Webflow | A Visual Web Design And App Development Platform

While it may look like Webflow came out of nowhere in the past decade, the CEO, Vlad Magdalin, originally had the idea back in the early 2000s. He had attempted to start the company multiple times while raising a family and working a day job. But it wouldn’t be until 2013 when Vlad would partner with two others, and the three co-founders would apply to Y Combinator kits.

More so to get their first round of investment. A pretty impressive and inspiring feat. Sure, there were platforms like Adobe Dreamweaver or Muse, but none came close to the flexibility and clean code, W3C-compliant, and semantic code that Webflow offered. For the first couple of years, the Webflow product was just the Designer (we’ll get to that later)—it wasn’t until 2015.

This was the year the Webflow CMS would launch its product to the marketplace—this became a game changer. With the addition of a Content Management System (CMS), you could now design with real-time data in Webflow—no more creating only simple web pages. You could now create a blog, landing page, directory website, or any website that required dynamic content.

F‍or newcomer designers, beginner developers, and even professional webmasters, Webflow is on its way to becoming a platform where you can create software without knowing how to code. Right now, you can rebuild websites and applications like Airbnb in Webflow. So, what do this website design toolkit and application development platform offer webmasters?

Understanding What Webflow Application Development Platform Offers

Webflow is a visual web development platform that allows designers to build fully custom, professional websites in a Photoshop-like interface—without needing to know how to code. If we were to explain it in plain English, imagine if Photoshop and WordPress got frisky and had a baby—that’s Webflow. You get the design freedom of a platform like Photoshop.

And it is also coupled with the CMS and website capabilities of a platform like WordPress. Webflow first came to the public in 2013, when the co-founders launched a prototype of the tool on Hacker News as just a by the way. The prototype was a simple version of what Webflow is today—a web design tool that allows you to code HTML, CSS, and JavaScript visually.

Fast forward to today, and Webflow is the leading no-code builder platform with a multi-billion-dollar valuation—equipped with ecommerce functionality, logic, and user memberships. For example, Unicorn Factory, a freelance marketplace, is currently built entirely with Webflow, so that should say something about the power of this creative development platform.

Before starting any project, Webflow asks questions to personalize user experience. As you design, it writes clean, standards-compliant code for you. Without all the messy inline classes, designers have come to expect from drag-and-drop site builders. And when you’re ready, you can export your HTML, CSS, and images in one handy ZIP file you can use however you like.

Why Webmasters Should Consider Utilizing This Website Design Tool

As mentioned, Webflow is one of the best tools for designing and building fully custom, dynamic websites in a drag-and-drop interface. Webflow will allow you to turn your custom web designs into fully functional, bespoke websites if you’re a designer. If you’re a developer, Webflow will allow you to quickly build prototypes and export clean HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

The great thing about Webflow, which sets it apart from most website and landing page builders, is its community-led platform. From the start, Webflow has listened to its customers and added features to the Webflow platform straight from their wishlist for easy assistance and interactions. The Webflow Showcase is also full of web designers creating different components.

You can find various design assets to clone and use in your unique design projects in the showcase. It’s safe to say that some pretty extensive websites trust Webflow. Webflow has continued to make investments in its product to help users better. So far, Webflow’s design features have covered everything you are looking for from a creative design webmaster standpoint.

Websites you can build include:
  1. SaaS and business websites
  2. Media and blogging websites
  3. Portfolio and personal websites
  4. Ecommerce web-based store websites
  5. Membership and marketplace websites
  6. Custom campaign landing pages

Webflow is the only visual web development platform (at the moment) that generates clean code. Unlike other website builders that create bloated code that can cause security vulnerabilities and slow performance, it produces pure HTML, CSS, and JavaScript (did we mention that already?). It’s excellent for web developers because you can build faster if you know to code.

It’s much quicker to use a drag-and-drop interface than coding the same design by hand, regardless of whether you understand how to code. You can also avoid potential bugs in your code caused by human error. In other words, Webflow is made for the web designer. It’s currently the best tool for designers who want to build fully functional, custom websites. What’s more?

