So the Account plans are for sites that won’t be hosted through Webflow, as opposed to the Site plans.
The Account Plan gives you extra features for the service, but isn’t inherently for non-Webflow hosted sites. All of my clients for example are hosted on Webflow but I am on a legacy Account Plan which gives me additional staging features, the ability to export sites, and more un-hosted projects in my dashboard. Site Plans are used exclusively per-project to connect a custom domain and utilize Webflow’s hosting which includes features only available on their hosting, like CMS and Ecommerce.
I’m trying to make sense of my Lite plan now – essentially, I’m paying to gain access to Webflow and it’s tools. After a few months, if I’m not actively making updates on my client’s site… can I downgrade to the Free account?
It sounds like you’re taking advantage of the project export functionality which is only available to paid Account Plans—the free tier allows the use of the platform to develop Webflow hosted projects without needing to pay for anything up until the site is live (with some limitations).
For others, who export their sites to external hosting, do they often have the client sign up for an account?
They would only need an account if they wanted to continue to update their own Webflow project in the Designer, however this process would require exporting and uploading the files to their hosting provider. Once a project is exported, as long as there is no major design/functionality updates that need to be made in the Designer, a Webflow Account plan is no longer needed. Any updates can be made manually to the exported files, but keep in mind that Webflow doesn’t allow projects to be re-uploaded after changes are made—the process is strictly one way.
If you’re wanting a client to pay for their hosting costs after a project is completed, you can either have them sign up for the hosting themselves or you could retain ownership of the hosting costs and simply bill them for that amount each month. Client Billing is really just a system for passing the costs of hosting to a client without them having to sign up and manage their own Webflow account.