Webflow and WordPress are both popular site builders. Actually, saying this about WordPress is kind of an understatement. As of 2021, it powers 32% of the web and 59% of all CMS-built websites. These are really huge numbers. Webflow hasn’t been with us nearly as long as WordPress, and its numbers are not even close to those of WordPress, but it has slowly grown to be one of the coolest and most beloved website builders out there.
WordPress was originally conceived as a blogging platform. Webflow was primarily created with the designer in mind. But neither one of them is only that one thing and nothing more. They have both developed into a type of software that’s suitable for everything: eCommerce, blogging, building a portfolio website, a business website, and much more.
So, in a Webflow vs WordPress comparison, which one is better and why? Can we compare them at all and, if the answer is yes, to what extent? These are some of the questions that I’ll try to tackle in this article. So, let’s get to work!
Customization and Ease of Use
When it comes to customization, Webflow is absolutely marvelous. It gives you full customization, without you ever needing to touch code. And all the magic happens in a visual editor called Designer. This is where you define the structure and aesthetics of your site.
To a certain degree, Webflow is just a visual and automated way of doing front-end coding. Designer’s inner workings are based on the box model, which is basically a paradigm used in front-end development and web design. So, when you add, delete, or modify things in Designer, it translates your choices into CSS code. The customization possibilities are endless, but they happen within the existing model.
Webflow has a native SEO, eCommerce, and CMS panel.
With features like sitemaps, page redirects, and more, Webflow really goes the extra mile to drive traffic to your site and help your site rank higher in search.
The eCommerce part is still a work in progress, but with options like classifying added products into custom categories, giving discounts, choosing a currency, formating prices, adding a shipment method and payment gateway, using a tax calculator, customizing the design of your cart, product page, and checkout page, enabling SSL, and more, it’s a pretty satisfactory offer.
The awesome thing about the CMS part is that it integrates flawlessly with Designer. The result you get is an ultra-modern content management system that has an edge on WordPress. You only need to create collections, or loosely interpreted, classes in the CMS panel, define common properties of objects that fall into these classes, and that’s it. Instead of going to the backend system every time you want to change anything, you have on-page editing at your disposal: you add and modify elements right there on the spot, which is wildly convenient.
On the flip side, compared to WordPress’ relatively clean and intuitive backend, Webflow may look a bit crowded, at times even crammed, especially in a blogging context. Nevertheless, unlike WordPress, it feels like Webflow is from the future and some even think it is really the future of CMS.
There are over 30 free and more than 100 premium themes. The difference between them is in the details and number of features. The prices of the commercial themes range from $19 to $149. Worth mentioning here is that they are not made by Webflow itself.
Where Webflow really shines is in that it lets you build a website absolutely from scratch, by adding elements onto a blank canvas. Usually, this option is not recommended to absolute beginners.
Speaking of, in spite of being designer-friendly and client-friendly, Webflow has a steep learning curve, so it can be difficult to learn for inexperienced users. The fact that there are so many available options and that it’s firmly based on coding (without requiring coding 😉) makes finding your way around it pretty challenging.
Still, compared to WordPress, the setup process is simpler, faster, and easier. You just create a new project, choose a theme and do some tweaking or design a site from scratch, and that’s it. No plugins needed, no searching for a web hosting provider, no need for security strengthening. Everything is already taken care of, out of the box.
Webflow allows for creating a blog and there are many blog templates to choose from. But, if you still find the configuration process too complex, you can always go with an easy-to-integrate blogging option, like DropInBlog - check out our article on how to create a blog with Webflow to see how to do that - it’s significantly easier!
WordPress is customizable and flexible too, although not to the same degree as Webflow. The main reason for this is that, unlike with Webflow, implementing major changes in WordPress takes some coding effort. Also, to be able to integrate certain functionalities, say good animations and interactions, again unlike Webflow, WordPress requires installing third-party software.
