start-up but for most people this is going to be a nightmare. As the company continues to grow and their website requires more and more marketing updates, development debt typically begins to build up on engineers and developers who end up wasting time with tedious marketing updates instead of focusing on their main objectives. 


If you migrate to Webflow, you can have all of those website updates easily managed by a non-technical team of marketers, interns, or admins. When you decide to move your website to Webflow, you can either keep your current website design or choose to redesign it with an agency prior to developing it out in Webflow.

After your site has been moved over to Webflow you’ll have access to the Webflow CMS (Editor) which will allow you to edit, add, remove, draft, or archive any text, links, images, or content on the website all within a couple of clicks. Updating webinars, blog posts, team pages, and more in just a few seconds. For an inside look at how the Webflow Editor works check out the CMS Mini Training Series we’ve put together here.

WYSIWYG Platforms

“What You See Is What You Get” Platforms like Squarespace, Weebly, and Wix are great options for some small businesses, portfolio websites, and landing pages. If you don’t need a custom strategy backed design and don’t have the budget for custom design & development, one of these platforms could be a good fit for your business.


However, for more established businesses that deeply value meaningful design & development, I’d have to recommend staying away from these WYSIWYG platforms. 


If you’re truly looking to continue to scale and improve your marketing website over time, these are not the best options. If you’re in need of a custom thoughtful design for a certain use case, I’d highly recommend Webflow. Squarespace, Wix, and Weebly do not allow you to export the code of anything you build, which means you don’t truly own it and cannot bring it to any other platform. 


These companies offer specific themes catered to their own platform and they all generally look similar and use similar components. You can customize certain aspects of your design further by hacking it together with CSS, but it’s time consuming and generally not cost-effective at scale. At that point, you might as well just design a custom site and hire someone to develop it out on Webflow.

There’s nothing wrong with using a WYSIWYG platform if it suits your use case and budget but, for those companies that need more, there are better options on the market.

CRM, Marketing, and Data Platforms

A lot of companies are relying on platforms like Hubspot, Salesforce, Marketo, etc, to bring their marketing, advertising, sales, and analytics under one digital roof. Many of these platforms have a landing page or website CMS functionality built into the platform.

When potential clients that are utilizing these platforms come to us, they are often unsure about being able to integrate Webflow alongside their current marketing platform, CRM, or data analytics platform.

Since Webflow is a front-development tool/platform and not a website builder, you can actually utilize it to develop custom pages and then export those pages out and migrate them back into your platform of choice.

Another option, of course, would be to migrate your marketing website or landing pages to Webflow and then integrate your platform’s tracking scripts or API  to ensure you still continue to utilize your CRM, marketing, or data platform to track all of your necessary metrics. This will most definitely give you a more robust and efficient CMS with a lot more flexibility over design & content. 


By migrating to Webflow you can supercharge your current marketing websites design flexibility while still staying integrated with your platform of choice. 

CMS Platforms (Design + CMS)

Content Management Systems (CMS) are popular platforms for businesses to build websites, landing pages, and other digital marketing needs. The capabilities of each vary greatly as do the costs, themes, and integrations. Webflow is essentially a front-end development tool and CMS Platform hybrid. It allows you to develop pages and export them, or host them and deploy them on its own powerful Webflow CMS platform. 

Wordpress

Wordpress on its own is actually a blog tool, publishing platform, and CMS. It relies on plug-ins created by 3rd party developers to give it everything from WYSIWYG functionality to User Log-in capabilities.

One of the best things about Wordpress is the ability for others to build plugins around its framework. This can also be one of the biggest headaches and security risks for Wordpress users as well.

While you may find a plugin that works perfectly for your current use case, it could be unsupported in a matter of months which means that part - or even the entirety - of your website is now broken until you find a replacement or make a fix yourself. An even more common issue is having a script on your website exhaust it’s memory limit. 



This is especially aggravating as it can lead to the “White Screen Of Death” forcing you to increase your memory limit or disable plug-ins. There could also be security vulnerabilities attached to these plugins and manual updates needed for maintenance. This can result in a lot of issues and development debt down the road.


