11 Framer alternatives for website design & buildingBy Solange Messier
Whether you’re looking to sell website services to local businesses or somehow turn the site vision in your head into an online presence that works well and looks top-notch, the tools you use to get from point A to point B truly matter.
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Maybe you’re already using Framer. Maybe you’re just considering it because you’ve heard the name floating around the internet. Either way, it’s crucial you take the time to check out these top Framer alternatives. You may be surprised how much you can improve your workflow and increase UX when you have the right tech at your disposal.
Table of Contents
- What is Framer?
- Framer’s main features
- Why would someone look for Framer alternatives?
- 11 top Framer alternatives
- How to choose the right Framer alternative for your business
- Frequently asked questions
What is Framer?
Framer is a platform that offers users a soup-to-nuts approach to building and hosting websites. Subscribers have access to a wide range of tools that support the design process, allowing people with zero coding experience to do everything from constructing marketing sites to crafting online campaigns. The use of visual mockups and interactive elements helps everyone from design amateurs to time-strapped experts to turn even complex ideas into publishable sites.
Framer started as a prototyping tool, but it’s evolved over time to be a far more comprehensive platform. Framer sites are known for having beautiful layouts and impressive UX, both possible whether you’re a coding whiz or completely new to digital architecting. The biggest plus with Framer’s web app is that it’s so customizable. It’s a step up from basic website editors, which can be a major boon for those who have big ideas and need a similar big assist.
Framer’s main features
There are a bevy of reasons Framer has become so popular, and it’s mostly down to these fine features:
- Tons of templates. You can access both free and paid templates and have an instant framework to use when building your site.
- Built-in SEO. Optimize Framer web pages quickly using technology that preps your site for search engine scans, helping you to rank and stay competitive.
- Figma to Framer transfers. If you’re already familiar with Figma, you can import designs straight to Framer and then add more layers and elements to make your site exponentially more dynamic.
- Code-free animation. Capture your audience’s attention with scroll, appear, transform, and parallax effects and scrolling that bring statics sites to life.
- Side-by-side viewports. Make changes to your design with multiple versions — say, desktop, tablet, and mobile — lined up side by side on your screen. Updates also happen automatically, so you can see changes as they happen and ensure all tweaks will render correctly.
- Intuitive linking. Broken links are in the past, thanks to automatic link updates following page name changes — traffic redirects included.
- Scroll effect triggers. Want certain features to replay when a user scrolls? Prefer that scroll animation triggers come into effect below the fold rather than above? Framer gives you control over scroll effects, including enter and exit options.
- Integrated CMS. Use Framer’s content management system to build and post everything from blog posts to job listings. Organize content using themed collection blocks and manage displayed content from a central database.
Why would someone look for Framer alternatives?
While Framer is a good choice for some designers, there are some drawbacks that are hard to ignore. If you’re looking for certain features or have an interest in outsourcing website design and development, you may want to keep an eye on these considerations that could hinder your productivity or ability to scale.
Framer’s content management system is useful for organizing how content is stored and displayed, but other platforms do a better job of helping content-based businesses succeed. Designers, editors, and developers that prefer more control over how content is added (through a CSV or API, for instance) or who want to build custom search experiences might not be satisfied with Framer’s functionality.
Not-quite seamless design
Framer likes to talk up their Figma to Framer plugin, but the reason that plugin is necessary is because so many people prefer designing on Figma. Chalk that up to Framers somewhat less intuitive design experience, which may drive people to look for something that beats both Figma and Framer. There are also issues with some Figma features not properly copying over, which means you could lose layers.
Some aspects of Framer are quite user friendly, and it doesn’t take much to get up and running initially. But if you run into problems, it can be hard to find solutions. Other platforms may be easier to use and have more robust support options, which makes them attractive alternatives for new and time-strapped designers uninterested in troubleshooting.
Cost can be a major consideration for bootstrapped startups and other small- to medium-businesses that simply don’t have the cash flow available to cover monthly web design and hosting fees. Framer does offer a free plan, but the features available to no-pay clientele are limited. Users can access Framer’s Design Editor, but their finished sites will automatically display a Framer banner, which could interfere with the client’s own branding.