WordPress is a template-based site builder. So, it’s only natural that there are thousands of themes (or, more precisely, 8101!) on WordPress.org. Some of them are free, but for a serious website or online business, a premium theme is preferable.
Themes are divided into 3 different categories: Layout (grid, one column, left sidebar, etc.), Features (custom colors, editor-style, flexible-header, and more), and Subject (blog, eCommerce, portfolio, and so on).
It’s interesting how reviewers are divided with regards to the question of ease of use. Some of them think that WordPress is easier to use than Webflow, especially for beginners. Others say that WordPress is the one that’s not quite so easy to get the hang of. They argue that WordPress is not user-friendly, in the sense that it’s difficult to get your head around all the stuff you see and all the things you need to do from the very beginning.
Indeed, it takes time and knowledge to set up, customize, and maintain a WordPress site. The whole process is pretty daunting: install WordPress, choose a web hosting provider and a domain name, find/buy a theme, customize the theme, add plugins and widgets, and make sure that your site is secure enough. And you really need to update everything on time, because an outdated plugin or theme can cause things to go south quickly.
As WordPress was initially built as a blogging platform, it covers every aspect of having a blog and making money out of it. It’s a different, more classical experience than DropInBlog and Webflow’s native blog, but it’s still pretty good. However, if you find the WordPress blogging experience old-fashioned or underwhelming, remember, there’s always a better way of blogging.
Hosting and Speed
Webflow’s code is lightweight and its websites are hosted on 2 CDNs: Amazon CloudFront and Fastly, which guarantees great performance and an extremely fast page load.
Heavy and bloated code contributes to the general weight of a website, which may severely affect its performance. If this sounds like an unsupported claim, check out the article Understanding web page weight, or rather, this series of articles, that provide ample evidence in favor of this assertion.
CDN stands for Content Delivery Network or Content Distribution Network. Without getting too technical, it’s a network of geographically distributed servers/data centers that loads the content of your website through the server that’s geographically nearest to the site visitor. This minimizes the load time, so the visitor doesn’t experience any latency.
Webflow’s hosting service is also scalable (your site won’t crash if it experiences a traffic spike), reliable (extremely minimized website downtime), and secure (SSL encryption). You can read more on this in What to look for in a web hosting service.
Generally speaking, WordPress’ code is messier and heavier compared to Webflow’s. For a short, but clear explanation on this topic, check out this video: Wordpress vs Webflow: 3 things I noticed in the transition. As I said before, heavier and bloated code accounts for slower page load.
Another aspect that needs to be factored in is the choice of a hosting environment. Not all web hosting providers are created equal. WordPress itself recommends BlueHost, DreamHost, and SiteGround. So, depending on the quality of the hosting service, the load speed, and security... the overall performance of WordPress websites will vary.
So, in general terms, WordPress doesn’t exactly shine in this area. According to a study on page speed carried out by Backlinko, WordPress has one of the worst results.
Plugins and Integrations
You won’t immediately come across it, but there is actually a list of Webflow plugins and integrations. They are sorted into different types, like analytics, eCommerce, email marketing, payment processing, and more. Some of them are free, others are paid. If you're a developer, you can even submit your own app.
I think that a part of the reason why there’s not much talk about Webflow’s integrations is due to the fact that a Webflow website is pretty much self-sufficient as it is. Unlike WordPress, which is virtually built on plugins, Webflow tries to provide its clients with all the tools necessary for building a website without resorting to outside help. These are just different philosophies and approaches. Webflow is a commercial type of service, while WordPress is free and open-source, so it relies a lot on its large community.
Anyway, if there’s something missing from your Webflow site, you can always check out the available plugins and widgets.
When it comes to plugins and integrations, Webflow definitely lags behind WordPress. The number and the variety of plugins available for WordPress are mind-boggling.
They’re all listed on the WordPress plugins page. An interesting thing is that you can even download beta plugins from this page.
