Webflow and the Battle of the Web Builders

May 8, 2024
5 min read

Every small business that wants to be successful needs a great website. There are limitless web builder options, each with pros and cons. We are here to give you a detailed look into our web builder of choice, Webflow, and other popular web builders like WordPress, Wix, Shopify, and more.

There are key differences between the web builders available today. Before you decide which one is right for you, you will need to consider: 

  • Cost
  • Ease of Use
  • Business Goals 
  • Features and Functionality
  • Customization Options
  • Scalability
  • Security
  • Customer Support
  • Hosting and Domain
  • SEO Friendliness
  • Templates and Design Options
  • User Reviews and Reputation

You will also need to determine if you are building your new website yourself or using a professional website design agency to create one for you. 

This blog post will compare some of the most popular web builders available including the pros and cons of each platform. We also break down which builders are best for DIY-ing your website and which are best suited for an agency. Finally, we explain the benefits of having an agency build your website. 

Two rock-em-sock-em robot toys throw punches.

If You Want to DIY Your Website: 

  • Squarespace
  • Wix
  • Elementor

If You Need an E-Commerce Website: 

  • Shopify

If You Want an Agency To Build Your Website:

  • Framer
  • WordPress
  • Webflow

Are you a small business owner? Read our blog for small business entrepreneurs, featuring tips on branding, web design, SEO, and more!

Web Builders For The DIY’ers

If you’re a small business owner who needs a website but doesn’t have the funds to invest in an agency-made custom-built website… you can invest time into building a website yourself. Below we will dig into some beginner-friendly web builders that are relatively easy to learn and use. 

DIY Web Builder 1: Squarespace

Squarespace is easy to get started and is perfect for beginners! This “no-coding needed” web builder with easy-to-edit website templates and great customer support makes this an excellent web builder for small business owners.

The Squarespace logo on a purple background.

Benefits of Squarespace

  • Easy web builder for beginners
  • User-friendly editor
  • Integrated booking software and email marketing
  • E-commerce functionality
  • Creative designs perfect for aesthetic sites
  • Free 6-Month Trial 
  • Fantastic online tutorials and access to community support forums
  • Known for its award-winning customer support

Squarespace is a great platform to design and host a website for a variety of business types, including photographers, event planners, authors, online coaches, massage therapists, and more.

In addition to the benefits listed above, Squarespace is also secure, and won't break down when a plugin is out-of-date. They also offer dozens of resources and tutorials to guide you through building your website (like this handy guide right here). 

There are a few downsides to Squarespace, though. 

Drawbacks of Squarespace

  • Customer support is not available 24/7 and email support may take a while
  • There is no free plan (although you do have 6 months to create a free website)
  • No autosave when editing
  • Limited customization and design freedom
  • Fewer themes than other web builders
The homepage of Squarespace, with text and images.

Hosting Fees

Free plans: not available

*free trials available for 14 days

Paid plans: available from $21-$90/month (CAD)

These plans include fully managed and secure cloud hosting, so you won’t need another hosting provider.

DIY Web Builder 2: Wix

Wix has easy drag-and-drop functions and with over 800+ templates to choose from, it’s a great web builder for web design novices. Oh, and did we mention you can make your website for free.

The Wix web builder logo on a white background.

Benefits of Wix

  • Easy drag-and-drop editor
  • Caters to all industries with over 800+ templates
  • Budget-friendly with the free plan option
  • User-friendly platform
  • A large variety of built-in tools for SEO and E-commerce
  • Designing for mobile is intuitive and easy to use

One of the reasons we love Wix for beginners is their SEO system. While fully optimizing your website can be challenging for a beginner, Wix does a decent job of providing easy-to-understand tools to do it yourself. They give customers step-by-step plans to help implement basic SEO best principles. 

That said…

While Wix gets high scores for SEO functionality, price, web security, and ease of use, it scores low in other areas like responsive design.

