Does WordPress Need a Page Builder?

27 March 2022Ashley Maxwell7 min read

You do not need a WordPress page builder in order to use WordPress to its fullest. Yet, WordPress page builders are very popular. This is partially due to how easy they make uploading and customizing content. It is also due to the fact that some websites are easier to create if you have visual tool and a drag-and-drop system to play with. In reality, the default Gutenberg editor is pretty awesome, and that comes as standard with your regular WordPress installation. It is the default page builder you can use to help turn your WordPress website into whatever type of website you wish.

What is a WordPress Site Builder?

WordPress is the name of a CMS (Content Management System). In other words, it is a tool that helps you create your own website. Plus, when your website is built, you can change it, update it, add things and so forth. As mentioned in the introduction, the Gutenberg editor is the most powerful website creation tool ever created because it is future proof, flexible, highly adaptable, and helps keep your website very search engine friendly. However, given the wide variety of website types it is possible to create these days, some people prefer site builders.

WordPress page builders are programs that you add on top of the regular WordPress page builder. For example, if you were creating a website to rival Instagram, then a highly visual design tool may be required. Whereas if you were creating a very text-heavy website, then a builder with lots of easy-to-organize categories and aggregators may suit you best.

A site builder doesn’t have to be a drag-and-drop tool, but most of them are, and this is because some people find them easier to manage. In truth, drag-and-drop tools are good for customizing things visually and customizing page elements quickly.

5 Reasons Why You Should Use a Page Builder

There are plenty of reasons why you should stick with the original WordPress page builder, but modern WordPress page builders are still very popular. So, why are people still using WordPress page builders? Why should you consider using a page builder?

1 – It Makes Visual Customization a Lot Easier

There are some web pages that need to be edited and built up as if they were graphic design adverts, and that is very difficult to do within the confines of the standard website builder. There are various website page builders that resemble birthday card and leaflet designers, and some people find them easier to use when creating visually expressive/complex web page designs.

2 – Customize Your Experience Further

When you use a WordPress page builder, you are already customizing your experience because you are choosing your own set of tools and changing the way the interface works. In many cases, you are creating your own front-end real-time design tool. You can customize these these even further with add-ons to create a truly customized experience.

3 – There Are Pre-Made Layouts and Templates

There are already themes and such that you can use with WordPress, but some WordPress page builders have additional pre-made layouts. These are handy if you find certain layouts that you really like, but they are also handy if you want some of your pages to operate very differently. For example, your product pages may look and act very differently than your social media and user account pages.

4 – Doing All The Work For You

Part of the appeal of WordPress page builders and their various add-ons and layouts is that you can build off-the-peg websites. In other words, you can have mostly all of the hard work done for you. This means you can have a very sophisticated and heavily designed website because other people did the sophisticated design stuff for you.

5 – Aggregating Lots of Information More Easily

Some web pages require the storage and/or organization of lots of information, and sometimes that information needs to be quickly pulled up and used. Some web page builders make accessing that information easier. Instead of scrolling through pages of content or typing in keywords, people are able to select categories and bring up their most relevant or frequently used content.

Why You May Not Want to Use a Page Builder

At some point you are going to start testing your website for things like loading speeds, rendering speeds and so forth, and every WordPress page builder creates websites that are slower to load/render than the Gutenberg editor websites. This is because when you create a web page with Gutenberg, you are creating pages with very well ordered, well written, and search engine friendly coding. But, when you create your pages with page builders, they can’t match the efficiency and streamlined nature of a Gutenberg-designed web page.

You also have to remember that your design potential is limited by each page builder. A simple example is if you have a page builder that allows you to create web pages full of beautiful colors, but the builder doesn’t include the colour yellow. You being unable to use the colour yellow is a design potential limit, just like if a builder wouldn’t allow you to add videos to your web pages. The same limits are true of many WordPress templates too. For example, some templates will not allow you to edit what is written in the footer. This restriction is also limiting your design potential. In short, you are only allowed to be as creative as the page builder allows you to be.

The WordPress page builder may slow your website’s loading and rendering speeds. The tool itself may also run slowly. It may be fine at first when you start using it, but as you fill your pages with content and different design elements, the tool itself may start to run slowly. Even a small lag between you dropping something and it registering on the template is enough to frustrate even the most mild mannered website designer.

Which WordPress Page Builder is Best?

Divi

This is a real-time front-end editor that offer full use of their elegant themes toolkit. It has global elements editors, which makes it very convenient for larger websites. The only downside is the slightly higher annual cost.

