Divi and Elementor: An Overview of WordPress Page Builders
Designing and developing a website is a cumbersome and lengthy endeavour that can take weeks or months and sometimes multiple professionals to do well. But those without the resources of a corporation have to look elsewhere to get a nicely designed website up and running.
WordPress solves a lot of these problems. It’s a well-designed and secure content management system that’s easy to use and is optimized for search right out of the box. But unless you want to hire a freelancer or a company to build a custom theme for you, you’re somewhat limited in design options. That’s where page building plugins come in—specifically, Divi and Elementor.
Divi by Elegant Themes and Elementor are the two most popular page-building plugins for WordPress. They’re created to make website design easier and more approachable for those that are less tech savvy. They offer a “drag and drop” approach to building websites that gives you the ability to craft a custom-built website in a fraction of the time.
Once installed, Divi and Elementor add functionality to your website that allows you to design in a visual way. Upon entering the design mode for either plugin, you can literally drag and drop, resize, and customize the look and layout of your entire website in real time.
Both plugins adhere to a grid scheme, meaning you add components of your site—text, images, tables, widgets—to rows and columns. This can seem somewhat limiting sometimes, but this ensures your site is responsive and maintains a good design across all devices.
Divi and Elementor both give you full customization over every pixel of your website. You can change font, font sizes, colours, background colours, and virtually any other aspect, from top to bottom. Each plugin has a slightly different approach, however.
Divi offers a full-screen experience where you can customize the overall column layout and add components through contextual buttons that run inline with your website.
Divi’s column system is somewhat rigid: You can only choose from predefined layouts, but there are a plethora of options to choose from. Unless you need something extremely complicated, you’ll likely find a layout to fit your needs.
Once you’ve chosen a column layout, you can add what Divi calls modules to your columns. Once added, each module is fully customizable through the floating context buttons. You can change the colours, typography, width, margins, padding, and more. There’s also an area where you can write in your own custom code.
In addition to the usual fare, Divi offers a wide assortment of functional modules, such as pre-made forms, blog post lists, and animated carousels. And again, the library here isn’t meek: There are dozens of pre-made modules that can be fully customized to your liking.
One area where Divi really shines is its collection of templates and themes. Divi comes with a vast library of themes that you can choose from as a starting point. This can make your design work much quicker as it’s very likely you’ll find a theme that’s close to what you have in mind for your website.
A very unique feature that Divi has that Elementor does not is a wireframe design mode. This allows you to see your design from a high-level perspective. It gives you the ability to drag and drop components on your website to rearrange the overall flow of your website.
Elementor’s approach is less immersive but more customizable. As with Divi, you can select from one of the column layout options, but unlike with Divi, you can customize the width of these layouts later.
Once in design mode, you have a “toolbox” that runs along the left side of your website that gives you access to the components you can add to your site by dragging and dropping. Elementor calls these, not surprisingly, elements.
Once you’ve added an element, you can select it, and the sidebar changes into a contextual menu for that element. This gives you access to three sections: Content, Style, and Advanced.
The Content tab, as you’d expect, allows you to edit the content. You can change the object’s type, size, alignment, and so on. If it’s text, you can write in what you want the content to say, but you can also edit text directly inline on the page.
The Style tab allows you to change things like colours, borders, and typography. It also gives you access to the blend mode of that element.
Finally, the Advanced tab gives you access to a number of minute styling options such as margins, padding, animations, and so on. You can also input custom code here.
Like Divi, Elementor has a full array of elements to choose from, including text, buttons, images, and so on. It also offers a wide assortment of functional widgets, such as carousels,
WordPress themes have a clear structure. Each page of your website consists of several elements: A header, a footer, a sidebar, and the actual page you’re visiting.
You’ll find that, when you’re editing a page—either with a page builder plugin or WordPress’s own editor—these other elements don’t change. This is where WordPress’ theming structure comes in. Your header, for example, is a single component that gets reused across your website.
Thankfully, both Divi and Elementor has functionality that gives you full control of the theme of your site. In each plugin, you can design your header, footer, and so on, so that these designs carry over to each page of your website. Essentially, they allow you to design your own WordPress theme.
Divi and Elementor have slightly different pricing structures. For starters, Elementor comes with a free version while Divi does not.
Divi costs $89 for a one-year licence or $249 for a life membership. Both options give you full access to Elegant Themes’ plugin and theme library.
Elementor’s free version gives you access to the page builder plugin, but you’re very limited to what kind of widgets you can put on your website. Element Pro starts at $49 per year for a single website.
There are a couple of things you’ll want to consider if you’re looking into designing your WordPress website with a page builder.
Security and Performance
Folks that develop websites and WordPress themes from scratch often argue that page builders add too much unnecessary bloat, impacting a website’s performance and security. And they aren’t necessarily wrong. Page builders are extremely advanced plugins that require a lot of code. More code means more possibilities for vulnerabilities and more power needed to run them.
There’s also the topic of lock-in. Designing your website with a page builder means that you’re somewhat locked in to it, dependent on it to modify and change things in the future. Divi, for example, uses “shortcodes,” which is a method of interacting with WordPress. If you ever decide to stop using Divi, it’s very likely that your website will have serious issues and may need to be rebuilt manually.
If you have a robust e-commerce website that’s thriving, and your concerns are maximum performance and security, you may want to consider eschewing the page builders in favour of a custom WordPress website.
If you’re looking for something to experiment with on your personal blog that’s inexpensive and relatively easy to use, Elementor’s free version is the clear choice.
On the other hand, if you have a more robust website and need more functionality, but are still cost-conscious, Divi is going to be more attractive. Better still, if you have multiple websites, Divi’s value is going to increase as there are no limits on how many sites you can install the plugin on.
Given the quality and features of both plugins, it’s difficult to declare one as better than the other. Divi and Elementor offer an approachable way to build beautiful, responsive WordPress websites with little design knowledge. Moreover, they give you the ability to create engaging functionality without needing to know anything about programming or development. This makes you the winner.
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