When you build your website it’s totally normal to be unsure about what tools to use. You want to make the process of building pages fast and easy. But you also want to produce a professional and appealing result.
With all of the tools available for WordPress to build your site, you may feel a bit overwhelmed. So, in this article I’ll be explaining to you which tools and apps are good and when it’s best to use which ones.
Specifically, we’ll be talking about using popular page builders like Divi, Elementor, Beaver Builder, Thrive Architect, etc., and how they compare to custom WordPress page templates in various situations.
Each situation is unique. And once you’re armed with the knowledge in this article, you’ll know when to make the best use of the tools available to you!
Should I use a Page Builder or Custom Template?
The short answer is: both, but in different cases.
Let’s explore this topic a bit more deeply.
Page Builder Plugins
Want to create a page without having to write any code and without limitations on what you can add to your creation? If you want to truly express yourself or you are creating a specific page, then a Page Builder Plugin or theme is generally the best solution for you.
Today there are so many page builder plugins on the market that it can be hard to choose between them (especially when you are just starting out). Below I’ll give you a quick overview of the best Page Builder Plugins that we use here at MemberFix, both for ourselves and for our customers.
1# – The Divi Theme
DIVI is not just a page builder, but a whole Theme framework which you can customize however you want. Only your imagination is the limit!
The Divi team over at Elegant Themes has been around for a long time and powers hundreds of thousands of sites. Their support is excellent, their price is very reasonable (~$80/year!) and there is a massive community of Divi contractors and add-ons to bend Divi to your will. While other page builders have come and gone based on hype and novelty, Divi has remained our rock and has improved consistently and significantly.
We build virtually all of our professional projects with Divi and we are total Divi fanboys. In fact, we’ve got an entire series on building cool membership sites and marketing pages using Divi here on our “Why Divi” page.
It also has a frontend builder, which is just awesome! In the frontent (visual) builder you can edit content and see how it will look on your page at the same time, with all the functionalities from the backend builder built in.
#2 – Elementor
Okay, let me say that I personally love Elementor! With him you can easily customize any part of your page. It comes with a sidebar that contain over 80 elements that you can add to your page, like Buttons, Images, Call to Action buttons… and a set of tools which replaces dozen of other plugins.
The only downside of Elementor is that it doesn’t have a backend builder. Other than that, it is an amazing Page Builder Plugin!
Much like Divi, Elementor is hugely popular and has a large community of user and developers who work with it, and build various add-ons that extend its functionality. As an example, we used the Elementor Ultimate Add-ons suite to create a sexy interactive roadmap for one of our MemberFix customers for the members of her paid community. We also figured out how to create a cool Facebook-style feed using Elementor.
Elementor functions as a plugin only. So unlike Divi—which is a full standalone theme—Elementor does not replace your native theme. It only allows you to create pages in Elementor in addition to your native theme. In fact, you can easily use Divi in conjunction with Elementor! Although the more popular choice for a companion theme for Elementor right now seems to be the Astra theme.
Out of the major page builders, Elementor seems to produce the cleanest code, and also seems to be the most lightweight in terms of performance load. The only caveat to this statistic, which I found on a website which compared different page builders for performance, is that various plugin-based page builders often require add-ons. They also still require you to have a default theme. This is one reason why we really like Divi: it replaces your theme, removes the need for extra plugins (except if you’re adding extensions to grow Divi’s functionality), and simplifies your tech stack.
But Elementor works great, is incredibly user friendly, and is also responsive out of the box. So even though we’re Divi diehards, we still give props where they’re due, and Elementor definitely is a pleasure to work with.
#3 – Thrive Architect
Thrive Architect is like a combination of Elementor and Divi. It comes with it’s own Theme like Divi but has only a frontend, visual Page Builder. Its frontend builder is very similar to Elementor’s with a sidebar and the same ease of use. You can add anything you want without a single line of code, and the building process is fairly intuitive.
My only critique of this Builder is that it sometimes takes too long to load. But once the actual builder has loaded, working with it is quite fast.
Other WordPress page builders
There are many other Page Builder Plugins, but these above are the best and most efficient page builders we’ve found.
Here are some other page builders you might consider trying:
- Beaver Builder
- Themify Builder
- SiteOrigin Page Builder
- Visual Composer (we don’t really recommend this one but it’s a popular one so we include it)
Have you ever felt like you are repeating almost everything you created on the last page with just minor differences here and there, page after page? Wouldn’t it be great if you could just get premade fields and content every time you want to create a new page? Absolutely!
Templates exist for this very reason: to save you a lot of time when making new pages.
If you are creating dozens of pages each month, you have to copy and paste the same content over and over, which can get boring and consumes a lot of your time. To make your life easier, you can create a Custom Page Template where you can specify what content you’d like to have premade every time you build a page with that Template. This can be any combination of elements, not just text. So, you can add buttons, images, links, text, or even dynamic content.
Check out our article on how to create a Custom Template (coming soon).
Advanced Custom Fields
Templates come with a premade content and style with the option to put additional content on the page. But they are even better when used in conjunction with the Advanced Custom Fields plugin (or, “ACF” for short). ACF allows you to save custom fields and default content for a particular Template, which will appear every time you create a new page with that Template.
For example, if you want to have Testimonials on every new page you make, you will only have to change the image and blurb for each testimonial. But the basic content, style, boxes and animations stay the same while you change only what’s important to you.
Choosing between Page Templates and Page Builder Plugins depends on whether you are building a specific page or you are building same pages and elements repeatedly.
If you need to build a page with content that you will not use anywhere else, then go for a Page Builder Plugin.
If you are going to have similar content on consecutive pages, then it is best to create a Custom Template and reuse it every time you need to create that type of page.
If you’d like to hire us to create custom templates or build pages for you using your favorite page builder, check out our MemberFix service!
Finally, if you have any comments or questions leave your thoughts below and I’ll come around to lend a hand. 🙂