December 6, 2019

How Elementor & Divi Builder Affect Website Design and Development

Beacon Page Builders

Elementor and Divi Builder are two of the most popular drag-and-drop page builder plugins for WordPress. Both are affordable, easy to use, and are, in general, great tools for allowing non-developers to iterate on websites. If your team is comfortable with using Elementor or Divi Builder and you like using either tool, you should! But note that all the flexibility of a page builder comes with a few cautions. Here are the top considerations to have in mind when using Elementor or Divi Builder to help ensure your site stays healthy for the long term.

Practical Considerations for Using Elementor or Divi Builder

Generally, if you want to use a WordPress page builder, best practice is to use the plugin on every page and make it a requirement, even when asking a team to design or develop new pages and templates. You don’t want to be switching in and out of using Elementor, for example, for the same page or template. 

If there are pages on your site that you didn’t create with Elementor or Divi Builder, you run the risk of breaking the page's functionality or styles when trying to edit them with either plugin.

Remember to always QA any of the work that you do within a page builder plugin. Every tool has its own quirks, and the more you use it, the more you will get to know its limits. Check your work on multiple browsers and devices to ensure the result looks the way you intend. Be careful about continually iterating on a page using Elementor or Divi Builder if you’re regularly changing the layout and adding new elements. At some point, you might want to re-evaluate the page altogether to assure that it is built well, performs reliably, and is intuitive to update. 

How Page Builders Influence Website Design 

Whether you’re using a page builder plugin or not, it’s always a smart idea to create templates and design systems for your website to ensure that your overall site design is consistent, professional, and easy to navigate. Specifically, work with designers to create and adhere to design guidelines for the web that specify typography, breakpoints, margins, and button styles. 

To take it a step farther, think through the specific modules that you would like to regularly use on your website, then create them either from scratch or with Elementor or Divi Builder. By regularly using these modules, you can strike a balance between having ultimate freedom (but a site that feels sloppy and inconsistent) and having a custom-built but not editable site. Even better, you avoid having a boring site, with only a few limited page templates and editor capabilities.

The word of caution here is that if you are proficient with Elementor, for example, but don’t have styles established or regularly "break" design rules for your site, you may end up gradually breaking down its consistency and professional appearance.

How Page Builders Influence Development Workflows

It’s important to know that both Elementor and Divi Builder can introduce hiccups into the development workflow. The most productive arrangement is one that allows developers to work on features without impacting the content workflow. When the code of a web build is entirely separate from the content, an editor can post content updates to the site while a developer works on a new template or module, and the two workstreams don’t conflict.  

With page builder plugins, however code and the content are intertwined. Teams need to coordinate during updates to ensure that they don't lose anything during feature launches. With multiple teams working on a website, this can be very frustrating and hard to manage. 

A Note On Overall Website Health 

Whether you’re using a page builder plugin or not, we recommend regularly checking in on overall website health when it comes to performance and reliability. Doing a full regression test and check on your site once a quarter (if you’re doing regular design or development on the site), or once every six months (if you’re not making design updates often). 

Here are a few elements to look for during a website check: 

  1. The number of plugins and whether they are up-to-date: Plugins are third party code injected on your site, so you want to monitor what is being loaded and whether you can trust it. Uninstall any plugin that you’re not using, and make sure to update plugins that you are using as soon as updates are available. When you do update a plugin, make sure to test the site to ensure that you didn’t introduce any new bugs. You should do this on staging first before you deploy it to production.
  2. Page load speed: It’s easy to forget about performance when you’re focused on design, but if a page takes longer than five seconds to load, you will lose your audience before they see it. One or more poorly maintained plugins can cause your site to load slowly. This can also happen if you’re loading in images or media that are too large, or if there is intricate code.

Because Elementor and Divi Builder are tools that allows you to rapidly iterate on your website, it also means that it ages your site faster. When your site is a few years old, especially if you’ve made many updates to it since your initial launch, you will want to consider rebuilding it to ensure its continued performance and efficiency. 

It’s much harder to develop on a site that has gone through many iterations and has been touched by many teams because it’s not possible to fully “know” the code or predict how it will behave when trying to make further modifications.

Bottom line: WordPress page builder plugins have many great features, which is why it they have gained such popularity. Keeping in mind the considerations outlined here will help you make the most of these tools while also doing what’s best for your website.

Want to talk more about web design and development? Get in touch with our team.

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