Paid Framer subscriptions start at $10/month for the Mini Plan (suitable for up to 1,000 visitors per month), with Basic $20/month (10,000 visitors per month) and Pro $30/month (100,000 visitors per month) plans available as well. There is a small discount (about $5/month) available for those who pre-pay for a full year. This beats out some other sites’ pricing, but remember, you get what you pay for. The money you save could mean you’re missing out on features that could benefit your business.
11 top Framer alternatives
Vendasta offers web design services that combine WordPress functionality with Elegant Themes Divi Builder, a drag-and-drop editor that makes it easy to construct beautiful and dynamic sites with zero coding requirements. Start off with the totally free Website Express, then upgrade to Website Pro.
But one of the biggest advantages of partnering with Vendasta is that the platform’s Website Pro is rebrandable, meaning you can add it to your resale portfolio and offer it to end clients as yet another service. Vendasta’s vast knowledge library and well-stocked blog also assists resellers, teaching them how to sell website services and stay competitive in an ever-evolving market.
Vendasta’s list of highly sought-after features includes:
- Google Cloud Platform hosting. Vendasta’s managed website hosting hosts clients’ WordPress sites using the highly trusted GCP, which ensures secure connections, fast and reliable speed, and scalability galore.
- Single log-in access. Log into Vendasta and access your WordPress dashboard and Google Analytics reporting in one fell swoop.
- Simple ecommerce workflows. Vendasta is especially helpful for ecomm businesses that demand plenty of flexibility and agile tech without excess effort. Thanks to seven ecommerce specific templates, free SSL certificates, and a centralized admin dashboard, you can run one store or a whole network of sites or clients from a single virtual HQ.
- Worldwide, 24/7 support. Get help anytime, anywhere, via email, phone, or live chat, and pass that support onto your clients, too.
- WordPress partnership. Vendasta knows quality when it sees it, so it’s no surprise they chose WordPress as their CMS of choice. WP comes with lots of customization options, it’s easy to use, and the fact that it’s open-source means resources like free themes and plugins continue to flood in.
Figma is known as the original cloud-based collaborative interface design tool. You can work with other designers and editors, both tweaking the same file at the same time and sending changes back and forth at lightning speed. No clunky email chains and time-wasting uploads and downloads here.
All-in-one design and prototyping capabilities put Figma at the top of a lot of designer’s lists, but being cloud-based means Figma is pretty much useless if the internet is out. But when you do have smartphone access, you can self-check site updates even if you’re out to dinner or at a meeting with clients.
Duda has a strong editor that works equally well for crafting desktop, tablet, and smartphone-ready sites. Analytics tools help you understand where traffic is coming from. You can make improvements and optimize on the fly, plus Duda has more than 100 templates and a store packed with tools to further drive site development.
For designers more well versed in the tech aspects of editing and site building, Duda allows for custom CSS and HTML code. While pricing is relatively affordable (the Basic plan is $19/month with discounts for annual prepay), there is no free tier, and features like adding additional team members and accessing chat and phone support require higher-tier subscriptions.
InVision is a dream for creative types looking to breathe life into their design visions. Use the brand’s free plan to execute a single project without making a long-term commitment. Animation is easy thanks to CoffeeScript, a program so simple to use that even non-programmers can publish sites that move. Invision supports multi-device prototyping, enabling design across any of eight pre-installed devices or others set up by developers.
Perhaps the most interesting feature offered by Invision is screen presentations that mimic actual web page viewing. Show clients works in progress and see in living color how edits will look to your audience.
Webflow’s builder features a drag-and-drop canvas combined with a central interface that’s user friendly even for aspiring web designers who’ve never seen a line of code before. But the platform’s real claim to fame is that it shows the code that’s generated by those drag-and-drop moves, allowing newbies to learn coding as they put text blocks and images into place.
Experienced designers may still appreciate Webflow for its no-brainer approach, and they can switch back and forth between WYSIWYG editing and tweaking the magically appearing lines of code to dial things in perfectly.