1. No more faux-empty elements!

Webflow gives a familiar interface like Photoshop or Figma, making it easy for designers to get around the tool quickly. If you are more technical, you can pick up Webflow in just a few hours (or less). Many front-end web developers use it for its speed of production, its ability to easily integrate with custom code (and other tools), and how accessible the website code is.

Every once in a while, when you were working with elements in Dynamic Lists, they’d jump around the canvas or look empty even when they weren’t. Thankfully, through Webflow, we can put that weirdness in the past tense now.

In addition, viewport-based units are super handy for responsive design. While they’ve supported vh (viewport height) and vw (viewport width) for a while, they didn’t support viewport minimum and maximum settings. So they added them. Handy, right? You can also easily export the code that Webflow generates to use elsewhere if you’d like.

2. Copy and paste between projects

Great news! Now you can copy and paste existing layouts, elements, interactions — even entire pages — from one project to another. Webflow will also recognize similarities and differences in class names and styles, making it smoother to merge duplicate styles when you’re moving elements between projects. For all the nitty-gritty details, check Webflow University.

3. Grid now supported in symbols

If you read their release notes closely (or played around with the grid on your websites), you may have noticed that supported symbols containing grid elements haven’t been rendered correctly on published websites. Well, good news: they’ve fixed that! So now you can go wild with the grid in footers, symbols, sidebars, forms, and whatever other grid-based components you want to use in multiple places on your website. Let the grid times roll! Are we right?

4. Reuse grid layouts more easily 

With grid template areas, you can reuse grid layouts more quickly. Following up on their recent 2.0 release of CSS grid support, they’re expanding the grid’s power even further with grid template areas: a new way to position items within a grid that makes reusing layouts ten times easier. Along with other benefits, grid template areas allow you to restructure recurring design layouts in a few clicks and impact every instance of that layout — without worrying about its content. In effect, this enables you to create something like content-agnostic symbols.

5. Center element button seamlessly

Added to the new style panel is the unique feature to help you center the element button. One of the more contested changes in the new style panel has been the exclusion of the center element button, which applied “margin: auto” to both sides of an element. This made it easy to center the button elements in a single click. As it turns out, you can now use the (slightly different looking) center element button on the new style panel to set “margin: auto” on elements and center them horizontally.

6. Focus mode in the style panel

Sometimes when you’re building in Webflow, the focus mode in the style panel can get a bit tall and cumbersome to navigate. What if you could quickly collapse all sections you’re not working in? Well, wonder no longer, because now you can: with focus mode. To enable focus mode, open up the context menu at the top of the style panel and check that option. Still, renaming classes in Webflow has, admittedly, never been that easy — so they fixed that. You can quickly rename a style class with a dropdown menu on hover or double-click the class name.

7. Background clipping to fill texts

You can also fill the layout text with gradients, images, and overlays with background clipping. You’ve probably seen the background clipping effect on websites, but before today, you haven’t been able to use this handy CSS property on your Webflow websites. Thankfully, that’s no longer the case: now you can clip background styles for an element to text with the new clipping property in the background section of the styles panel.

8. Design for even larger screens

With three new breakpoints, you can now design for even larger screens. As laptops and external monitors keep getting bigger, Webflow’s keeping up with the times by adding not 1, not 2, but 3 new significant breakpoints at 1280px, 1440px, and 1920px. For a closer look at these changes and a walkthrough of updating a website to use these new breakpoints, check out the announcement blog post to gather more helpful information.

9. Build faster with prebuilt layouts

Webflow’s always given you the basic building blocks of the web (like divslinks, and paragraphs), but what if you want to jumpstart your website build and add a whole section or layout of multiple elements at once? Before today, you’d have to borrow things from the cloneable sections of the Webflow showcase or build those layouts yourself from scratch. And so, to make life easier and empower you to create pages faster, Webflow has added a new tab to the Add panel filled with prebuilt layouts like hero sections, nav bars, contact forms, and more to help you get pages started faster.

