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An Open Letter to Webflow

It’s strange. I have a client with 2500 CMS items and a lot of custom code. Every couple of months the editor halts to a grind and it becomes impossible to change anything. So I contact Webflow support and send them the read only link. I never get a response but the website becomes responsive again out of nowhere. Fast forward another 2 months, and I have to rinse and repeat. Hosting is dirt cheap now. Why are we paying 40+ usd per month for sub par performance that can be fixed with a click? Can’t they just elastically give us more resources as the site gets bigger? Why even have a 10k CMS plan?

The past 3 months, I’ve started building on webflow and then had to tell the client that what they want is not possible halfway through development and that we need to move to a different platform with no cost. Webflow is literally costing me money now. I’m also using it for my portfolio site and I export that and host it on Netlify for free. And I’ve been here since 2017.

Logic flows? Why? Just another half assed trendy feature. Fix the CMS updates UX, fix the performance issues, talk to your clients who have spent thousands on the product through the years. Ugh.

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Just taking a lead from square rather than stripe would be very useful.

I’m not on a webflow plan yet but my company is running currently on shopify and I want to switch to webflow due to more freedom in design. However, I still fell a hold back due to the limitations and a huge wishlist that seems to mould away. Some features in the wishlist are hanging there for years now (like customer portal that got announced as ‘coming soon’ years ago)

I feel like that webflow is missing out on a tone of real estate regarding e-commerce. I would love to see progress on e-commerce and make it a strong option against Shopify, but reading and being in contact with current weblfow users makes me think.

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In a nutshell - this is Webflow’s future path. Don’t say your customers were silent all these years

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Webflow’s official reaction: Approved by @callmevlad

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Lots of reading above,
but here’s mine as a long-term Webflow Pro and Team user.


Problem 1: Webflow’s support is bad, really bad.

  • No or super slow response (to paying customers).
  • They like to tell people go to the forum for answers or post on the wishlist.
  • If not, model answer: This is a design question. Sorry.

How to be better:

  • Come on. Hire more CS people.
  • Find some CS professionals to lead the team and support workflow.
  • Instead of ignoring questions and refuse to answer, CS should answer by pointing out why a question is not a Webflow problem, or a simple hint / direction to solve the issue.

Problem 2: Webflow should improve faster

  • There are many updates throughout a year, but not enough really… especially real significant new features and enhancements. See: Latest updates and features | Webflow
  • Many seemingly basic and commonly needed features are missing: https://wishlist.webflow.com
  • Take a look at how long it is needed for a “Wish” to come true.
  • Still, still, no customer account feature for e-commerce. Years…

How to be better:

  • Roll out faster, improve later.
  • Invest more in development.

Problem 3: A lot of weird limitations

  • See: "► [LIST] Feature Availability & Limits "
  • Limit to 5 items for nested collection list… 5…
  • Still no search function in the CSS class list, seriously?
  • Worst and weakest “Rich-text Editor” ever.

How to be better:

  • Um, just remove the limitations pls…
  • Unlock more limitations with business hosting.

Problem 4: Clients refuse to use Webflow

  • Clients commonly refuse to use Webflow after they investigate themselves.
  • The client thinks their site will need more custom functions in the future. Webflow does not look like it is future-proof.
  • Data-security, controls, compliance, ownership, etc…

How to be better:

  • Webflow’s marketing should be able to show that many serious corporates are using Webflow, but not only how people and creative agencies can create their portfolio with Webflow.
  • Much more robust API.
  • Webflow: Don’t convince me, ( help me ) convince my clients.

Problem 5: Poor in collaboration

  • Easy to have conflicts when Editor(s) and Designer edit at the same time.
  • Webflow “Designer” cannot work together on the same project. ( I understand this is difficult. )

How to be better:

  • Simple locking mechanism and warning similar to WordPress.

Problem 6: Webflow sites are not accessible in China

  • Visitors in China cannot access Webflow website.
  • Huge drawback in Asia, as China is a super huge and important market in Asia.

How to be better:

  • Not expecting a fast connection, but sites could be accessible in China, and it is actually not too difficult. Options such as:
    1. Allow us to turn off Cloudfront CDN, at least an option to remove the cdn jQuery src link.
    2. Detect China visitors, and automatically turn off CDN.

