Today, most web designers simply outsource the coding part of their projects, first using a sophisticated design software like Illustrator or Photoshop to create the design itself. This makes websites more expensive, time- and effort-consuming.
Riding the increasing demand for code-free web design tools (please don’t confuse those with drag-and-drop site builders for newbies), many web design companies start developing their own code-free design applications. Many of these are then shared with the world.
The Mountain View-based company was founded by brothers Vlad and Sergie Magdalin, along with CTO Bryat Chou. “This has been a ten-year journey for me personally,” Vlad says. The brothers had previously worked at Intuit, where they developed Intuit Brainstorm – the first enterprise SaaS project of Intuit.
Webflow is an in-browser design studio for professionals who want to build sites for their clients without having to code. Since its launch in 2013, it has been used by known design teams, along with more than 10,000 other users.
Who is it for? Similar to Webydo and Adobe Muse, Webflow is being targeted not at small businesses – the way a number of visual site builders are – but rather at independent designers, teams and agencies who build websites for clients.
#1 Ease of Use
Though intended for professionals, Webflow offers a pretty intuitive editing interface that comes with a set of standard web components (including text blocks, links, lists etc.) and an array of customizable widgets (slider, social media icons, embed etc.) that you can drag into the page’s structure. You can publish your site immediately upon completion.
What I like most about this platform is that Webflow’s editor doesn’t abstract away HTML elements or CSS elements, like most visual site builders do; it simply provides users quick access to manipulating them.
You can easily organize all of your pages using the ‘nested folders and subpages’ feature.
#2 Feature Set and Flexibility
Webflow is currently a static site builder which isn’t tied to a content management system or a blogging platform. This means it can be used as a starting point for a WordPress site, or for creating static brochure-like responsive websites.
In terms of features, it’s rather flexible. Its editor combines the ease-of-use of DIY sitebuilders and the power of top-notch web design tools. The advanced HTML and CSS features of Webflow are hidden by default in the editor, but can be toggled on.
Mobile optimization. With Webflow, you can easily preview the design for mobile (portrait/landscape), tablet, and desktop viewing. Just switch the canvas to a different device and fine tune your design in the What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get mode.
Mobility. As opposed to most DIY sitebuilders that only run on their own servers (=you can’t move your site elsewhere), Weblflow allows you to simply export the generated code and take it where you want. This mobility is what makes Webflow stand out. While with most website builders you’re locked in their servers, Webfllow lets you export the site to send it to a developer for extended customization, for instance.
Custom typography. Webflow allows you to add Google Fonts, Adobe TypeKit Fonts, and even upload your own custom fonts.
Customizable responsive layouts. You’re not limited when it comes to layouts either. While most site builders don’t let you change the site’s layout (you are limited only to dragging site elements to the given containers), Webflow provides fully customizable templates.
Email forms. Webflow makes it easy to create complex forms.
Custom interactions and animations. It only takes four steps to create a custom interaction:
- Set initial appearance – choose how your element will appear before the page loads (optional).
- Choose a trigger – decide what event or what kind of action will initiate an animation.
- Combine CSS and transitions.
- Apply globally. Select an element, go to element settings and apply the interaction.
Check out Webflow’s collection of available triggers and effects at http://interactions.webflow.com/.
Zapier integration. Webflow partners with Zapier to let you create automated tasks. Zapier connects a trigger on one service (Dropbox, Instagram or YouTube channel, for instance) so that it causes a subsequent action on another.
Collaboration. Webflow also enables users to work collaboratively (this option comes within their Team plan starting at $70/month).
With Webflow you can start from a blank canvas or using a ready template. There’s a collection of free and paid templates to choose from. Free templates are few, but nice. Each design comes with a detailed description and is 100% customizable. Paid templates range from $15 to $20.
#4 Customer Support
Webflow is a client-centered company. They offer an impressive support center comprised of articles, video tutorials and forums. You can also contact them via email. By the way, Webflow Support Center is 100% made using Webflow.
#5 Pricing Policy
Webflow has multiple pricing levels for individuals and design agencies. There’s a ‘forever free’ version and four paid plans. There’s also an offer for college students: 50% off if you sign up with your college email address.
Webflow has the potential to be an excellent solution for different audiences, but not until its creators add a built-in content management system to the builder. Otherwise it’s just a handy tool for designers. Webflow could be a great all-in-one web publishing solution.
There aren’t many competitors for a service like this. The closest rivals are Adobe Muse and Webydo. But we also compared the editor with some of the most popular website creation options for you to see the differentiating factors.
Webflow Review: Conclusion
Well, a new generation of visual, code-free web design tools has arrived, and Webflow is one of these. I can imagine several uses for this site builder: designers/non-tech-savvy individuals using it to create their own static responsive websites; designers who can’t code using it to generate pieces of code for their projects.
Webflow user? Share your experience in the comments!