Webflow offers hundreds of beautiful templates, allowing you to get a head start building your Webflow website. However, to be candid, we are not a fan of using the Webflow templates. In fact, one of our main project services at Paddle Creative is ‘Webflow Upgrades’ - often putting right what templates get wrong.
Don’t get us wrong, we love Webflow and are proud to be one of their 3.5 million users, but every superhero has their kryptonite. Here is why we think you should perhaps not use Webflow templates…
What are Webflow Templates?
Before we dive into the reasons why you might want to reconsider using Webflow templates, it's essential to understand what Webflow templates are and how they function within the Webflow ecosystem.
Webflow, a popular web design and development platform, offers an extensive library of over 1,500 templates tailored to a wide range of website needs. These templates are designed to cater to diverse industries, styles, and design preferences. Webflow's template library is organised and searchable, allowing users to filter and browse through templates based on various criteria, including category, style, design features, and more.
When you choose a Webflow template, you essentially acquire a pre-built website framework. This template, whether free or premium (for which you'll need to pay), is added to your Webflow Dashboard as a completely new site. This new site includes all the template's pre-designed pages, layout elements, and styling, providing a solid starting point for your web project.
Once you've imported a template into your Webflow Workspace, you have the freedom to customise it to your heart's content. This customisation can range from simple modifications like changing text and images to more intricate adjustments involving the layout, colour scheme, and functionality of the site. The level of customisation is entirely up to you, and Webflow's visual design tools make it relatively user-friendly, even for those with limited coding experience.
However, it's crucial to note that while many templates are available for free, some may require you to subscribe to a paid site plan before unlocking access to all of their features. These paid plans vary in terms of pricing and capabilities, so it's essential to choose one that aligns with your project's needs and budget. Unsure about Webflow’s plans and hosting options? Have a read of this resource: Webflow Hosting Explained.
Essentially, Webflow templates serve as a convenient way to jumpstart your web design or development project by providing you with pre-designed layouts and elements. They offer flexibility for customisation and cater to a wide range of design preferences. However, as we explore in the following sections of this blog, there are certain drawbacks and considerations to keep in mind when using Webflow templates that might make you think twice before using them for your next project.
So, whilst a Webflow template does often look impressive, what happens when you want to make changes to the page structure, components or elements? Webflow Designer uses class-naming conventions that allow you to use global-class names to control how everything on your site looks and acts.
Here lies one of the main issues with Webflow templates - the lack of a consistent class-naming convention. The most popular class-naming convention used in Webflow is Client-First; we use this at Paddle Creative. Webflow has very strict criteria on the templates they allow on their marketplace and unfortunately, they do not allow Client-First or equivalent class-naming conventions.
Unless you are a Webflow pro, it is likely that the class-naming convention on the template you chose will be almost impossible to unpick and use correctly. This makes any changes you want to make very hard. It can also lead to issues with responsiveness and accessibility on the live site.
In fact, we have lost count of the number of projects Paddle Creative have undertaken where clients have asked us to correct Webflow template problems, largely surrounding class-naming issues.
Webflow Allows You to Create Anything
One of the standout features of Webflow is its ability to empower users to create virtually anything they can envision in the digital realm. This flexibility is one of the reasons why Webflow has gained popularity among web designers and developers. It gives you the tools and creative freedom to build a website from scratch, starting with a blank canvas.
However, when you opt to use Webflow templates, you inadvertently surrender one of the primary advantages of the platform: the opportunity to begin with a clean slate. Instead of starting from scratch, you're essentially building upon a pre-existing foundation.
While templates offer convenience and save time, they can also impose certain limitations on your creative process and stop your website from being totally unique. This design freedom is one of the key things that sets Webflow apart from other website builders such as WordPress, so it’s probably better to use it than retreat to templates.
The Template Constraint
Templates, by their nature, come with predefined layouts, design elements, and structures. This can be both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, it expedites the web development process, especially for those with limited design skills or tight project deadlines. On the other hand, it can make your website feel more restrictive, and there's a risk that it will end up looking like a template when it's completed.
The familiarity of a template's design can sometimes be a dead giveaway. Visitors might recognise elements, layouts, or styles from other websites, potentially diminishing the uniqueness and authenticity of your business or brand. This is especially problematic if others are using the same template, as your websites may start to bear a resemblance, eroding the distinctive identity you aim to create.