I mean Webflow is truly a great product. I love using it so much.
That’s why I have higher expectations.

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Btw, for those who may not know, multi-lingual is an extremely complicated feature. It is wiser to use 3rd party services no matter it is a simple site or a professional site.

And Weglot is not the only option that works with Webflow.

Hi everyone,

Thank you all for sharing your candid experience and perspectives with us. There’s so much to respond to, and so many issues to tackle, that I have honestly been feeling stuck in how to let this community know that we’re truly listening and are taking your input very seriously to change course – so I’ve decided to just write personally from the heart even if we don’t yet have detailed plans to share with you on how we’ll address each of your concerns.

At Webflow, one of our core behaviors that we strive to live by is “start with customers” – and it’s hard to argue that our actions have matched our intentions when it comes to actively engaging with our loyal customers and addressing really core needs like scalability and performance.

First of all, this has become my personal ongoing priority #1 as CEO now to solve in a sustainable way. Not just a bandaid to show we did something and move on, but to truly show our community that we’re listening and engaging with you on things that affect your livelihood, adoption of Webflow as a core part of your work, and confidence that we can scale with our community’s needs into the future. (I recognize that it should have never stopped being my top priority, and for that I’m truly sorry.)

While we don’t yet have a detailed plan to share with you all, in the interest of time I wanted to let you know directionally what we’re doing to address many of the broad themes brought up here – most notably customer voice, performance and stability, and customer support.

1. Customer voice. We’re working on funding and staffing a dedicated team of customer advocates and Webflow experts that have lots of influence and visibility internally and whose main charter will be to dramatically increase transparency and engagement in this forum and on the wishlist. This will increase our monetary investment in full-time staff on the forum by over 10X, and as we ramp up this team you should expect to see a huge difference in engagement and transparency from dedicated Webflow Staff here.

2. Scalability and performance. We’re forming a new targeted engineering team around scalability and performance (with a heavy initial focus on CMS slowdowns and limitations), whose charter will be to dramatically improve the experience of working on Webflow projects as they grow and scale. We also have a team-wide effort in progress right now with most of our engineering team focused on application-wide foundational core architecture improvements that will improve scalability, performance, quality, and the pace of future feature development. This work doesn’t result in new features shipped to you faster today, but we believe is absolutely critical for the long term success of Webflow to serve more complex customer demands. (It will also unlock the ability for developers to create a wide range of 3rd party extensions to Webflow.)

3. Customer support. We’re more than doubling our financial investment into growing our customer support team so that we can reach 24/7 support.

In the spirit of openness and honesty, we’re committing to share an update on each of these areas every 90 days going forward, regardless of whether we’ve met or exceeded the expectations our community has for Webflow’s progress. I’ll be personally accountable for driving this, and I genuinely look forward to getting feedback about how we’re doing.

As JZ mentioned in her recent post, we’ll have our first Community Business Review in early April, where we’ll share much more with you all on what our team is focusing on and how things are going. This includes an update on our active work towards our #1 requested feature – user logins and membership functionality!

These steps won’t happen overnight, and have reliance on hiring new staff and onboarding them. They also won’t solve every issue raised here, and won’t lead to every feature request prioritized the way that some would prefer – but I know they will lead to meaningful change that will help restore the tighter bond we had between our company and this community in our earlier years.

I also want to ease any fears that the company is somehow driven by some shadow shareholders driven by profit motives, or some desire to flip/sell. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Webflow is overwhelmingly owned by people who work here full-time and are driven by our mission to empower everyone to create for the web – and the investors we’ve brought on to help us expand faster share the same mission. Similar to Walt Disney’s ethos of “we don’t make movies to make money, we make money to make more movies”, our business serves to fuel our mission to bring the power of software creation far beyond the <0.5% of the world who knows how to code today.

That’s a long journey, and you are seeing some of the growing pains of us collectively trying to reach that vision. We appreciate your patience, but also don’t want to rely solely on it – that would be unfair to this community that has helped bring Webflow to where we are today.

