What’s a WordPress page builder?
A page builder is a feature that helps non-tech users build and edit more complex layouts than just plain blog posts.
A page builder converts web page code into editable drag-and-drop blocks. So you have separate blocks for your title, subtitle, your slider, your contact form, etc. All you need to do is just pick a suitable type of block (Title, Image, Gallery, Toggle, Countdown, Slider, Chart…) and adjust its settings, e.g. choose background color, set parallax speed, set block width and padding, insert content, etc.
The pros and cons of page builders
There are both pros and cons of using a visual page builder. Let’s briefly list some of them:
– Page builders make page editing easy and intuitive. Just drag and drop elements to change your page layout. No HTML knowledge is required to change basic settings.
– You don’t need to hire a developer for minor page edits.
– Many page builders require a yearly fee, but it’s cheaper than hiring a developer anyway.
– Page builders make the entire website slower by loading a lot of extra files and scripts
– They replace HTML code with shortcodes that won’t work with another page builder or without one
– Too many features and elements are often included to fit all possible needs (which negatively affects load speed)
– Page builders create extra lines of code, unnecessary HTML classes etc (messy markup)
– It may be tempting for an unexperienced user to use too many different components, which leads to inconsistent design. For example, you may end up using too many fonts throughout the website or having different layouts for pages of same type.
So should I use a page builder on my WordPress site?
Depending on many factors, page builders can be good or bad for your website.
I recommend using a visual page builder if at least one of the following is true:
– You don’t have anyone who knows HTML in your team and you can’t afford to hire a developer every time you need to edit your website
– Your website is quite small and static, it can be cached easily and doesn’t otherwise consume a lot of server resources
– You need to test different page layouts and don’t want to pay for professional prototypes.
So, if you’re a small business owner, a solopreneur, or a small startup, using a page builder on your WordPress site can definitely save you money and time.
What’s the best WordPress page builder?
The biggest problem with these builders is that they’re overloaded with features you probably won’t ever use. And there’re even more add-ons available for extra price, so if you’re not a very experienced user, you may be tempted to buy more and more features, which always leads to poor performance. I also find the interface of page builders like WP Bakery too colourful and distracting.
WordPress now has its own page builder called Gutenberg. It’s still very raw and WordPress users critisize it a lot. If you recently updated your website, you may have noticed that Gutenberg is now the default page editor. I recommend disabling Gutenberg and installing the Classic Editor plugin that reverts to the old, traditional editing interface.
One of the page builders I enjoy working with is Fusion Builder. It’s free, simple, and you can disable components that you don’t need. The interface is minimalistic, not too colourful, not too cluttered with unnecessary graphics. It doesn’t make page code as messy as WP Bakery does. I’ve received very positive feedback from my clients on using Fusion Builder.
Can I build a website myself using a page builder?
I would not recommend building a WordPress site from scratch if you don’t have any web development experience.
I’m sure you have heard that anyone can build a website using a CMS and a visual page builder. But what about website sctructure, caching system, consistent design, UX patterns, mobile responsiveness, custom graphics and animations, load speed optimization, SEO, security? What about choosing stable and safe plugins? I recently wrote another blog post about website development costs to show that web development is not about just adding some blocks of content.
Page builders are great for non-tech clients to edit their websites, but websites should be built by professional developers. It’s also important to know that page builder options are usually quite limited and you can not create complicated layouts with just a page builder. You need to write code to get a truly custom look.