WordPress and Webflow are both popular content management systems.
They’re both a great choice – fast, secure, and easy to work with, but there are some fundamental differences you should be aware of before choosing your go-to CMS.
Note: this decision may seem trivial – as though it’s easy to swap your CMS out later down the line, but – on behalf of someone who has been a part of such migrations – trust us, it’s not as straightforward as you’re probably thinking it will be.
Plus, even if it were easy, you wouldn’t want to make a choice without exploring your options and hearing what I have to say about them, right? 😄
Read on to find out which platform and content management system is the right one for you…
A Quick Primer on Webflow
Webflow is a website design platform, packaged as a Software as a Service (SaaS) subscription.
They make it incredibly easy to build a website using their drag-and-drop builder. Some amazing sites are built with Webflow (and if you’re anything like us browsing the web with the Wappalyzer (or BuiltWith) extension installed to see which technologies power sites, you’ll have come across a fair few big companies/brands using Webflow).
And rightfully so, it can be a great experience & they have done a good job of building an ecosystem of software and services around their platform – I’d argue possibly better than any other CMS on the market.
A Quick Primer on WordPress
I’d be very surprised if you haven’t come across WordPress before.
Why? Well, for starters, it powers a more significant portion of the internet than any other platform in the world. And, in our view, this is for good reason. We’re big supporters of open-source software. But, open-source software comes at a cost. As Jason Cohen has put it on Twitter (X) – “open source is free like a puppy is free” … more on this later.
The last thing we’ll say about WordPress for now is that it powers the website you’re reading this post on.
Note: This post was written by a team of one or more people who have extensive experience with Webflow and WordPress. There is inherent bias in everything, but both platforms have their place & can be the right choice in certain circumstances.
Now – onto the comparison:
Pricing – WordPress vs. Webflow
Pricing is, and, as with any choice in business, should play a role in the decision of which CMS & website platform to commit to using.
Regardless of what your budget is and whether it feels important right now – the costs and, perhaps more importantly, pricing model of the service should be a consideration.
WordPress (WordPress.org) is an open-source content management system.
Sidenote: All mentions of WordPress in this article are referring exclusively to WordPress.org, not WordPress.com. WordPress.com is a hosting service for WordPress.com backed by Automattic, the team behind Jetpack, WooCommerce, and other products in the WordPress industry.
This means that the direct cost to download it is completely free.
But, this also means that you are responsible for hosting it – which for most means choosing a suitable hosting provider. Some recommendations:
High-Performance / Enterprise:
Shared / Affordable
Self-Managed / Own Your Infrastructure (w/AWS, UpCloud, Vultr, etc.)
We have partnerships with some of the above hosting providers via integrations with the Atarim software suite, but none of the links above are affiliate links and/or influenced by this, i.e., our own site is hosted on Rocket.net, and after this was already the case, we just so happened to also enter a partnership with them. This is a great example of the beauty of the WordPress community.
The cost associated with hosting your site depends on the hosting provider you choose to go with, as well as the plan that your site will need, depending on the traffic, type of site, and a few other factors. Costs will range greatly, starting from as little as $10-15 per month and going up to $250 per month. Any more than $250 per month, and you’ll have a very high-traffic (and likely also revenue-generating) site on your hands, at which point you would expect the costs associated with running your site to go up (because it’s more expensive to host a site that has visitors & customers than one that has little to no traffic).
Depending on your needs, the expenses for a WordPress website can vary. For instance, premium themes, plugins, and high-quality hosting may involve additional costs. This can easily make a WordPress website more expensive than a Webflow one.
Depending on the level of complexity, because WordPress is more flexible, i.e. we are not putting limits on what you can build with it – all costs considered, a WordPress site can cost more than setting up a simple site on Webflow.
However… The important distinction here is that you are not at the mercy of a SaaS pricing model such as Webflow’s which can change at any time, and specific features can become paid ones later on down the line.
If this does happen (and we’ve seen it happen with other companies in the past many times), it presents website owners with a real difficulty – accept the new, higher price, or try to move their website to somewhere more affordable.
With WordPress, you have almost complete control over how much you pay.
If your web hosting company puts their prices up, you can easily just move your website to a different hosting provider – and with WordPress, this process is easy.
On the surface, Webflow offers a package deal – you don’t need to purchase additional services such as a domain or web hosting.
Instead, you get all you need to get started with their pricing plans.
Webflow lets you choose between five different pricing plans. The plan you choose depends solely on your needs and preferences.
Their most basic plan is completely free.
This plan lets you create a website, add 2 guests, and get to know Webflow better. However, the free plan doesn’t allow you to publish your website on your own domain – you’ll have to use the webflow.io URL.
If you want a custom domain, you’ll have to hop on to one of their paid plans. This alone already starts at $18 per month.
Back in October of 2023, I put out a Tweet (X) on the topic of Webflow’s pricing that went viral – or, let’s say, “semi-viral” – not to give myself too much credit:
The topic clearly hit close to home for people in the community who build sites with either platform as software companies, agencies, freelancers, small businesses, and everyone in between.
However, many misunderstood the premise of the conversation surrounding pricing. Webflow’s pricing model is very realistic in some senses, and it’s a great deal.
I know a lot of big companies that happily pay for Webflow without questioning it.
But as someone who has heavily invested in open-source for the better half of their life – some of the changes they’ve made tend to be a reminder about why open-source provides more control, and ultimately builds an ecosystem that is more customer-friendly.
You have options. You have choices. You are not locked in.
The cost itself is not the “topic”, it’s the pricing model itself and the fact that there are countless businesses I know built on top of Webflow who have received emails asking them to upgrade to a plan that costs $40,000 USD per year.
