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Do NOT Use WordPress For Your Small Business Website In 2019 (+ best alternatives)

Written by Øyvind Østmo
- builder of brands and businesses since 2000
Oct 7, 2019
27 minute read
Wordpress cover photo with poll graphics

Everyone will tell you WordPress is the best solution for your new business website because everyone is using it.

While it might have been solid advice a few years ago, the odds are very high that WordPress is not the way to go for your business website in 2019.

I’m writing this from the perspective of a web agency manager with 20 years of design and web development experience. I have spent so much time and energy to help customers avoid the world of pain they often experience using Wordpress.

The arguments and reflections in this post are based on developing relatively straight forward informational websites (for now).

IMPORTANT NOTE: The arguments and reflections in this post are based on developing relatively straight forward informational websites (for now).

This post is for you if you need a website for your small to medium-sized business, and want another perspective on Wordpress and some of the current more modern and lightweight alternatives. Also, if you have fairly basic e-commerce needs, though you may very well want to look at Shopify. 

This post is also written with frustrated agency and project managers in mind, who could use some ammunition to convince their clients and prospects that Wordpress might not be the best solution for their website right now.

When I say "relatively straight forward websites", it's mostly about functionality. Like if you need to integrate your site with custom backend systems, you're in the wrong place. And if you are going to run a focused webshop, you should probably check out Shopify for now. 

Anyway, platforms like Webflow are developing and will be able to handle more and more advanced websites in the time to come.

...my love for efficiently creating the right thing has moved my agency and me away from code...

Who am I to talk?

Hey! My name is Øyvind (Ø...I know...Norwegian...just call me Owen). I've been designing and developing for the web since 2000 and gone through 6 years of design education on the way. In the last 11 years, I have been managing Represent

I have been knees deep in frontend and backend development for so long and loving it. But during the last 3 years, my love for efficiently creating the right thing has moved my agency and me away from code and thus away from WordPress and other similar platforms. Even Craft CMS that I love dearly gets very little love from my agency these days.

If you're curious, you can learn more about me at the end of the post.

Somewhere in the middle of this journey, WordPress was a solid candidate for the typical small business website.

If WordPress is the old school way of making a website - what's new?

Come on; it's 2019. You should not have to worry about servers, development environments, deployments, and outdated code anymore if you’re building a basic website. Seriously. There are way better services to build and host your website. Webflow is my platform of choice. Or you could go with Squarespace for low budget simple sites. Other no-code platforms to mention are Wix and Weebly. Some times, like in this article, Wix is rated above Squarespace. But for a simple website, I think it has a bit too much freedom and options.

Coming from a background in both development and design, I have been through everything from personally developing an elaborate PHP based CMS (including e-commerce) at the beginning of the century, to being blessed with the amazing tools we as designers and developers have today. Somewhere in the middle of this journey, WordPress was a solid candidate for the typical small business website. But not anymore in my opinion. A bit further down, I will outline a few reasons why people still sell you the idea of a WordPress website in 2019.

Let's fire Jeff, Bill, and Stacey from the development team, train our designers in Webflow and cut our revenue in half.

The (incredibly tough!) transition to the "age of no-code" for web development

"WordPress, it's not you, you just happen to be a victim of a paradigm shift". First of all, this is not really about WordPress and also not really about the better alternatives that I'll cover. It's about a paradigm shift from having to relate to code, servers, plugins, security updates, development environments, and all that headache, to the “age of no-code”.

“No-code” web development refers to working with platforms that generate the code for a website automatically in the background, while the website builder offers visual tools to create the structure and content. So writing HTML, CSS, and JS is not required. But it’s often possible to add custom code in a no-code website builder to add functionality that is not included out-of-the-box.

Being both a developer and a designer myself, I made an educated decision about three years ago to gradually steer away from the old school ways of making websites. Since then, content, design, and user experience has gotten the focus it deserves, while the code has been written automatically in the background. The age of no-code is absolutely amazing. There's just no turning back. 

I'll get into a couple, but I will argue that the best visual no-code website builder out there is Webflow. They have been kicking ass for about six years. Now, with a recent $72M Series A round of funding, they are ramping up to let people build better websites and even web applications visually. If you're in the mood for some inspirational eye-candy, check this "Welcome to the age of no-code" video just released :)

Webflow website graphic

How does the transition to no-code web development affect the business?

