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GDPR - Form Submissions will no longer work on Exported sites :-(

The bigger issue here is that we are being unnecessarily required to purchase Webflow hosting at a premium price but lacking basic features. If I institute a super-annoying workaround this time and spend my time over the next couple days implementing it (and paying for another service in the process), and change my entire workflow because a law in a country I don’t live in OR service… how long will it be before another angle is attempted to force me into overpriced and under-featured hosting?

This whole thing just smells like, “Well, at least we can use this to force more people onto Webflow hosting.”

Maybe it’s just me, but the more I read about GDPR the more I see that it is really vague and a ‘let’s figure it out as we go’ approach.

As mentioned in Webflow’s blog and confirmed in a few other articles I compared it with, personal data can be anything as obscure as name, email address, and even social media handle (lol), basically anything that leaves a breadcrumb trail of who you might be. This is also known as being public domain, or stuff that is and has always been available outside of the internet in the real world. Why it is valuable now, who knows. Phone books have been printing this information and giving it out for free since forever.

Strait from the ICO, just take a look at the wording:

The GDPR sets a high standard for consent. But you often won’t need consent. If consent is difficult, look for a different lawful basis.

Basically it says you need consent, or maybe you don’t, or if it’s too hard to get it, figure something else out and we’ll decide if it’s lawful later.

This one is a real gem too:

The GDPR applies to ‘personal data’ meaning any information relating to an identifiable person who can be directly or indirectly identified in particular by reference to an identifier.

Hey, maybe it identifies a person, or maybe it doesn’t, but we can still bury you fines for up to 20 mil euros or 4% global supply, whichever is more.

I get what GDPR is trying to do, but it looks like it is framed on gray area and leaves way too much open for interpretation, and it isn’t reciprocal for both websites and users.

Curious what everyone thinks. Webflow says they are excited for it, but I remain skeptical until the language is cleaned up.

I don’t actually think forms working after export was ever a planned feature. I believe it just worked due to how it was set-up, and it was never a promised feature. For example:

Can I host my site somewhere else?
On the Lite, Professional, and Team plans, you can export your website and host it anywhere you’d like. No attribution required. However, CMS Collections cannot be exported and forms (including site search) will stop working.

Here is a screenshot of that: https://cl.ly/1V0O1G0z2q45

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Yes. That happened about a year and a half ago, and individuals who were on plans which prior to that had handled form submissions on exported sites (which was an advertised feature of Webflow), were allowed to continue exporting sites with forms on them.

It’s not a bug.

I’ve just switched from Adobe Muse two weeks ago.

Using forms on exported projects was absolutely no problem there.

They’ve used simple php-mail functionality.

I hope for a similar solution from Webflow.

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Looks like I was off on my estimation on how long this has been the case. It is apparently a every-two-years thing to talk about whether or not to make this change and I’m now neck-deep in this platform as opposed to knee-deep like the last time.

Hey everyone, thank you for all the feedback. We’re listening, and I hope that I can answer the questions being raised here.

Since there’s a lot, I’ll try to respond point by point…

Seems like a gimmick to get users to pay for Webflow hosting.

For what it’s worth, this is not the reason behind this change. While it would be good for us for folks to sign up for more hosting on our platform, the vast majority of the Export use cases in Webflow have so many export-dependent requirements (e.g. code changes need to be made, conversion needs to happen to a WordPress theme, etc), requiring hosting for form submissions from exported sites would likely not even make a dent in our hosting revenue.

Does this mean that for all Webflow hosted sites, the Webflow team will ensure that all forms are properly set up with no hidden checkboxes so as to ensure that all sites are GDPR compliant?

No, unfortunately we cannot ensure this at this time, given the multi-faceted nature of GDPR requirements and the still-pending upcoming rules in the ePrivacy Regulation, which will be additional to the current GDPR regulations. However, it does make it significantly easier for us to implement future changes to our forms functionality to aid our customers in complying with regulations if there’s the common baseline assumption that form handling code cannot be modified or circumvented.

(As a tangential benefit, it also helps us build other form-based improvements – such as reCAPTCHA and file upload support – significantly faster.)

If Webflow is just the data processor, why does it matter how users collect the data whether hosted on Webflow or externally?

Even though we are “just” a data processor for form submissions, we still have to take reasonable steps to ensure that we are doing everything in our power to protect personal data. As a processor, we are required to map out and document exactly how personal data could be sent from browser to server – and on exported sites, we can’t map this out with certainty.

What is the alternatives?

One of the easiest integration options today is to send form submissions to MailChimp - we have a guide on how this can be set up.

We are in the process of creating additional guides on integrating exported forms with other external form providers, such as Wufoo.

it really seems as if they lack effective communication about these forms and how they operate

You’re right, and for that I personally apologize. :bowing_man:‍♂️ This has historically been an area of ambiguity in our pricing pages and feature listings, and that sucks. GDPR forced a conversation on this internally, and we’re now actively working to reconcile all of our internal and external documentation to make it clear that form submissions will not automatically work on exported code.

I have no option but to pay an experienced developer to reconfigure these forms for multiple clients.

To help with this, we’re going to extend the timeline of this migration for existing exported sites – and will be adding more content like our MailChimp Integration guide to make finding a developer not necessary.

We’re also considering extending the timeline for capturing form submissions beyond July 31st to give everyone more time to make this transition.

I don’t know whose idea it is to repeatedly attempt to get people to pay for hosting

As mentioned before, this is not the motivation. Sure, it does become easier to deal with this by hosting with Webflow, but that only applies to a tiny percentage of our export use cases – and would not make a material difference for Webflow’s business.

Not only that, but you can put an HTML embed into a form, and Webflow is apparently not checking the code on those anymore sooooooooooooooo… you could still hide a checkbox if you wanted to.