10. Preview the CSS properties of classes

Sometimes the smallest of changes can also be the mightiest. This is especially true for designers managing complex class systems and constantly struggling to find which classes they want to apply to the canvas because they cannot preview the properties within each class. You either have to find an element that has a class applied, or you have to apply a class to an element so you can preview the effects. This impacts your productivity and slowly begins to feel like a waste of precious time you could use to create on the canvas. Use the Style Manager to preview the classes of the CSS properties quickly.

Webflow Now Provides Free No Code Website Building Tech For Students

The web is an essential part of learning and expression—and for too long, it’s been too hard for too many to harness the web’s full power. Webflow, the no-code web-design platform, has recently announced that it will offer free services to all students. On that note, the company moved to provide a free annual CMS website plan to help students build a strong design portfolio.

More so without the barrier of affordability or specialized coding skills. Webflow’s mission is to remove the obstacles for anyone to build for the web. By offering Webflow free to students, they’re dramatically expanding access to a modern platform to boost student studies — said Vlad Magdalin, the CEO of Webflow. They have already seen great websites built by students.

May it be at Carnegie Mellon, California College for the Arts, Dartmouth, Purdue, and more—and they can’t wait to see what students will build next. The unique no-code feature provided by the Webflow platform has proven successful amongst users and investors. Webflow has raised over $200 million in funding, valuing the company at $2.1 billion as of 2021.

The website builder platform includes tips on SEO, advanced CMS, and customizing domains, all design features—essential to running a website today. Webflow’s tips across its design features have made the platform super accessible, easy to deploy, and test quickly. Many academic students like using Webflow because of the ease of accessibility and features (learn more).

Is Webflow Right For You? Who Should Use The Web And Apps Builder?

On the one hand, professional webmasters looking to build fully custom websites while eliminating the need to become well-versed in programming languages should consider using Webflow. On the other hand, if you’re a freelance web designer, web developer, or agency, Webflow can seriously be a game changer for you. It’s pretty much your WordPress replacement.

If we could compare it to anything, Webflow today is like what Shopify was back in 2015. Still, if that doesn’t excite you about this platform, we don’t know what will. But besides Webflow being for web designers and developers, it’s a potent tool for marketers. It’s straightforward to tailor your brand, quickly ship new pages on your website, and optimize for leads.

However, if you’re not technical, there may be a slight learning curve to properly build a website from scratch in Webflow. This is because, with Webflow, you are playing around with fundamental HTML, CSS, and JavaScript — the “language” of the internet. There will be a learning curve if you don’t know things like the box model or how web pages are built on the web.

Arguably, Webflow has one of the most robust communities of any software company, making it easy to find many website templates, UI kits, and resources about using the platform for different use cases. On top of that, many big-name companies have started using Webflow — Upwork, Discord, Metamask (over 12M visitors/month), Adobe, Michael Kors, and Chipotle.

Takeaway Thoughts:

Most of us were first introduced to Webflow in April 2019 when some of our professional Web Tech Experts team came to our CEO and asked if they could purchase a lite version of Webflow to build their project website. Of course, some of us were familiar with website building before Webflow; several of us had been building websites for many years leading up to the switch.

Webflow allows people to learn and share their work with other people. Do you think this community-building aspect is encouraging for those who have never tried web design before? Absolutely! In the case of our particular program, we have found that using Webflow has encouraged all team members to get involved in the platform. It’s been nice for all of us.

In particular, we’ve got students still under website design and applications development training already working in teams of five or more, and Webflow enables them to work together. Webmasters with more technical experience have been using Webflow because of its ease of creating, deploying, and being able to host a website directly with the platform.

The essential stand-out feature is its capability to build and manage a website without code. It allows especially beginner webmasters to create complex websites and portfolios while removing the stress of web designing and coding. In a nutshell, it facilitates creating and supporting entirely customizable immersive web experiences. Let’s hear your thoughts below.

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