Imagine for a minute you manage a successful web agency. You have three designers and six developers, all WordPress experts. One day, you come across Webflow. You realize that you can make 80% of the sites you're selling to your clients in half the time at half the price. No code, bugs, server management and optimization, none of that - it's all automated. Ok great! We save time. The client saves money. Let's fire Jeff, Bill, and Stacey from the development team, train our designers in Webflow and cut our revenue in half. Fun times! No wonder most WordPress agencies are going to keep convincing themselves and clients that WordPress is the way. They have to double down. The alternative is unthinkable for most.

Been there done that

I'm speaking from experience. Tough, tough, really tough experience. During the last three years, I have taken my agency from a lucrative business based on code, servers, and all that, through a rough transition to the age of no-code. Our revenue has gone down drastically, and we have had to downscale our team. It still hurts, but honestly, I can't sell our clients the wrong thing, just because it's easier for me. 

Even though it's hard to stay afloat, I stand by the decision to "get with the times". It's not all black, though. We have been able to make up for some of our losses by getting into smaller websites that we would normally turn down. We can make websites in such a short time using Weblow, that even though the price tag is low, we can make significantly more than our agency's standard hourly. It has also left us time to focus on a new startup I’ll mention in my story later.

Time to evolve

About three years ago, I had a chat with my full-time frontend developer Peter, who had mainly been working on HTML/CSS and WordPress/Craft CMS. "Your line of work is gradually going to fade away in the coming years, so it's time for you to start acquiring new skills." He went both directions. Deeper into code, to be able to work on frontend Javascript-based applications, and further away from code, becoming a Webflow expert. The transition is not over, but it has played out how we predicted. Coding a business website from scratch was our bread and butter business 5+ years ago, and now it almost doesn't happen at all.

It's not always going to be pretty, but it's time for many WordPress developers and agencies to pivot before they become obsolete. Even if it may be an almost impossible choice to make.

WordPress is currently hosting about 32% of the entire web.

4 reasons why people TELL YOU WordPress is the right fit for your business

The reasons may be many. Below are the top 4 reasons why I think people feed you WordPress. The first one is delicate and scary.

WordPress editing interface
01

You're being sold WordPress because that is what they sell, not because that is what you need

A bold claim, sure. But in many cases, that is simply the truth. The agency or freelance developer is still using WordPress, simply because that is the best short term strategy for their business. Evolving is both painful and costly, so they choose not to. More details on that in this section: "The (incredibly tough!) transition to the "age of no-code" for web development".

02

The person guiding you lacks knowledge of the new alternatives to WordPress

One of the reasons WordPress is currently hosting about 32% of the entire web, is due to a "ripple effect" of recommendations, from people with limited knowledge of the now available alternatives.

Having been a top alternative for many years, WordPress as a one-size-fits-all CMS has become an established truth. So, even if it might not be the right option in 2019, endless developers and users have never been introduced to a better alternative. And they keep telling their friends, and they tell their friends. Thus, I believe "everyone is doing it" is going to have some truth to it for a long time still. Whether or not WordPress is the right solution for your business website.

03

WordPress is free, and you can more or less Google yourself through it or hire affordable help

Setting up WordPress without the right skillset could be a dangerous path. A lot of people will sell you WordPress because they have limited development knowledge, but they can Google and hack their way through WordPress. Or you might even find yourself doing this.  

But trust me, it can get real nasty if you skip right past important development principles. Like separating a development (local on your computer), staging (test server before pushing anything live) and production (live website) environment, code versioning (history), backups, server configuration, security patches, WordPress and plugin updates.  

Your website might be running on a minefield just waiting to blow up. And even if you hire help, a setup like this will require attention, time, and money to keep running smoothly. And, given the excellent alternatives we have in 2019, it's just no point most of the time.

04

Actually, they might be right - sometimes :)

The world is not black and white. Sometimes, you will have some specific needs that will require functionality that simply can't be made with the no-code web builders. Maybe you will save an enormous amount of hours by installing a low-cost WordPress plugin versus making something similar on other platforms. If that is the case, great, go for it! Just make sure your developers do it right. If they insist on using WordPress over Webflow or Squarespace, make sure their reasoning is solid. Feel free to reference this post if you need some help outlining your worries and some current alternatives.