Drawbacks of Wix

  • You can’t switch your template once the website is live
  • Expensive upgrades when scaling and growing
  • The choice of options can be overwhelming
  • Not every template is truly responsive, creating issues for your end users
  • While they have a variety of templates to choose from, the quality of design of each template can vary widely
An African American woman edits and works on a computer in an office.

Hosting Fees

Free plans: available

Paid plans: available from $15-$149/month (CAD)

Wix offers free website hosting, so you don’t need to pay for an additional hosting provider.

Wix has some great SEO tools to help grow your blog and brand. Want to learn more about optimizing your blogs and websites for SEO? Read here.

DIY Web Builder 3: Elementor

Elementor is a DIY web builder for WordPress and one of the more difficult do-it-yourself recommendations in this blog. 

While Elementor says all you need to do is download and install their builder onto your WordPress site, choose a template, customize, and publish… it can be a lot trickier than that. Especially if you’re not tech-savvy. 

The Elementor web builder logo on a yellow background.

Benefits of Elementor

  • Free templates and more advanced paid templates
  • More flexibility for plugins (WordPress has 50,000 available plugins)
  • Drag and drop customization
  • Budget-friendly, with free and paid versions available
  • Responsive web design (and mobile-friendly!)
  • Has e-commerce capabilities
  • 24/7 customer support with paid plans

Now what doesn’t Elementor have?

Drawbacks of Elementor

  • Weaker website security than other web builders (like Wix and Squarespace)
  • It needs constant security maintenance
  • The hardest learning curve for beginners, with a very technical builder
  • Shopify still rules when it comes to e-commerce
  • Free plans have limited options
The homepage for Elementor web builder themes from Wordpress, showcasing text and images.

Hosting Fees

Free plans: available

Paid plans: 3 categories available

  • Web Builder plan options (no hosting included): $80-$540/year (CAD)
  • Static Hosting and Web Builder:  $650-$1300/year (CAD)
  • All-in-one plan options (WordPress hosting + Elementor builder + 24/7 support): $195-$536/year (CAD)

Want to know the difference between dynamic and static websites? Read here.

Web Builders For the E-Commerce Gurus

If you’re a product-based small business and want to sell your goods online, you probably want to build an e-commerce website. While some of the beginner web builders we listed earlier have e-commerce capabilities, none of them compare to the E-Commerce champion: Shopify.

E-Commerce Web Builder: Shopify

Shopify is the leader in e-commerce, and for good reason. A user-friendly interface, a wide range of sales channels, and reliable customer support are some highlights of this e-commerce web builder. You can use this web builder to DIY your own e-commerce website or have an agency build it. 

Creating a Shopify website on your own gives you complete independence over your shop, allowing you to remove and add products at your discretion. 

Easy-to-use toolsets allow you to set up product prices, payment methods, and taxes, and customize your store design the way you want. Shopify also has automated setups from ordering to shipping your products, allowing for ease at every step.

Creating a Shopify website through an agency means you will save hundreds of hours learning how to build your website. An agency will also give you the peace of mind everything has been done right… the first time. 

E-commerce agencies can integrate the latest features to make sure your store is always up-to-date and fully optimized. They also provide expert support in the design, content creation, and SEO of your website. 

However, a Shopify website created by an agency can be very expensive with prices ranging from $10,000 to $60,000 depending on the website. 

The needs and complexity of your business will determine if the DIY or agency route is right for your Shopify website. While building one on your own will take a large time investment to do properly, it can be done for smaller to medium-sized businesses and might save you a lot of money. 

If you have a vast amount of products to sell and the desire for more robust re-marketing campaigns, we might recommend you go with a web design agency that specializes in e-commerce websites. 

The Shopify logo on a purple background.

Benefits of Shopify

  • A streamlined selling experience for your clients
  • Secure website hosting and secure transactions
  • Some free templates and lots of paid templates are available!
  • 24/7 live chat support and email support
  • Built-in marketing tools
  • Integration with social media and popular online marketplaces
  • User-friendly interface

While Shopify is the king of e-commerce, there are drawbacks to this web builder.

