With many different options available to build a website, it is important to take a closer look at some of them. By doing a thorough comparison, we hope that you will be able to determine which one of these two will be a better fit for your needs.
If you’re already looking at one of these two as your web builder of choice, then you probably have some idea of what you need. What it will likely come down to is one of the key factors that differentiates one from the other.
Even though they have some similarities, both of these website-building platforms have several key differences. To help make your pick easier, we’ll introduce you to each one before we compare the criteria.
Even though modern users may not be aware, WordPress is one of the oldest web building platforms currently available. Having been launched in 2003, WordPress has been around for many years and as such has had many updates, improvements, changes, and extensions added to it.
They are the dominant force in the web building space. WordPress controls nearly 40% of the market share. This gives them impressive reach and notoriety as well as the ability to update and change at a more rapid pace.
Because WordPress has been around for so long, there are several third-party partnerships with WordPress. These partnerships offer tools and extensions for tweaking your website, creating content, optimizing for search engines, and more.
We should note that throughout its evolution, WordPress has become less of a web building service and more of a content management service platform. This allows users to create and manage websites, blogs, eCommerce sites, and more. As such, much of the functionality has been geared towards content management.
Webflow is a relative newcomer to the space and shares the market with other platforms like Weebly and Squarespace. It was founded in 2013 in San Francisco, California, and is one of the fastest-growing web building services on the web.
One of the ways that Webflow differs from WordPress is in the fact that Webflow is a SaaS platform and not a hosting site itself. Webflow has also distinguished itself by the use of its visual website editor that lets users see in real-time what their site will look like.
They are powered by Amazon’s Cloudfront and have become a favorite of both amateur and expert users as well as many web design services.
Rather than go with a flat set of criteria, as many comparison reviews do, we’re going to base our criteria on the relative skill level of the user. We’ll explain each criterion and how it will impact users of different skill levels.
If you are completely new to building a website or have only a moderate amount of experience, perhaps you’ve written a blog or used a template to create a webpage, then ease of use is an important criterion when considering which website builder to go with.
This includes the tools available, the user interface, and how easy it is to get started building without a lot of technical know-how.
There is a fairly sharp learning curve with the most recent iteration of WordPress. This curve requires you to understand both a glossary of terms for WordPress as well as their block editor system known as Gutenberg.
The actual interface is visual and with the block system, editing sections of your site as you start building is fairly simple. WordPress uses a template design system whereby a user picks a pre-designed template for their website, consisting of a style and color scheme. They then can edit sections of it as they choose.
This allows for quick and simple creation of pages including the homepage, blogs, and additional pages. WordPress also allows hosting of a site through their domain service which provides a unique WordPress URL to each user’s site. Users can also purchase and register their own domain names as well.
There are two notable caveats with the building process and user interface. Firstly, many of the additional creation features are accessible via paying members only. This shouldn’t be much of an issue for professionals, but it does add considerably to the price tag, particularly if you opt to purchase a domain instead of using a free one.
Secondly, casual and professional users alike have noted that the block editor system has some limitations in terms of formatting content, producing source code, and general editing which has necessitated the use of third-party extensions.
Webflow uses a similar visual editing process to that of WordPress. One of the unique features is that Webflow has a blank canvas mode for more experienced developers, as well as a free template mode.
The templates are fairly standard stuff with the options divided by intended use. There are more paid premium options than free templates so that may throw off some beginner builders.
Webflow uses a real-time update system that lets you see what your site will look like once you publish it and make it go live. The dashboard interface is also fairly easy to navigate and the site is divided into sections which can each be customized one at a time.
Where Webflow can become tricky is when trying to manipulate the elements of your site for content. If the template isn’t laid out for your specific needs, you will need to manipulate elements until they are in your desired position or layout. You can likely find something close to what you want for free or in the paid section. Keep in mind that you’ll be figuring out where to place everything and how to insert content as you go.
The last thing to mention is that you’ll have to use a third party to host your site or host it yourself with Webflow. This is likely a plus to experienced developers, but beginners may find it annoying. Webflow does offer web hosting from one of their partners though.
This was a close one for us. When it came down to using the block editor system or not finding a template that works for your business, we decided the block editor was easier to use. This was in addition to the numerous built-in tutorials and dropdowns that explain much of the process. Before you set out to build your site you may want to consult with an expert and at least learn some of the website design mistakes to avoid.
