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The Truth about WordPress Page Builder Plugins

Several years ago after having a dreadful experience with a page builder plugin called Ether Builder, I was inspired to publish this post exposing the truth about WordPress page builders. My only motivation was to share my experience and save others from going through the same problems I encountered. Of course, at the time I abhorred ALL page builders.

Now, with the emergence of the new WordPress page builders such as Beaver Builder and Elementor, I've done a 180 and wholeheartedly offer my full support. Still, no page builder is a perfect solution and I'll point out the pros and cons below.

Website Page Builder Creations

Out with the Old Page Builders and In with the New

Before I move ahead, you should know I originally published this post using Ether Builder. Then, after the demise of Ether Builder I published it using the WordPress text editor, then Visual Composer and now finally, Beaver Builder.

My experience with Ether Builder turned out to be a disaster when the developers basically abandoned ongoing development or updates. Even worse, the plugin remained available at Code Canyon for a long time after users began having problems.

When I finally installed Visual composer I discovered it was a pretty darn good page builder, but in my view, it's not up to par with the industry leaders, Beaver Builder and Elementor.

When the Beaver Builder page builder plugin was released, it changed EVERYTHING about WordPress page builders and I'm 100% onboard, especially for my clients who have no knowledge using HTML and CSS markup!

If you need a new business website or you'd like Beaver Builder installed on your site, contact us and we'll set it up for you!

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If you're looking for a solid WordPress page builder and want to avoid a long winded post, my top recommendation is the premium version of Beaver Builder. My second choice, although probably just as good, is a page builder called Elementor.

Visual Composer (now called WPBakery) is also pretty good however there are some drawbacks you won't find with Beaver Builder or Elementor. Although there is a lite version of Beaver Builder and Elementor I will only suggest using the premium versions.

There is no free, lite version of the WPBakery page builder but the premium version is available at Codecanyon. You can find Beaver Builder using my affiliate link here.

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I Discovered Beaver Builder in 2016

I discovered Beaver Builder sometime in 2016 and quickly learned it was a far superior page builder option to WPBakery. I will say, the WPBakery functionality does work quite well, but it's no longer at the forefront of page builder development for WordPress. If you're still using VC on your sites it's probably not worth it to change, YET! However, I do suggest you have a look at the current alternatives.

I can stand behind Beaver Builder 100% but Elementor is a good choice as well. Elementor and Beaver Builder do have a lite, free versions available in the repository but to get all the bells and whistles, you'll want the paid version. I hear SiteOrigin is free and is a pretty good plugin. Since I've never used SiteOrigin on a production website I cannot comment but I have tested it and continue to hear good things from the WordPress community.

Divi - By the way, I'm not a fan of Divi and my mom always taught me, if I don't have anything good to say, don't say anything. So, yes, I've used Divi number of times because it was already installed on a client site. Although it works okay, it cannot compete. If I had to choose between the WPBakery and Divi, I most certainly would go with WPBakery.

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The Benefits of Beaver Builder

With the emergence of the Beaver Builder page builder plugin, I have a much higher opinion of page builders.The best part is, if you use Beaver Builder and later delete it, your content is still on the page. Yes, you will lose the structured appearance, but all the content will display. This is huge for SEO since the search engines could care less what your page looks like and is basically only interested in the html content. You can go back and tweak things a bit using css.

Beaver Builder Support and Community Outstanding
Beaver Builder has outstanding support and the developers are first class. The code is super clean, fast and sleek! If you are one of those who like the idea of using a page builder, go with Beaver Builder! Nowadays I own an agency license and using Beaver Builder on most new website projects for clients who desire the ability to quickly and easily edit their own content. Also, there's a wonderful Slack channel where Beaver Builder users share information and ideas. It's a huge benefit for all.

Web Page Turns to Code After Deleting WPBakery Plugin

WP Bakery Caution Note - If you delete the WP Bakery page builder, the content becomes unreadable gibberish. For me, this is a deal buster and the reason I don't feel like WP Bakery can compete.

BEFORE DELETING: Do not delete WPBakery until you  manually copy and paste all the content you wish to keep and save it to a text document.

