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I love learning and working with new web tech. Unfortunately, the more I dive into Webflow, the more disapointet and confused I get.

Why Webflow

I'm a programmer who works on short and long term projects assigned by marketing agencies or software houses. In some cases I can suggest recommended technology and approach I would like to work with. However, there are projects I'm assigned to work on without the freedom of picking the technology I use. In most cases, there were good reasons why the client wanted to utilize some of the webflow strengths and as much as I might be poiting out weaknesses, there are important reasons to use it.

What is my grape with Webflow

I like when the tech stack I use embraces standarized approaches for building websites. Tailwind for example utilizes their own css class names for standard CSS code. There is no magic behind it and all they do is a standarized approach to the layouts and the theming of an app. Squarespace is a WYSIWYG that hides ALL code aspects from the user giving a great drag-and-drop experience. Webflow is somewhere in between where standard CSS and HTML is mixed in with theirt own approach to animations, HTML-like building blocks or CSS class strategy for theming.

Below are a few short bullet points with reasons why I think Webflow experience is not the best.

Very poor JS support

Javascript is a secondary citizen on the Weblow platform and I'm under and impression that its use is almost discouraged. Webflow doesn't validate JS ( nor any custom code) syntax which can quickly result in problems. You can either add JS to a HTML block for custom code or in a dedicated panel within the page settings. Neither place is ideal and both don't support ANY validation, versioning or feedback. The settings panel for JS is limited to 1500 lines of code which is also a big problem for custom websites.

Weird approach to animations.

That is hands down the area of Webflow that buffles me the most. Anything that has to do with on scroll animations, hover states or on-click changes need to be created in a way that is nothing like anything on the web.

Some custom HTML elements

Webflow has lots of custom HTML elements that work well as long as you don't try to do anything fancy. Once you try to modify a dropdown or a navbar, it wont work or it will be hard for you to make it work the way you want. That is not something I like to work with while customizing code.

Simple features hidden behind "clicks"

Webflow gives you all necessary controls if you feel like using layouts based on a flexbox or a grid. You can modify the display mode or the position of an element by clicking on the correct menu. That is fine but it is just a fancy way for writing CSS. And the catch is that typing it out allows you to understand what is going on with your layouts. Clicking around within a CSS menu that has more than 50 options might be a bit less straightforward. And it doesn't teach you how CSS works. If that is the way a "code savvy" designer wants to build website then that is fine but I do think that they will have a hard time working on normal CSS + HTML projects where code is written and no buttons are clicked.

Non transferable skills

I like standarized solutions that don't require too many mental puzzles to solve simple issues. I like when my 20+ years of building websites and writing code is applicable while using new platforms like Webflow. I don't like when I need to learn new paradigms to solve simple problems and fight the platform when the design of a site is a bit different than what Webflow thinks is a normal site. I like to expand my skills while learning new platforms that would help me make websites faster and with less errors. I don't like when skills acquired for one plarform are useless on the standard web.

What's next?

As much as I see lots of problems with Webflow and don't like their custom approach the building blocks on the web, I do use it and will continue using it. I got used to its shortcomings and weird decisions. Its all good. Life goes on and its just one of many tools that make the web so interesting and special :)