This criterion is a measure of how easy it is for more experienced designers and coders to alter the basic functions of the website builder to suit their needs. This includes manipulating elements, adding features, and generally adding flair to your site.
The template system is perfectly fine and the block editor is easy enough to use once you get the hang of it. Experienced builders may find that they feel “boxed in” by the Gutenberg editor that WordPress uses.
Many pros simply hate the block editor when it comes to manipulating large chunks of text for content and moving elements around on the actual site. The interface can feel a bit clunky also because of the editor.
You can disable the editor with the use of add-on extensions, but the ability to use those comes at a premium of $300 for a business plan membership. You can freely edit the code of your pages, but the output is a bit tricky to manipulate due to the layout used by the Gutenberg editor.
Where WordPress excels in this category is by volume of offerings. However, that is cut short by the fact that many themes, plugins, and features are only available as separate purchases.
Webflow is similar to WordPress in the way that sites are built, with one key difference. The built-in navigator helps you edit your site accurately and shows you the result in real-time.
With a little practice, you can edit to your heart’s content and know in real-time what you’re getting.
Unfortunately, Webflow also suffers from the same price blocking of key features and services that WordPress uses. The overall pricing structure is much more transparent and user-friendly.
Webflow uses tiered plans that unlock specific features at each tier. If one plan doesn’t have the option you need, then you’ll be forced to upgrade to a higher tier plan or do without it. The tiered plans do offer more transparency than the myriad of options available through WordPress. This makes putting out extra money more palatable as users can see exactly what they are getting.
This one wasn’t as close as we thought it would be. When we looked at the customization options, WordPress had the win. However, when we factored in the editing ability and the extra costs associated with various features, we felt Webflow was the better option. We also thought about the difference between WordPress as a hosting service versus Webflow as a software package that can be taken anywhere. We felt the additional freedom had some value.
We’ve already talked a bit about price, but this is an issue for many users. What am I getting and what will it cost me? We’ve broken this down as best we can without diving into every little fee and cost associated with each platform.
WordPress has two primary costs associated with it. The hosting cost and the add-on cost. The most basic plan on WordPress comes out to $4 a month but offers limited storage and no extra features.
The second tier is Premium which comes out to $8 a month or $96 annually and comes with some marketing tools and more storage.
The Business Plan is the third tier and costs $25 monthly or $300 annually and comes with a whole host of marketing and support tools as well as the ability to install plugins to your site.
The eCommerce Plan is the final option designed specifically for sales and is powered by WooCommerce. The plan has a base cost of $35 monthly with additional fees added for additional services. The base cost without extensions, themes, or other purchases is roughly $420 per year.
We found that the cost of running a site on WordPress can vary wildly from $40 upfront to $1,000, with extra expenses. The range to run a full business or eCommerce site can range from a couple of hundred dollars monthly to $3,000 if you employ a web designer and buy lots of additional features.
Webflow prices their plans a little differently so we won’t break them down the same as WordPress.
Webflow uses two plan types, Site Plans, and Account Plans.
Site plans are bound to a particular domain name that you own and the features are available for that site. Site plans range from $12 a month to $36+ a month. Each plan offers tiers of features such as the number of site visits, CDN bandwidth, and a maximum number of form submissions per month.
They provide limited CMS and eCommerce services provided through third-party affiliates.
Account plans are bound to your Webflow account and allow you to build a site and interact with clients. This also includes billing and staging features. The plans range from free, to $35+ monthly with options for team-based and enterprise plans.
As you can see, just like with WordPress, Webflow has a tiered structure that locks off many of the more useful or business-oriented functions for more expensive and higher-tier plans.
We found that Webflow offered a greater variety of plans, but had fewer overall features.
While we are trying to grade each platform sheerly on its ability as a website builder, we could not overlook the volume of features, extensions, and add-ons that are available for WordPress. The monthly costs for each platform were very similar. However, the functionality of WordPress far exceeded that of Webflow. The ability to purchase additional plug-ins and extensions gives more value to the different plans. With Webflow, you pay a price and are locked in as far as functionality goes.
We decided on this criteria based on the fact that users want to know that their investment is protected, especially if their site is hosted by the platform itself.
