We have been making websites for a long, long time. So when drag and drop builders came a long, customers have asked about them. We wanted to be able to answer the question ‘why elementor sucks’. So we got to testing drag and drop builders. We focused on Elementor and Divi (we’re not even going to mention Wix or Weebly as that is where websites go to die). After our review, we have some opinions…so here are the four things that we think are lacking and why you should avoid a drag and drop builder.
Complexity: The Learning Curve and Overwhelming Features
One significant criticism of Elementor and Divi is their complexity. Despite claims of being user-friendly, many users find the learning curve steep, especially for beginners. We have an Elementor Pro license, and that only seems to be good for hobby projects for friends, and children making school projects. But in all cases the people we had testing (end users of all levels) had issues and had trouble editing what was supposed to be, a very easy to edit website. The abundance of features and options seemed to overwhelm some, leading to confusion and frustration. While both page builders offer extensive documentation and support, the sheer amount of functionality can make the process of creating a website more time-consuming, and even just editing after it is ‘designed’, problematic for some end users. The users had a much easier time editing a custom website that we had prepared earlier.
Performance Impact: Bloated Code and Loading Times
There are two very large problems with Elementor and Divi, and one of the largest is the impact on website performance. These page builders often generate extensive code that can increase the page size and slow down loading times. While optimization techniques can mitigate this issue to some extent, the fact remains that the additional layers of code and functionalities inherent in Elementor and Divi can be detrimental to website speed. For websites where speed is crucial (which in our opinion is every website that is for a professional organisation), this limitation may have a significant impact on user experience and conversions. To test your page speed, go to Google Page Speed Insights.
Client with major Elementor problems
We were commissioned by a Silicon Valley software company to help them with their SEO, SEM/PPC. They told us that they had been working on their website for 18 months and when we saw it…our jaws dropped. They paid through the nose for a website that is incredibly slow, not designed very well – didn’t have enough SEO opportunities, had major issues with editing/logins, and was falling over constantly. The site was built in Elementor with the Jupiter X theme.
Working with the client, and with their budget in mind, we came up with a solution is to slowly migrate the site to a new stable build with non bloated code, and remove the need for most of their 70ish plugins (yes you read that right…around SEVENTY). Why did the previous company use so many plugins, you may ask…they didn’t know how to program and had to rely on the plugins for most of the functionality. We are SEOing the pages to add in proper opportunities, and tweaking the content as we go. We feel horrible for the client, as they were sold a product that wasn’t fit for purpose, and are doing everything we can to help rectify the situation. Lesson to learn here…avoid Elementor for professional websites because Elementor sucks.
Customization Limitations: Design Constraints and Uniformity
Elementor and Divi provide users with pre-built templates and drag-and-drop interfaces to create visually appealing websites. However, this convenience comes at a cost: limited customization options. These page builders often impose design constraints, making it challenging to achieve truly unique and tailored designs. In most instances we were having to make design concessions because it was either going to add too much site load, or it just wasn’t worth the effort in dealing with the backend code (which you shouldn’t have to touch anyway). In a marketing driven world, you start with business goals and work from there, with Elementor and Divi you are starting with some base templates and trying to squeeze the ideas in to fit the template, which is not ideal in the world of web design. Another issue we found is that Elementor and Divi can suffer from a sense of uniformity, as many users tend to rely on the same templates and modules offered by the platforms. Do all Elementor and Divi sites look and feel the same? Hmmm…not entirely, but usually you can tell when it is one. Only with a built from scratch website will you get a website as personal as your business.
SEO Challenges: Struggles with Optimization
The second biggest problem with Elementor and Divi concerns Search engine optimization (SEO). It is vital that your site be coded cleanly, without bloat and optimised to appease the Google Gods. And Elementor and Divi fall very flat in this regard. The excess code generated by these page builders can hinder search engine crawling and indexing, negatively impacting SEO performance. Additionally, the reliance on Elementor and Divi required or specific plugins and add-ons can introduce compatibility issues, potentially leading to SEO-related complications. Proper optimization techniques can mitigate some of these challenges, but in most cases we found these problems are better solved faster with a custom website.
While Elementor and Divi have a place for some projects, drag and drop builders like Elementor still suck. It is essential to consider their limitations, and compare it to the offerings of a bespoke WordPress website. A bespoke website offers complete freedom and flexibility in terms of design, functionality, and performance optimization. With a custom-built website, you have the opportunity to tailor every aspect of your online presence to perfectly align with your brand identity and specific business goals. From unique layouts and intuitive user interfaces to optimized code and seamless integrations, a bespoke website can provide a truly personalized experience for your audience. Furthermore, custom websites are not limited by the constraints of pre-built templates or excessive code, allowing for streamlined performance, faster loading times, and enhanced SEO potential. While it may require more investment in terms of time and resources, a bespoke website offers unparalleled control and the ability to create a truly unique online presence that stands out from the crowd.
In the end, the only thing that we recommend these drag and drop builders for are personal projects, like the one we made in an evening for an 18 year old applying to university who wanted to showcase their photography portfolio. In one evening, my teenage daughter and I had that entire site done. Does it look good, for the purpose, sure. Would it be good for a professional? Never. So until drag and drops get much more advanced, if you’re a company or professional organisation, best to stay with bespoke.
Posted by: Jean Paldan
Jun 07, 2023