Should I Use A Page Builder Plugin For My WordPress Website?
Page Builder Plugin is an useful tool to help people without programming knowledge to build a more beautiful and professional-looking website.
Personally, I love this kind of tools a lot because the feeling of being able to build a very beautiful website is rewarding. A more visually-appealing website is also more attractive and better for conversion.
However, there are some common issues regarding page builders.
In this post, I would like to address these issues and evaluate whether page builder is something you should invest in.
What Exactly Is A Page Builder?
A Page Builder is sometimes known as "Content Builder" or "Visual Editor", depending on how different companies name it.
Basically, it's a tool (normally in the form of a plugin) to help you create and design your website content in real time so that you can preview how your content looks like while editing it.
Page builders usually have quite a number of special elements for you to add into your content and make it more captivating and reader-friendly.
Some of these include star rating, content boxes, testimonials, call to actions, etc...
Limitations Of The Default WordPress Editor
The default WordPress editor doesn't allow you to build your content on the front end in real time so that you won't be able to preview how your content looks like unless you save and hit the preview button.
Below is a screenshot of how a default WordPress editor looks like. If you're a WordPress user, you must be very familiar with this:
Although WordPress editor can add short codes, it's hard to create your content simply by adding short codes without the ability to visualize it directly.
Also, WordPress editor still doesn't allow you to add in special elements to your content like columns, testimonials, call to actions, page sections, etc...
You will need to install additional plugins for these. But what you can do after installing relevant plugins is still adding short codes in WordPress editor which is a very inefficient way.
Benefits Of Using Page Builders
Like I've said, page builders allow you to create your content on the front end of your website so you can visualize how your content looks like while editing it.
This solves the problem for not able to preview your content while you're editing it in WordPress editor.
Seeing from this perspective, I highly recommend using a page builder because how your content looks like plays a big role in your ability to convert visitors to customers and make money.
Having quality content on your site is very important but if your quality content is not visually-appealing, reader-friendly or even not readable, not as much people will be reading it.
So, why waste your hard work on writing your masterpiece when many people don't want to read it?
Issues With Page Builder Plugin
Having said that, page builders have their issues as well and you need to consider these properly before you invest in any of them, or else you will be wasting a lot of your time and money.
Let's start with the most common concern first...
The "Content Lock-in" Issue
Content Lock-in issue means that when you've started using one of the page builders, you'll be "locked" into it and you need to keep using it if you want your content to show up properly.
This happens because once you start building your content using page builders, there will be short codes being added to be part of your content.
If you decide to deactivate or remove the plugin, the content that you built using the page builder will not be showing up properly. There will be a lot of codes within your content and it will no longer be readable.
So, the convenient way to continue showing your content properly is to keep the page builder plugin activated and keep using it.
Almost all page builders are a paid service. For most of them, you need to keep paying a recurring fee in order to continue using them with updates and support. This means if you're forced to keep using it, you'll also need to keep paying for the service.
That's "Content Lock-in" issue and I'm sure non of you would want this to happen.
After I've spent some time doing some research, I found out that this "Content Lock-in" issue does not happen to all page builders. So the solution is to choose your page builder plugin wisely.
The next question will then be how to choose the right plugin?
Let's take a look at this following video by Shane Melaugh from Thrive Themes, the company that created the content builder plugin I'm using right now. This video tested the "Content Lock-in" issue for the most popular page builders...
Let me summarize the points in the above video for you!
What Shane did was that he created a page using different page builders then deactivate the plugins to see what happened to the content.
The finding is that "content lock-in" issue does happen for some of the page builders but not for the others. It totally depend on how well the plugin is coded.
Below is the summary result for the page builders tested in the video:
Page Builders That Preserve The Content (No Content Lock-in issue):
(Clarification: If you've watched the video carefully, you'll see that when you deactivate the plugin, some of the format will be different and all the fancy designs supported by the plugins will be gone. Only the content remains readable!)
Page Builders That Don't Preserve The Content and Have A Lot Of Short Codes (Have Content Lock-in issue):
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Other Potential Page Builder Issues
Other than the "Content Lock-in" issue, the next possible issue will be its compatibility with other plugins, widgets, tools and themes.
Since it's a complicated plugin that requires sophisticated coding in order for it to be some powerful, it may cause some conflicts with other tools when use together.
Personally, I've experienced that before and I can fix it by simply deactivating certain plugins. The most commonly affected ones are the caching plugins.
Another concern is that page builder plugins are usually quite a "heavy" plugin meaning that it has a huge file size and it might slow down your site.
These are just minor issues that you should consider. They may or may not happen. Again, I believe it totally depends on how well the plugin is coded, just like the content lock-in issue.
Some page builders have its own theme created by the same company. It's recommended to use their theme because it will definitely work more smoothly with their own themes despite many companies claim that their page builder plugins are compatible with all WordPress themes.
My Recommendation + Conclusion
Thrive Content Builder (will become Thrive Architect in late August 2017) Thrive Architect is the only content builder I've used before so I couldn't say much about other content builders.
From my experience, I'm really satisfied with Thrive Themes' products and I highly recommend it. I am able to build this beautiful website all because of Thrive Themes.
So, if you want to build a more beautiful website which converts better, do check out Thrive Themes. From this post, the other two page builders you may want to consider are Elementor and Beaver Builder according to the content lock-in test.
It is the most crucial factor to consider when choosing the right page builder for you in my opinion.
I hope you find this post useful to you. If you have any question, feel free to leave them in the comments below :)
Here are some answers to the frequently asked question. But I can only answer for Thrive Themes and not other tools. Following is the Q&A for Thrive Themes. The rest will depend on the individual company's own policy and pricing plans.
1. Is there any Free Trials or Free Versions?
No. Thrive Themes do not offer Free Trials or Free Versions as of now.
2. Can I get a refund if I'm not satisfied with it?
Yes you can. Thrive Themes has a 30-Day Money Back Guarantee. You can get a 100% refund within 30 days of purchase if you're not satisfied with the product.
3. How much does it cost?
Thrive Themes has a couple of pricing options.
Firstly, there's a membership package which costs $19 per month to get access to all their Thrive products (include various themes and plugins).
Secondly, you can purchase the license for individual theme or plugin at $67 one-time payment. But this license is only eligible for one year of support and updates.
You can continue using the tools you purchased for as long as you want. However, you'll need to renew your license if you want access to their support and updates after one year.
4. What exactly will happen if I deactivate the plugin afterwards?
If you've watched the video above, you'll see that the plugins without content lock-in issue will be able to retain most of your content and stay readable but the look of your page/website will be different.
After you deactivate the content builder plugin, all the fancy designs supported by the plugin will be gone and some of the format will be different. Only the content remains readable.
So, this is not something you should invest in if you are planning to remove the plugin to avoid the recurring fees.