Webflow vs Headless CMS - which one to use

By Arso Stojoviฤ‡
Read time 6 min
Posted on February 10, 2023
Updated on August 15, 2023
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Webflow vs Headless CMS

The main difference between Webflow and a headless CMS is that they each serve different purposes. If your website or web application prioritizes design and visual appeal, Webflow is a great option. On the other hand, if your project requires custom features, integrations, or scalability, a headless CMS would be a better fit.

Webflow vs. Headless CMS: What to choose?

As the industry continues to grow and evolve, one of the inevitable things is website upgrading. Companies need a platform that can meet their needs. They need an easy-ready-to-use platform with features that come to out-of-the-box and a platform that is easy to scale and connect across different platforms.

The choice comes down to Headless CMS or a no-code platform like Webflow. But which choice is the right one? Keep reading this article helps you conclude which platform is more convenient, Webflow or a Headless CMS.

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Is Webflow a headless CMS?

Before we speak about the difference between headless CMSs and Webflow, letโ€™s break a myth, is Webflow a headless CMS?

Even dough Webflow describes itself as a "visual" content management system โ€” CMS enables you to create structured content, design around that content, and update it all โ€” without touching a line of code.โ€ the truth is that Webflow has some headless CMS functionalities rather than it is a headless CMS.

Although this sounds technical, this detail represents one of the critical differences between Webflow and headless content management systems.

A headless CMS is designed with a decoupled architecture that separates the content management system from the front-end presentation. The platform does not dictate how content is presented or displayed; it only manages and delivers it via APIs. API calls allow you to fetch and display content on various platforms and devices, such as websites, mobile apps, IoT devices, or even digital signage.

In contrast, Webflow combines a visual design editor with CMS functionality. Additionally, Webflow provides API access so that you can retrieve content for external use. It is, however, primarily intended for use within the Webflow platform or to power Webflow-hosted websites.

Practically speaking, Webflow's CMS is very focused on websites. This service can't handle images, autoplay videos, large images, etc.

Now that we have broken a myth let's take it a step further.

What is a Webflow

A cloud-based online visual editor with a built-in CMS that combines design and content management into a single platform, Webflow is the solution for anyone who wants to create, build, and launch websites quickly, economically, and collaboratively.

  • With this 'no-code' website-building tool, users can create websites without writing any code.

  • Webflow is a web designer's favorite option because of the high level of customization it allows.

  • With no-code tools like Webflow, users can drag and drop templates or building blocks to build websites or apps based on specific use cases.

Which companies can benefit from using Webflow for their project

No-code SaaS Webflow is a great option for those who want to create a visually appealing landing page or simple promo website quickly and without much effort.

There are several other areas where Webflow can be used:

  • Designing and developing websites

  • E-commerce sites

  • Local businesses

  • Small retailers

  • Blogs

What is a Headless CMS

Considered a low-code solution, Headless CMS consists of a database and API for content delivery, completely separating the back-end (content creation and storage) from the front end (design and deployment). API-first Headless CMS is becoming the solution for companies seeking to build omnichannel digital experiences.

With these headless CMS solutions (API-first, open-source, and cloud-based), you can create, manage, and distribute a content-rich experience for any digital product, channel, or device. Headless CMS breaks down the limitations of traditional CMS and becomes a platform that is easy to customize and adapt to various projects.

Among the new generation of building websites, Headless CMS is popular because of the following:

  • Decoupling the front-end and back-end

  • Content management for multiple platforms

  • Full control over code

  • Reducing development time;

  • Easy content management;

  • High customization and productivity

  • Omnichannel presence

  • Choosing your own tech-stack

Learn more about how you can adjust CMS to your tech stack:

- NextJS headless CMS
- NuxtJS headless CMS
- Gatsby headless CMS

Webflow vs Headless CMS

Before we compare Webflow (no-code) and Headless CMS (low-code), let's focus on their pros and cons separately.

Webflow advantages

Using Webflow allows you to:

  • Control the website's appearance without writing any code

  • Don't need to have templates and themes

  • Have completely customized and responsive page designs

  • Work in a drag & drop page builder

Webflow disadvantages

Even popular and powerful Webflow comes with limitations that can harm your website.

  • Easy to use, hard to control (especially as the site grows)

  • Webflow sites are fast but not so scalable

  • Limited control over your code

  • Variable costs that are highly unpredictable

Headless CMS benefits

Using the Headless CMS approach leads to the following:

  • Creating fast and scalable websites

  • Enhanced security

  • No Vendor Lock-In

  • Reusable content

Headless CMS drawbacks

Compared to no-code platforms in general, some of the significant Headless CMS disadvantages are:

  • Dependence on the developer

  • Front-end Design (since front-end and back-end are separated, front-end design needs to be designed and built by developers)

  • Most Headless CMS solutions donโ€™t have drag&drop features

Webflow or Headless CMS

When it comes to evaluating the best choice for your growing website, you need to make a decision based on several different criteria. So let's compare side-by-side to sum up all differences between the no-code platform and Headless CMS.

