If you’re overwhelmed by the amount of website builders out there, you’re not alone. This article is about my journey discovering and learning about Wix, Webydo and Webflow.
Full Disclosure: I am currently using Webflow and loving it, but I will try to review each system on it’s own merits. I do not work for, and are not associated with any of the following companies.
My very first website was built with Wix, and it made me realise that I would like to be a website designer. The website I built was for my parents mower store. At this stage I had little knowledge of web design, but I was determined. The website was a success. It was built on their original HTML5 editor. It used the online store feature to display their full range of new equipment, every product had a logo ‘photoshopped’ into its image (time consuming…) and opened up nicely in a lightbox. I was able to (dodgily) remove the online store features so it just looked like a product catalogue. The second site I built using Wix was for a local surf school, this time using the newer HTML5 editor. The new editor didn’t really fix any of the problems of the last one, but it added more modern design elements. Next are some of the pros and cons of using Wix.
Wix makes it super easy for almost anyone to build a fairly solid website with very little design limitations. Wix also makes it easy to have a mobile optimised view by automatically resizing your design elements onto a mobile sized canvas, where you get some ability to customize it further. I have found that the mobile versions that Wix creates can be very cumbersome, slow and inconsistent across different devices. I believe this greatly detracts from the website as often more that 50% of users are on mobile. As Wix is designed for the end user, not professional designers, there is no way to ‘lock down’ design elements that shouldn’t be changed, or moved slightly thus breaking the design. Wix’s approach to having an all-in-one approach to domains and hosting is a solid idea that works well, although if you’re in Australia you will have to buy your domain elsewhere. I believe Wix pricing to be fair and fairly competitive.
In conclusion, Wix is a great place to start out as it makes it super easy to slap together a decent website as long as you have some idea of good design principles. Wix will make it super easy to get up and running with your own domain and solid hosting. Although I couldn’t recommend it for a business or professional website as there are just too many issues and inconsistencies, especially when viewed on mobile.
My next move to find the web design software for me was actually Adobe Muse, although I don’t believe I have had enough experience with it to review it fairly. My next move was to give Webydo a try. This is when I decided to get serious with being a Freelance Website Designer. I spent quite some time with Webydo, I made multiple mockup sites, my own portfolio (twice), and a photographer website. But, I ultimately chose to stay clear of Webydo in the end because of one main problem, among others.
The Webydo pricing model ultimately made me look for other solutions. The designer account must pay for a set amount of sites, the starter plan being 10 sites. The plans then jump up in different increments, and the pricing isn’t cheap. It can make it a little hard to bill, lets say 5 clients for hosting when you are actually paying for 10 accounts. Next it jumps to 30 sites followed by 100 sites. I’m not sure if this would be a problem for a web design agency, as they offer multiple designer accounts on a single plan, and works out pretty cheap (per site) when hosting lots of sites.
Apart from the pricing model, I quite liked Webydo, I gives the designer the ability to create the site, then give the client either full designer abilities, or access just to edit content that you allow access to. The designer was easy to use, kind of like Photoshop or Illustrator. There were plenty of great looking pre-made animations, and you could create a site to pixel-perfect specifications just by dragging and dropping. Their approach on responsive sites is to have set breakpoints, where you can resize and fit the content. I know this is not ‘truly’ responsive but it works well. I would compare Webydo to Wix, but for professional designers. Some professional features they offer are client billing, and white labelling. All of these great features do come with some disadvantages, however.
Once a site was completed I had to spend a fair amount of time debugging it. Certain elements wouldn’t work properly on some devices until you move them or resize them slightly, sometimes having to replace them completely. I also had a hard time adjusting the order of elements (z-index), as sometimes it wouldn’t work as predicted, so that menus and things didn’t get trapped under other elements.
In conclusion, I wouldn’t recommend Webydo to a freelance designer. Sure, it gives many great features and is super easy to use if you have experience with programs like Photoshop and Illustrator. The pricing didn’t really gel with me and I also feel like the designer isn’t polished as there are many little issues that quickly add up.
My final switch was to Webflow, which is where I am now. The few sites I had made with Webydo were remade with Webflow, as there seemed like no other way to get away from Webydo. I was impressed at how quickly I could remake those sites. There was some learning curve as the Webflow interface works more directly with the HTML and CSS markup.
The Webflow designer has multiple toolbars, with loads of options. It allows you to drag and drop an element onto the canvas and directly control the HTML and CSS aspects to craft your site. What happens in the designer basically mimics what the end website code will be like, which is great because it give an understanding and appreciation of what really dives the website. This approach pretty much eliminates all bugs and issues from the end product.
Webflow then gives you the option to host the website through them, or export the code (providing you have a paid designer account). Webflow will let you charge the client directly through their client billing system, or you can choose to pay for the hosting from your account. They also provide white labelling on higher tier designer plans.
Webflow also has a very powerful CMS system that is only available if you host through them. With CMS hosting, the client will get access to an ‘on page’ website editor to perform static changes to the website. But the most powerful part about the CMS is ‘dynamic content’. There are countless things that can be done with the CMS and dynamic content from product galleries, to news sites and more. Best of all, it can all be created visually. If you haven’t check out the Webflow CMS yet, you definitely should!
The Webflow pricing structure appeals to me, as designers can actually use it for free to create up to two staging sites, and have unlimited sites as long as they are hosting through Webflow. The designer can also pay for a plan which will give them more features, like code export, white labelling, larger staging sites and more.
Concluding, Webflow is a great product that suits a wide range of uses and business models. From the freelancer to the web design agency, I recommend this product.
In conclusion, I still think each product reviewed has it’s own place in the industry. Wix is best for small businesses or personal websites for people who would like to try it themselves. Webydo, I believe, is most targeted at web design agencies where designers have a lot of experience with programs like Photoshop and Illustrator, and want a product that works very similar. I believe Webflow is the best, all-rounded product with advanced features, but probably not suited for businesses wanting a DIY website as it does have a steep learning curve. Thanks for reading all the way to the end, and feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.