Page Builder Layout

What Are WordPress Page Builder Plugins?

If you have never heard of WordPress page builder plugins, this section is for you.

Most WordPress page builders enable the user to structure and design the content area of their WordPress site without using code. By the content area, I mean the text edit area below the header and above the footer, where your page or post content usually goes! Most page builders enable simple drag and drop usage!

Keep in mind, no matter which page builder you choose, they do require a learning curve. This is not a problem since you'll find plenty of tutorials and documentation. However, plan on spending a good amount of time learning how to use it.

Yes, page builders are perfect for non coders however if you start selling custom website design services, you'll need to know some CSS to accomplish those tasks not covered within the page builder. When I use a page builder to create a website, I also incorporate my own CSS as well. 

When to Use a Page Builder Plugin

If I'm writing a typical blog post, I would almost never use a page builder. On the other hand, if I'm building a beautiful landing page, a page builder can be helpful and make my life just a bit easier. For this page I'm using Beaver Builder, but that's only because I'm sharing about the topic. Here's an example of a typical blog post about the disadvantages of using WordPress plugins.

Page builder can quickly and easily add rows and columns, and then place their desired elements within the new layout. Then, those columns and rows can be easily moved around by simply dragging and dropping.

Users have the ability to create different styles and design elements on every page.

CAUTION! I'm not a super creative type but most professional designers tell us it's usually better to keep our web pages consistent. Of course there are exceptions, but consistency is the key.

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Page Builder Plugins

Page Builder Advantages

  • No Code Knowledge Needed: Page builder users can create interesting and contemporary looking pages without using code.
  • Drag and Drop Technology: Finished your page and don’t like your layout? No problem! Users can easily drag and drop elements to edit the page.
  • Apply Motions and Movements: Some page builders enable users to add cool eye catching behaviors, motions or movements to elements on a page. Still, use animations sparingly.
  • Can Replace Other Plugins: Most page builder plugins include multiple features, enabling users eliminate the overall number of plugins on their sites.
  • Responsive Design: Nowadays, most page builder plugins claim to be responsive but be very careful with this. Read their docs carefully to insure correct usage.
  • Learning and becoming proficient with a leading page builder plugin is quite rewarding and can open the door to simple freelance projects to earn a few extra bucks.

Page Builder Disdvantages

  • No Code Knowledge Needed: Even though no code is required, plugin page builders take time to learn, and yes, it can take time! It's also important you understand the concepts of padding and margins. You will need to learn a bit of CSS if you want to got to the next level.
  • Drag and Drop can be Finicky: Sometimes, dragging and dropping is does not always work perfectly and content can be lost while dropping. Beaver Builder drags and drops fine! VC can be a bit wonky!
  • Motions and Movements Tricky: It’s time consuming to experiment with the different features and understand the various effects. It takes time!
  • Page Loads and File Size: Page builders will increase the size of your site and slow the backend. Use the cool stuff sparingly and disable unused modules in the settings area.. Beaver Builder is pretty FAST! but be sure to use a caching plugin on all WordPress sites. Personally, I like WPRocket.
  • Responsive Design Not Perfect! You will often find yourself creating modules or rows specifically for large devices, tablets or small devices.
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Is a Page Builder Plugin is Right for You?

If you're not a coder, the advantages of using a good page builder plugin outweigh the disadvantages. Deciding if using one is right for you will largely depend on a number of factors.

First, your comfort level with using code? If you are fluent in HTML, CSS and even Javascript, it's likely you don't need a page builder plugin. On the flip side, even if you have skills, page builders are still a quick way to whip up a quick landing page. I know a good number of developers use page builders for certain projects.

If you know very little code and want to create cool landing pages, go for it. Just keep in mind that regardless of your skill level, there is a learning curve, and you will need to devote time learning to use the plugin and developing an efficient workflow. Once you "get it," after building some nice layouts you can save them as templates and greatly speed up future page designs. You really will be able to quickly create pages you wouldn't otherwise have the ability to create.

