Should You Be Wary of WordPress Page Builders?

Thinking of using a WordPress page builder for your site? There are three key factors to take into consideration when choosing the right one for your needs.

Page builders offer an opportunity for people with no programming or technical skills to create their own website design. When drag-and-drop page builders started to appear, it seemed like anyone could become a web designer overnight, but page builders aren’t all rainbows and unicorns.

No matter how good a page builder is you probably won’t be able to create a website as well as a professional web designer. You just don’t have the same flexibility in some cases.

The main benefit of page builders is that they are relatively simple to get accustomed to and use, but that simplicity comes at a cost. In this article, we will talk about a few factors that you’ll want to take into consideration when you use a page builder.

SEO

Good SEO is important for virtually any website. If you don’t want your website to rank high in search engines and be easy to find, then there is probably no reason to have a site at all. A huge drawback of using a page builder is lack of control of the code. With a page builder, you are controlling only the design of the website. You have no control over the cleanliness of the code.

This can result in improperly structured code hidden behind a pretty design. People who visit your website won’t care about the code that is running your website of course, but search engines might. Google ranks websites that are well organized higher than those with issues in their structure, and having a low ranking website will obviously lower the number of people finding it. Pathfinder SEO had their say about this earlier in 2018 too.

A photo of the HTML page structure of a website

For most people reading this, WordPress page builders will be what they are concerned with, but it bears mentioning that there are also flash based page builder out there. When thinking about SEO, it is best to avoid any page builder which is flash-based. Search engines can’t read flash which means that you will have terrible search engine ratings if you go down this road.

Dependency

In most cases, once you build a website using a page builder you will have to keep the plugin or theme active if you want your website to continue to function. When you deactivate certain page builders they will leave behind lots of shortcodes or code which make your site’s content completely unreadable.

Source: Pagely’s WordPress Page Builder Comparison

This is also going to be a big problem for you if you ever decide to sell your website. The person buying it will have to find a way to remove shortcodes left behind by the page builder and replace the original text and images if they want to change things up after the purchase. Most people will rather buy a different website with clean code, and if they don’t, they will use this information to knock down your site’s selling price.

When building a website you must consider the future. If you intend to deactivate the page builder at some point you might want to consider hiring a web designer or spending a lot of time getting things right in a staging environment. Better to use a page builder which leaves your code mostly clean after deactivation. Elementor and Beaver Builder are plugins that leave the cleanest code once you deactivate them.

Customizability

You can create a huge variety of different websites using page builders but there is a limit to how much you can customize. If you need a highly customized website or a website with unique features then you might not be able to do so solely with a page builder. Page builders use a lot of prebuilt elements, but if an element you need is not part of the package then you are out of luck and you will have to code it yourself, find somebody else to do it, or look for a plugin that can add this function for you (there are plenty of third-party page builder extensions out there).

Elementor Page Builder
Elementor is powering over 2 million websites at the time of writing.

Even if you don’t need a complex website and all the elements you will use already exist in the page builder’s features, consider the number of people using this same system. You will be using the same elements as thousands, if not millions, of other people. This might not be a huge problem, but it does mean that your website won’t necessarily stand out. Clean and minimalistic is good, but you shouldn’t be satisfied with a generic looking website when you could be unique.

With that being said, there’s plenty of flexibility in the top page builder plugins today. With some extra effort you can create a completely unique site that distinguishes itself from any other site out there.

Lastly, keep in mind that choosing the right theme is still an important part of creating a website. Not all page builders play nicely with all themes. It could be disappointing to find out your page builder of choice doesn’t support the theme you want to use. This can be even more frustrating if you already purchased the theme and the page builder. You should invest some time to investigate which themes different page builders support to avoid disappointment and unnecessary expenses.

The Best Page Builders

Best WordPress page builders
If you have educated yourself on the downsides and don’t mind any of the problems that page builders might cause, at least pick one that isn’t going to cause you too much trouble down the line. There are a lot of great page builders out there such as Elementor, Beaver Builder, Divi, WPBakery, and SiteOrigin. These are all big names in the world of WordPress page builders, and are considered the most reliable and feature-rich.

You want to find any major differences when you compare their performance, of course. To get you off to a good start, SiteOrigin has the best overall performance, however, it will leave the code in a messier state than Beaver Builder and Elementor if you decide to change or remove it. So the small trade-off in performance may be worthwhile for your site.

For a detailed performance comparison, our friends at Pagely put together an in-depth article where they compared Elementor, Beaver Builder, Divi, WPBakery and SiteOrigin. The WP Mayor team has actively used both Elementor and Beaver Builder and found both to be great additions to its toolset.

In the end, page builders are an easier and cheaper solution to creating a website. They may not be able to match a professionally designed website built from the ground up, but they are simple to use and will save you the expense of an experienced developer.

Final Word

Page builders are amazing tools that have developed into complex yet simple-to-use solutions for building WordPress sites. If you decide to create your website this way, be sure to pick one that will meet you needs and cause the least amount of problems for your future. Keep in mind that, one day, you (or whoever takes over/buys the site) may want to change things up completely.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, meaning that, at no extra cost to you, we may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Karen Evans
Karen Evans
Karen Evans is a former college student who, after making real money learning how to build and scale niche blogs, decided to go full time and hasn't looked back since. After seeing so many people waste time and money trying to learn how to create websites that make money she decided to create the ever-popular StartBloggingOnline.com. So far over 9,500 new blogs have been created using her guide! When she isn’t blogging, she enjoys spending time with her family, which usually involves finding some water to cool off in!

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8 Responses

  1. Looks like you missed new Visual Composer Website Builder (visualcomposer.com). Guys rewrote the whole thing from scratch and now it’s ReactJs application.

  2. Google doesn’t rank websites, it ranks pages.

    There is a serious disconnect between all page builders and woocommerce breadcrumb taxonomy that no one mentions

  3. beaver builder not much use as per right google guideline their page builder WPBakery Page Builder good for all prospects. I highly recommend it

  4. Hi Karen and readers, I like the question you pose and my answer to it is YES. Yes one should be wary of page builders. They are way over used, probably because they come bundled with most commercial WordPress themes. They can be used wisely but most often they are not. I believe Gutenberg is the way forward and I am generally not a fan of any WordPress page builders. I’ve just published a blog post detailing 6 reasons why page builders suck: https://sww.nz/why-wordpress-page-builders-suck/
    Would love to get your comments on my points if you have any.
    Cheers,
    Aidan

  5. I have tried most of the page builders but I just can’t deal with the bloat and accessibility trickery. The page builders that perform well for audits are all just trained to beat the audits but don’t actually address the issues when it comes to load times, site structure, and accessibility. That being said, after seeing what Andrew said, I would like to try out Visual Composer again to see if these concerns have been resolved.

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