Webflow Fluid Paths

Want dynamic, fluid paths on your Webflow-hosted site? Here's how we build this for clients.

Do you need your Webflow paths to be more fluid?

Whether you're an SEO expert, or just trying to craft a logical organization for you website content, semantic paths are a central part of your site's design.

Unfortunately, Webflow's CMS has very rigid path rules, which effectively prevents you from building CMS-driven content hierarchies the way you want.

We can fix that.

In fact, this is one of the most-requested features we build for clients.

How We Solve This

The only way is to do this on a Webflow-hosted site is to design a reverse proxy that can resolve your desired paths to Webflow's collection page paths.

We set these up for clients, and allow you to map your desired paths to the correct page content, any way you like.

Sygnal's approach;

  • Responds with the correct page content on any desired path, with no redirects - this is important for SEO.
  • Automatically redirects the old Webflow /collection-slug/item-slug URLs to your new paths.
  • Automatically sets the correct canonical URL for SEO.
  • Automatically updates your Sitemap  

How Path Maps Work

There are several components to this solution but the most complex part of this build is often the path map itself.

We can design yours specific to your needs, to keep your paths as flexible as you want, and your administration as convenient as possible.

Here are some of our key approaches;

  1. Static map. Hardcoded, good for simple maps, on sites that never changes. The from and to paths are both known in advance.
  2. Static patterned map. Hardcoded, good for predictable maps that always follow the same pattern. The from and to paths are both easy to determine in advance, based on their path structure.
  3. Static algorithmic map. A patterned map with more complex pattern rules. The from and to paths are both possible to determine in advance, based on their path structure.
  4. Dynamic structured map. If you have strongly structured content such as an online course, you might need to present your paths as e.g. /course/(course-slug)/(chapter-slug)/(lesson-slug) and have them come from 3 different CMS collections. The from path is deterministic, but the to path is variable and requires CMS data to formulate.  
  5. Dynamic unstructured map. If you have a lot of URL variations and you need them to be dynamically defined in the CMS, you can maintain that map in the CMS. Here we build a special dynamically generated map that republishes as your CMS is updated. Both the from and to paths are variable and require CMS data to formulate. They can also "overlay" the site such that any path, anywhere, can be remapped.

These are loosely ordered from simplest to most complex.

In general, approach #6 is most popular with SEO experts who want the flexibility to map paths arbitrarily, however it's also the most complex build. In most cases that's not needed.

Multi-level maps

We also support multi-level maps, which describes situations in which different levels of your path should be remapped differently, e.g.

/course/(course-slug) maps to a course page
/course/(course-slug)/(chapter-slug) maps to a chapter page
/course/(course-slug)/(chapter-slug)/(lesson-slug) maps to a lesson page

Do you need this feature on your site? Contact us.

Technical notes

The rewriting, canonical, and sitemap changes are actually quite straightforward. The complex part is the often URL map itself.

If your site doesn't change often or your path permutations are very predictable, you can hardcode that map into your reverse proxy code. But if you need it to be more dynamic, you'll need a way to build and admin your map.

One way is to use a separate CMS collection to store that map, and you publish it on a hidden page like /_map. Your reverse proxy can then parse it into data, cache it, and use it for path resolution. My SEO clients prefer this approach because it lets them use entirely arbitrary paths.

If you want to build an actual automatically self-managed hierarchy, that's actually more complex since you need to extract all of those ref & multiref relationships and construct that map dynamically. Due to its programming complexity, this is not recommended for most projects, I've only done this for universities which tend to have large and complexly organized sites.

Keep in mind you will also want to correct your canonicals and your sitemap.

Contact Us

We love working with great clients, and building great systems.

Do you need this feature on your site? Contact us.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)