I build WordPress websites for clients and even though most don't care to make their own edits, I install a page builder and use to create their main pages. After I launch their new site I provide them with a tutorial showing them how to make their own simple edits. So they don't ruin the website, I turn off their ability to create new rows and columns, but at least they can make simple edits. 

WordPress Page Builder Recommendations

If I had to recommend one page builder, my current choice for sure is Beaver Builder. Then, even though I've never used it I also recommend Elementor. Despite my previous comments, WPBakery does work well, but as far as I'm concerned it can't compare to the newer page builders. I've done some testing and Beaver Builder is faster and has another advantage in that, if the plugin fails, our content will still be visible on our site! WPBakery will not.

Caution - There is one huge downside to using page builders. What happens to all those beautiful pages you created if the page building plugin should develop problems? The truth is, past WordPress updates specifically involving the visual or text editors caused many of these page builder plugins to fail! Of course, the responsible plugin developers responded quickly and re-issued updates, but it still took a couple days and in one case, it took over two weeks to release the plugin update.

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html-and-css

Do You Want a Website With a Built In Page Builder?

So, I'm interested to know how you feel after learning the truth about WordPress page builder plugins. If you are a non coder a page builder is a huge benefit. Also, I've noticed SEO is improved when using beaver builder because the code is just that good and they include some schema code for objects, content and even videos!

When we build our client websites we usually include the Beaver Builder Page Builder. The only exception is if the client is 100% sure they don't want to edit their site on their own. If we know for sure they won't be editing we skip the page builder, primarily because we can make the site run faster without a page builder by using our own css to do all the same effects as the page builder will do.

Contact me, Pete Gregory to discuss how we might help with your next website. petegregory@assiststart.com

Note To Experienced WordPress Users

In my case, I thought using a WordPress page builder plugin was going to really speed things up my design process and workflow. Honestly, I thought the extra time I spent learning how to use the page builder plugins and debugging my pages would have been better spent practicing and learning the CSS and JS. I really felt I needed to just do it myself, without any plugin. You know, learn the fundamentals, then move on to the page builders. Well, it turns out, but using page builders for a while, it actually helped me become better at CSS! Still, I feel plugins are great but we shouldn't be using them as a crutch or to avoid enhancing our skills.

UPDATE NOTE - Some page builders now come with professionally designed templates you can easily drop into your page and edit the photos and text. This really does speed things up and this is really nice for a quick landing page.

Before purchasing any WordPress page builder plugin, be sure to research all current and past support issues. As long as you purchase a premium version from a reputable plugin developer, you can rest assured any future update issues will be dealt with promptly and efficiently.

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Thank you for taking the time to view this post and I look forward to your return. Should you need any help with your web development or management, I can help. Please contact me directly by sending an email to [email protected].

We look forward to your comments about our opinion on, The Truth About WordPress Page Builder Plugins.

About Pete Gregory

Our primary objective at Assist Start Online Services is to provide contemporary web design and SEO services for small businesses, while helping and teaching individuals to create and maintain an optimized online presence. If so inclined, the average person can eventually learn how to maintain and update their own WordPress website without having to call on a developer every time changes are needed. A website requires regular attention, but it's fun to learn and simple to maintain! On top of that, utilizing an optimized WordPress website is extremely powerful and a great way to maximize your business results.Our goal is to help others get started so they can become self sufficient at creating and maintaining an optimized online presence. There's way more to it than just a website, and we'll be there to help, every step of the way. It does take a good amount of time up front, but once learned, it's surprising to discover how easy it really is. Unless there's a reason to create a high functioning work of art, there's no reason to pay anyone to create a website every time you need one built or upgraded.Let's spring your business to the next level, together, and achieve massive results using strategies and systems that will take full advantage on the digital world we now live in.

1 Comment

  1. Marjoline on February 16, 2017 at 5:08 pm

    Thanks for that great recap of advantages and disadvantages of the page builders.
    I have just offered to help out a voluntary organisation, and to my horror discovered they are using Visual Composer. Thanks to your review I will know what to expect and be able to manage expectations of my surroundings!
    Cheers,
    Marjoline

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