When we’re talking about on-platform security, WordPress is top-notch. They have built-in security processes that make sure the platform and main site are stable and secure.
They also have robust safety guidelines for developers to follow. When implemented properly these guidelines allow for a quality site with a low risk of issues.
However, there are two issues that users point out that remain a problem in terms of overall security. Because of the size of WordPress, the platform is constantly being updated, changed, and adjusted. This causes there to routinely be new security risks that develop. These risks take time to fix and can leave users vulnerable.
Secondly, because WordPress is open source software, third-party contributors can create extensions that can be added to any website. These contributors are not always security experts. This can lead to security risks that can compromise users’ sites.
Webflow is known for its top-notch platform security. They take security a step further by employing third parties to perform regular audits of platform security. These extra security measures ensure that platform functions and features are kept secure from outside threats. Since Webflow is not open source and doesn’t allow non-vetted third-party extensions, there are no outside security risks.
For Webflow, the security comes down to their internal measures and external testing. Though they are smaller in scale, they have worked to provide the best security possible for their web building platform.
While we appreciate the fact that WordPress has much more to offer overall, when looking at it from purely a website building standpoint, the winner in this category is clear.
Users complain of frequent shutdowns and security fixes with routine WordPress updates. They also report issues with poorly functioning or unsecured third-party plugins.
Webflow, on the other hand, has less frequent updates and no third-party additions from unlicensed sources. The extra security audits (along with your UX audits) also work to maintain the highest level of security standards. These two factors gave Webflow the win.
The focus of this criteria was on the support experience for entry-level users. All users may benefit from support, but beginners are most likely to need functional support services. We chose to focus on the materials and support provided to get users familiar with each platform.
This is one area where WordPress gets to show its reach in terms of control of the space. They have an extensive collection of videos that explain how to do things with the platform. They also have a robust online community.
This includes support groups on social media, partner sites, third-party affiliates, blogs, and other content. Chances are, any question you have has already been answered, and if it hasn’t, there are millions of WordPress users waiting to help.
Webflow has a massive library of support content built directly into the platform. While you won’t see the same level of community support, Webflow University, the online tutorial archive is full of videos, how-to guides, and step-by-step articles to do nearly anything you’d want to on the site.
They also provide email-based customer support Monday thru Friday and a chatbot to answer user questions.
We couldn’t pick a winner here for a couple of reasons. WordPress has a much larger community and support built up around it. However, the platform’s overall complexity has scaled with that community.
Webflow, on the other hand, doesn’t have the same community. They have, however, built support materials into the platform directly and provide some basic customer support to keep you going strong while building your site.
Now, before you gasp in shock or frustration, hear us out about our final choice. We know many of you have heard wonderful things about WordPress and some of you may be die-hard fans. As we stated at the outset of this comparison guide, WordPress has become much more than a website builder. It is now largely considered a Content Management System (CMS) with web builder capabilities.
If you’re looking for eCommerce support, content management, and other services, WordPress is the go-to platform. However, even long-time users will tell you that the further you dive into WordPress, the more complicated and frustrating it can get. Some people even suggest alternative CMS programs to WordPress if you don’t want all that it has to offer.
That’s why, in the end, we had to give the win to Webflow. It is the better sole website building platform. It has comparable costs and support options. It also has more flexibility in terms of taking your domain with you. Lastly, security is the best in the field. If what you’re looking for is a reliable website builder, then Webflow is the winner.
Looking at user comments, additional features, and the amount of time each one has been around, we could have included several other criteria into this list. However, for a proper comparison of web builders, we thought it best to steer away from special services like eCommerce support, payment integrations, and content management. There are a number of platforms and services that address these needs specifically.
Despite our winner, we suggest going with whichever option provides for your needs. If you need the vast array of features and functions that WordPress offers, then go with WordPress. If you want something more focused, then Webflow is the right choice. We also recommended getting help from a licensed developer for either of these platforms if you want to make the most out of your new website.
Ryan is the VP of Operations for DEV.co. He brings over a decade of experience in managing custom website and software development projects for clients small and large, managing internal and external teams on meeting and exceeding client expectations–delivering projects on-time and within budget requirements. Ryan is based in El Paso, Texas.