The good, the bad, the ugly

Open letter to Webflow - Follow up part 1/3

In yesterday’s open letter to Webflow’s C-level executives, I promised to provide actionable feedback on what needs to change to make user accounts and gated content work properly in Webflow. Here is part 1.

Georg S. Kuklick
June 24, 2024
 min read
Tom Ford and John Suger.

For a new business endeavour that starts this fall I need to build three very simple and common use cases:

  1. Free subscription to see gated free content
  2. Paid subscription to see gated content
  3. One-time payment to see gated content

All preparation is done. Access groups are set up, membership products are assigned to access groups, and folders are restricted to these access groups. Easy so far.

But then it all turned into a nightmare.

Use Case 1

I built a landing page for the free subscription tier with a sign-up form. Wait, no. This is what I tried to build because this is how you want it to work. However, the user account sign-up or log-in functionalities in Webflow are so limited that none of the common workflows work.

In Webflow, the sign-up form is on a separate page. There is no component or other way to add the sign-up form on a static or CMS page. Seriously, you can’t add the sign-up form on a landing page or in a popup modal by default. But this is a very common use case.

Can you do it with Memberstack or Outseta? Of course!

So I tried to build it in Logic. Logic has three user-related blocks: Invite User, Update User, and Delete User. Invite User works differently than the sign-up form and there is no Add User block. But I gave it a try and triggered this workflow from my landing page.

The user enters their email and clicks the subscribe button. They are then shown a message informing them that an invite email has been sent, which they need to confirm.

After clicking the confirmation button/link in the invite email, the user gets redirected to the standard sign-up page. This is how it is supposed to work.

Unfortunately it often takes 2-7 minutes for the user to receive the invite email to complete the sign-up by providing a password.

User got his invite 7 minutes after form submission!

Seriously?  7 minutes is ridiculous.

Real life looks like this:

  • User goes to their email client and there is no invite email
  • User checks the spam folder and there is no invite email
  • User refreshes email client 10x and there is no email
  • User tries the form again and there is no email
  • User loses trust
  • User goes somewhere else

But this down not stop here. Even if the user waits 7 minutes - after finishing the sign-up process, they do not get redirected to a specific page or the page where they triggered the process. They get redirected to the homepage.

Let’s face it, there is NO use case where you want your user redirected to the home page after signing up for gated content.

There are only two scenarios that make sense:

  1. The user gets redirected to the gated content page.
  2. The user gets redirected to the page from where they triggered the process.

Is this possible in Memberstack or Outseta? Of course.

Furthermore, there is no way to display error messages to the user. You can see them in the test environment of logic but you can't show them to users. Therefore, the user has no idea if and what went wrong. For example, you can sign up with the same email over and over again without any error message or info that you already have an account.

Use Case 2

I built a landing page with two one-time payment membership products. But in Webflow, you can’t buy a subscription without creating an account or logging in first. When a user clicks the buy button, they get redirected to the standard sign-up page, which has no information as to why they were redirected there instead of the checkout page.

Therefore, the user feels completely lost. Or you have to explain the buying process on the landing page, which would be somewhat ridiculous. Most users just hit the buy button as soon as they are convinced of the product; they don’t read supporting text.

So I tried building it with workarounds: hiding the original buy button for logged-out users and showing a fake buy button that opens a modal popup containing an iframe with the sign-up page. Above the iframe, a prominent explainer of why this is necessary. Felt smart and looked pretty.

Having all sign-up and login forms in a modal without using an iframe would be amazing.

The problem is the redirects of the standard sign-in/login are limited. With the iframe workaround, there is no way to make it work for this use case without compromising the standard redirects or loading the wanted page into the iframe instead of the main window. It’s possible to make it work for either the sign-up or the login but not for both.

The whole sign-up and login situation is a disaster.

Wrap Up

The shortcomings of user access sign-up, login, and logic make it impossible to build the most common real-life use cases natively in Webflow. This leads your customers to look for workarounds, tips, scripts, and hacks from the Webflow forum to try building it somehow. But no matter what shortcoming you avoid with these workarounds, you hit the wall at the next corner when another shortcoming pops up.

Tomorrow, I will come up with the necessary improvements to make user accounts for gated content work properly.

So stay tuned and don’t miss an update.

Update June 24th: This open letter got the attention of the CPO Rachel Wolan on LinkedIn. So feel free and join the conversation and spread the word. The more engagement we create in this conversation, the more leverage we gain. Link

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