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Webflow 101: A Guide for Beginners
Webflow 101: A Guide for Beginners

Webflow 101: A Guide for Beginners

Webflow is a revolutionary no-code web builder that enables you limitless capacity to design dynamic, aesthetic, high-performing sites.

Webflow. Maybe you’ve heard of it, maybe you haven’t. Webflow is a revolutionary no-code web builder that enables you limitless capacity to design dynamic, aesthetic, high-performing sites (and apps, but we’ll dive into this another time). When it comes to site builders, the market is flooded with options. While most claim to offer comprehensive solutions to build on the web as good as a developer could, many fall short in one arena or another.

An Intro to No Code Development

No Code has become a buzzword that gets thrown around a lot. Technically Webflow is not actually ‘no code’, it’s a visual way to code a website. Alternative platforms like Wix or Wordpress offer the same ‘drag-and-drop’ style website builder, but what you’re dropping into your website is something that already has code attached, settings, especially when you’re using themes and plugins. This means a bloated, slow website and fewer design and development controls.

Rather than trying to understand Webflow from within this no code framework, it makes more sense to approach it through integration design and development concepts. As you build visually in Webflow you’re actually sort of writing clean, semantic code. Take the div block. A div block is the most basic and versatile element used when building a website. It’s a container that holds pretty much anything. See the below example:

The entire hero section above is a div block, then there’s a container for the logo, the heading, the paragraph and the button. Depending on how you’ve structured this section, the gaps between each div block could also be a div block (an empty one with a specific height to create the ‘gap’).

In webflow, a div block looks like this:

div block in webflow

In code, a div block looks like this:

div block in code

In the example provided above, each div block has settings applied to it. We’ll dive more into classes and html tags later. To summarise this fundamental concept in Webflow:

In code, you write the words div with some funky symbols. In Webflow, you drag a box onto the blank webpage. It’s the same thing with a different mechanism.

Is Webflow hard to learn

Short answer, no. Where developers spend years studying and practicing the art of code, you don’t need specialized training or to pay for courses to learn the art of Webflow. There is a learning curve, but there’s no pre-requisites, anyone can learn to build in Webflow. One of the best parts of Webflow is their very comprehensive guides, they’ve dedicated an entire site to teaching you how to use Webflow, Webflow University. It’s a fanstastic (and free) way to learn every facet of designing and developing in Webflow.

Intro to the Webflow Designer & Interface

The thing with code (and with Webflow) is that there’s not really one right way to use div blocks to build a website. Fortunately there’s some very cool people (like the Finsweet guys behind Client First) who’ve developed style systems you can follow for some guidance. Once you understand the fundamentals, you might design your own system.

The Style Panel

Going back to our div block idea, each of these blocks has a ‘style’ applied to it. These style settings are chosen from Webflow’s style panel, which gives you granular control over the design, layout, spacing and positioning (and so much more) of your div blocks and other elements. It’s one of the reasons Webflow is such a powerful tool, you have total control over every aspect of your website.

In addition to styling each element of your webpage to your liking, you can assign ‘classes’ (names) to each styled element to re-use later. For example, you might create a card that has a set height, width, margin, padding, color, shadow and that even determines the font size and color of any text you place inside it. You might name this ‘default-card’, then any empty div block you drag onto the page and assign the class ‘default-card’ will inherit all of these settings:

webflow designer

The Designer vs the Editor

Webflow's Designer and Editor serve distinct purposes in website creation. The Designer is where you visually design and structure your website, using a drag-and-drop interface to create the layout and style elements. It's like your creative workspace.

webflow designer v editor

On the other hand, the Editor is where you make content updates and manage your site's dynamic content. It's a user-friendly platform for making text changes, updating images, and maintaining your site's blog or CMS items.

While the Designer focuses on the overall design and structure, the Editor empowers you to easily modify and manage the specific content on your live site. These tools work seamlessly together, providing a comprehensive solution for both design and content management in your web development journey.

Webflow CMS: An Overview

A CMS, or Content Management System, is like the backstage organizer for your website. It helps you easily create, edit, and organize all the different parts of your site, like text, images, and other content. Instead of messing with complicated code, you use a user-friendly interface to make changes and updates. Think of it as your website's control center, allowing you to manage your content without needing to be a tech whiz. Whether you're adding blog posts, updating product details, or tweaking your site's layout, a CMS makes it simple for anyone to keep their website looking fresh and up-to-date.

Webflow's CMS (Content Management System) is a game-changer for beginners diving into website creation. Unlike other builders, Webflow's CMS empowers you to effortlessly organize, update, and publish dynamic content on your site without code or a clunky backend configurator. It allows you to structure and organize your content using a specific page called a Template Page.

You create CMS collections (e.g. a blog posts) where you define content the structure of the content (e.g. title, subtitle, author, content, image). Each collection has a template page, so you design your blog post once, then populate specific elements on that page with data from your collection structure with a simple selector (e.g. the image element gets assigned ‘blog post image’ and the ‘Heading 1’ gets assigned the ‘blog title’.

Webflow eCommerce: An intro to building online shops in Webflow

Setting up your online store in Webflow is a breeze, thanks to the intuitive drag-and-drop interface that lets you visually design your product pages without dealing with complex code. What makes Webflow’s eCommerce feature different from the rest? Flexibility.

From product listings to checkout processes, you have the creative freedom to make your store look and function exactly as you envision. It's like having a virtual storefront tailor-made to suit your brand.