Blackboard and lightbulb representing thinking

The more time and money we invest in something, the higher we value it.

5 reasons why you might THINK your business should be using WordPress

Sometimes you don't need anyone to sell you WordPress, as you already know that is what you need. We have plenty of clients telling us they need a WordPress website. Some clients even require WordPress in their project brief. This post might allow me to have a nap instead of explaining to yet another client that no, they really don't :) Here are the typical reasons why, and why not.

01

Our current site is on WordPress, and we're already comfortable with the platform

Having had to learn how to use all aspects of WordPress, I appreciate your concern! On the other hand, I can teach you everything you need to learn to be a master Webflow content editor, in about 2 minutes. No joke. I make a quick tutorial video for our clients and never hear from them again regarding content editing.

It's perfectly natural to feel safe sticking to the old. Learning something new can be scary. But trust me, it's no big deal when you're moving from an old school CMS to a new school no-code visual web platform.

02

The web platform has to be open-source and free

Those who have experience with expensive paid web platforms will typically look to an open-source and free platform as their savior. Or those who are on a very tight budget. But the thing is; WordPress cost accumulates

Maybe you need a paid theme, some paid plugins, server and maintenance, developers to help you through all the struggles outlined in this post. All in all, you would likely end up paying less than an average of $12-16 a month that you do for fully hosted no-code platforms like Webflow and Squarespace. And those $12-16 is it. The software upgrades automatically and you are never out-of-date.

03

We have invested way too much time and money in our WordPress site to start over on a new platform

It might also be that you have invested a LOT of money into your existing website on WordPress. And psychologically, the more time and money we invest in something, the higher we value it. This way we can live with all the choices we have made along a, possibly long and rough, road. The longer you have struggled and the more you have paid, the more it feels you have to stick with it.

If you need to freshen up your site significantly, I am willing to bet that I can do it faster from a blank canvas in Webflow, than a WordPress agency or developer can do it based on the old. Try me!

04

Replacement developers must be easy to find, in case you can no longer assist us

You'll find WordPress developers around every corner. So this concern was very legitimate in the early days of Craft CMS. Nobody had heard of it back in 2013. So we gave them a handful of other hot Oslo web agencies who had also abandoned WordPress for Craft CMS to close the deal.

With Webflow (and similar no-code alternatives) though, this concern is almost eliminated, because you don't need a developer. You need anyone with experience in Webflow, or you can give a designer or developer or even your next-door neighbor this crash course and you're good to go! Also, make sure your site is built with a good SEO foundation to make Google happy.

05

What if the platform we go with dies off?

If you can be sure of one thing, it is that WordPress will be around for a long time still. So no worries there. That said, all the other platforms mentioned in this post are stayers too. For custom development, we have used Craft CMS for many years. In the early days, I talked to the developers and made sure they had a sustainable business before suggesting Craft in client projects. 

Webflow is also already profitable and will be kicking it for a long time with its recent $72M Series A round of funding. Squarespace is also a huge player and won't go anywhere in the foreseeable future.

...we turn down 100% of web projects where WordPress is a requirement.

You don't need to be responsible for the server, code, SSL certificate, and all that heavy lifting.

8 of my main concerns with WordPress

Here are a few of the concerns I have with WordPress, that I typically include in my quotes to potential clients to guide them onto a smoother path.

01

WordPress is not very user-friendly from an editors perspective. To show you an example, I searched for “WordPress content editing” and actually laughed out loud watching this person making a very hard and non-intuitive process of editing the footer of a website sound super easy and fun.
Now compare that to my video example of content editing in Webflow or this example of content editing in Squarespace. On-site editing is far easier than navigating the WordPress admin dashboard, which is totally detached from the website and the content in its natural context.
There are some plugins that add similar in-line content editing for WordPress, but most editors will relate to the detached front and back of the platform.

02

Issues related to plugins, updates, and compatibility. If WordPress is updated, a plugin can stop working. And if a plugin is updated to a version that does not support the current version of WordPress you have installed, the site can also break down. It's not uncommon for a WordPress site to break down every few months.

