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We have been closely involved with Webflow for quite some time now. Here we can share with you our findings, advantages and disadvantages, as well as an assessment of further developments on the market.

New digital standards with Webflow

We don't just observe digital developments, we want to actively help shape them. Particularly noteworthy is the rapid rise of no-code and low-code platforms such as Webflow.

As an agency, we identify a goal, break down the possibilities and find solutions. In doing so, we are not afraid to break new ground. This also applies to the relaunch of our own website, which we fundamentally rethought last year as part of an internal branding process. With the implementation in Webflow, we were able to identify new possibilities for us - as well as subsequently for our customers - when it comes to websites.

What is Webflow and who is it suitable for?

Webflow is a no-code platform for creating responsive websites in a visual programming canvas called Webflow Designer. The principle is simple: visual input is translated directly into semantic and clean HTML, CSS and JavaScript code in the background. This combination of web design, development and integrated hosting enables the creation of responsive layouts, individual animations and appealing interactions.

While the no-code tool certainly has a few iterations ahead of it before it's up to the task of implementing extensive corporate websites like Semperit, it's great for less complex sites like this one or (campaign) landing pages like the one we designed for our donated campaign for Haus der Barmherzigkeit.

With the website relaunch of Digitale Mediensysteme, DMS for short, we also opted for implementation with Webflow, as this allowed the demand for functionality, agility and modernity to be met at all levels. In addition to the visual brand makeover, the central task in the collaboration with DMS was the design of a focused and clearly reduced web presence, which makes the technically highly complex solutions of DMS for the design of hybrid experiences in the field of retailing more tangible.

The individual pricing and package models, which are clustered into page and workspace plans, can be obtained in a monthly or annual discounted subscription. For more complex requirements or sites that cannot be implemented with the available standard models such as the CMS or eCommerce plan, Webflow offers an Enterprise solution. The different Webflow subscriptions allow users to purchase exactly the model that suits the use case of the site. Due to the no-code approach, and a self-sustaining CMS system that is continuously optimized and developed, there are no additional costs for upgrades.

Advantages and disadvantages of Webflow at a glance

  1. On-Page and technical SEO:  
    Webflow offers native SEO functions, which can also be extended by custom fields. In addition to OpenGraph meta tag support, Google services such as Google Search Console and Google Analytics are also supported, as well as easy setup of 301 redirects and SSL. More advanced options are provided by Webflow to minimize JavaScript, CSS and HTML codes to optimize load times.
  1. No-Code / Low-Code:  
    While programming knowledge in the field of web development is advantageous, Webflow's no-code approach requires little to no prior experience. However, if there is a desire for more customization, individual code can be included via custom code Snippets.
  1. The "one more thing":
    Thanks to a variety of available JavaScript libraries, there are countless possibilities to give websites the little extra sparkle with animations and to direct the focus of users through visual highlights. External file types such as Lottie animations created in AfterEffects can also be integrated.  
  1. Webflow CMS:  
    Webflow offers a native and intuitive content management system in its CMS site plan, which is structured in so-called collections. In addition to texts and images, dynamic HTML embeds can also be integrated and content can be edited collaboratively by different members in both the frontend and the backend with just one click - and all this without any programming knowledge.
  1. No need for CMS, security and PHP updates:
    As mentioned, Webflow or the Webflow CMS is a no-code tool, which makes security, PHP and CMS updates obsolete. Backups are also created automatically and can be easily restored in case of emergency.
  1. Support of third-party interfacesvon Schnittstellen:  
    Webflow offers a variety of possible integrations such as Shopify, HubSpot, InterCom and MailChimp. Interfaces as well as embedding custom fonts, Google or Adobe fonts can be easily integrated through API keys.  
  1. Integrated Hosting:  
    Webflow pages run on an integrated content delivery network (CDN) hosting provided by Webflow and powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS) & Fastly. Existing domains can be connected in the project settings and published after switching DNS records. 
  1. Compliance with GDPR:  
    Despite the fact that the servers on which Webflow projects are operated are located outside the EU, Webflow can be used in a GDPR-compliant manner if so-called EU standard contractual clauses are concluded.
  1. Freelance & Agency Plans:  
    With the help of Agency & Freelance Plans, websites can be created collaboratively for and with clients in a shared workspace and handed over upon completion.  
  1. Webflow Expert Program:  
    As an agency, we want to capitalize on the potential that Webflow offers for our clients and are working to become a Professional Partner in the Webflow Experts Program. After successful completion of the certification as Webflow Expert, we will be included in the worldwide Webflow Directory in the next step and proposed as a professional implementation partner.
  1. Functional scope:  
    While new updates and functions are constantly being released in Webflow, the editor functions in the back end and a well thought-out digital asset management (DAM) system for managing content still have significant potential for improvement.
  1. Scaling:  
    Another shortcoming, which in our view is only a matter of time, however, concerns scaling for the implementation of large corporate websites.
  1. Lack of multi-language support:
    At present, Webflow users still have to make do with a workaround and create multilingualism by copying pages. However, Webflow has announced the introduction of native multilingualism in November 2022.
  1. Expandable file type support:  
    While common file types like images (JPG, PNG, SVG, WebP), documents (PDF, Word, Excel) or animations are already supported in the (dot)Lottie format, the extension of the usable file types is the next logical step to give users the same flexibility in managing and embedding files as in the design process.  

