In my design process, one of my least favourite feelings is when I’m restricted by the medium that I use. I find myself feeling this especially often when working on the computer where the process of going from an idea, to actually implementing it in these programs is very difficult — regularly finding myself driven by the application, not by my own creativity.
At the beginning of 2020, I found myself wanting to rejuvenate my website and experiment with new online website building platforms. I have the most experience in Wix which is where I started on, but having seen so many advertisements from top creators talking about Squarespace, I figured I would try it out.
Image: Squarespace UI, squarespace.com
Needless to say, Squarespace is both amazing and terrible at the same time. Hands down, the best thing about the platform were the templates. They have an excellent selection of stunning designs to begin building the website upon. However, I found the platform barebones and unintuitive, almost like it was trying too hard to keep it's minimalist UI looking clean. Perhaps that was due to my background using Wix, where changing a heading’s colour was as simple as a few clicks. Instead, Squarespace opts for a ‘theme’ based design process, where it forces you to change elements sitewide instead of individually — if you change the font of one paragraph... Every. Single. Paragraph. Changes. Font. The design process involved so much time being puzzled at how difficult it was to customize the site. This involved finding out that there are obvious features of a beautiful website e.g. image animation options (hover transformations, parallax etc) that are only available depending on what template you started your design on. This along with endless bugs leaving parts of my website unusable prompted the switch to Webflow, the platform I am using now.
Image: Webflow UI, webflow.com
Like most people coming from more simple platforms, my immediate reaction to Webflow was “What The F**k?”. It looks like a mixture between Cinema 4D and Photoshop… A seemingly endless menu system of buttons and value-entry blocks. To combat this, Webflow has created its own videos built into the site to help you get your bearings. They were informative, funny and straight to the point. They were an essential tool for me.
Still, Webflow is not as intuitive as Wix, but what completely overrules that, is it’s customizability and intelligent, yet obvious features (there was one point where I jumped around my room after finding a feature that makes an image cover 100% of a viewer’s screen [how the hell do other programs not have this!]). I feel completely unrestricted in this builder, unlike Wix or Squarespace. This freedom makes the design process so much more pleasurable — anything I imagine, I can create.
Overall, I am extremely happy with Webflow so far. However, I would add that if I hadn’t had my own squarespace design already, it would’ve made it quite hard to design; Webflow’s free templates are very limited. Given that, I wouldn’t suggest the program to designers starting out with Web design — Wix is better suited for that.