But the magic doesn't stop there. Webflow's eCommerce feature also takes care of the technical nitty-gritty, ensuring a smooth and secure shopping experience for your customers so you can focus on creating appealing, easy-to-use and self-selling product pages and customer experiences. Whether you're selling a handful of products or managing an extensive inventory, Webflow's eCommerce solution is scalable and beginner-friendly.

Say goodbye to the days of struggling with clunky interfaces and hello to a world where building and running your online store is as enjoyable as shopping on it.

Webflow Hosting

Webflow's hosting and security features are like the trusted guardians of your website, ensuring it's not only visually stunning but also safe and accessible. Hosting is where your website lives on the internet, and with Webflow, you get reliable, high-performance hosting included. No need to stress about server configurations (or understanding wtf that means) – Webflow takes care of it all.

Your website is shielded with HTTPS, providing a secure connection for your visitors (that’s really all that’s important to know, diving into the difference between HTTP and HTTPS is simply just too boring, just know that HTTP = not safe and HTTPS = very safe, google love, google show on page 1).

Webflow’s SEO Superpowers

SEO is a buzzword, and a lot of people spend thousands of dollars on SEO experts every month. In truth, SEO comes down to your website’s build and content. Webflow’s structure, controls and the way it guides you to build - that’s the real SEO expert. Here’s how:

  1. User-Friendly Interface: Webflow provides a visual design interface that allows users to effortlessly customize essential SEO elements like meta titles, descriptions, and image alt texts. This means you can optimize your site for search engines without delving into complex coding or requiring specialized expertise.
  2. Clean, Search Engine-Friendly Code: Webflow generates clean and semantic code automatically. This is crucial for SEO, as search engines favor well-structured code. It ensures that your website is easily readable by search engine crawlers, positively impacting your site's search rankings.
  3. Responsive Design: Webflow prioritizes responsive design, which is a significant factor in SEO. Search engines value websites that provide a seamless user experience across various devices. With Webflow's focus on responsive design, your site is naturally optimized for mobile devices, improving its overall SEO performance.
  4. Automatic Sitemap Generation: Webflow automatically generates XML sitemaps, making it easier for search engines to crawl and index your website. Sitemaps provide a structured map of your site's content, helping search engines understand its structure and relevance.
  5. Speed and Performance Optimization: Webflow's hosting services prioritize speed and performance. Fast-loading websites are favored by search engines, contributing to better SEO rankings. With Webflow, you benefit from optimized hosting infrastructure without needing to delve into technical details.
  6. Educational Resources: Webflow offers a wealth of educational resources through its University, helping users understand SEO best practices and how to implement them effectively. This empowers users to take control of their site's SEO without the need for external expertise.

Webflow's designer and its SEO controls streamline the optimization process, making it accessible to users with varying levels of expertise. By incorporating SEO best practices into its user-friendly design, Webflow reduces the need for businesses and individuals to hire SEO experts, putting the power of effective SEO in the hands of website creators.

Webflow’s University & Community

Here’s the thing about Webflow - why we’re pushing it so hard in this article. A disclaimer that YES, we are affiliated with Webflow, but at StackRadar partnering with the tools in our directory comes after we choose them, we’re committed to high-quality, high-value tools first and foremost. StackRadar is built in Webflow, and our team only started learning Webflow in 2023.

Before Webflow there was code, and there was visual builders like Squarespace and Wix. No hate to these platforms, we think these tools have value and enable lots of people and business to create simple, affordable sites - but they limit you in your capacity to design really compelling websites. Beyond that, plugins and additional services in tools like these bloat your code (i.e. slower loading and lower SEO rankings).

In 2024 there’s a lot of competition in every industry and space on the internet, standing out is harder, your website is your business’ digital ID card. Webflow opens up non-developers to everything a website can be and do. It allows people with no coding experience to build beautiful, high-performing, exciting digital platforms that can do more than just visually represent a brand. You can extend your Webflow site to become a web app, which is pretty damn cool.

Yes, there is a learning curve. But it’s not a degree for which you need to be a technical thinker who understand the complexities of symbols and numbers and how to arrange them in 10,000+ different ways to make it something clickable or readable on a webpage.

What Webflow does best above these visual builders and a lot of its close competitors is help you. Webflow University is a mass of in-depth videos and documentation, written and recorded in ways anyone can understand.

It also has a connected and accommodating community of 85,000+ people, where you can seek help, connect with and learn from or teach people of every skill-level, from every industry, anywhere in the world.  It's not just a tool; it's a vibrant hub where beginners become experts.

Conclusion

In the dynamic landscape of web design and development in 2024, Webflow emerges as the ultimate ally for beginners, transforming the once daunting task of creating high-performing sites and web apps into an exhilarating journey. With its intuitive drag-and-drop interface, Webflow empowers you to design visually stunning websites without the need for coding expertise. The robust hosting, security features, and seamless integration of SEO controls eliminate barriers, allowing anyone to craft a professional online presence.

What sets Webflow apart is its commitment to education through the Webflow University and the collaborative spirit of its community. Whether you're a novice or an aspiring web design virtuoso, Webflow beckons you into a realm where creativity meets functionality, and the possibilities are limitless. As we embrace the digital era, Webflow stands as a beacon of innovation, democratizing the web development process and inviting beginners to join the ranks of empowered creators. Dive into the future of web design with Webflow, where your journey begins and extraordinary websites come to life at your fingertips. Get ready to unleash your creativity and build something extraordinary!

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