For coders, there’s a Plugin Handbook that teaches everything about developing WordPress plugins. Anyone can submit plugins to the existing library. However, there is a review procedure that takes place before an app is approved. The plugin needs to meet certain criteria before it gets posted on WordPress.org.
Webflow’s pricing system is a little bit tricky to understand. It encompasses quite a few pricing plans divided into different subcategories, although they do overlap to a certain extent. But I won't go into details here - let’s just take a look at the basics and you can check out my full Webflow review to learn more.
There are 2 main types of pricing plans: Account plans and Site plans. The key difference is that, with Account plans, you can’t really have a website on your own domain. You’re only allowed to publish a site on Webflow’s free subdomain: webflow.io. In order to be able to use your own custom domain, you have to subscribe to one of the packages from Site plans.
There’s one forever-free pricing plan, called Starter. It’s one of the Account plans, so the part about not being able to use a custom domain applies here, too.
All of the plans include 2 variants: you can pay on a monthly or yearly basis. Just like with many other platforms, you get a discount with an annual subscription.
Basic is the least expensive plan, with an annual fee of $12/month or a monthly fee of $15/month. The most expensive is the Advanced plan, costing $212/month if paid yearly, or $235/month if paid monthly.
Although this description does not fully reflect the intricacies of Webflow’s pricing system, it still shows, to a limited extent, that Webflow is not necessarily cheap. Reviewers often emphasize that Webflow’s hosting (the custom domain part) is generally considered to be pretty expensive. But, if you’re running a serious online business and that’s your bread and butter, it’s only natural to be willing to invest more for a great service (and that’s what Webflow’s hosting plans are: a great service).
WordPress.org is free, but in order to be able to have a live website on your own custom domain, you need to pay for all those things I mentioned before: hosting, a domain name, a theme (if you opt for a commercial theme), and, at the very least, some of the plugins you’ll need.
Taking all this into account, the costs of owning a WordPress site can really add up. You may end up paying about the same amount of money as you’d pay for a Webflow site. Still, there are reviewers who say that WordPress would still be less expensive than Webflow even with the added hosting fees, the price of a premium theme, and the necessary commercial plugins.
Of course, it all depends on how much you pay for the added services and products. In the end, it comes down to how much you are willing to bother with the whole setup process. In that sense, the real difference is that with WordPress you’re the one who needs to take care of everything so that your website runs smoothly, while with Webflow, the platform itself handles everything and covers the technical aspects of your website, so it’s less of a headache.
Webflow provides both direct and indirect support for its clients.
Direct support is offered via email. The staff is available Monday - Friday, from 6 am to 6 pm PT. Usually, they respond within 24-48 business hours. Based on the experience of some reviewers, the customer support team consists of skilled professionals who are very helpful and do their job quite well.
Indirect help is available through Webflow’s Support page which is, simply put, awesome. There’s an FAQ section, a Forum, and countless courses and lessons available through Webflow University. One of the coolest things is the Wishlist - a place where people express their wishes and wants regarding functionalities and features they would like to see Webflow implementing in the (near) future.
WordPress.org doesn’t provide direct customer support. But it does boast a large community, and that’s where most of the help comes from.
There’s a support page where you are likely to find more than one answer to every single question you’ve ever had. There are forums, guides, tons of instructional videos, courses, and, since it’s an open-source platform with a ginormous user base, thousands of helpful resources on WordPress development, templates, and so on.
So, what’s the final verdict? Does one of these platforms have an edge over the other in the Webflow vs WordPress battle?
Well, there isn’t an absolute winner. Webflow has better design options, it’s more flexible, more customizable (without adding third-party software or coding), and it has a great hosting service. WordPress, on the other hand, has a large community, it can be a bit cheaper, and it’s been around for longer, so you may find answers to all kinds of questions more easily.
WordPress is already an established name in the universe of site builders, but Webflow is slowly catching up to it. In the end, whichever you choose, will be a good choice. Just go with the one that suits your needs best at the moment, but also think about how well it will serve you in the long run.