03

WordPress has a LOT of unnecessary code for your specific website. It is a bloated all-in-one monster that will likely leave you with a site that is heavy and slow to load, unless it's set up by a "WordPress speed expert". And a slow website will leave your users frustrated and hurt your Google ranking. Want proof? Below this list you'll find a speed test of the same site made in WordPress and Webflow, further described in the “12 reasons why Webflow is the best no-code website builder in 2019” section later.

WordPress vs Webflow site load speed comparison
The above shows individual speed tests of the SAME WEBSITE made in WordPress and Webflow. Speed testing was done with Pingdom Tools.
04

WordPress puts heavy constraints on creativity. To work creatively, you basically have two options. You can either design, prototype and then write your own HTML/CSS/JS and WP-template. Or you can find the closest WP-template to what you want to build, and then push it around until you reach your goals or lose your hair. Also, it may end up costing you more time and money than building it from scratch.

05

There are significant challenges with security, and WordPress requires continuous upgrades and patching. Since it is the most common CMS, it is also the one most hackers give their attention. So many WordPress websites are left outdated and easy to breach.

06

Unstructured and messy code can cause a lot of unexpected bugs. It is so hard to maintain and keep clean. Open-source can be great, but when a host of developers are involved, it can also lead to a mess of disparate code styles. We have experienced a lot of pain when inheriting a WordPress website, so as of now, we turn down 100% of web projects where WordPress is a requirement.

07

WordPress has no dedicated support. So if something is not working, you need a developer to look into it. Comparing the constant issues we have with self-coded and hosted websites, to the smoothness of Webflow - it's just two different worlds.
In the last three years using Webflow, we have experienced a bug that affected one of our sites a single time, and their support team fixed it in a flash.

08

WordPress has too much freedom and possibilities, and too little structure. As a rule of thumb, a platform that solves "everything" is not solving anything optimally.

Last but not least, more often than not, it’s just no point hosting a website yourself in 2019. You don't need to be responsible for the server, code, SSL certificate, and all that heavy lifting. With modern web development tools and services like Squarespace and Webflow, you no longer have to. Unless of course, you have specific requirements that are not met by these no-code alternatives.

Through all my years managing web teams at Represent, technical infrastructure and maintenance have been what kept me up at night.

No joke, we often have clients working with real content in the CMS only a few days after our initial startup workshop.

The smarter, no-code way of building for the web changes everything

Again, this post is not really about specific platforms. It's about the paradigm shift from code to no-code web development. But anyway, I'm going to tell you about my favorite no-code platform. Webflow is the best tool to transform the way we build our websites right now, in my opinion. The platform is 100% hosted, meaning you never touch any code. The code for the website is produced automagically in the background, while we keep our focus on that matters; amazing content and user experience!

Bye-bye code, servers, development environments, deployment scripts, security updates, ...HELP!

Through all my years managing web teams at Represent, technical infrastructure and maintenance have been what kept me up at night. I had been keeping a close eye on Webflow for years. It represented a potential savior from the hassle that comes with building and hosting with platforms like WordPress. And when they finally launched CMS functionality (clients can log in and edit content right on the page) late 2015, I couldn't be more excited! 

Webflow designer interface represent.no website
We hand-built the Represent website a few years ago. We probably spent 100+ hours in the process using custom markup and a traditional CMS. Then Webflow came along, and I made the same site in about 5 hours, CMS and all!

Since then, we have built almost exclusively on Webflow, gradually replacing old sites and shutting down servers at Rackspace and AWS. And life keeps getting easier and easier :) Also, our clients couldn't be happier. Even our developers finally admit Webflow is a fantastic tool, despite "coding" in a visual interface a lot of the time.

"Content first" web development is a total game-changer

With Webflow, we can build websites content first. No joke, we often have clients working with real content in the CMS only a few days after our initial startup workshop. The client adds CMS driven content while we are shaping the structure around it. Then when it is time to apply the visual layer, most of the content is already in there, as opposed to building a site on hypothetical Lorem Ipsum content. Here is an example of an early-stage content prototype in Webflow, where the client could already login and work with the copy. It took about an hour to make based on a wireframing kit we made for Webflow.