This happens when users hit the 10k CMS item limit (more in their community thread here) – something that can happen quite easily to large content sites.
Long story short: we like Webflow, we have no problem with their pricing itself, and know lots of people who are more than happy to use it. But… we tend to understand the concern with using it being the fact that there is even a chance (regardless of how small) that people will be hit with an unrealistic bill at some point or later, and be forced to transition away and spend even more money moving over to another platform.
WordPress vs. Webflow: Ease of Use
Ease of use is vital, especially for less technical designers.
There’s no reason to choose a CMS platform that offers hundreds of features if you can’t use any of them because it’s too technical.
WordPress offers a balance of customization and user-friendliness.
Since WordPress is a much more robust platform, there is a slightly longer learning curve, compared to Webflow. But once you master it, you’ll appreciate the creative freedom and the amount of customization WordPress offers.
Also, if you’re a non-technical person, there are thousands of user-friendly themes and plugins.
While there might be a bit more involved in getting set up with WordPress, it provides you with more creative control over your site. The ability to customize themes and layouts lets you tailor your online presence to match your brand’s style.
Webflow is definitely easier to learn than WordPress.
It’s very intuitive, features a drag-and-drop editor, and offers plenty of tutorials that can help you get your website up and running quickly.
You can also choose from many templates – there’s no need to start from scratch.
However, this ease of use and convenience comes at the expense of customization. Also, the dashboard can be a bit misleading or difficult to navigate.
But, if you’re after ease of use and don’t mind less customization, Webflow is great!
Customization – WordPress vs. Webflow
Having full control over the customization of your site is essential for every designer.
The right platform should let you have creative freedom, add personal branding, and have the flexibility you need to build your dream website.
WordPress allows for significantly more customization options with your site.
This is especially useful if you’re looking to create a website that represents your personal brand in a unique way – you can replicate the exact design you have in your mind!
You can change virtually anything on your website, including:
And because WordPress is open source, you can, if you wish, dive right into the code, and change anything you want to. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this yourself, there are plenty of developers who will be able to help.
Of course, you may well feel you don’t need anything changed quite that dramatically. Most themes allow you to make a whole range of dramatic customizations, ensuring your site has a unique look that matches your brand image perfectly.
As we said before, Webflow offers plenty of pre-made templates.
Although they make it very easy to get started, switching templates is tricker. This is because if you’re looking to switch templates, you’ll need a new Webflow project.
Unfortunately, this means you’ll have to manually migrate data from one project to another.
(This is very time-consuming and inconvenient.)
But if you don’t plan to switch templates, you’re good to go.
Modifying the template you choose is fairly straightforward – making it easy to add your personal touch to any template you choose.
So, try to pick a template and stick to it!
Security – WordPress vs. Webflow
Every website is vulnerable to security risks, no matter what CMS platform you choose.
In fact, 50K websites are hacked daily – which means that there’s an attack on a website every 39 seconds.
Let’s now compare both WordPress and Webflow’s security, so you can find the platform that offers the level of protection that you’re looking for.
With WordPress, you’ll be using multiple plugins to run your site.
However, each of these plugins can present a security threat – so it’s essential to choose plugins that are secure.
The more complex your site becomes, the more open you are to vulnerabilities.
But we don’t want to scare you away!
WordPress is an open source platform, and there are millions of developers that are constantly working on making this platform secure.
Plus, you can add security plugins such as Patchstack to stay out of trouble.
If you’re looking to run a secure WordPress website, we recommend using security plugins, and staying away from low-quality, non-trusted plugins.
Webflow is based on Amazon Web Services (AWS) hosting – an industry leader in secure web hosting.
Plus, Webflow uses strong encryption to keep all of your data secure.
All that security is built-in with Webflow. The only downside is that you don’t have control over your website security, and are completely dependent on Webflow.
(Unlike with WordPress where your website security depends on the plugins you choose.)
WordPress vs. Webflow: Performance
The performance of your website is critical.
In fact, it takes as little as a one-second delay to decrease your sales by 7%. Not to mention the bounce rate getting sky-high with every additional second of load time.
And, according to Google’s data, you’re losing 40% of your customers if your website takes longer than three seconds to load on mobile.
A WordPress website’s performance is influenced entirely by your choice of hosting provider and configuration. Unlike with Webflow, you’ll have to look for a third-party company that offers a hosting solution for your WordPress website.
However, this may be an advantage, since you’re not limited by any pre-specified providers.
Plus, with WordPress, there’s the potential to implement various optimization techniques that may be offered by certain hosts, such as caching, content delivery networks, and performance-focused plugins.
This lets you fine-tune your website’s speed based on your requirements.
Webflow’s high-performance hosting makes any of their websites fast.
Although you do have less control and flexibility over what happens in the codebase on Webflow sites, this is not a common complaint among businesses who use Webflow. There are things that can be done to improve site speed, and there are obviously things that negatively impact it that you need to avoid should you choose to build your sites with Webflow.
We’ve never experienced any issues with website performance, and every site ran smoothly and quickly – with amazing PageSpeed Insights scores:
Also, images use lazy loading by default, which is great for designers.
But, we’ve also seen Webflow sites that are very slow – having only a 17/99 PageSpeed score.
However, this is usually because the website owners didn’t seem to have paid attention to the size of their website and the amount of elements they use.
So make sure you don’t go overboard with the visual elements – they’ll slow down your site considerably.
Conclusion – Which Platform Is Better for You?
WordPress and Webflow are both great content management systems – there’s no clear winner between the two. Which one you choose depends solely on your preference and needs.
To learn more about design and web development tips, take a look at these resources:
- Designing for Colour Blindness
- What Makes a Good, Accessible, Easy to Read Font?
- The Best Image Compression Tools (Real World Testing + Comparison)
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