Drawbacks of Shopify

  • It’s not easily customizable
  • Expensive paid themes
  • High hosting and transaction fees
  • No free plans are available, but there is a free 14-day trial
  • No email hosting
  • Exiting the platform can be difficult
A Caucasian woman and African American woman work on their computer in their store front.

Are you a small business getting started in e-commerce? Learn more about Shopify, Instagram Shop, and Etsy here

Hosting Fees

Free plans: not available

*free 14-day trial available

Paid plans: available from $38-$3100/month (CAD)

Hiring an Agency? Check out These Web Builders 

If you’re an established small business, you probably have the budget to have a website custom-made for you by a professional website design agency. But what are the benefits of going with an agency over building a website yourself?

Website design agencies can create strategic custom websites backed by years of professional expertise. Additionally, agencies can handle intricate technical difficulties, optimize your website so it outperforms your competitors, and provide ongoing support so you have time to do what you do best… 

Build and grow your business.

A few of the most popular web builders that agencies use are WordPress, Webflow, and Framer. Which one you choose will depend on your business needs and budget. 

Agency Web Builder 1: Framer

Framer is a web builder and design platform that’s new to the scene, fitting somewhere between Squarespace and Webflow but geared toward designers.

The Framer website builder works similarly to other tools UI designers use such as Figma. Similar to Webflow and Squarespace, hosting is included. Website design agencies typically start from a template or create a unique design system and library and assemble your site with the provided or created elements.

The Framer web builder logo on a yellow background.

Benefits of Framer

  • Fast sites
  • Published websites are automatically optimized for search engines
  • Built-in CMS and site maintenance tools
  • AI-powered localization
  • Framer community and support team
  • Free for hobby sites (forever) and budget-friendly prices 
  • Hosting included in pricing

Drawbacks of Framer

  • The CMS functions are not as advanced as Webflow
  • Not as polished as other web builders, and still relatively new
  • Lack of YouTube videos and tutorials if you run into problems
  • Not designed for e-commerce
A computer open to a webpage in an office environment.

Hosting Fees

Free plans: available

Paid plans: available from $7-$50/month (CAD)

*These prices do include hosting!

Web Builder: WordPress

WordPress is one of the more well-known web builders out there, due to its large online presence since its origin in 2003. It’s not a beginner-friendly web builder, as it requires having a coder. (Unlike the DIY version of WordPress, “Elementor”)

The Wordpress web builder logo on a white background.

Benefits of WordPress

  • More than 50,000 available plugins
  • Fully customizable websites (the most customizable web builder out there)
  • More than 8,000 templates and themes
  • A free-to-use plan is available
  • An agency can manage troubleshooting and web hosting on your behalf

While WordPress is an incredible web builder with almost limitless possibilities, it requires substantially more financial investment when compared to other web builders.

Drawbacks of WordPress

  • No free domain is included
  • No web hosting or security is included
  • A code builder and web designer are required, and you cannot make a website yourself without them
  • It’s not an all-in-one web builder
The screengrab of the WordPress website, text saying 'Get the best out of the world's most trusted website builder' on a grey background.

Read more: WordPress vs Webflow

Hosting Fees

Free plans: available 

*Free plans have limited functions and features

Paid plans: available from $5-$91/month (CAD)

*This does not include domain and hosting costs, simply the web builder

Web Builder: Webflow

Webflow is a no-coding web builder excellent for customization and user-friendly experiences. When you have a Webflow website built by a web design agency, you get the best of both worlds! A customized and unique website, with secure hosting, excellent customer support, and faster turnaround time. 

The Webflow web builder logo on a yellow background.

Benefits of Webflow

  • Fast site speed
  • Customer support included in their monthly payment plans
  • Secure hosting platform included
  • No plugins needed
  • Over 2,000 templates to choose from, with customization options
  • User-friendly content management system (CMS) that lets small business owners update their websites directly
  • Has e-commerce options available

While we may be biased as a Webflow web design agency, we know that not every web builder is perfect. Here are some of our Webflow drawbacks.