"While there is certainly room for further improvement and functional enhancements, Webflow opens the door to a visual playground for realizing simple websites by technically-avid designers and design-skilled developers" – Vincent Helmus, Account Management

Seamless integration into existing processes

The good news: Project teams don't have to reinvent themselves, many proven processes and milestones within the project remain the same, others can be optimized in the implementation with Webflow. Also, the design and conception phase remains unchanged: Based on the client's goals, we define website concepts and develop a design language. At digitalwerk, we have always relied on Sketch and Figma as design platforms, from UI design and prototyping to handover.

When it comes to development, however, things get interesting. In contrast to other projects, where we opt for traditional development, everything comes from a single source for implementations with Webflow: the designers who created the interface also program the website in Webflow. A lean team enables even more efficient work. Through visual input, finished websites are created in the shortest possible time, which have no need to fear comparison in terms of quality and performance.

The learning curve is exponential due to the software's ease of use and intuitive operation. A UI designer with a basic knowledge of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript learns Webflow in a matter of weeks and delivers production-ready code shortly thereafter.

The designers' self-motivation is the be-all and end-all. We are in a time in which existing structures are being questioned and broken up every week. AI is the best example: Who would have thought a year ago that we could produce deceptively real images with just a few words and muddled phrases? The same is true for websites. It's hard to imagine our everyday lives without no-code tools. Integrations like Zapier, Airtable and co. turn no-code websites into interactive, living platforms. It is essential to recognize these trends and deal with them at an early stage. For this reason, we are only advertising new positions for designers with previous knowledge of Webflow.

The future of no-code tools  

The marketing and agency industry is currently undergoing rapid change, which has accelerated enormously in recent years.

"As the founder of a digital agency, I have seen the business model change dramatically in just 10 years. New AI technologies, remote/hybrid teams and diversity in companies are just some of the factors driving change." – Mike Gattereder, CEO

Particularly noteworthy in recent years is the rise of no-code and low-code platforms like Webflow and Framer, which challenge traditional systems like WordPress or Drupal.  

We observe these developments and the community with great interest and try to actively shape them. It's just fun to see things emerge - this momentum and variety is good for our industry and customers. Our curiosity and the courage to try out new things is part of our philosophy and - to be honest: It is actually 5 to 12 to rely on this technology.

"I am convinced that the best results can be achieved when designers, Webflow DevOps and classic DevOps work together in the future, depending on the project definition. Although we're talking about low code, we're currently seeing designer and Webflow DevOP specialization again - perhaps not as extreme as in other platforms." - Mike Gattereder

Our focus is on the development of Webflow Premium projects that offer high performance and user experience. Here we rely on the expertise of UX/UI designers, DevOps experts and technically minded project managers. With the new tools and possibilities, we can create unique user experiences without having to resort to countless plugins. Still, we don't put all our eggs in Webflow's basket - a large headless e-commerce or corporate platform makes different demands on the result and requires a larger team of different disciplines. The decisive factor for the use of no-code platforms like Webflow is and remains the individual use case.

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