Content First web development in Webflow
We start by building out the content and structure in our homemade Blueprint boilerplate, then gradually work in the visual style. This way, the client can log in and work with content within days. Fun fact: This particular website was actually going to be built in Hubspot the whole time. But even so, prototyping and working with early content was faster in Webflow than faking it with Sketch and InVision. We even make the prototype responsive for mobile testing,

Build from scratch at lightning speed, or start with a template

We have only done a couple of Webflow sites based on a template, but there are hundreds of great free and paid Webflow templates to choose from. So, we can have your amazing business website ready in about an hour based on a template, and tune it from there. Or like we most often do, develop a solid strategy for communication and content, then develop the ideal solution in a matter of days.

Webflow template gallery
Webflow offers hundreds of free and paid templates.

It's worth mentioning that a Webflow template is not like a WordPress template. It does not have a fixed set of options, and if you want something different, you have to fiddle with code or plugins. It's more like we get a starting point, and we can still build and edit as quickly as when building from scratch without touching code.

Building in Webflow from scratch requires a basic understanding of HTML/CSS principals

If you are building your own business with no cash to spend on a website, Webflow might not be for you. If you need a clean and simple do-it-yourself website, go with Squarespace. Or, if you have some time and want to build your site exactly how you want it, do the Webflow 101 crash course. The course is a series of 42 videos (1h 58m total) that also includes fundamental HTML and CSS principals.

We usually tell the client we can deliver 80% of their dreams for 50% of the cost.

You log in, and then navigate your site and click on any text or image you want to edit!

12 reasons why Webflow is the best no-code website builder in 2019 

Content First web development in Webflow

I'm not married to a single platform, but again, Webflow is my #1 no-code website builder as of now. It’s worth mentioning that Webflow is not a “drag-and-drop” website builder like Squarespace, Wix, and Weebly that lets you build your website with readymade blocks without any prior knowledge of how to structure websites with HTML and CSS. You need to know basic HTML/CSS, as you're building websites using similar techniques as coding. The huge difference is that you don't have to write code, rather create the elements and styles from a graphical user interface, like Photoshop.  

So I guess you could say that Webflow has smaller building blocks that you have to know how to piece together, while Squarespace has large blocks that anyone can figure out how to build with. That said, it is super easy for a developer to build with Webflow and shave 50-80% off their development time. And for a designer, you should be able to get by after a couple of hours of training - start with this Webflow 101 crash course.

If you are a business owner without any experience designing or developing for the web though, I would recommend reaching out to a designer or developer you know and request Webflow specifically. Or, build a site yourself in Squarespace with less freedom and control, but doable on a lower do-it-yourself budget.

Ok, let’s get into why Webflow is awesome. Note: I have no affiliation with Webflow, I just freaking love it :) As do all the designers and developers I have introduced to the platform.

01

Automated programming = Focus on content, design and user experience

The most obvious upside with a no-code web builder like Webflow is that the platform is building the code for you automagically in the background. You don't ever have to see it, but you can if you want to. You can even download it and use it elsewhere.

View and export code from Webflow
You can easily view and export the entire code for you website from Webflow. That said, I never do that because I don't need it.

The no-code approach cuts down the development time of any custom designs, animations, interactions, and CMS setup significantly. And most of the time, we still have all the tools available that we do in traditional development. We usually tell the client we can deliver 80% of their dreams for 50% of the cost. If you're upfront about that, a limitation here and there is not an issue. Also, Webflow is investing big to push that 80% closer to 100%.

02

Create AMAZING designs and user experiences without template restrictions

It’s ridiculous how awesome you can make your site look and feel using Webflow’s advanced tools for interactions and animations. Just give this page a scroll. And this one. It just feels so good. And those kinds of user experiences are fast and straightforward to do!

Webflow animations website
Creating rich animations is quick and easy with Webflow.
03

Ease of use for content editors

Last but not least by a longshot! It is so incredibly easy to edit content in Webflow. You log in, and then navigate your site and click on any text or image you want to edit! Content and presentation are not decoupled like it is in WordPress and other CMS's. Here is a video where I demo some simple content editing in Webflow from the editor's perspective (please don't mind the Norwegian captions).

Easy to use editor interface in Webflow.

