For anyone looking to build a website, there are many platforms that can help you do it without any coding skills. In fact, there are so many platforms that it’s hard to choose between them. Some of these website builders are free; some are expensive; some offer free hosting, some don’t, and so on. Though, when it comes to functionality and style, these three giants stand out: WordPress vs Webflow vs Shopify.
So, in this article, we’re going to compare the three platforms to help you find the best page builder for your needs to create and launch your website. Remember that there’s no number 1 website builder; all of them have pros and cons, and you need to decide which one to use according to your website, its functionalities, and needs.
Before we start, we need to make a note about WordPress. It has two platforms. The key difference between them is the hosting provider. With WordPress.com, WordPress takes care of the hosting for you, making it easier to start. On the other hand, WordPress.org requires you to source your own hosting provider. In this article, we will be talking about WordPress.org. It has far more customisation potential and is much less restrictive, compared to WordPress.com.
Ease of Use
Webflow is one of the most flexible website builders. It’s easy to use, requires zero coding experience, and allows to create complex designs. Whether you want to build a 100% customised website or use templates, you can do both with Webflow. It has more than 100 free and premium templates for all purposes. Webflow is a visual, drag-and-drop editor that translates your web design into clean code.
Similar to Webflow, Shopify doesn’t require any coding experience to build a website. It is the ultimate eCommerce website builder that lets anyone create and manage an online store. It comes with hosting and automated updates and offers learning courses that can teach you how to use the platform. So, new users can easily learn and build an online store on their own. Plus, Shopify offers some very good templates, which can be a great help for those not experienced in design.
Unlike the other two, WordPress can be overwhelming for new users. It takes more time for users to get comfortable with all the development tools. Despite the steep learning curve, a web design novice can still get comfortable with the builder. You do not need to know code to make the most out of WordPress’ features. An experienced WordPress developer will be able to set up your website exactly as you want it. Maintaining this will be just as easy as other platforms! And it has lots of plugins, like Elementor, that allows you to design and customise the website.
Some landing page template options with our favourite WordPress page builder plugin, Elementor:
Design & Customisation
Webflow is a perfect page builder for web designers. Webflow Designer allows you to customise the design, create it from scratch or use the templates (and customise it to the full extent), and add complex design elements, like animations. You can create custom post types and custom fields for any page of your website. Besides, it’s responsive by nature, so you don’t have to worry about how your website will look on mobile. Plus, it enables you to edit the typography to a level that only programs like Photoshop or InDesign allow. So, with Webflow, you have complete control of the website design.
Shopify is more limited when it comes to design and customisation. Though, it offers high-quality themes that are modern, professional, and ready to go. So, when you don’t have much time to spend on customising the design, Shopify is a good choice. Shopify offers nine free themes and lots of premium themes or themes created by third-party authors. Each theme has its own editable elements, which generally include colours, fonts, images, and logos. If you want to change other elements, you can do it in HTML and CSS code.
There is a no better option for customisation than WordPress. With thousands and thousands of themes to choose from, many of them free, you can create any design you want. Even more interesting designs can be unlocked by paying just $50. Countless websites are entirely dedicated to building and selling themes. You can switch themes whenever you like; most of them are optimised for mobile. You can build professional, beautiful, high-performance websites within WordPress by yourself. WordPress requires more time investment to familiarise with the interface compared to other platforms. So, if you want to build a custom web design not based on a theme, you might need a help of a web-design agency.
With full customisation, Webflow allows you to build any kind of website, and it even has a separate plan for e-commerce websites. Although, if you want to add highly customised functionality to your website, you can’t do it through plugins or apps, unlike WordPress and Shopify. You’ll have to use third parties to add the additional functionalities Webflow doesn’t have. Besides, Webflow doesn’t offer pre-made cards or blog templates; you have to build everything from scratch. While it’s not a problem for designers, it can be difficult for others.
Shopify has all the features needed to build a fully functioning online store. Though, its design lacks flexibility, and you can’t change the features as easily as you can on WordPress or Webflow. Unlike Webflow, if you want to add some extra functionalities, there are plenty of apps that can allow you to do that. But note that they come with a price, and if you add too many apps, it can affect your website speed and make it too cluttered.
There are many features available to you because of the thousands of paid & free plugins that offer almost any function you desire for your website. Whether you want a membership site, eCommerce store, directory, or any other type of website, it can be done. WooCommerece is a plugin that provides extensive eCommerce options. There is video integration with YouTube and Vimeo available and a backup with Dropbox to save your database.
WordPress powers more than 42% of all websites. Below, you can see 10 famous websites, all built with WordPress!
Scalability and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Webflow has a lot of benefits concerning SEO. Firstly, it’s responsive by nature, which is an important ranking factor for search engines. Then it automatically generates a sitemap for you. And best of all, Webflow writes very clean code, which makes it easy for search engines to read and index your pages. You can create your customisable H1, title and meta tags and optimise them for SEO. However, if you need to add, e.g. structured data, Webflow doesn’t have that feature, and it also doesn’t have plugins for it, so you’ll have to add it to the code manually. So, to take your SEO to a higher level, you may need some coding knowledge.
Shopify also has some built-in SEO features; it automatically generates a sitemap, is mobile-friendly and provides tutorials for SEO optimisation. On the other hand, its sitemap is locked, and you can’t make changes to it. Besides, you can’t change the URL structure either. In fact, we have an entire article about Shopify SEO, which you can find here. Explore all the pros and cons of its SEO to decide whether it can be a good choice for you.
