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Ever since the release of Visual Composer in 2011, page builders have exploded in popularity. They are the most common all-in-one platform for DIY websites created by people with no HTML and CSS coding skills. Some of the most popular page builders today are:
- Visual Composer
- Beaver Builder
- WP Page Builder
- SiteOrigin Page Builder
Our web design agency has taken over the maintenance of numerous websites built with the majority of these popular builders. The experience we had so far only solidified our company policy: Page builders are not a good solution for professional companies.
Main problems with builders:
Page builders are way too complex
One of the most widely spread misconceptions regarding page builders is that they are intuitive and easy to use drag and drop interfaces. Well, this can’t be further from the truth. Each and every one of them comes loaded with an array of elements. While this may look like a positive trait at first glance, once you scratch the surface, you conclude that most elements serve for creating the same or very similar types of output. Furthermore, they come with countless screens of layout and styling configuration options, as well as those for controlling content. With this large number of elements, you’ll never use overcrowded menus, and right from the get-go, you find yourself scanning through so many redundant options in search of those you actually need. Also, most page builders have a pretty steep learning curve, and it takes a lot of time to get familiar with their way of doing things. Not intuitive at all.
Page builders use non-standardized code
Websites built with Elementor and other builders don’t allow you to edit their pages natively through WordPress. There is no standardization between them whatsoever. Once you build your website using a page builder, you are stuck with it, and you can not revert to another builder. If your company is aiming to target a new type of customer or you’ve recently expanded and added new offers, these limitations won’t allow you to redesign your website in any meaningful way.
Builders support bad practices of in-line styling
A web developer is proficient in constructing style sheets that allow for consistency, re-usability, and efficiency. With page builders, you get quite the opposite. Each element provides multiple styling options giving you pages with sloppy output full of in-line styles. This results in the broken styling consistency of the site. As opposed to those built with Sage theme for WordPress, websites built with Elementor and other page builders are a nightmare for developers that aim to make styling changes across an entire site. Oftentimes the only solution is to edit every page individually in multiple spots. We thought that the days of WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editors are far behind us, but it seems that websites built with Elementor and builders alike are bringing those bad old days back with their bloated and inconsistent code. So, if websites built with Elementor are something you pride upon, do us all a favor and stop calling yourself a developer.
Page builders are slow and inefficient
As we have already mentioned, while we use clean code to develop websites from scratch, our agency does manage some of our clients’ websites built with Elementor and builders alike. We concluded that making content updates on those types of websites is much more laboring and time-consuming. This is mainly due to the fact that page builders take more time to load as well as to save changes. But, that added time aside, once the page builder actually loads, the real pain begins. You have to suffer through all the multiple clicks, extra page loads, dialogue box opens, tab switches and the list goes on and on until you have finally got to what you want to change.
Each page builder has its own ways of working with content
No page builder supports the standard WordPress way of working with content, and instead, they replace it with a completely different interface and process. Since each builder-developer has his own ideas on editing content, websites built with Elementor and similar page builders have various capabilities and limitations. This makes working with different page builders almost impossible and presents new challenges for companies. You could be training your staff to manage a certain type of WordPress website, but as soon as they switch over to another website created on a different page builder, all that hard work proves to be in vain since they have to be trained all over again in how to work with that one.
Page builders are terrible for SEO
Page builders not only slow down the back end and content editing process but the front end as well. They come bundled with multiple stylesheets, scripts, font files, and so on, which significantly increases load time. These files exist to support all the widgets and options that the builder provides. Although you won’t be using most of them, they still have to load, and we all know that site speed and SEO are inseparable.
Page speed is crucial for generating a positive user experience since it significantly impacts:
- How much time people spend on your website
- Your conversion rate
- The amount of money you pay for each click in paid search
- Your ranking in organic search
When optimizing for page speed, people often prioritize image size, media formats, and the number of scripts. While these features do play a significant role, the impact that HTML markup has on page speed is usually overlooked. The truth is that every single byte increases the load time, and they add up very fast.
It goes even further. Every element represents an individual node. The more nodes the website contains, the more time it takes for a browser to render it after it has been loaded.
Nested elements only add to the problem. Websites built with Elementor and builders alike feature a particular layout due to multiple inefficiently nested elements. As the number of these elements increases additional processing power is required for a page to be rendered appropriately, further damaging the performance.
The drag and drop interface prioritizes the appearance of the front end but ultimately lacks the ability to streamline the HTML. A design that requires thousands of elements when produced by builders can usually be achieved by a couple of hundred elements by the hands of a professional developer.
A web page with valid HTML has a better chance to function properly. Also, your HTML markup sends signals to search engines that help them better understand your content. This makes your pages rank higher on SERP and attract more organic traffic. Though there are some cases where HTML errors are insignificant and simply not worth the time invested in fixing them, popular page builders take HTML validation errors to a whole new level. Your company mustn’t allow itself to be represented by a website that has nearly 600 HTML validation errors. Most of these errors are likely to cause problems with appearance and functionality and hurt UX and ranking. What’s even worse, you won’t even be able to fix a large number of these errors since you have no access to builders’ code. The only thing you have access to is their front end and WYSIWYG editor. Yes, you can add HTML to a page, but you can’t edit the one that’s already there. That is a big problem for any successful company.
If you are serious about your technical SEO and your company’s future, stay clear of websites built on Elementor and other page builders, since they offer no SEO advantage whatsoever.
As you can see from today’s article, there are too many drawbacks to websites built with Elementor and other page builders. In our opinion, any serious company that cares about its image and the way it’s represented online should stay clear of these platforms. We suggest you choose an open-source platform such as WordPress. In case you are a developing company, there is still no need to worry. There is an abundance of free or inexpensive themes online. Or even better, in case your budget allows, you can hire an agency to manage your online presence. As we have stated numerous times – your website is an investment. Today, people search a company online before they decide whether to interact with it or not. What they find there determines their next step. Page builders are a waste of time and money gobblers. Once your company or business aspirations change, they’ll make you start all over again with your website. Do yourself a favor, not your competitors, and avoid these like the plague.