No-code apps, Bubble or Webflow?
In short, Webflow is for websites that do not need a complex web app to run. Think stores, blogs, and publishing websites or content sites. Your business is primarily selling a product or content. There’s no need for a ‘SaaS’ like app powering the business.
Bubble, on the other hand, is for businesses & apps that are workflow heavy. Think SaaS, productivity, utility, social networks, etc. Here, your business is more of an app that ingests, manipulates, and lets users alter data.
Both have their advantages/disadvantages, which we’ll explore below. For now, just understand that Webflow is more for a landing page/blog or paywalled content, while Bubble is more for complex web apps. While both have their key differences, we do expect the development of each platform to expand and come closer together.
Using Bubble and Webflow Together
The best use case is using both Bubble and Webflow, together. You’ll lean on both platform’s strengths and divert to the others when needed.
Let’s break it down.
Webflow is incredibly powerful for landing pages and blogs. Their flex box design lets you build beautiful responsive pages with ease. If your business has an app aspect to it, we suggest using Webflow for the landing pages. This means that your domain will point to Webflow (yourdomain.com).
For the app aspect, you’d use Bubble. This means that you would create a subdomain (app.yourdomain.com) and point it to Bubble. When users navigate to your domain, they’ll be on a Webflow server. When they click “sign up” they’ll be routed to “app.yourdomain.com” which would be hosted on Bubble. Just like our website.
Combining the two will allow you to build sleek landing pages and blog content in Webflow, and couple it with robust no-code customization and flexibility of Bubble.
Sometimes, when thinking between Bubble vs Webflow, it's advantageous to use both no-code platforms instead of picking one over the other.
Webflow and Bubble Pricing
While building no-code apps is on the less-expensive end of building businesses, it’s important to consider pricing when selecting tech stacks.
If you consider our suggestion of combining the two (Webflow & Bubble), in effect your monthly costs go up by two. If you select just one tech stack, it’ll of course be cheaper.
Bubble has a generous free plan which lets you build your no-code app completely free until you launch. While building an app takes time, you won’t be charged until you’re ready to go live. Once you’re ready to launch, you suggest sticking to the Personal plan at first ($29/mo). Once you see steady usage in your app and track the logs, you’ll then be able to decide if you want to upgrade your plan for more bandwidth.
Webflow also lets you build your website without having to pay right away. Again, this is great as you won’t have to undergo any costs until you’re ready to launch your business. If you combine Webflow and Bubble as your tech stacks, you will be ok with using the CMS plan on webflow. This allows you to build landing pages, blog content, and more. When you’re ready to upgrade, the plan costs $29/mo.
All in all, you’re looking at around $58/mo for your tech stack. This is relatively inexpensive for launching a no-code app.
Downsides of selecting one tech stack
While it’s best to use both Webflow and Bubble for your no-code app, let’s explore how we’d only use one.
For Bubble, you can do anything that’s possible in Webflow (Bubble is the most comprehensive no-code app builder).
But let’s discuss the downsides.
For one, building sleek, responsive landing pages in Bubble is tough. That’s not to say it’s impossible, however. You just need to spend more time building the UI and making sure it looks good on every device. Webflow provides a lot of options out of the box with its flex box responsive engine. In terms of blogs, they are much easier in Webflow as the structured data are all set up for you. Webflow content is SEO optimized. In Bubble, you would need to build out the UI for the blogs, as well as structure the posts to be SEO optimized. Again, not impossible, but much easier with Webflow.
Edit Jan 10 2023 - Bubble has now officially launched their new responsive engine. This is a HUGE change to the way Bubble no-code apps are built. Bubble has taken a page out of Webflow's book by incorporating flexbox design. We're big fans of Bubble's new responsive engine. While it takes some time to learn (especially if you're comfortable and used to Bubble's old engine) it makes things a little easier in terms of responsive design.
Our take is that the biggest downside to not using Webflow for your landing pages and blog content is the SEO hit. That is Bubble's biggest downside in our view.
For Webflow, the disadvantages are more clear. If you’re building a complex web app with Webflow, you’ll need to integrate many third party services. Let’s take a look at each.
Memberships - To capture memberships (paid), you’ll need to incorporate a service such as MemberStack. Here, you’ll simply insert a HTML script on your page to open a popup and allow users to register for your app. The user management system in Webflow is lacking, even with the newly added membership features. While you can have paywalled content in Webflow, it would be extremely tough if not impossible to do pin point actions and workflows for specific segments of users.
Edit Jan 10 2023 - Webflow now offers membership, which in essence is paywalled content. While this is great for websites that are simply showcasing premium content behind a paywall, this is the full extent of Webflow's membership capabilities. With Bubble, you can have different membership plans, offer different services for each, and much more flexibility for your no-code app.
Database - If your no-code app has a large database, you’ll need to incorporate a service such as Airtable. Webflow does have a CMS built in, but retrieving data with various conditions is almost impossible. For example, show me all cars that only have two doors and are blue, this is something that’s not possible with Webflow. By incorporating Airtable, you’ll be able to make complex queries.
App workflows - For complex “app-like” actions, you’ll need to integrate a service such as Zapier. For example, a customer signs up, and you want your app to send them an email. For this use case, you’d need to have a ‘Zap’ send them the email. Integrating Zapier into your tech stack will make your Webflow app much more powerful.
Edit Jan 10 2023 - Webflow now has a live beta program for their version of workflows called Logic. Here, you can add certain conditions and actions for your website. While Logic is still in its infancy, we see Logic as progress to creating complex workflows and logic for a no-code application. We'll monitor this beta program closely as it progresses.
One thing to note here is the dependency of various tools. If you’re primarily using Webflow, but also rely on other third party services (MemberStack, Airtable, Zapier), think of the downsides when one of them goes down. If Zapier goes down, can your app still function properly? Make sure you think of the consequences of using multiple tools before you begin building your no-code app.
As you can see, the downsides of not using Webflow for your no-code app are not so drastic, but are in reverse. You can be fine using only Bubble (minus the lost SEO).
No-Code Themes & Templates
Bubble and Webflow both have themes and templates that you can use to get started with your app. They are very easy to purchase, implement, and customize to your liking.
Advantages to using templates include quickly jumpstarting your design. Instead of having to design and build out your app, templates will allow you to very easily get started with a nice and clean UI.
Disadvantages to using templates include having to work backwards when your business is not somewhat similar to the template. Let’s say you purchase a food delivery template from the Bubble template store. With Bubble, the database setup is crucial for UI. If your business is slightly different than how the template was constructed, you’ll have to work backwards, changing both the database setup and the UI.
In the end, it comes down to how similar your business and app idea is to the template you select. Our general suggestion is to not use templates for Bubble. In Webflow, since themes are typically just the UI design, it’s easy to tailor and customize.
No-code is still early
The concept of no-code is not new. The concept of no-code platforms, however, is. We’re not talking about the simple drag and drop builders like Squarespace and Wix. Those have limited use cases and “building blocks.” We’re talking about extremely powerful no-code builders such as Webflow and Bubble where the possibilities are quite almost endless.
Both companies are relatively new with a large roadmap. While our current suggestion is currently to use both, we do see a point in the future where you’ll only have to use one.