Yes, as long as that embed is an <iframe>, there’s already an expectation that Webflow is not in control of custom code as a data processor – similar to how we’re not in control of the data that might be collected by Google if a YouTube video is embedded on a published site. If, however, Webflow was directly offering a feature that is clearly not dependent on a 3rd party processor (such as our forms collection, or Background Videos), we have a heightened responsibility – at least from how we currently understand our role under the new GDPR rules.

I’m not paying an additional $2,640+ per year for the privilege of remaining [a customer]

If you use the MailChimp integration mentioned above (and some other free solutions we’ll be suggesting soon), there is no requirement for you to switch to our hosting solution to preserve form submission functionality.

Can you guys give us an option in the settings area to hook up our forms to something 3rd party and cut Webflow out of the process for those who wish to export?

Webflow already has this, either via a custom Action on each individual form or via something like our MailChimp Integration. :grinning:

I wish there was more focus and encouragement on the exporting of clean code for further development and hosting where you like. I want devs around the world to know webflow as the #1 platform for prototyping / quick development of front end etc and be backed by this amazing ability to export clean code and do with it what you like. Instead its tracking more towards these web builder platforms[…]

This change will actually make this distinction easier. By clearly separating form submissions as a hosting/platform function (similar to CMS, Site Search, ECommerce, etc), it frees up more of our design tooling team to build more general non-hosting features, such as CSS Grid Layout, Photo Galleries, etc.

However, it’s important to note why Webflow provides all the platform-level integrated features. The vast majority of people who use Webflow are professional designers who just want to create and deliver solutions for their clients - in most cases, they’re not expert coders, they don’t have easy access to developers, and don’t have the desire to set up their own server/hosting stack.

So creating a straightforward way for them to design and launch/run sites in production is a lifesaver, and in many cases means the difference between running a web design business and not being able to. For those folks that know how to export code, modify it, and run a server – that’s great, but for the majority that’s not the case, and Webflow provides a lot of added convenience.

I hope all that makes sense, and please let me know if you have additional questions. Thank you for reading! :bowing_man:‍♂️

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@callmevlad Thanks for the comprehensive response and explanation.

@Thomas_92 @Cricitem @Robit97 @NewInBoston
I just set up one of my forms with a new service called Formcarry - www.formcarry.com

Pretty quick and easy to set up.

  • Will need to make a new account for each website but I’ll just use alias email addresses of my own for each site.
  • Then change the form to POST and add the Action URL.
  • Then export the site and that’s it!

It’s a bit of hassle but nothing too strenuous (depending on how many externally hosted sites you have!)

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Thanks for the detailed follow up Vlad. I should have mentioned in my previous response that I understand why GDPR is forcing Webflow’s hand and that this is not a ruse of some sort to force hosting onto others.

I didn’t realize the form action was an option, thanks for pointing that out. I’ll edit my previous post!

Learning everyday… :slight_smile:

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Wait…

Does this also apply to forms that are sending data to Zapier?

I’m not sure if it does. Try it

I can’t try it. I won’t know until Webflow breaks all of my forms. I doubt I’ll get an answer otherwise.

This garbage is probably going to put me out of business. I wish I were being melodramatic. This is about to cost me a [redacted] amount of money.

Why can’t you try it? It takes a few minutes only.

I already have a Zapier account for one of my clients who has emails automatically generate a salesforce lead.

If this breaks that…

Does this also apply to forms that are sending data to Zapier?

It does if that data is sent to Zapier via Webflow’s servers.

I won’t know until Webflow breaks all of my forms.
This garbage is probably going to put me out of business.

Don’t worry, none of your existing working forms will break - we’ll make sure that there’s plenty of time to consider other solutions for existing exported sites that rely on our forms functionality, including extending the July 31st timeline further.

As @Diarmuid_Sexton pointed out, there are multiple ways (e.g. using MailChimp, Formcarry, etc) that this change can happen at zero additional cost. All of those tools support the same Zapier hooks, so your Salesforce integration will keep working with some slight changes on the Zapier dashboard.

This is about to cost me a [redacted] amount of money.

Also, can we please keep this community forum discussion civil, @Cricitem? Please see our Community Guidelines.

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https://formspree.io/

Another form handling service. Free for up to 1000 subs/month per email address.

And then a plethora of options compiled by this dude above for people hosting static sites…

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I don’t know what that means.

I went through the Zapier integration. I sent a test through and that email shows up on the Webflow dashboard. How do I get it to NOT do that, since I’m assuming that is what is causing this entire nonsense problem? Do I have to add another processor between Webflow and Zapier? All of the others send through absolutely garish notification emails with gigantic logos.

There needs to be a better solution than, “Go through this free service that puts their logos at 100px height at the top of every notification email your otherwise-white-labeled customer receives.”

Thanks for a detailed response Vlad.

It’s good to hear your intentions surrounding the changes, and I can see your point re a clearer distinction between the the areas. I guess the main gripe will be over communicating with multiple clients and then transitioning the way we approach site forms for smaller builds.

I think if the team (maybe nelson :wink: ) could provide us with some documentation or a video on recommended alternatives and a process then it will make it easier for all. And of course when its possible, clearer documentation surrounding these types of features, so we don’t end up in situations making changes for a number of clients.

Thanks

Great one @Diarmuid_Sexton!!! You’ve nailed it :wink:

Relax. The writing has been on the wall for a while. I almost exclusively export and dropped webflow forms way back. There are plenty of affordable options. BUT, you really should dump the idea of providing hosting for free… The surplus from hosting fees should cancel out your other overheads and then lead to a small passive income by quantity.

I use netlify for hosting and netlify forms. There are also numerous other third parties to look at (with better flexibility vs webflow forms IMO).