The programming language that Wordpress uses for its themes is also not standard HTML/CSS. It uses a liquid theming framework which makes designing and developing new theme pages from scratch on Wordpress extremely development intensive, and in return limits design flexibility while increasing costs. Another con of Wordpress is that the code it produces is extremely inefficient and bloated due to poor formatting and a plethora of WP plugins necessary to appease business needs. This keeps Wordpress users battling slow site speeds, poor SEO, and increased bounce rates to start, as well as potentially impeding the website’s ability to generate sales and convert new prospects. 


While it is possible to use Webflow to develop your pages and export them to Wordpress, there is typically no strategic reason to do so. 


If you absolutely need to keep your site on Wordpress, we’ll design your pages out and develop them on Webflow, then we will export the front-end code and create a theme to work with Wordpress. If you’re open to a migration to Webflow, we can redesign and redevelop your current website in Webflow so that you can manage it from the Webflow CMS moving forward using a scalable UX system and avoid headaches with plugins, hacking, and complicated code.

Headless CMS

So what is a Headless CMS (eg. Storyblok, Contentful, Prismic, etc) - vs a more traditional CMS (Wordpress or Sitecore)?


The technical explanation is that a headless CMS is a back-end only content management system built from the ground up as a content repository that makes content accessible via a RESTful API for display on any device. So basically, it’s a CMS database without any design/front-end capabilities built into it.


The term “headless” comes from the concept of chopping the “head” (the front end, i.e. the website) off the “body” (the back end, i.e. the content repository or database). 


A headless CMS remains with an interface to add content and a RESTful API (JSON, XML) to deliver content wherever you need it. Due to this approach, a headless CMS does not care about how and where your content gets displayed. A headless CMS has only one focus: storing and delivering structured content. 


How does Webflow fit into a Headless CMS?


Webflow essentially can act as the front-end, or head, to your Headless CMS.

Your Headless CMS needs a front-end and, with Webflow and some custom development, you can sync your Headless CMS to a custom-designed Webflow site. You can then control your Webflow site from your own Headless CMS, using Webflow as the front-end for your CMS.

Set-up a discovery call with us to learn more.

Frequently Asked Questions About Integrating Webflow

Who is Webflow best suited for?

It’s a tool meant for professional designers & front-end developers to utilize and help clients leverage. It can also be brought in-house to a design and marketing team through proper training to enable them to develop with the power of Webflow.

What do you mean by exporting and migrating from Webflow? 

Webflow is a front-end development tool that produces clean, exportable code - where other platforms such as Wordpress, Wix, and Squarespace are platforms that you’re tied to once you start building. 


For example, with Webflow we can design in Figma, develop a custom site in Webflow, export all the HTML, CSS, JS, and assets, and migrate the front-end code to any other platform of our choice to use.

Whether we are hosting with Webflow or not, we can use Webflow as a Development tool to develop the pages you need. That’s huge.

What are the benefits of integrating or migrating? 

Our development team can utilize other platforms such as Segment, Hubspot, etc and integrate them with Webflow to create a seamless experience. We can sync Webflow with pretty much any other CRM, CMS, or platform and push that data to Webflow to effectively use Webflow as the front-end for any data stream.


That means you can make updates to your corporate system and it’ll automatically take effect on your website. By having us set-up these custom integrations, you can get the analytical power of Segment or Hubspot, but still design and develop pages within Webflow. 

How do we make changes to our website if it’s built on Webflow? 

  1. Most clients will be relying on the Webflow CMS (Editor) to manage updates/maintenance to their website. This CMS/Editor is extremely user-friendly, much more so than any other CMS system.

    See an example of it in action here.

    For brand new pages and development tasks, our agency is here to support you.


  1. With a more complex set-up, you may have your Headless CMS or CRM synced with Webflow so your Webflow website automatically updates via an API, etc. 
  2. If you are open to some training, you can have your marketing team learn how to develop with the Webflow Designer using a scalable UX design system. Contact us to learn more about our online training curriculum for marketing teams as well as projects with a focus on bringing Webflow in-house. 

Get Started with Webflow Today

Learn more about our process and book a Discovery Call with us today.



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