featured image - Page Builders

Page builders can be a great tool for building websites. WordPress has a number of page builder plugins. They enable website owners to create intricate layouts with no coding skills required. No need to hire that web designer. Sounds good doesn't it?

This is the part where I say they are bad and you need to employ me to make your website. Not at all. It depends on how they are used.

The most common use is to use a page builder plugin to create a customised layout for the home page or a landing page. They have the big advantage of being able to be changed at will. The website owner no longer is forced to wait for their web designer to get back to them. The site can be changed quickly with a very fast turn around. A page builder can save a lot of time and be a money saver if used wisely.

Having said that, there are some issues that need to be considered.

Page bloat

Pages built with page builders are often feature rich. There could be dozens of CSS animations and transition effects available to you. These are usually done using CSS and JavaScript. You won't need the vast majority of them but the unused effects load with the used ones. Your page is bigger than it should be.

The HTML mark up often contains a lot of extra HTML tags to position the elements on the page. This can quickly lead to markup that is beefy and not all that semantic.

Either way. Extra features mean larger pages and larger pages are slower pages. Slower pages mean slower sites. Slower sites can give your competitors the march.

SEO

SEO is often a battle between making your content look good for your human visitors and easily searchable by the machines. People are visual creatures and are naturally drawn to eye candy. Search bots don't care about layout. They are concerned about extracting meaning from content. That's why good semantic structure on your site is important. A well designed page can give both eye candy and semantic structure.

Stuck in one ecosystem

Many page builders make it almost impossible to break free. Imagine it is time to change the look of your site. You have a brand spanking new theme. If your content is not stored as a standard page or post, then transferring that content to a new theme means finding some way to export that content in some meaningful format. Transferring your content could become a long and expensive process.

Potential conflicts with plugin and WordPress

WordPress is constantly updating. New features and security patches get applied. It moves forward. Your page builder plugin might not move so fast. There is a danger of the page builder plugin being left behind

Getting Support

Most page builders undergo a process of continuous improvement. Bugs get ironed out and new features arrive. Most page builder themes come with support. Often that support is available for a limited time. It may be 1 year. It may be 2 years or more. One day that theme may have a problem. If it is no longer supported, then you will be left with no option but to rebuild with a different theme.

Conclusion

We don't tend to build sites with page builders. Our preference is to start with a blank theme such as Underscores. This helps to make our templates lean and fast. We understand the attraction of page builder themes. If used well, they can be a very good choice.

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