Thank you for reading, and from the bottom of my heart thank you for investing in us and believing in us – I wholeheartedly believe that Webflow will rise to the occasion to ensure that you can rely on us to scale with you into the far future.

With gratitude,
Vlad

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I think it’s important for everyone to know that @callmevlad 's last post was 9 months ago and had a very similar tone: Webflow has secured $76m in funding, are we going to see any improvements in your dev team? - #136 by Siton_Systems

That post largely addressed the stagnancy of the wishlist, and I quote “we will do a better job of providing updates on what things are in flight on the Wishlist.” Here is what the wishlist looked like in April of 2020 (reminder: 9 months ago) when this post was made (https://web.archive.org/web/20200425022243/https://wishlist.webflow.com/):
Screen Shot 2021-01-29 at 4.17.58 PM

Here is what it looked like over two weeks ago (I took this screenshot when this post was made (So has The Wishlist been abandoned? - #18 by Jiaona_Zhang):
Screen Shot 2021-01-13 at 9.22.00 AM

I’d post what the what it looks like today but it would be a repeat of the above screenshot. The only response in the wishlist was a handful of admin updates on random top items saying “yeah, we’re not gonna do this.”

It’s great that you are “listening” to us. Back that up with action, not idle talk. It’s great that you “appreciate our patience”. It’s becoming abundantly clear many of us are running out of it.

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@jmkriz That is perfectly valid criticism, and I know that only our actions will speak louder than words.

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TBH, that is the whole point.

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Hi @callmevlad,
It’s 11:30pm here, I’m finishing working on a site and saw your reply, so I cannot not take a bit of extra time to follow up right away…

First, @jmkriz is absolutely right you know ? and also why I said in my original message that “my trust is gone. I don’t believe in your roadmap anymore”…

You are correct saying there’s too much to respond to in one message, that’s fair to say, and I don’t think that’s expected. We’re all adults and realise you can’t answer to every single grievance.

But allow me to give you a step by step feedback on your answer. I know it’s easy for me to do, as I speak to you directly, but trickier for you as by answering here, you speak to thousands.

I’m generally not a fan of this type of communication as it can feel like crude criticism, but it’s been a long day and it’s easier for me to do it this way. I want to do this in fair spirit and to help you understand where after reading your message, I think you might still be mistaken / there might still be some misalignements.

Indeed, this moto currently can’t be defended…

“Livelihood” is a critical point here. We’re not on Webflow like teenagers are on Facebook. We’re using Webflow to make a living . We’re all professionals and we know what we’re talking about here (technically and commercially). We’re your point of contact with the final customer and when we push requests to you, it’s because we get them from our market. Being aligned with our market is what allows us to earn a living. So if you can’t help us reach this alignment, we lose our customers, you lose yours, the relationship breaks - which is what happened (please note I purposely said “happened” and not “is happening”…).

First important hiccup here. You need to have one… Admittedly it won’t be highly detailed and have every single feature you guys might be working on, but the critical basic features everyone’s crying about here, I’d expect that to be on a clear roadmap now… If it’s the only thing JZ does, that should be it.

Apologies if I read this wrong, but to me what you’re talking about here is either addressing the symptoms instead of the problem or should be in the point 3 about Customer Support.
My original point here was about development priorities and the actual development speed. I’ll save you the hiring of those Webflow advocates or whatever you call them. That’s a bad corporate answer to this issue and money out the window. You want to know your customers priorities ? Just get JZ to check the freaking Wishlist !!! It’s all been there for years !!!
Now that I saved you all this money, you can use that to hire more developers that will actually do the work.

Also as a general business advise, avoid hiring too many “middle men” like that. They’ll get your company bloated…

Ok, I agree with what you’re saying here. But I think you should still consider quick wins if technically possible. The situation is clearly bad and every little helps.
Also I’m a bit surprised you’re just forming the team to focus on that now…

Lead time ? This is important, especially if you want your Enterprise proposition taken seriously (Oh, and think about dedicated hosting for Enterprise too… just sayin’).

That can’t come soon enough… and hopefully it will be more an announcement than an update…

Yes, of course, but you can get your current developers to focus on features important to customers… which I feel is not currently the case.