Customisation vs. Uniqueness
While Webflow does offer extensive customisation options for templates, there's a fine line between customisation and uniqueness. You can tweak colours, fonts, and content to align with your brand's aesthetic, but there's only so much you can do within the confines of the template's original design. This can lead to a "cookie-cutter" effect, where your website ends up looking similar to other websites built from the same template.
In essence, using a Webflow template might provide a shortcut to web development, but it doesn't always result in a truly distinctive and innovative online presence. To stand out in the digital landscape and convey a unique identity, starting with a blank canvas and crafting a website tailored specifically to your brand's vision and values often proves to be a more rewarding and impactful approach.
In the subsequent sections of this blog, we will delve deeper into the potential downsides and considerations associated with using Webflow templates, shedding light on why starting from scratch might be the better choice for certain projects.
Usually have to rebuild the CMS
Many Webflow templates come bundled with a pre-built CMS, allowing you to start adding content to your website right away. As we’ve covered above, this can be a time-saver and a convenience, particularly for those who are new to web development or have tight project timelines. However, there's a significant caveat: the chances of this pre-built CMS perfectly aligning with your specific business needs are quite slim.
The Challenge of Customisation
Businesses have unique content requirements. Your content structure, organisation, and data relationships may differ significantly from what a template's pre-built CMS offers. This means that, in most cases, you'll find yourself faced with the task of rebuilding the CMS to suit your specific needs.
While Webflow provides tools to customise the CMS, it can be a complex and time-consuming process, especially if you have complex content structures. And so pretty quickly, that ‘shortcut’ you were trying to take starts looking like a much longer journey.
Easy to Mess Up
Another challenge when using Webflow templates is the potential for errors. If you attempt to update the template yourself, it's remarkably easy to inadvertently disrupt the website's layout and functionality. Templates often come with predefined layouts and features, which can be restrictive when it comes to making substantial changes. This limitation can lead to frustration and mistakes, which can negatively impact your website's performance and user experience.
As your business grows, your website needs are likely to evolve as well. You may find the need to add more pages, features, or functionality to your site to accommodate your expanding business operations. Here's where Webflow templates can hit a roadblock. These templates, while convenient for small to medium-sized projects, may not scale seamlessly with your business's growth. In such cases, you might be faced with the daunting task of redesigning your entire website to meet your new requirements.
This daunting task can be made worse as you’ll likely find you have to mess around with your Webflow subscription too. For instance, you will need to either add a paid site plan to your template-based site or buy a paid Webflow Workspace plan if the template-based site has more than 2 pages. You won't be able to duplicate or add a new page to the template until you upgrade your Workspace plan or delete an existing page.
SEO and Performance Pitfalls with Webflow Templates
Our insights into the world of web development have revealed a critical issue when it comes to Webflow templates—specifically, their frequent shortcomings in the realms of SEO, responsiveness, and overall performance. As we've seen from first-hand experience, there are several common issues that plague many Webflow templates, potentially causing headaches for website owners down the line.
Inadequate Use of Elements
One prevalent issue is the inappropriate use of elements. Some templates use images where div blocks should be employed. This oversight not only affects the website's load times but also hampers the potential for proper SEO. Search engines rely on text-based content to index websites effectively, making the misuse of images a critical SEO drawback.
Responsiveness is a cornerstone of modern web design, ensuring that a website functions seamlessly across various devices and screen sizes. Unfortunately, not all Webflow templates are fully responsive, or they exhibit poor responsiveness development. This can lead to a frustrating user experience on mobile devices and negatively impact your site's search engine rankings, as Google considers mobile-friendliness a ranking factor.
Proper heading usage is essential for both SEO and accessibility. Incorrect heading usage in templates can lead to disorganised content structures, making it challenging for search engines to understand your website's hierarchy and for users with disabilities to navigate effectively.
Following on from the previous point, meeting accessibility guidelines is not only a legal requirement in many jurisdictions but also a moral obligation. Unfortunately, not all Webflow templates adhere to accessibility standards, potentially excluding users with disabilities from accessing your content. This oversight can lead to legal repercussions and a loss of potential audience reach.
Sluggish Page Speed
Slow-loading web pages are a notorious turn-off for users and can result in higher bounce rates. Webflow templates may not always prioritise performance optimisation, leading to slower page load times. This, in turn, affects user experience and can negatively impact your SEO ranking, as search engines favour faster-loading websites.
