WTF #5

Weave Your Dreams in Webflow

WTF No Code

Whoever told us software was eating the world forgot to mention that it was just the appetizer.

The main course is No Code x AI and we're really just watching the prep cooks get everything sorted out before the first dinner service.

When you see just what you can pull off in Webflow by simply following Sarkis on Twitter, you think you’d have seen it all. But then, out of nowhere, Letter Run by Edgar Allan shows up and opens up a whole new dimension of possibilities.

So what sort of no code mise en place are we putting on today’s menu? I’m here to mix things up with some free-range, organic Webflow content courtesy of Keith from Flow Sparrow.

The progress I've made in understanding how to build in Webflow has a lot to do with these tips and tidbits that either save time or establish some sort of standard for you to observe and extend.

If that weren't enough for you, here's a light dusting of something AI-powered. AI Alt Text's Chrome extension lets add accurate alt text to your images with a click of a button. That's it. One click and you're doing your site's visitors a massive solid.

All of this adds up to an admittedly haphazard approach to building in Webflow that usually skews toward being heavily inspired by existing templates or components because there's no sense in completely reinventing the wheel.

This has been my approach to web development and front-end work since I first got my hands on Dreamweaver and absolutely aced my computer science assignment in 2006. I unabashedly told the prof and the rest of the class that I found and researched sites that were popular at the time and mimicked it's design patterns and layouts. The result was a website hosted on Geocities that featured Flash videos of professional skateboarder Danny Way performing incredible vert tricks.

It's fair to say that Dreamweaver walked so Webflow could pull off 540 McTwists. Fitting to have recently hit Dreamweaver's 25th birthday.

Lastly, an obligatory wrap up.

This time though, it's not about anyone's taste in music, (but if you really want to know what I listened to while tinkering in Webflow this year, here you go). If a look-back at what Webflow has been up to is really what you're after, check out their look back at the year that was 2022:

πŸ†— Simple $%!#

My latest project update or feature release. That's it. That's the $%!#.

The Need

A straightforward landing page to capture data inputs (and payment!) so I can feed the data to ChatGPT3 and email its output to my customers.

The Stack

The Result (ELI5)

Result number one: We get to ride the AI waaave 🌊

Result number two: A quick and easy way to put your next speech together without ever having to deal with writers block again. Gone are the days where you feverishly recall as many memories as you can about whoever your speech is about.

You INSTANTLY get a well-rounded and evocative speech by answering a handful of straightforward questions.

That's it. That's all.

Why not give it a whirl? πŸ‘‡

Sometimes the best projects are the simplest ones, and this one is incredibly simple:

The Extended Version

I plan to update the automation to have the speech emailed to customers as a PDF attachment complete with watermark. I also expect to adapt the workflow so I can quickly review and approve the speech before it's emailed, for some quick quality assurance.

🌢 Spicy Takes

This gets your attention today but won't mean much in a few months.

I'm not going to bet against this prediction but I will file this under remind me in 6 months because this already exists in fragmented isolation. It's not at all difficult to generate audio based on a given text. I actually pulled it off for Podcast Delivery after being inspired by The Weather in Brooklyn.

I read up on how it was completely automated then set up my own RSS feed and full-on podcast where each edition of the Podcast Delivery newsletter had a corresponding episode published to the feed. Ultimately, I shut it down because it proved to be too costly for what it was doing but there's still a newsletter-to-podcast itch I'd love to scratch.

The best way to achieve what Ben is getting at ☝️ with this is through partnerships. For instance, Beehiiv could offer a value add service where select editions of your newsletter are transposed into a corresponding podcast feed on Simplecast, let's say.

There's plenty more to wrap your head around for this to be a viable arrangement that scales and benefits the newsletter platform, the podcast hosting platform, the users of those platforms and the end consumer of all the content that's created.

All told, this is spicy AF even if Ben's time horizon is off a bit.

🌢🌢🌢🌢🌢(out of 5)

🎲 Dicey Makes

Every one deserves some criticism some love. I'll share some unsolicited feedback in a sentence or two six and I'll try to keep it constructive.

The diciest thing about Nelson's Wall of Gratitude is that it'll be overrun but the amazing people throughout the no code community who are so willing to pay it forward. Most impressive though is that we can see Webflow's Wall Gratitude growing from the seeds of an idea where data is captured via Airtable form...

... to a full-fledged experience that absolutely automates Airtable form submissions to Webflow CMS items.

Linking Airtable to Webflow has been an essential learning for me and one of the areas where I've spent plenty of time and made a healthy amount of missteps in setting things up, especially with some of my early projects.

These days, I make a point to map out what my dataset is expected to look like in Airtable and what changes it may undergo. Isolating the triggers involved in any Airtable workflow means I can also push data to Webflow's CMS in a pretty intuitive way. In other words, I avoid the overkill of workflows that only pushes things to Webflow and instead I end up with an automation that unifies the data push and any workflow crucial to the data being stored in Airtable.

So I guess the diciest part of this review is that depending on the complexity of your build, there are plenty of pitfalls you can come across as you link up Airtable with Webflow. That, and once you're looking at a bi-directional sync you walk straight into a build vs. buy dilemma that is getting subverted by everything no code unlocks.

More on that another time.

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