Intuitive Editor in Webflow with on-site editing tools.

Also, several editors can work on the site at the same time, and you'll see who is doing what and where. Read more about the Webflow editing experience here.

04

Staging / Test version of the website on a different URL

Webflow comes with a staging (test) version of the website at your-site.webflow.io where you can experiment and showcase your work before pushing any changes in content or design to your live site. If you're running a WordPress website, chances are you don't even have a staging server and site setup. Any mistakes made go live on your website. Pray for a backup!

Webflow publishing to staging domain.
Easily publish your Webflow site to a separate "staging" domain for testing before publishing.
05

Backups

Speaking of backups - every time you make a change in Webflow, a new backup is created. The backups can happen with a 5-minute interval if you're busy working on your site, so if anything unexpected happens, you can get right back to safety within seconds. Preview and easily revert to a previous version of the site from the Webflow control panel.

Frequent backups - easy to preview and restore.
Frequent backups - easy to preview and restore.

You can also easily duplicate a Webflow website. It is free until you connect it to a custom domain. A duplicate site can be useful if you want to create a new website based on one of your existing ones. Or if you want your current website available on a different URL while you build and launch a new version. In any case, you can duplicate an existing Webflow website in seconds.

06

Affordable hosting, maintenance, and upgrades

Hosting with Webflow starts at $16 / month for a CMS driven site. The platform is automatically and continuously upgraded without more than notifications about new features for you. And if you need to change or upgrade anything regarding design or structure, it is super fast. What we used to spend hours on developing, testing, and deploying, is usually done in minutes in Webflow.

Webflow hosting plans
Webflow hosting plans.
07

Superior performance and speed!

I cannot overstate the importance of performance and speed. If your site is slow, both users and Google will be very unhappy. The speed you get with Webflow is INSANE! At my agency, we have been working tirelessly for years to try and perfect servers and code for performance and speed. We have spent thousands of dollars on servers and countless hours tweaking all that can be tweaked. And we haven't even been close to what Webflow gives you out of the box. When your site is on Webflow, you are enjoying their world-class global server infrastructure and CDN (Content Delivery Network). Read more at https://webflow.com/hosting.

WordPress vs Webflow site load speed comparison

The above is a side by side comparison of the same website made in Webflow vs Wordpress, tested with Pingdom Tools. This alone is a reason to rush from Wordpress to Webflow. You can see Roman Kremianski break this down and more on his transition from WordPress to Webflow in this video.

In the above image, you'll see the Wordpress version of the site loads WAY more resources (requests) than the Webflow version. It is a result of Wordpress being a bloated platform with so much stuff that is not used by your website. The page size is almost 3 times that of the Webflow version and the load time more than 3 times longer.

08

Custom e-commerce

Webflow recently released its own built-in e-commerce. So now you can build out totally customized webshops all the way through the checkout, with the same ease and speed as other website pages. For now though, if online sales is your main business, a platform like Shopify will most likely be a better fit.

09

Safety (SSL)

Webflow sites come with free SSL certificates (https://). Nothing to set up, it just works. Better for user experience and Google rankings.

10

CMS API and custom code

We have access to an API (Application Programming Interface) for the Webflow CMS, that allows us to get content out of and push content into the CMS. This can be used to pull content into other applications or to push content into Webflow every time something happens in a different platform.

Custom code in the header and footer of a Webflow site.
The screenshot above is from the site settings, where you can add custom code in the header and footer site-wide.

We are also able to include custom code blocks onto pages or websites as a whole. We have used this to populate a container with customer names and logos, pulled from a client's API, to give you one example.

Custom header and footer code on individual Webflow page.

Custom header and footer code on an individual page, in this case for filtering a list of design agencies for the Norwegian Designers Association using Isotope. As I’m writing this, the site is not yet launched.

11

A safe bet

Webflow is a safe bet. They have been around since 2013. They have about 80 employees. They are profitable. There are over 1 million designers and developers using Webflow to create websites. And recently they closed a $72M Series A round of funding.

12

Simple SEO

Using the Webflow Editor, you have access to the basic SEO tools you need. From page titles and meta descriptions to Open Graph (Facebook and such) settings to easily optimize your pages for site search and social sharing.

Editing SEO in Webflow.