While templates can handle some of the basics reasonably well, they often leave room for improvement. Many individuals purchase templates with the assumption that they are website-ready. However, templates typically require substantial work to prepare them from an SEO, accessibility, and performance perspective. Additionally, as previously noted, making changes to templates can be a complex and delicate process, further complicating efforts to address these issues.
So, while Webflow templates offer a convenient starting point for web development projects, they often come with inherent challenges related to SEO, responsiveness, and overall performance. These issues can necessitate significant customisation and optimisation efforts to ensure your website ranks well in search engines, provides an inclusive user experience, and loads quickly. Therefore, when considering Webflow templates for your next project, it's crucial to be aware of these potential pitfalls and allocate the necessary resources to address them effectively.
Are Webflow Templates worth it?
It all depends on how far you want to push the limits of Webflow as a platform. For a basic site that you will not want to update often, Webflow templates could work for you. Our advice would be to not use Webflow templates for any complex project or where future updates may be required.
Should you use Webflow templates?
We’ll keep this one quick…
Yes - if you have a small site and are happy to have a site that is very close to the template, and requires few future updates, then a Webflow template might be a good place to start. The upside to starting out with a template is that you can always get a Webflow website upgrade and create your own bespoke website.
No - you should not use Webflow templates if you want a bespoke website that is scalable and performant. You might find it more beneficial to get in touch with a Webflow Expert (like Paddle Creative!) and find out how they can help you and where you both, as a team, can take your business.
Are Webflow Templates free?
Webflow templates on the Webflow marketplace are not free. However, Webflow offers thousands of ‘cloneable’ (and therefore free) websites you could use as a starting template. Simply find a suitable site and clone. We recommend checking first that it has a suitable class-naming convention, such as our preferred, Client-First.
How much do you make selling Webflow templates?
Did you know that you can turn your design skills into a source of income by creating and selling Webflow templates on Webflow’s Template marketplace? While we don’t encourage using Webflow templates for your sites, this venture opens up opportunities for web designers and developers to monetise their expertise and contribute to the thriving Webflow community. However, there are certain essential aspects you should be aware of to navigate this marketplace effectively and maximise your earnings.
One of the vital things to know is that you don’t have control over the selling price of your templates, Webflow sets the prices for templates based on their features. The pricing standards ensure consistency and fairness across the marketplace but can limit your earnings.
Selling Webflow templates can be a great source of passive income. With the right approach and consistent sales, you can earn steadily without constant active effort. Your earnings from selling Webflow templates can vary depending on the demand for your templates. Generally, the more templates you create and sell, the more income you can generate, but this isn’t always the case.
Traffic and demand play an important factor in this business, if you’re putting out templates that don’t offer what consumers are looking for and aren’t in sync with what’s trending, then chances are they won’t do too well. Effective marketing strategies, such as promoting your templates on social media or through email campaigns, can help increase your sales and earnings.
To become a Webflow template designer, it's essential to have a few impressive Webflow projects in your portfolio. Make sure your Webflow projects are well-structured and easy to understand, as you'll be sending read-only links. Clarity in structure and class-naming conventions can make a positive impression on potential customers and boost those earnings.
If you're interested in joining the Webflow templates designer team, you can apply through the official Webflow website. The application process involves filling out a form and submitting three websites that you've developed on Webflow. Webflow assessors will evaluate your portfolio and determine whether you're a suitable candidate for the program.
Selling Webflow templates is quite a competitive field so don’t be discouraged if you don’t hear back for a while or don’t succeed at first. Keep trying and improving your Webflow portfolio and you’ll get there!
Selling Webflow templates can be a rewarding endeavour, offering a potential source of income. It's important to be aware of Webflow's pricing standards and to invest in building a solid portfolio. And remember, effective marketing and an understanding of template design can further enhance your success in this marketplace.
In this exploration of the use of Webflow templates, we've shed light on various reasons why you might want to reconsider employing them for your web design projects. While Webflow templates offer convenience and a head start in website development, they come with their fair share of limitations and challenges.
So whether you opt for the convenience of templates or the limitless possibilities of starting with a blank canvas, the key takeaway is this: make your decisions consciously, armed with the knowledge of both the advantages and drawbacks of using Webflow templates. This way, you'll be better equipped to create websites that not only meet your needs but also exceed your audience's expectations in the dynamic digital landscape.
Ready to start your Webflow journey the right way? Get in touch…