Is the "no code" branding, misleading?

Since Webflow have taken the bold step to brand the platform as a “no code” tool, it remains questionable who is really Webflow targeting. At this state Webflow is far for being a no code tool and while this does not affect advanced users, this kind of branding creates confusion and wrong expectations for newcomers and those not versed in CSS.

I would personally add, that “visual coding” must be the correct term, since Webflow still does require one to know how CSS operates, but the way of applying CSS is visual one. This is exactly the golden mean of having at one’s disposal the full capabilities of CSS, while not demanding the cumbersome hand coding.

(“Low code” also deserves consideration as a newly coined term for exactly the type of platform that Webflow is.)

Moreover, I would argue that “no code” is a dangerous path of branding, since it implies that Webflow is yet another Wix.

I have elaborated on this previous post: Will there be a next Webflow? (post archived courtesy of Webflow :slight_smile: ).

What do you think?

1 Like

We’re no asking ourselves if After Effect is a coding tool, yet quite all of the AE projects contain scripts to address currently unsupported features Also having room for scripts is unleashing, permitting innovation and the emergence of an ecosystem. Having room for code allows others to bring new no-code bricks to the main app.

After Effects was unveiled 27 years ago, at a time where post production effect would solely rely on code or hardware. Webflow will be 7 on August 5th.

#nocode is a spirit, a movement, a direction, a family of apps and workflows, that’s where we’re aiming — as web designers. #no-code is inspirational.

Any app that is empowering non coders to build production quality stuff can be qualified with “no-code”. Excel is a no-code app.

Absolutely 100% yes it is misleading. I’ve been saying this since I started using Webflow. Almost everything I’d like to do, seemingly simple… seemingly implied as possible by their over-simplified marketing “tutorials” have some hobbled limitation that requires custom code. Having used After Effects for 20+ years I strongly disagree with Vincent… I’ve been able to bring every project I’ve ever wanted to desired completion without writing a single script. And, there have been many. Also, note AE did NOT launch with scripting capabilities… to my memory, that was added much later; and, they never lost focus on making the core app progress. I’d go so far as saying the COSA (if any are left)/AE team is probably the best team at Adobe in that regard.

Webflow’s marketing position has the adverse effect of overpromising, then underdelivering to the point of extreme frustration which breeds distrust in the brand. And, it’s hard if not impossible to test for/recognize. Worse, I convince a client to go with the platform, and suddenly they’re wondering why I can’t deliver basic requests… which makes me look and feel stupid, quite frankly.

Don’t get me wrong, I WANT them to succeed. This has the potential to be a dream tool, if it wasn’t for their really odd corner cutting (maybe based on bad architecture? Who knows… I’m not a developer lol). But, my impression is they write a marketing script for a video that will be cool (to wow potential new users and investors), then a PM makes the requirements to fit JUST THAT, then a poor designer gets scolded for pointing out users need a bit more, then the design goes to a developer that implements it without question as fast as possible, and PM checkmarks their boxes and goes home.

I hope with new funding, they start to realize that won’t work in the long term. But, considering there are threads here from 2016 with legit issues still unaddressed, as well as YouTube video comments I’ve recently come across from 2019 still unaddressed, I don’t think they get it… still. Hope they do. Awesome question, OP. Just happened to find it via a search and had to reply as the thread wasn’t auto-closed yet. Cheers! Happy coding! I mean… happy… meh, whatever.


I’ll be a little controversial and say No I don’t think it is.

Can you build an entire website without writing a line of code? Yes.

Can you build mid to advanced functionality without coding? No.

Ultimately it’s a good slogan to get new users onboard, and the webflow University videos are great for onboarding and to get you to a certain competency.

I imagine if you broke it all down - 90% of people looking for a website builder are only looking at their own companies site and they’re ultimately looking for something that offers more flexibility than squarespace / wix - but don’t want to go out and have a custom-built website than only the agency that created it can make changes to. Webflow bridges the gap where you need less people with coding knowledge in an organisation than before to operate a professional site.

Where they currently fall down on is building the complete platform - having a single login and functionality for Membership / ecommerce / Ticketing etc. Most modern businesses need some form of functionality around that and thats where you have to have someone who knows how to code to manage the plugins. Its also very costly to a business to have to pay for shopify / eventbrite etc as they take such a large margin. Wix / Squarespace has solutions to these that are passable for small / mid sized companies (despite their limitations).

Interestingly Wix has built a competitor to Webflow that is still in its infancy somewhat. But they could give Webflow some of the competition in this space it needs for them to up their game.

I love Webflow. but no, I don’t consider it a “no code” tool.
Like @uzzer said, “visual coding” is a much more accurate description.
Webflow’s advertising as a “no code” solution is what got me using it.
At the beginning, trying to build my first projects in Webflow was mind-blowing frustrating for me. why can’t I just drag objects on the canvas to where I want them to be? do I need to move them with padding/margin/position/transform?? why use these complicated terms??
I didn’t understand why Webflow overcomplicates things. it was a much bigger learning curve than I anticipated when decided to go for Webflow but I’m happy I persisted and didn’t move to tools like Wix. one of the reason being, Webflow taught me HTML/CSS in a visual way.
Just before encountering Webflow, I first tried learning HTML&CSS but I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. it was totally gibberish for me.
Only after training on Webflow and understanding the different terms and applications,
I suddenly found myself reading articles about HTML & CSS and actually understanding them (or at least some of it). So I started previewing the code produced in Webflow and it starting to get clear. Today, I can develop a website from scratch without Webflow.
Would I actually do it on production? NO.
Webflow just makes the tidies work so much easier and organized. I can accomplish in 1 day what will take me over a week to develop.

Is Webflow visual coding enough to get every project done? NO.
It may be enough for some projects. In other cases, you will need some custom coding done. In my view, that is perfectly OK. no tool/software can account for every function in every scenario. Whenever a project requires some custom coding, one could always look for a snippet at forums or hire a freelance to create that piece of code for their client’s project. As @vincent said, this reminds me of Excel (I’m developing in Excel VBA). I can produce most of client’s projects without developing in VBA. but even the old-timer elaborate Excel can’t cover all functionality scenarios.