After using both Divi and Elementor, I have some opinions on them that make me feel like they are not the type of page builders that are meant for developers like me. Not to say that these are not good page builders. Just that my experience with them has not been the best. So in this post, I will talk about what issues I had with those page builders and what I think the preferred alternative is. I have just started getting into the block editor in Gutenberg, and I think that it offers the simplicity that makes it more intuitive to use than the other page builders.
My first impression about the Gutenberg block editor is that it has free plugins to extend its functionality. For simple blogs like this one, you do not need a fancy layout with a lot of spiffy elements. You just need something that delivers your voice to the people. Just like my previous post on GeneratePress, you just need a basic theme and a basic page builder. So I suppose that this article and last one are geared towards simple blogs that focus more on content over layout. When you think about it, you really do not want to spend too much time making your pages too elaborate. For our blogging purposes, we do not need to. That is why I like the default block editor that comes with WordPress. With the GeneratePress WordPress theme, I found that this theme and the block editor work well together. I really like the simplicity, it just works. Nothing complicated or complex that you waste time from creating content for your audience.
I was looking for a basic page builder that was not a drag-and-drop WYSIWYG. I will detail later in this article about my issue with drag-and-drop editors on the actual page layout. For now, I will just say that I am not big fan of them and they are really hard to use. Instead the list view in the block editor is simple to move the blocks up and down so that you can position them in the right spot. You can either drag-and-drop on the list view, which is not the same as on the page layout. Or, you can just click up and down arrows, which is easier and my preferred method. I am sure that Elementor and Divi have similar functionality but the last thing that I need is to install another plugin for just a page builder. I am keeping the number of plugins to a minimum so other page builders have to be very impressive and a lot better than the WordPress block editor for me to even consider installing and using. I wrote an article about the best free programs to use for web development. I mentioned in the article that you should stick with the free option until you see the need for a “better” paid option.
Let me talk about the cost of each of these page builders first. For Elementor, there is free option, unlike Divi. Divi costs money and Elementor can be used for free. Since this website is just articles, I see no need for Elementor as I mentioned earlier. Elementor might be worth trying out if you need fancy layouts. I think that the block editor can do just as well as Elementor even if Elementor offers more widgets. The block editor does have a lot of extra plugins that will give you more widgets. I am just talking about price differences, if we had to choose between Elementor or Divi based on price. I would choose Elementor between those two because of the price alone. Divi is pretty expensive at $89/year or $249/one-time at this time of this writing. Really hard to justify the cost if you can just use Elementor or block editor for free.
When I used both Divi and Elementor, they were both very sluggish. When I would try to modify a page template, it would take a long time to load. In the case of Elementor, sometimes the page would not load at all. There was something called “safe-mode” that kept showing up all of the time. Element was just really unstable to the point where I just decided to replace the page template with something that I built by hand. The advantage of being a web developer is if the page builder fails, I can just create something myself. Not only were the pages loading slowly in Elementor, but they added too many extra div containers in the HTML and really made the page really long and I was wondering, “Why does Elementor do that? Why does it feel the need to add so many divs like that?”. When I redid the page on my own, the HTML was a lot less and the page loaded much faster, which is why I had to move away from Elementor. Speaking of page speed scores, let us talk about that in the next section.
Not only was Elementor unstable but page templates that it created had low page speed scores. So I had to do something about it. I re-created the page template myself and got rid of Elementor. This was all for SEO and I have this article and this one also describing my thoughts on this topic. I tried to use Elementor to update the page template to make the speed scores higher and decrease page load time but it was too much to deal with. I feel that we have come to a point where we just want to start over. Starting all over might be time consuming but I felt that the time spent to move away from Elementor would be worth it. The reason why is because once I redo the pages myself, I will be able to modify them without Elementor. That alone is enough to migrate away from this page builder.
I have had issues with trying to move elements around the page using the drag-and-drop interface. Every single time that I would try to move something somewhere else, the element went into the wrong spot. I tried to undo the action but sometimes it would take too long to restore the change. It was actually easier to just refresh the page and try again. The only issue is that I would have to do this a few times to get this right. The issue is that the visual feedback to know where my mouse cursor was to drop the dragged element into the right spot was difficult because it was very hard to see. Also, the highlight that appears does not always appear in the exact right spot where I need to drop the element. Depending on how many rows and columns the layout has, each neighboring element was really close to where I wanted to drop my element. If there are too many elements close to each other, then your mouse cursor needs to be super precise and that could be difficult to achieve. So I found this to be a hassle to deal with. I guess that I could have just used what the block editor called the list view in Elementor, but I figured why not use the drag-and-drop feature since it is available. I mean it should work regardless of how many elements are on the page.
I might have been quick to judge Elementor and Divi because maybe it was just a slow WordPress theme that made those page builders seem slow. Anyway, that should not matter because if those page builders can create complex WordPress themes, then the themes should still be fast. Something that I am learning from page speed scores is that you really have to pick and choose what you place on your web pages. Many people think that the obsession with page speed scores is not worth it because then we would simply have plain black text on a white page to achieve high speed scores. GeneratePress and the Gutenberg block editor have proven that to be false. That was quite the exaggeration, to say that we have to make web pages that plain. We just need to be aware that it is not only the page builder that adds bulk to a WordPres website. The plugins contribute some weight also. So make sure that you have some caching plugin and a CDN like CloudFlare to help speed up your website. Website optimization is really important even for basic simple websites. In the future as your website grows, you might need to add more things that can weigh it down. So if you start with a fast website, you will not have to worry about your page speed score and therefore page load times in the future.
You probably know what I will say about this. I have articles on both free web development programs and a free PhotoShop alternative. The reason why I like to apply my ideology to page builders is because I enjoy applying my principles to as many cases as possible. Elementor is free but Divi costs money. I know that I already mentioned this earlier in the article, but I want to dig into this deeper. Let us say, yes you paid for a page builder. Once you sink money into that page builder, you are more or less kind of stuck with it. I am assuming that you built your website all using only one page builder? Why? Since using more than one would mix and complicate your website, it would just be a nightmare having to deal with code that is generated from two page builders and hope that they play along together. What I am trying to say is, if you decide to invest in a page builder and do not like it, then what can you do? Your website is already built using a page builder? Are you going to start over? That is not an easy thing to do. You are already stuck using a paid page builder. If you tried using a WordPress theme that is free and uses the block editor instead, at least you will not lose your investment if you go this route. That is the con of getting into a paid page builder, you become a part of that ecosystem and sometimes you do not realize that you want out until you are too deep in.
This was another fun article to write. I wanted to share my view on Divi and Elementor and see if Gutenberg Block Editor might be the right one for me. You just have to try out all different kinds of options, gain experience in them and see which ones work best for you. My personal philosophy of using free options first and only paying in the most necessary of cases is something that I have always adhered to. So right now, GeneratePress and Block Editor are what I am going to use on this website and so far I like what I am seeing. The speed scores are high, the theme layout is nice and just works. The block editor has nice ready-made widgets like search, latest posts, categories and monthly archives to create a nice sidebar that gives you easier access to my articles. This is why even the basics of HTML and CSS are helpful in case you need to do some small stuff outside these page builders. Otherwise, you become too reliant on page builders and if they are causing low page scores, you might need to redo the pages sometimes like I did.
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