Visual Composer

There is a popup builder, the Cloud library has over 500 elements, and the theme editing options are pretty powerful. The biggest downside is that the free version is very limited to the point of being useless.

Elementor

It has a free version that includes a wide variety of templates, and there is a lot of community support for this one. There are are also over 40 widgets that can be used for free. The biggest downside is that the professional tools need to be paid for, which means successful websites will have to upgrade to Elementor pro at some point.

SeedProd

This tool is pretty good for effective landing pages, and there are a bunch of preset templates the allow you to get your website up and running very quickly. It also works very well with a variety of other WordPress plugins. The sad part is that you have to pay for the global editing tools.

WPBakery Page Builder

It comes with plenty of content elements, grid builders, has template libraries and offers quick styling tools. It also integrates very well with other WordPress plugins. The biggest downsides are that its tools are often slow and clunky. Plus, there are no auto-save functions.

Overview

In the table below, a low score is poor. The higher a score is to ten, the better it is. Prices vary in each case, so they have been categorized as free, low, middle and high.

WordPress page builders compared by usability, features, reputation and pricing.
NameUsability ScoreFeatures ScoreOnline ReputationPricingPro-Pricing
Divi81010MiddleHigh
Visual Composer868LowHigh
Elementor7710FreeMiddle
SeedProd668LowHigh
WPBakery575LowHigh

Should I use The Gutenberg Block Editor?

Yes, you should strongly considered using the Gutenberg block editor. It is very powerful and is going to integrate very well with future tech, be it AI/machine learning, sophisticated search engine crawling, multi-core rendering or dynamic websites.

Though, if you are creating a very special type of website, such as one that requires a lot of careful website design on each new page or post, then Gutenberg may slow you down. If your web pages are very “Design heavy” then you need a page builder that responds to your needs.

Do not be scared off by the naysayers. Some people like the old way that WordPress worked and they are very resistant to the changes that Gutenberg has laid out, but the fact is they are needed if we are going to move forwards into a new era of online interaction. Where sections of web pages need to be loaded and rendered separately, where online software takes snippets of your website without having to read the rest, and where page loading can be shared in a way that allows more and more people to load a page without any single person experiencing a significant slowing of loading.

Plus, once you get the hang of the Gutenberg, you start learning the shortcuts and easy ways to post your content without it taking too long. You start learning the coding so that you can paste your entire page onto WordPress and it will lay out the page the way you want. Plus, to newcomers, the Gutenberg system is far more intuitive, so if you are not getting along with the WordPress page builders, then stick with the Gutenberg editor.

Page Builder Alternatives

You can play it your way when it comes to design. For a start, you could design your pages and your posts yourself, and then edit them into WordPress without using any editor tools or page builder tools. On a similar note, you could get a website designer to do the same and then you simply paste the code into the website.

With that in mind, you can learn the Gutenberg code and then create your pages and posts around coded templates. Again, you would simply need to paste your post’s content into the editor rather than using its tools. Alternatively, there are page builders that are not part of WordPress and/or are free. They are like the HTML markup tools you find online, except you add your content into them and then add it to WordPress later. The only downside of these is that you still have to upload and add media manually, but you can leave markers as to where the media should go on your pages.

There are plenty of ways to get your content designed and onto the page without using the Gutenberg editor or any sort of WordPress page builder. There are always workarounds, including the use of third-party software or apps that plugs the information in for you. However, it is often far easier to either use a developer, or to use the Gutenberg designer or a page builder.

FAQs

In some cases they are. In some cases, WordPress page builders exist to help people who are struggling with the usual editing tools that WordPress offers. Page builders often offer an easier and more intuitive design solution. Though, this is not always the case. For example, some page builders exist because very detailed and complex web pages need designing, which means the page builder themselves are pretty complex and more difficult to learn.

Many WordPress page builders are drag-and-drop. That is often the biggest selling point of a WordPress page builder. Not all of them are, and some of them give you the option of using drag-and-drop features. Many have layouts and templates where you don’t need to use the drag-and-drop features.

Yes you can, but make sure you have a good reason. This is not like a buffet where you can walk around putting everything on your plate. Multiple page builders may create messily-coded web pages, and your builders may conflict and case errors in your interface and in your website. The most common conflicts happen when two or more builders share use of the same WordPress plugins.

WordPress builders can be slow and they can slow down your website too, but for some people this is a necessary evil. When page builders work slowly on your interface, then it may be because you have a slower Internet connection, or may be because the builder is having to work too hard, and so forth. If a builder makes your web pages slower, then this may be a natural outcome for your designs. For example, if you are creating very visually stunning pages, then they may need a little more loading time, and you can hardly blame your page builder for that.