Dooley Noted

Why We’ve Left WordPress And Moved To Webflow

No-Code Web Builder Offers Unparalleled Ease and Customization

We’ve been building websites since our company was founded in 2007 (and I built and managed a few before that). For most of that time, our preferred platform was WordPress, but not anymore. After a lengthy search for a better alternative, we made the move to Webflow in 2019. We’re so happy we did.

There was a time when WordPress was awesome for smaller agencies like ours. It was perhaps the best platform on the web to create a responsive, fast-loading, SEO-friendly website. You could customize it in as many ways as you could imagine. You could add widgets and plug-ins to make your site do just about anything.

Well, you could do that as long as you knew how to code and didn’t mind spending a lot of time keeping an eye on a website that needed more care and attention than most people want to give. Have a WordPress update? Check your plugins to make sure they’re all still working.

When we worked in WordPress, we relied on a mix of doing some of the work in house alongside subcontracting to experienced developers. Those developers are in high demand and don’t come cheap. This had the unfortunate effect of slowing down our execution of web projects and pushing the costs up.

I have never begrudged talented people charging a fair dollar for their expertise, but we knew we were losing business because of this model. More importantly, we recognized that WordPress just wasn’t delivering what we needed or what our clients needed. It wasn't just slower. It was harder to work with and much harder to design a visually appealing, effective site.

Enter Webflow, a cloud-based web development platform made for professional designers and developers. It’s built to be easy to use. It’s also built with a view to easily design and create highly engaging sites and landing pages that look exceptional and perform well - with user experience at top of mind.

This site was built in Webflow. We also recently completed this one, this one and this one.

Here are a few of the frustrations we had working with WordPress, and why we think Webflow is better:

  1. Coding required for simple updates

    Some things that we’d like to be simple in WordPress are not. What should be simple content and usability updates can take a great deal of time and effort. More importantly, you need to rely on a developer to make sure the site continues to run smoothly.

    Over the past decade, I lost track of the number of times we had to call on our friendly, neighbourhood developers (and they are very friendly) to update a site or fix an update gone awry. And we’re talking about simple changes like adding a logo or image to a carousel, changing a header image or nav menu.

    Webflow doesn’t require any coding. WIRED magazine recently cited Webflow as one of a host of a new generation of applications that can offer sophisticated functionality without requiring the user to know code.

    It’s super easy to make updates to a Webflow site. Headlines and images are easily changed or replaced entirely. You can make text changes right on the live web page so you can instantly see the change. We can’t tell you how much we love this feature. It’s allowed us to bring all website development in house, lowering costs for our clients while delivering superior sites.

    No more waiting days for a developer to get around to making that small change to your home page. Log in and do it yourself. BAM! And all without fear that you’re going to ‘break the website’ because it’s on a much more stable platform than the old jerry-rigged WordPress site you used to curse.
  2. Coding definitely required for customized sites

    When we build sites, we are often aiming for a highly customized solution for our clients. If you’re building in WordPress, you need to know your way around HTML and CSS to do anything special. Just to convert an existing theme to a customized website can take considerable time and effort.

    Webflow allows designers to build beautiful and highly functional websites without having to write a single line of code. Better still, the platform generates the code in the background automatically… so if you do ever need to tinker with a line of HTML, it’s there for you to do so. Literally the best of both worlds.
  3. Regular updates and security patches

    WordPress is an open-source platform, which means its source code is available to anyone to work with. That has led to a cascade of plug-ins available for use. You might have one on your site helping to display a calendar of events or some kind of social media interaction.

    These plug-ins are great until they’re not. As they grow old, their originators often stop updating them. They become security risks and can become incompatible with new versions of WordPress. So your calendar or your social media buttons one day stop working. Maybe you notice. Maybe you don’t.

    You need a WordPress expert to update those things and to run general maintenance and security updates too. If you don’t, your site might become vulnerable to unwanted attacks. Or, it may just stop working altogether.

    Webflow is a closed eco-system. Only approved apps are allowed in. And Webflow looks after all the updates and patches. Strike that worry off your list… just worry about making your site as fantastic as it can be.
  4. Clunky design interface

    WordPress was built by and for coders. You can’t do any nifty design without code.

    Webflow was built by and for professional web designers. The design interface uses the same kind of interface as common design programs such as Adobe’s Creative Suite.

    Webflow wins this by a country mile.
  5. Rapid proto-typing

    One of Webflow’s greatest strengths is it gives us the ability to develop rapid prototypes for a new site or new landing page. We can test out functionality on a live test site and share the link with our client so they can do the same.

    The no-code interface makes it so much faster and simpler to make changes to navigation, design, and responsiveness.  
  6. No more third-party hosting issues

    If you build WordPress sites, you probably work with one or more web hosting companies where your sites are stored and served to the web. This is a pain in the ass for an agency like ours. It’s one more commercial relationship we have to manage and take responsibility for. And we still remain responsible for making sure the sites we manage are up and functioning properly.

    Webflow hosts all our Webflow sites. They work with Amazon Web Services and Fastly, and have a 99.9 % up-time rating for their sites. Personally, I’d much rather have a team of their experts keeping an eye on their servers than asking one of our staff or subcontractors to keep one eye on our web host. Plus they offer this at a highly competitive rate and the sites are highly scalable.  
  7. Easy animations and visual FX

    Webflow’s superior design interface also offers super easy to use and implement animations and visual effects. Want a Ken Burns effect on that image? No problem. Want to create a fun mouse-over effect? Easy as pie.
  8. Strong SEO

    The last reason I clung to before I was totally persuaded on Webflow was the SEO argument. WordPress has such a long and deservedly stellar reputation as being very strong on SEO.

    It turns out that we’ve seen absolutely no difference at all with the Webflow sites we manage. In fact, because we’re able to make more frequent changes to the sites, our SEO rankings are actually improving steadily over time.
  9. And the ultimate fail-safe if you’re not convinced

    We had a hard time persuading one client to let us build his new site on Weblow. Like millions of others out there who have used WordPress forever, he considered it THE standard.

But Webflow offers people like him a terrific security blanket. If you absolutely hate working with Webflow, you can export the site in HTML and go back to using WordPress (or another platform).

It’s worth noting that we looked at a number of other platforms before we made the leap to Webflow. We considered SquareSpace, for example. We think you can build beautiful sites with SquareSpace, but we felt it didn’t offer the same degree of customization that Webflow gave us. So many SquareSpace sites start to look the same in our opinion.

We looked at Wix briefly too. While it has come a long way in recent years, it’s still nowhere near as good as Webflow in our view.

There are many other reasons we now prefer Webflow. Looks like we’re not the only ones either!

Here’s an independent head to head comparison.

Here’s what Webflow writes about how it compares to WordPress.

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