WordPress is the most popular and simplest way to build a website. It is used by professionals and amateurs alike to build great looking content for the internet. Once it was mostly used for blogging but now it is very much a full blown CMS or Content Management System. It has been reported that it now powers a staggering 35% of websites in the world.
Because there is no need to know any coding to build sites it attracts users that may be less technically inclined. There are ready built themes (collections of templates and styles), plug-ins and other tools to help build anything from a simple portfolio site to a full e-commerce business online.
One other way you can build sites with WordPress is to use a page builder. This can make the construction and layout of your website far quicker and easier than just using WordPress alone. If you are familiar with WP then you will know the visual editor. A page builder is basically an advanced version of this where you have a graphic interface that allows you to drag and drop elements easily and quickly. All without writing any lines of code.
Sounds great right? So what are the advantages and disadvantages of using a page builder to help along my construction?
Advantages of using a page builder
The first advantage for a WordPress user is that it adds a lot more power to the software and lets the user create websites in the same way the Wix and Squarespace do.
By using a page builder plugin you can now create designs that previously you wouldn’t have been able to. This means you can build land pages, a homepage, adjust the layouts and include widgets wherever you like according to your own creative vision. Previously you would have to compromise on your design but not with a good page builder.
They have a host of features and this means that where previously you would have had to choose (and pay for) a bunch of plug-ins to create carousels and other gizmos you can have all this functionality with just one page builder plug-in.
There are also disadvantages to page builders though
One is that the performance of a website built with a page builder can suffer. Basically all those images, areas of content and widgets that you dragged and dropped to create your beautiful vision have generated code behind the scenes. It is great that you don’t need to worry about coding with a page builder but they don’t make the leanest or most optimised code.This can lead to longer loading times and poor SEO performance.
SEO is Search Engine Optimisation and is important to your website being found and ranked by sites like Google and Bing. When building your site be sure to look up best practices for creating SEO friendly sites to get the most out of your business or blog.
You are locked in to your subscription
One big disadvantage is that once you have built your site you are now locked in to that page builder plug in and your yearly subscription. If you make a website for yourself and after a year you decide that you are no longer interested in it then this is no problem but if it becomes popular or is linked to your business you will want to keep it running. If you cancel your subscription to your chosen page builder then your website will likely stop working.
This is because of the way WordPress generates its code. WordPress converts your layout into modular shortcodes. Because these shortcodes are corresponding to the widgets you placed with your page builder they will stop working. No page builder, no widgets, dead code. If you are happy with your page builder however then this need not be an issue.
What is the cost of using a page builder?
The price of a page builder varies. There are free builders available and others priced from $39 to $99 per year. Depending on the features you would require.
SiteOrigin supplies a very popular page builder which is compatible with all the popular WordPress plug-ins and is completely free. However it can be complicated to use for someone new to get used to. It does have great features like the history tool which lets you switch between changes you have made, much like the history tab in Photoshop.
The paid for builders will often supply free cut down versions too. If you are considering paying for a page builder then read reviews online and check out the features available. Firstly list all the requirements you have and what you want your website to do then do your research against all the popular builders.
You can compare Elementor vs Beaver Builder for instance and you will see that Beaver Builder is generally slower than Elementor and is more expensive. Elementor allows live editing and is very fast to use. It contains dozens of widgets and other features. However Beaver Builder allows you to keep your content after deactivation. Comparing builders before purchasing is a must.
Planning your website with a page builder
A page builder is definitely a powerful tool that allows anyone to build a creative, custom website without hiring or paying for professional coders and designers. That said you still need to plan carefully the structure of your website before you begin. List all the pages you need and draw a sitemap before you start. This will help make sure you include all the pages you need and not include anything unnecessary.
Because page builders and WordPress make everything so simple there is a feeling that anyone can make a good website and while this is true of many people you shouldn’t overlook all the other aspects you need to create a good site. Work on optimising content and images. Making the site SEO friendly with good keywords and phrases and long-form content. Choose a good domain name and set up social media accounts for the site. Check which page builders produce the fastest sites. There is no point in making a beautiful site that takes so long to load the visitor leaves. Research all the page builders and look at the differences between Elementor, Divi, Themify and more and then go and produce that beautiful site that you want.