Page Builders – the best way to beautiful pages

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Page builders help Wordpress keep up with Wix, Weebly and other DIY website solutions. But what are they, and why are they so important?

If you want an amazing website, there are a number of different roads you can travel. There is Wix, Weebly and Squarespace, but while these solutions have a great drag and drop interface, they have limited functionality and a lack of options.

Until a couple of years ago, Wordpress couldn’t compete on layout flexibility and ease of use. Sites were generally created within rigid themes that were at best, inflexible, and at worst were design straight-jackets. The alternative to this was the expense of employing a designer and programmer to write a template from scratch.

Then along came page builders. The latest modern  iterations of page builders are plugins that allow you to use drag and drop to quickly design pages any way you like and see the results of your labours  as you build.

The Plugin Advantage

Everything in One Place

Elementor Widgets
The Massive Elementor Toolbox

If you choose the right page builder, you will find that most of the functionality you need is contained within one plugin. This is important for three reasons:

  • cost – often buying a single page builder is a lot cheaper than buying a number of plugins that individually create the same functionality
  • security – the more plugins you have installed on your website, the more likely it is that you will be using one that has a potential security leak.
  • interface consistency – using a single plugin for all of your page building functionality reduces the amount of time you spend learning the interface.

Flexibility is the Key

How often have you looked at a theme and thought “Well, it only does 90% of what I want – it’ll have to do.”?

Used wisely, page builders can be used to create customized layouts in a way that pre-defined themes can only dream of. You can use the widget drag and drop and functionality coupled with the ability to format that widget to create any type of layout you like.

If you like, you can use your theme’s headers and footers to help you create your page, or you can disregard them all together. Elementor specifically has a template called canvass that is a blank sheet – perfect for a creative mind.

No Programming Needed

Until now, if you want to create a themed page you need to know about css, php, HTML and Javascript. Too much?

Well now, you don’t need to get your books out. Using simple drag and drop and the ability to change properties using the tools provided you can create a beautiful page in no time.

Looking Towards the Future

As fashions change, your site can change with it. For example, the flexibility of some page makers means that you can make use of globally defined fonts and colours. Does your font look out of date? If your site has been built correctly, you can change the font for all of your headings in one place. Has your yellow and purple colour scheme finally started grating on you or you’ve changed your logo and want your site to reflect the new design? A simple change of the default colour palette and your whole website can reflect your new branding.

Go deeper, and if your pages and posts use pre-built page builder templates, you can use your page builder in the future to reformat your templates and bring them up to date.

Extendable

I use Elementor for my websites for many reasons. Apart from the excellent support, incredible functionality and well thought out interface, I like that it’s extendable with third party add-ons.

Want hotel booking functionality? Look up MotoPress. Extra WooCommerce widgets? There are a number of add-ons for that.

Don’t quite have the widget you want? Well there are dozens of programmers creating all sort of widgets that you can drag from the Elementor toolbox onto your page.

But...

Lock-in

Be careful which page builder you choose. Although Divi has an amazing interface and is well loved by the people that use it, there is a danger of being locked into their system. This is because Divi uses shortcodes to create the page. These shortcodes are left behind if you ever want to change page builder, and you must either delete that code by hand, or use a cleaning utility to go through your pages. If you have more than a dozen pages, this could be a very tedious job.

If you switch off Beaver Builder and Elementor, you are left only with the content of your page or post.

There are Limits

Although the majority of pages can be built with a page builder without coding, there may be times when you come up against the limits of what the plugin can do.

Sometimes you just have to make a compromise, or get down and look under the hood. Page builders often provide the ability to reference the widgets by giving them names which allow you to create your style sheet code. This enables you to provide exactly the look you need, rather than that imposed by the plugin limitations.

Are You Really a Designer?

Not everyone is a designer, and in the wrong hands, a page builder could make your website worse, not better. Red text on a brown background? Seen it. Layouts where the elements are so close together that you feel claustrophobic just looking at it? Seen that too.

Remember, some people are not designers because, well, design doesn’t come naturally to them.

Final Thoughts

Page builders are a fantastic step forward in the evolution of Wordpress as a flexible and easy to use platform with which to promote your business, college, community or passion. 

Used wisely, page builders will allow you to create the site of your dreams. If you’re not sure of your abilities, it’s also the perfect way for your professional website designer to create templates within which you can plug your content, safe in the knowledge that whatever you type, it will be beautiful. 

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