Action’s all that’s left…

Hopefully it’s clear that this aims to be constructive feedback, and not just easy criticism.

If something’s not clear, just ask.

Thanks for (finally) taking the time to reply.

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Your post is suitably apologetic, but I can’t believe we’re still talking about growing pains in 2021.

It should take you less than a day to round up the worst offenders in the wishlist, the forums and features that make your competitors more viable options in certain areas. Then you should focus on those things - no more new and “innovative” nice-to-have features no one has a pressing need for, no more focus on marketing, no more endless webinars or patting yourself on your back in the blog, no more sending people to vote for wishlist items when you ask customer support for help. Not until the absolute basic stuff is fixed and your most loyal customers satisfied. Since the last time you had to come in here a year ago, you’ve shipped folders and deletion of more than one item in the assets manager (which is cool, but like a tenth of what it needs), discounts (which took years), a broken scheduler and perhaps one or two somewhat neat but basic things. The rest is stuff that’s so far down on the list it’s obscene that you’re even working on it when you still can’t search for classes or sell digital goods and when thousands are begging you for other features.

Just to exemplify how out of touch Webflow is: You wrote a blog post outlining how great Webflow is for blogs in August last year, using language like “a powerful platform for bloggers of all kinds” and you keep saying how people should migrate from Wordpress and how easy it is.

Anyone that has used Webflow for a somewhat active blog (or like me, a somewhat medium/large blog/news site) can tell you it’s a contender for the worst blog platform out there. I’m not exaggerating here, it’s on the verge of being unusuable for blogs.

It requires constant tinkering, loads of workarounds, tons of custom code and discovery of undocumented head scratching limitations that will seriously jeopardize any serious blogging attempts - and even with all the workarounds it’s still nowhere near even the simplest Wordpress site in features. Setting up the basic WP theme yields a much better blog platform and that’s quite simply not good enough.

Basic stuff like no sorting features, no publish date field (it’s broken), broken RSS feeds, no real publish system, a rich text editor that is vastly outclassed by the text editor in this very forum, an insane CMS limit, very poor editor performance, no contributor levels and no real asset management for blog posts to just name stuff off the top of my head. It’s baffling when you want to take on Wordpress and blow the no-code horn, it’s doubly baffling when it’s been years and years and very little has changed, and it’s close to insulting that you brag about a sub-par features like you do.

A few weeks back I sent over a very small request that would make life using the API easier by having a bit more info in error messages (show CMS item ID instead of CMS item name so that I didn’t need to go through 60-70 API calls to search for the correct ID - the API does not support search/filtering…). The answer I got was that I should consider making my own database and reference that to find the info I needed or to go ask in the wishlist. It just so deflating man.

Edit: Just had to vent a bit more I guess. I love Webflow as a no-code concept and as a tool for building easy sites quickly, I love the community and the passion, but there is from my limited perspective something deeply wrong about the decisions being taken here. You excel at showing yourself off, but fail at communicating. I have wanted to send over tips and suggestions for so long but I’m always stunted by knowing that it will never amount to anything, and knowing that the most passionate fans and customers that are willing to help and willing to use WF to its fullest (while paying for it) are mostly being ignored while you work on nested symbols and logic flows. We want you to succeed.

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First of all, wow, Vlad’s answer is kind of disappointing.

One can only hope that the ever-increasing criticism will slowly open Webflow’s eyes. At least I hope so! I for one will re-up my account plan when basic issues (especially for Eu citizens) are solved. Until then, good luck and please don’t mess it up. Webflow has so much potential…

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Webflow is so powerful and innovative in many ways.

While I also criticize Webflow for their support, slow pace in rolling out and improving features, as well as some of Webflow’s limitations, I really do not want to judge as if I know what to do. It is obvious that new features do not appear like magic.

People love to kind of instructing Webflow on what to do. That’s meaningless. I am quite sure Webflow will become a bad and messy product eventually if Webflow listens to all of that and loses its own direction.