Webflow vs Headless CMS: Integrations

Integrations are a crucial component of increasing productivity and consistency of data.

Webflow uses plugins, similar to traditional CMSs like WordPress. Simple websites work well with plugins and widgets but can have a few problems. The Webflow ecosystem includes plugins built for Webflow. This means that you will not be able to add any other tools to the platform, leaving you limited in what you can do. Suppose you've migrated from WordPress to Webflow. As a result, you may find yourself in the same pitfall you've been trying to escape.

On the other hand, the API-first approach is the core of Headless CMS regarding integrations with other tools. API-first integrations allow you to choose and connect with any device without limitations, resulting in better functionality and a hassle-free workflow.

Webflow vs Headless CMS: Speed (Web performance)

If we look at speed from the aspect of how long it takes to build a site, then Webflow, with its ready-to-use templates and blocks of no-code builders, would significantly reduce the time of the whole process. Creating a website (especially complex and extensive) using a headless solution may take more time since headless CMSs don't come with predefined templates and blocks but offer greater customization.

In terms of web performance, Webflow sites can perform well, but not nearly as well as Headless CMS websites. Thanks to the API (once again), content delivery is extremely fast using Headless CMS, which can beat Webflow site performance undoubtedly.

Webflow vs Headless CMS: Costs & Pricing

Webflow vs Headless CMS: Pricing

The pre-built components, templates, and out-of-the-box hosting capabilities of Webflow appear more cost-effective at first sight. As opposed to a headless CMS, you don't have to develop the front end separately and integrate it with your back end.

This conclusion may seem logical and true, but only regarding small and simple websites with not-so-much visits. From the moment when your website starts to grow and have more traffic, Webflow becomes an extremely expensive tool. The cost gets higher because Webflow offers features that other hosting providers do not. Your price will depend on how much traffic you receive. This applies especially to enterprise pricing plans. On top of that, the recent Webflow price hike has made the entire pricing process more confusing and, in some cases, even more expensive.

Although Webflows pricing varies, most Headless CMSs are based on competitive pricing. In other words, Headless comes with a price set in line, and once you choose your pricing plan, you will pay the same amount of money regardless of the increased number of visitors and traffic on your site.

Webflow vs Headless CMS: Scalability

Speaking of enterprises, being able to scale is essential to success. Again, if you select Webflow for your next project on a large scale, you may encounter some scalability issues. Scalability problems in Webflow make adding and customizing new permissions difficult as your team grows. The Webflow platform also lacks the workflow tools companies need to approve content.

Another issue you may face is being unable to be present on multiple channels simultaneously. Since Webflow isnโ€™t a headless CMS, itโ€™s not made for delivering content to multiple channels, so if you consider which platform is better for you in the long term, you need to keep in mind that at the beginning of your upcoming project, you only require a website but what about a mobile app at one moment? If you stick with Webflow, you will definitely need an alternative to cope with these issues. With Headless CMS, you get a solution that removes scalability concerns.

Some of these Headless CMS features include:

  • Unlimited Users: Add as many users as you like without worrying about restrictions.

  • Unlimited Resources: Handle increased traffic volumes.

  • Customizable workflows

With Headless CMS, you can leverage the benefits of the cloud and omnichannel distribution however you see fit.

Webflow vs Headless CMS: Security

Webflow vs Headless CMS: Security

Among the potential issues of using a no-code platform, such as Webflow, are privacy and security risks. The source code and storage settings of the data you host on a vendor's server are not under your control. This makes it impossible to detect issues that could lead to data loss.

What about Headless CMS security? By separating content from the presentation layer, you have better control over code. The front end does not suffer from backend security vulnerabilities, so you aren't worried about them.

Webflow vs Headless CMS: Which to choose

Headless CMS and Webflow are not in direct competition. Instead, it's a trade-off between quick-start and highly flexible, customizable tools. When choosing the right tool for your next project, you should consider the project's scope and requirements.

A no-code tool might be a good start for small and medium businesses that need to build simple websites with limited scope, security, and data governance risks, before switching to a more cost-effective/scalable tool like a headless CMS.

Alternatively, suppose you plan to build a strategic application that spans third-party solutions and multiple stakeholders. In that case, you might consider starting with a headless CMS to avoid later migration costs.


What is the difference between Webflow and a Headless CMS?

Webflow is a visual website design and development platform that enables users to create and develop websites without coding. A Headless CMS, on the other hand, is a content management system that separates the front-end and back-end of a website, allowing developers to construct a custom front-end while still managing content through the CMS.

What is cheaper, Headless CMS or Webflow?

Open-source headless CMS options may have a lower cost of entry, while Webflow is a paid service with pricing based on the number of team members, sites, and access levels. Its recent price hike made developers think that Webflow became too expensive.

Should I use Headless CMS or Webflow?

If you're looking to create a website or web application with a focus on design and aesthetics, WebFlow may be a good option. However, a Headless CMS may be a better fit if your project requires a lot of custom functionality, integrations, or scalability. It's also important to consider your budget and resources when deciding.