Easy to use SEO tools.

13

Webflow limitations

Hey, wait! You said 12! Yes, but I can't be that one-sided so here are the current Webflow limitations too, as the “lucky number 13” on our list.

  1. You can't change the website code, other than to download it. You can, on the other hand, add custom CSS and JS with custom code blocks on webpages and in the header/footer globally. You can also add classes, ids, and attributes to elements to reference them from custom code. But if you want to tweak something on the backend, there is no way. So we typically do an initial evaluation to determine future needs. If any backend integrations are required, we usually have to go with another platform.
  2. Webflow may not be a fit for content-heavy sites that require a lot of reorganizing and building out pages and structure. At least not from the Editor view. But we can train someone on your team for a couple of hours, and they will be good to go in the Designer view aswell.
  3. No hablo español. Webflow is working on support for multi-language websites due for release in 2019 but is currently not multi-language. We work around the missing feature with two temporary solutions; we either duplicate and translate the website, or use a website translation service like Bablic or Localize.
  4. We hope Webflow will add “repeater” fields. So when you are building a page or article from the Editor view, you can add in “content blocks” of different types in whatever order you want. You can build pages any way you want from the Designer view where you build the website. But in the Editor mode that the content editors work from, you are restricted to the fixed content fields in the content type you are editing.

    In WordPress, this feature is usually added in by a plugin called Advanced Custom Fields, and in Craft CMS it is called a Matrix field. We get around this in Webflow sometimes by adding in multiple static fields that are optional.

How I pitch Webflow with its current limitations

When I help my clients evaluate Webflow, I lay some truth upon them: We will be able to make 80% of your dreams come true, using half the time and money. Are you down? Also, that 80% will keep growing. Whenever we meet a roadblock in Webflow that is not mission-critical,  no problemo - they were warned and prepared :) As long as we have done our research and planning right, we will avoid mission-critical surprises.

If you search “should I use WordPress for my business website”, you will get a sweet mix of YES and NO articles.

The opposition: “Why WordPress Is The BEST Platform To Build Your Business or Startup Website On”

If you search “should I use WordPress for my business website”, you will get a sweet mix of YES and NO articles. Here is the most in-depth YES article I could find in the top 10 results: https://medium.com/swlh/why-wordpress-is-the-best-platform-to-build-your-business-or-startup-website-on-df3fe932fad7

I gave it a read, and can’t find any arguments that outweigh what I have discussed in this post. At a high level, the following is the author's main points. I’ll add my comments.

WordPress is open, and you can do anything you want with it

Yes, and if you need these infinite possibilities so much that it outweighs all the issues in this post, go for it. If you can cover your needs with Squarespace (do it yourself) or Webflow (for designers and developers), do that instead.

It’s cheap

Sure, WordPress is cheap, even free. In theory. But, both my agency and my peers who have done projects on WordPress and Webflow/Squarespace, find that WordPress often gets pricey after all. The accumulating cost includes everything from the cost of plugins to maintenance cost to developers. Here is a video that breaks down the cost, and showcases a side-by-side speed comparison of the same site made in Webflow and WordPress:

Webflow vs WordPress YouTube video cover

WordPress crushes other well known CMS platforms like Joomla and Drupal

Well yes, I wouldn’t touch Joomla or Drupal with a ten-foot pole. Being better than those two does not mean WordPress is the right tool for our job.

Wordpress scales better than Wix because of Wix’s limited functionality

Sure, you might be limited by Wix at some point if you were to use that no-code website builder. I have never even bothered using Wix though, for the simple reason that I have never been recommended that platform by any of my peers or tech role models ever! And I have no desire to eat shit to figure out what it tastes like. Ok, that was harsh, but he does not cover the obvious better alternatives; Squarespace and Webflow (I’m getting tired of those names too by now, sorry). 

Wix might be ok, and it might also be a good WordPress alternative in the age of no-code. But the extreme freedom of being able to place endless elements anywhere on the page might very well leave you with a mess and poor user experience for your visitors unless you know exactly what you’re doing.

Wix is kind of in-between Squarespace and Webflow:

  • Webflow - Build with total freedom, like you would have coded it, but visually. Skills required. Acquire them here.
  • Wix - Build with more constraints and more ready-made elements, but place elements freely on the page. Some skills required.
  • Squarespace - Get a simple and pretty website with as little build work as possible. Almost no skills required.