I like Webflow so much. I would like to see Webflow becomes one of the top options when people think about when building a website around the globe. It is also very important that Webflow remains flexible so that agencies can develop sophisticated and beautiful websites for serious clients. ( … and just stay away from Wix and Squarespace rubbish. )

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If you think that’s deflating try waiting for over a year for anyone to respond to this issue on the JS API wrapper library that I opened. When Kyle from Webflow responded (thanks Kyle) he came out with some pretty startling revelations, namely that only a small group of engineers at Webflow are even aware that the JavaScript API wrapper library exists! Also there are no plans to develop it further.

This API is plagued with issues. These posts here and here are some of the more detailed ones.

Yet here it is as a Webflow University lesson. This would lead you to believe that it’s something you can rely on, not something that most of Webflow’s engineering team doesn’t even know exists. You have to find out the hard way that it’s simply not fit for public release.

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Ah yes. I’ve run into most of the big issues with the API and have just given up on it ever being fixed or made better.

Let me also introduce you to the official Webflow Wordpress plugin (Webflow Pages) which I use. It had some issues that I reported in (a bug made all headers return 404 instead of 200), and support told me they had nothing to do with the plugin, it is made and maintained by Udesly, so I should talk to them!

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I can’t agree more with your complaints.
I’ve been using WF for my personal site and few small projects. Love this tool but it has some disadvantages that are preventing me from using it in decent projects (big money!):

1. No multi-language support. You guys at WF have ever traveled outside the US? Here in Europe most of the sites need at least 2 languages. Some up to 4. I can’t tell a client to pay for a third-party integration like Weglot an additional amount of money (way more than WF plan).

2. Basic E-commerce. The guys at Shopify must be laughing when you compare their tool to Webflow’s. For a very small shop, Webflow might work well but if you need to manage thousands of products, filters (yes, users like to filter products) and customer accounts… forget WF.

3. It’s expensive.

Nevertheless, Webflow keeps launching features no one is asking for.

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I’m going to chime in here after reading this thread with some thoughts based on being one of the few who’s been here since the beginning in 2013. When I found Webflow, it was a single page designer, but even then, the concept was revolutionary. After a month of using it, I was on the forums every day, running into people like @callmevlad @cyberdave @PixelGeek and many others and just vibing with incredible transparency about what this platform could become. We were all a bunch of nerds geeking out on what we were a part of! It was awesome! And it continued! As the years went by, we kept getting awesome unexpected surprises. Multi Page, Interactions, rich text, the cms etc. That all came out and were revolutionary and completely better than anything out there. I can truly say Webflow changed my life!

Then everyone seemed to disappear. No one was excited anymore it seemed. We weren’t seeing updates and features. We weren’t even seeing optimizations. IX2 still sucks! And as someone who now builds websites almost exclusively on Webflow, this is disheartening. I mean, I was approached by UFC to build a site on Webflow and I did it showcasing the power of the CMS. And when I reached out to the team to talk about a blog post/podcast to show this off, I was dismissed. It’s like the magic of Webflow disappeared and so did the excitement. I remember the days where I could schedule a FaceTime call with Vlad himself, and now this is the first we’ve heard from him in 9 months and it feels like a press release. What happened to the Ted Talk attitude you had that inspired the hell out of me years ago. About empowering anyone to build a world class site without code and that you will continue to revolutionize the product year over year?

I find it interesing that once the A round came out, the updates become more financially driven, (e commerce over fixing issues or addressing 5 year old wishlist items). Additionally this incessant focus on enterprise type products which is just an awful idea. If your product can’t fit the needs of small businesses due to not addressing issues, how is it ever going to be used by enterprise. Make your product bulletproof, then scale. It’s felt like a money grab for years now. And my excitement to answer questions on the forum as a mod just became non existent, I was no longer excited about this platform.

I say this all with great sadness because I absolutely loved Webflow and the community and I loved how I always felt like part of the team. Like together we were doing something, it wasn’t the company and us customers, it was us all together working towards something to change the world. I want my faith in this platform restored.

With that being said, anyone on the Webflow team can feel free to reach out to me on the slack channel if you want to just have a chat and reconnect. I miss speaking with all of you and I hope maybe I can help bring that magic back into this platform.

I wish all of you on the team and all of you amazing people on the forums all the best and thank you for hearing my story.

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Honestly, thanks for the update, Vlad.