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WordPress vs Webflow: Common considerations, advantages and challenges

WordPress vs. Webflow | Edgar Allan

We're often asked, should we use WordPress or Webflow for this project?

The answer to this question, like many technology questions, really comes down to what you want to do with the platform. 

The goal of this post is to help provide guidance to the conversation and share some considerations we've uncovered through our projects — the good and the bad.

What are the goals of each platform and how do their goals relate to your project?

WordPress was launched in 2003 with the intention of creating an open-source blogging tool. Since then, the focus has shifted into accommodating larger content management system features.

Consideration: WordPress encompasses a series of technology cababilities focused on managing content. In other words, it's a classic example of a CMS. This is good in that the technology is extendable and scalable, and allows for a really wide variety of uses. It's also a challenge because it requires a more formalized technological understanding in order to make adjustments to the user experience. 

Webflow was launched in 2012 with the intention of creating a way to empower designers and developers through the ability to design, build and launch responsive websites visually.

Consideration: Webflow wasn’t designed to be a CMS but includes a limited CMS as part of its feature set as a publishing tool. This is good in that the features focus on visual authoring, which may or may not be done by developers. The challenge comes with understanding its technology limits.

What is the scale of your team and how do you plan on supporting experience changes long-term?

WordPress is by far the more established platform powering a whopping 30% of the web. This points to the overall extensibility and power of the platform.

Consideration: The larger adoption means there is a larger community for development support and plug-ins. This has also created a challenge in that many of the authoring paradigms have been slower to change over time. It's great if you have been using Wordpress for a long time, but we often see new cross-disiplinary teams struggle whith how everything is organized.

Webflow: Over the past few years this platform has experienced massive growth. I’ve talked with more than a few people who have also made the switch from WordPress to Webflow because of it’s ease of use.

Consideration: The smaller audience footprint means Webflow has been able to iterate faster based on the needs of their users, and improve the product. Essentially because they don’t have the legacy experience to maintain they have the ability to communicate (sometimes directly) with their users and make an update. The downside is that many features still only exist on their roadmap.

One of the most important questions we can ask when evaluating platforms is how much technology do we really need?

Often the default mode of thought is to want to build something to last forever and account for every possible technology need. The catch here is that if you are attempting to accommodate for every technology need, then you may not be able to quickly change for the customer need.

Technology ages like a banana so get ready. In the Google Ventures Sprint Methodlogy they often talk about designing software with the goal of getting the surface right. In other words, build the parts that the customer will most likely experience and then be ready to change them quickly based on the market feedback.

WordPress is a deep platform. The technology and developer depth is perfect for very large established sites that need to hook into other more complicated systems such as e-commerce platforms like WooCommerce.

Consideration: The features that haven’t been specifically built in can typically be picked up as a series of plug-ins. This is helpful to find a unique set of capabilities, however, these plug-ins can have their own set of complications related to security or even their ability to function alongside other plug-ins.

Webflow is a surface platform. In fact, it was designed to create the web visually, so it’s the perfect tool for smaller teams that are looking to optimize for customer feedback.

Consideration: Most marketing sites are essentially brochures with a buy button and perhaps a blog. In this case, Webflow has the advantage of having just enough of the core features without the technology overhead of more extensive systems.

Ultimately, we love both tools but for different reasons.

We fell in love with WordPress after it launched back in '03 and have fond memories building sites on the Kubrick theme. WordPress set the standard for the common CMS. It gained traction for being cost effective as well. 

But over the last few years we have moved away from working in WordPress because while it is very powerful and scaleable, it almost became too much technology for what we needed on our projects. And what we ultimately need is a powerful tool that allows a wide audience of people to author an experience, not just a page. 

And yes, this post and our site are built in Webflow.

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