Our week in San Francisco at Webflow's first conference gave us a peak into what we believe to be the future of the web, where authorship is democratized and marketing websites are placed in the hands of designers and marketers.
I was reminded during a client conversation last week that we didn’t initially adopt Webflow because we saw the No Code movement coming. We adopted it as an HTML prototyping tool to move beyond endless redlining and toward something that described the intended responsive behaviors of our designs. We knew that static comps left a lot of room for interpretation, and we rightly assumed that these prototypes would help developers by removing guesswork and help our clients by ensuring a better end product. And for this initial goal, Webflow, bare as it was at the time, was the right tool for the job.
But as the Webflow team continued to add features, we adopted it for our own site. And eventually we started building Webflow-hosted projects for clients, accommodating a broader list of requests as the features continued to mount.
We showed up for the “no more redlines” party and it just happened to turn into the No Code party. So we stayed.
Before long we began to realize that we weren’t the only beneficiaries of this way of working. Yes, we were able to sidestep the technical side of setting up and maintaining a secure hosting environment. And yes, we could build more quickly and easily within Webflow’s No Code GUI. And yes, the team features allowed us to workshop content in realtime within a working build. But if we could build sites in such a way that our clients could then take over the project—updating content, rearranging or duplicating sections and acting on our framework of utility classes—we could offer a level of ownership to design and marketing teams not previously possible, and this could be a real differentiator for us as an agency.
So when we heard Camille Esposito presenting at the No Code Conference about how she led a team at Get Around to migrate their marketing site to Webflow, putting the updates in the hands of the marketing and design teams and allowing the company’s engineers to focus on the app, we felt very seen and heard. Her outline for decoupling the market layer from the app looked a lot like the process we’ve been evolving over the last five years, and seeing it articulated by someone else gave us all the more confidence that empowering designers and marketers is the way forward for an agency like ours.
Everywhere we looked, from Verity Stothard’s talk on development workflows to Marius Ciocirlan’s tips about developing No Code alongside an engineering team to Bryant Chou’s presentation about focusing on the customer experience, rather than the servers, seemed to mesh with our own Demo Theater talk about No Code Stewardship. And within the course of a day, we started to see the future we’d been envisioning for some time start to materialize.
Most of the internet is still built on CMSs that were developed with the idea that few changes can be made without first learning multiple programming languages, and No Code development tools upend that premise. We think that there will be a mass migration for marketing sites from these limited CMSs to platforms like Webflow that empower marketers and designers who don’t have background in traditional development. And we’re already seeing that happening.
We learned about startups founded by laymen without any development experience, leveraging a patchwork of No Code tools like Webflow and Zapier and Typeform, revealing that the democratized future of the web, where anyone who has an idea can start to build, is already here in some form.
It was great getting to finally meet a lot of the Webflow staff who field our feature requests and bug reports in person, and to hang out with some fellow Webflow users. And it was great to visit some of our San Francisco clients and to swing by Caffe Trieste and to hike Lands End in the early morning. And to mill around Castro listening to our favorite Chuck Prophet record. But most of all, it was great to leave feeling like a part of a community that’s fundamentally changing the way the web is authored.
There’s plenty of work to do in the meantime, but we’re already looking forward to next year.