WordPress is more flexible when it refers to SEO. New pages can be added easily, and themes can be switched to suit your business needs. Despite being well set up for SEO, powerful plugins (such as Yoast) can be installed to take your SEO strategy up. WordPress takes a significant lead for SEO: 46.1% of WordPress websites get organic traffic. Though, note that you might need a developer’s help to figure out all the plugins and not add too many and lower the site speed.
Webflow has a customer support centre available from Monday through Friday from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm PT. They have email support for all customers and live phone support for Enterprise customers. Besides that, Weblow University has tutorials that can help you learn how to use the platform, they have FAQs and a forum where you can find many questions answered and discuss the issues with the community.
Shopify has a customer support centre which is there for you 24/7. It’s a live chat that you can access with your admin account. They also have a community of 900,000 merchants and partners, where you can ask questions and discuss all the issues with the community members. Shopify also has an academy where you can learn how to start your online store and learn about Shopify features.
Although there is no official support centre, there is an extensive community of web developers using WordPress who are happy to provide advice and offer solutions to problems. There are online forums as well as regular meetups. You may also hire a web design agency to help develop the page in the first place or take care of an issue when it arises.
Webflow is also a CMS platform that includes hosting and security and handles all the code, so it will be pretty easy to manage a Webflow website. Its hosting is quite good, and you don’t need to look for better-quality hosting services. And best of all, it offers a free plan, which you can use to fully build your website and then buy one of its plans to host your website. Though, when you want additional functionalities that Webflow doesn’t offer, you’ll need to write the code yourself and then make changes to it manually.
Shopify is great when it comes to website management. All its plans come with hosting services; it has customer relationship management, inventory management, shipping, order tracking and tax management tools. Besides that, Shopify automatically updates the website and provides the SSL certificate, so you won’t have to worry about technical stuff. So, everything is handled by Shopify, which is quite helpful as you won’t need to hire other specialists or companies to manage your website.
You have to source your own hosting provider and register a domain name before you can launch a site with WordPress. Due to its impressive usage (a third of all websites run on WP), it is susceptible to hacking, but updates and plugins are available to help mitigate this risk. Also note, that you need to take care of the website and plugin updates yourself and make sure they are all compatible with each other. So, in the case of WordPress, it may take more effort and time to manage and maintain your website properly.
Monthly Costs: starting from $14/month for general websites and $29/month for e-commerce
Webflow has a free plan, but it’s only suitable for learning to use the platform and building your website before publishing it. Its starter plans are suitable for a simple website and online stores, but as you grow your website, they won’t be enough as the bandwidth is limited. Though, you can upgrade your plan whenever you feel the need.
Monthly Costs: starting from $24/month
Domain: free myshopify.com domain name included, custom domain names are available for purchase
On Shopify, you need to buy custom domain names or use their free myshopify.com one. Shopify also has a free trial, which you can use to build your website, but it’s for a limited time period, unlike Webflow. Also, when you need extra functionalities, you may need to buy additional apps, which will add to your monthly costs. But overall, for a fully functioning e-commerce store, Shopify offers a good price/quality ratio.
Monthly Costs: free!
Domain: not included. The average price starts at $12/year.
Hosting: not included. The average price starts from $1.99/month.
WordPress.org is free to start using for any user, but you need to have registered a domain and set up a hosting plan. More expensive hosting plans will provide higher storage, bandwidth and performance. Also, depending on your website’s needs, you may end up paying for features like premium designs and plugins.
So, which one is the best for your business? Let’s make conclusions, starting from Webflow.
Webflow is a visual drag-and-drop builder that lets you completely control your web design. So, if you’re a web designer and want to build a highly-customised and branded website, then Webflow is a good choice. Though, bear in mind that if you need to add extra functionalities that Webflow doesn’t have, you’ll need a developer’s help.
Shopify is a great e-commerce platform and the most popular e-commerce platform for a reason. It has excellent features and all the necessary functionalities to start an online store. Although, Shopify is not very flexible, and if you need to create a customised design or a complex website, you will face some limits and will need to know how to deal with the code or hire a developer. But overall, for someone who doesn’t have experience neither in design not in coding, it’s a good choice to start an online business, and it’s probably one of the best e-commerce platforms.
And finally, WordPress. For complete control over your website, the potential for customisation and scalability, and the availability of a wide range of plugins and features, WordPress is by far the best option. You may need to invest some time in getting to grips with its building tools or hire a web developer to do the work for you, but the long-term results will be worth it as there is virtually no limit to the kind of website you can design.
Explore your options carefully, and weigh all the pros and cons to make the right decision for your brand. And remember that whichever one you choose, you can later switch to another platform if your website’s needs change.
What does CMS mean?
A content management system (CMS) is a software that allows the user to create, edit, organise and publish their content.
What is a page builder?
A page builder usually just means a tool that allows you to visually construct a page, typically using a ‘drag-and-drop’ interface. Webflow and Shopify are both ‘drag-and-drop’ page builders. WordPress pages can be built with pure HTML / CSS / JS, but there are many ‘drag-and-drop’ page builder plugins, such as Elementor and Divi that make building websites far easier.
What is WordPress?
WordPress was initially created as a tool for people to set up their own blogs. But its user-friendly interface made it one of the most popular Content Management Systems (CMS) for all kinds of web development, from simple blogs to advanced eCommerce sites.