Drawbacks of Webflow

  • E-commerce options are not as advanced as other sites, like Shopify (even Squarespace and Wix have better e-commerce capabilities)
  • Not suited for large organizations with complicated software integrations
  • Edits to the website can only be done on a desktop
A screengrab of the Webflow templates web page, showcasing over 2000 design templates for use.

Because both Webflow and Framer are no-code web builder options, they are often compared. 

Webflow is a fantastic choice for businesses that want a responsive, customized website with extensive integrations and robust animation capabilities. Framer, however,  focuses more on interactive elements and animations.

Which no-code web builder is right for you depends on whether you prioritize the ability to fully customize your website to your needs or want to design a highly interactive website with movement. 

We’re a remote marketing and web design agency dedicated to crafting custom marketing solutions for small businesses. Our custom-designed Webflow websites for our clients are part of our staple offerings, and you can peruse our portfolio here.

Hosting Fees

Webflow is a subscription-based platform, with everything included in your monthly payment. (And yes, that includes hosting!)

Free plans: available

*for hobby and staging sites

Paid plans: available in monthly or yearly billing packages

General: $24-$66/month (CAD)

E-commerce: $57-$318/month (CAD)

Our Web Builder of Choice: Webflow

All in all, our winner in the Battle of the Web Builders is Webflow!

An illustrated old trophy on a purple background.

Why Webflow?

We love Webflow, and our clients do too. We can create fully customized websites that are easy for your customer to use and also easy for you (hello, small business owners) to update on your own. 

Webflow is an amazing platform, constantly evolving and changing based on its client's needs. It’s the perfect web platform for forward-thinking, small to medium-sized businesses and non-profits looking to receive the most value from their website investment. While it might not be optimized for e-commerce, it’s the perfect platform for service-based businesses, non-profits, creatives, and any company looking for a brochure-type website that performs both technically and visually.

Webflow gives designers endless possibilities for no-code customization, putting full freedom in the hands of creatives like us. It also offers a host of benefits including faster site speed, no outdated plugins breaking down, no coding required, all-in-one pricing packages, and ongoing customer support.

Also Read: WordPress vs. Webflow: Which is Better?

Why Choose an Agency?

You might be wondering why someone would choose an agency when they could build a website themselves.  If you’re just starting your business or don’t have a lot of room in your budget for a custom website, then one of the DIY web builders we listed above would be a great choice to make your website!

But money isn’t your only currency as a business owner… time is, too. Could you spend hours and hours learning to make a website on your own? Yes. 

Will it end up being as user-friendly, customized, and well-designed as a custom-built website? No. 

Having a web design agency build your website for you saves you time, and gives you a better website.

Two Caucasian women in a creative agency discuss over a laptop and marketing materials on a coffee table.

Benefits of Having an Agency Design Your Website

  • You receive a customized website that perfectly represents your brand identity and values
  • It can increase user engagement through intuitive website design and navigation 
  • Apply the best SEO, UI, and UX practices so that your website is properly optimized for search engines and users
  • They can provide ongoing support, maintenance, and technical expertise to keep your website functional
  • Websites managed by agencies can save you money and resources over time, as an experienced web design team can troubleshoot and fix issues for you

We Are Your Web Design Agency of Choice!

Hey, it’s Kass and Michelle at Spark & Pony Creative! We’re a remote creative marketing and web design agency specializing in small business marketing and Webflow websites. Do you need a custom website built? Get in touch with us here.

You can also follow us on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, X (formerly known as Twitter), and Dribbble.

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Edmonton is located within Treaty 6 Territory and within the Métis homelands and Otipemsiwak Métis Government Districts 9 & 10. We acknowledge this land as the traditional territories of many First Nations such as the Nehiyaw (Cree), Denesuliné (Dene), Nakota Sioux (Stoney), Anishinaabe (Saulteaux) and Niitsitapi (Blackfoot).
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