Another differentiator is that Webflow signups include hosting powered by Amazon’s AWS. This partnership makes it easy to navigate design and hosting in one place.
WordPress offers managed hosting and easy website design using its built-in Gutenberg block editor. There are less bells and whistles compared to some other Framer alternatives, but that can make it easier to make quick decisions without muddying the waters.
WordPress does offer lots of templates and user-generated widgets to help increase functionality. Just beware that many of these aren’t officially tested and rated. Still, you can try WordPress for free and even Premium hosting is just a few dollars per month, so you have some room to play.
Squarespace is a mainstay in the site-builder industry. Their reputation for helping small businesses build not only websites but entire brands has given them a lot of name recognition. Start with a website template, then customize as needed to add or remove pages or incorporate extras like a calendar or scheduling utility.
Some people consider Squarespace to be comparatively bare bones, but that’s also a plus in some cases. The straightforward interface makes it easy for hair salons, restaurants, service businesses, and online stores to get up and running quickly and ensure they have a reliable, modern-looking online presence.
Wix markets itself as the everyman’s platform, with not only a website builder on tap, but also tons of information, guides, and business services to help individuals and companies go from concept to success. The creation sector of the site offers a slew of design options, including a library of over 800 templates, site hosting, and both web and mobile app development.
Service-based business, bloggers, and ecommerce stores can benefit from the peripheral solutions offered by Wix, and there’s even email marketing and social media assists. But Wix has drawbacks, including lack of flexibility (no interchangeable templates) and the site’s branding present on sites made using the free plan.
9. Adobe XD
Think of Adobe XD as a lightweight version of design go-tos like Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. You can design prototypes, mockups, and wireframes for both mobile and web apps fairly quickly, and there’s an extensive asset library standing by. But the program works best on desktop, which can limit utility, and there’s a steep learning curve that can be a turn-off for anyone who doesn’t plan on using the platform long term.
10. Axure RP
Axure helps designers and entrepreneurs press fast-forward on the wireframing process by providing pre-packaged components accessible immediately after the software is downloaded and installed. The RP in Axure RP stands for rapid prototyping, and that is indeed the platform’s main focus. If that’s your main focus as well and you’re okay taking the time to explore the widgets and interactions that’ll help your site stand apart, Axure may be a solid choice.
11. HubSpot CMS Hub
HubSpot is already a very customer-driven platform, and it funnels the data it collects on the CRM side to power up its CMS and website builder. Not only can users take advantage of a drag-and-drop editor and piggyback on existing themes, but there’s also blog support, solid hosting, and all that data to help inspire next-level UX.
How to choose the right Framer alternative for your business
If you’re interested in exploring Framer alternatives, think about the following categories and how they’d factor into your final decision.
Don’t overpay for a site builder or prototyping tool. Look for options that offer multiple tiers or packages, so you pay for only what you need and have the option to scale up when the time is right.
Some platforms, like Wix and Squarespace, are well suited to startups and service businesses because they include vast libraries packed with knowledge that goes beyond design to cover the nitty-gritty aspects of running a business. But if you’re a designer or project manager who just wants a hand with site construction, opting for a stripped down Framer alternative can help you maintain focus and avoid distractions.
Do you need lots of add-ons like an on-page daily weather report or event countdowns? Are you interested in connecting with a website builder reseller and offering white-label SEO services alongside design solutions? Will you be transferring in-progress design from one platform to another? The answers to those questions will determine which platform best suits your needs and help you avoid signing up for a tool that will still leave gaps in your game plan.
Frequently asked questions
Are Framer sites worth it?
Framer offers people with little to no coding ability the opportunity to create a pro-level website, but you can build gorgeous, high-functioning sites using Framer alternatives too. Since value is subjective, it’s important to explore all your options before signing up for an annual plan.
Is Framer completely free?
Framer does offer a zero-cost plan that allows new subscribers to try the platform for free. This basic plan is ideal for hobby projects and includes access to Framer’s Design Editor, but users will have a Framer banner added to their published sites. Other options range from the $10/month Mini Plan to the $30/month Pro Plan, with discounts available for those who pay annually.