I think we can say Wix is like Microsoft’s PowerPoint - you can do almost anything, and most of the time that ends up looking pretty ugly unless you’re a designer. And Squarespace is like Apple’s Keynote. You have very limited options, but it always ends up looking beautiful!

Endless plugins and integrations

Yes for sure! But that also comes with all the challenges outlined in My main issues with WordPress specifically. In my experience with Webflow so far, I have very rarely come across a challenge that I cannot solve fairly easily, without the equivalent of a Wordpress plugin. 

The author mentions e-commerce with WooCommerce. E-commerce comes with Webflow. He mentions membership sites with paid subscriptions. This is super well integrated with Webflow using https://www.memberstack.io/. Generally, a lot of the really cool services out there, like Mailchimp for email marketing, integrate with just about any platform. This is because both the service providers and the platform managers share the incentive to work together.

...those with in-depth experience with all the platforms, generally leave WordPress on the losing side.

WordPress vs Squarespace vs Webflow

I have personal experience with all these 3 platforms, but honestly, I can’t be bothered to write a detailed comparison between the 3 right now. There are plenty of other good side-by-side comparisons out there, so I’ll rather link you to what you’ll find in the top of the search results :)

To conclude, those with in-depth experience with all the platforms, generally leave WordPress on the losing side.

Webflow vs WordPress side-by-side

You can also have a look at the (obviously very biased) comparisons Webflow made themselves vs Squarespace and WordPress.

About the author

Hey again! If you didn't catch it in the intro, my name is Øyvind (Ø...I know...just call me Owen). 

  • Born in 1980 in Oslo, Norway. 
  • Started playing around with design back in the early '90s on a Macintosh Classic II
  • Programmed games on my Casio graphical calculator in school in the '90s - thug life. 
  • Bought a Compaq Presario laptop in 2000 and started teaching myself design and web development, to earn back the $2000 it cost me. 
  • Sold my two first websites to my pro snowboarder buddies for $1000 and $3000 later that year. 
  • I got myself a year of graphic design education and a 5-year master's degree in industrial- and interaction design alongside my work, for a solid theoretical design foundation. 
  • By the time I graduated in 2008, the client base was already pretty solid so I went on to partner with another designer and hired a couple more to start Represent.
  • Never looked back and I have been building businesses, brands, identities, and websites ever since - through my agency Represent for the last 11 years. 

I work on side projects in addition to the agency work, with my amazing business partner and tech/business mentor Alexander Sundli-Härdig. These days, we are applying all our skills and experience with business, branding, design, and development acquired from working with client projects for 20 years, into a new Norwegian startup called Gridwork. Gridwork is a service that allows businesses to outsource the management, training, and completion of routine, repetitive tasks to Gridwork and our local employees.

In short: most of the time, WordPress will NOT be the right fit for a basic, informational business website in 2019.

Wordpress cover photo with poll graphics

Conclusion - should I use WordPress for my small business website?

In short: most of the time, WordPress will NOT be the right fit for a basic, informational business website in 2019. The reason is that the modern “no-code” web builders as outlined in this post, eliminate the need to relate to code, servers, updates, and all the headache that follows. With platforms like Webflow and Squarespace, you can build world-class websites with amazing performance, without the pain.

A few last words:

  • I wrote this post because I have seen too many business owners left in a world of pain that often comes with WordPress. I hope this has provided a foundation to make an educated decision to use a better alternative. It’s a jungle out there.
  • You should get with the times and use a no-code platform like Squarespace (do it yourself) or Webflow (mostly for designers and developers). The exception is if you have specific needs that only Wordpress or other traditional web platforms can solve.
  • Please use the arguments you have read here to convince decision-makers in your company to steer away from WordPress, unless they have counter-arguments that outweigh everything I have addressed in this post.
  • If you have any questions or want help to get started with Webflow, please head on over to https://www.represent.no and get in touch :)

This is mostly my personal perspective meant to trigger healthy discussion. I am open to discuss, and will even admit when I'm wrong :) If you're one to keep it constructive, let's chat!

That's it for now. See you around!