In this article, I want to talk about why I use Webflow to build and host my website, and why I will use it for any clients' websites that I build too.
There are a huge number of designers offering web design services, and it's difficult to compete with everyone offering the same service. As I've had a great experience building my own website on Webflow and through doing so have learned a lot about it, I decided that this would be the best platform for me to use to build websites for my clients.
My experience of using other platforms
Before I get into what's great about Webflow, I want to talk about my experience of other platforms. I've nothing against any of the other platforms, there is plenty of room for different systems in the marketplace. I'm not going to say anything in particular is bad, I will just tell you why they didn't work out for me.
My first site was built using the free Adobe Portfolio included with my Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. I wanted to move on from that to have something much more custom. I've tried Squarespace and WordPress (using both the Divi and Elementor builders), before eventually settling on Webflow.
As a creative person, I found Squarespace quite limiting. I wanted my site to look a certain way, and I couldn't achieve this with a template based design. I gave up with it quite quickly and got a full refund within the 14-day window.
Following that, I looked at using WordPress as this was a very popular platform (in use on over 450 million sites as of today). I found basic WordPress hosting with a reputable provider at a lower cost than other platforms at the time. I initially used the Divi plugin builder to make the site on WordPress, before later switching to Elementor. Both of these worked great and allowed me to have much more creative freedom with the layout and design.
I ran my site on WordPress for about 2 years. The main problem I had was the maintenance and security aspects of a WordPress site. Even with my background in IT, maintaining and updating a WordPress site was difficult and confusing. Updating the site can be difficult if you don't understand how the underlying server software works. A few times I made some changes to the homepage, the site went down because a configuration file needed updating that I didn't know about. Also, there seems to be a constant need to update the plugins that are used, and the need to have antivirus software and worry about security issues is very off-putting. All these things took time away from me actually running my business.
Once I'd heard about Webflow, it seemed to tick all of the boxes for me. No maintenance to worry about. No plugins to update. No security issues to manage. Total creative freedom to build the site to look however I wanted.
On top of that, there were a few other things that attracted me to Webflow. In no particular order, these are:
- The designer - the interface for creating pages in Webflow is one of the best designed pieces of software I've ever used. I can simply drag and drop basic elements onto the page and combine them to make whatever layout is required, then style them however I choose.
- The CMS - (Content Management System). This allows you to create a database, or series of databases which can be updated and added to. This data is then able to be dynamically displayed on your site, and formatted and styled however you want. On my site, I have CMS entries for projects, reviews and blog posts.
- Clean code - Webflow outputs clean code that makes up the pages of the website, this helps the site to load faster, and be more easily read by search engines for indexing of the site.
- Fast, reliable hosting - Webflow hosts sites on Amazon's AWS cloud servers and uses a CDN (Content Delivery Network), meaning that the site will always load fast, no matter where in the world someone is viewing it from.
- The Editor - this one is mainly for client sites, but I use it too. The Editor allows you to create and edit content right on your page, in a simplified interface that won't affect the site design. Adding new content is just like filling out a form. You can even write new content right on the page to see exactly how it will look once it’s live. Furthermore, the editor allows updating of SEO settings, collaborators to create and update content, and review and download of form data (e.g. contact forms).
- Create fully responsive designs - Webflow makes it possible to create and tweak designs so that they will change and respond to a wide variety of screen sizes, all without having to write any code. This means that the website will look great on all devices. You are able to adjust everything about any element on a page for each category of screen size, which are called breakpoints.
Learning to build a site with Webflow seemed very intuitive to me. Webflow themselves have an entire section of their site devoted to education - the Webflow University. This has multiple courses, which take you through many different site builds, step by step, explaining every feature. Coupled with some great YouTube channels and the experience of building my own site, this has given me all the tools and knowledge I need to be able to design and deliver, custom, fast, responsive and content-driven websites for clients using Webflow.