Webflow Custom Domain: Should You Buy?

Webflow is a full suite content management system and website builder bringing together the best of Wordpress' customization with Squarespace's sleek design. Beyond that Webflow's competitive edge is its expansive integrations. But can Webflow also provide competitive domain hosting?
Written by
Kim Le
Published on
January 30, 2024

In the vast expanse of the internet where your digital presence is carved out by your domain name, choosing the right platform to secure your unique address is crucial. With Webflow's ascent in the web design industry, you might consider it as a one-stop hub for your website needs. Webflow is a full suite content management system and website builder bringing together the best of Wordpress' customization with Squarespace's sleek design. Beyond that Webflow's competitive edge is its expansive integrations. But can Webflow also provide competitive domain hosting? Here, we dissect the process and evaluate whether buying a domain through Webflow is worth your investment.

As a relative newcomer founded in 2012, Webflow has been cultivating a market amongst tech-savvy businesses with its innovative integrations, serving over 200,000 notable organizations. But does its domain purchasing process live up to its reputation as a forward-thinking underdog? Let's find out.

Buy a Custom Domain Through Webflow: Step-by-Step Instructions

Webflow offers a basic guide for beginners. Below is a more detailed account based on our January 2024 review.

1. Sign Up and Create a Workspace

Firstly, sign up for a Webflow account and establish your workspace. Your workspace is your home for all of your sites and where you can choose apps and integrations to explore and add to your sites.

Create a webflow workpspace

2. Create a Website

Proceed by creating a new site. From there, navigate to 'Site Settings' and select "Buy a new domain" from the "Add a custom domain" dropdown. (Be aware that you'll need to purchase hosting services to reach this stage).

Create a website on webflow and select buy a new domain

3. Domain Purchase Redirection

Interestingly, clicking to buy a domain reroutes you to IONOs – Webflow's domain buying partner in a new tab.

Webflow domain purchase redirect to Ionos

4. Search for and purchase a domain through IONOs

This follows a standard search, add to cart and checkout flow. However, there are multiple steps and fields to complete, though not unexpected, it was cumbersome after just completing the Webflow account creation. The greatest inconvenience is that we had to create another account to manage.

Search for and purchase a domain
Create an account on IONOS to purchase the domain

Fun Unexpected Bug!!

Funny enough we hit an issue during the checkout process! IONOs was not able to tell us the reason for the error so we instead quit the process after 5-8 attempts of trying to re-enter the information.

IONOS fail to checkout domain purchase

Note: We actually switched over to Squarespace and ran into the same error. However, Squarespace was able to identify and notify us the source of the error. Almost immediately when we saw the pop-up error message, we received an email to the address on file to explain the error source which was that our card was declined.

Redirect back to Webflow

If the process was completed, IONOs would redirect back to Webflow. Note that throughout the IONOs purchase experience the Webflow UI had a placeholder screen that was waiting for the checkout completion.

IONOS pending screen while waiting to be redirected to Webflow

Key Takeaways – A Critique of the Webflow Domain Experience

While Webflow’s website builder is robust, the domain purchase experience has glitches:

  • User Interface Complexity: The route to the new domain section feels like a maze, hidden beneath layers that can deter users.
  • Fragmented User Experience: Transitioning between Webflow and IONOs is disjointed, requiring an additional IONOs account, which dampens the user experience.
  • Unexpected Requirements: Mandatory hosting services purchase for domain buying isn't immediately apparent, which can lead to unanticipated costs.

Our assessment is clear -- if you're looking for a smooth domain purchase experience, Webflow might not be your first choice.

Pros and Cons of Buying a Domain Through Webflow

Every platform has its highs and lows. Below we outline some pros and cons to consider when making your decision:

Pros:

  • Integration Convenience: Buying a domain through Webflow offers seamless integration with its website builder ecosystem.
  • Reputable Partnership: IONOs' credibility lends confidence in the domain purchase process.

Cons:

  • Navigation Difficulty: A convoluted interface makes the domain purchasing process less intuitive.
  • User Experience Deficit: The requirement to hop between platforms and manage separate accounts is a significant drawback.
  • Hidden Requirements: The necessity of purchasing Webflow's hosting services before starting the domain registration could catch users off-guard, leading to an unexpected expense.

Exploring Alternatives – Other Domain Registration Services

Before you take the plunge with Webflow, consider these alternative domain purchasing options:

  • GoDaddy: An industry titan, GoDaddy offers a straightforward approach to domain services, along with tools to effectively manage your domain.
  • Namecheap: As the name suggests, it prides itself on competitive pricing while not compromising on customer support.
  • Bluehost: Not just a hosting giant, Bluehost entices with a year's free domain registration coupled with a hosting plan—quite the package.
  • Squarespace: This platform deserves a notable mention post-acquisition of Google's domain business for its sleek integration and stress-free domain buying process.

In Conclusion

While Webflow may dazzle with its web design prowess, its domain purchasing pathway isn't as polished. It’s notable that the convenience of having everything in one place may appeal to some; the existing interface and purchase flow might not be the right fit particularly for those seeking a frictionless experience.

Before making a decision, weigh the alternatives. Remember, your domain name serves as your digital home's address, and choosing the right foundation can make all the difference in your website’s success. Remember to stay in the know, and choose wisely. The right domain service is the stepping stone to building your brand's online presence.

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