Why I don't use page builders anymore and you should not too

26. March 2024
4 minutes

I am a web developer and I focus on frontend and backend WordPress system I consider myself as a pro with WordPress. However when it comes to page builders or custom WordPress themes these are the pain of my developer experience.

I get that non developers and clients can use them for their drag and drop functionality but for a web developer who knows how to write custom code it is such a pain. Here are my observation points which I went though my career with multiple different projects.

Learning Curve and Time Investment

While page builders promise ease of use, they often come with a steep learning curve.

Building complex layouts can be time-consuming, and mastering the intricacies of a page builder can take a significant amount of effort. It is just another layer of abstraction that you need to learn and which brings more complexity to the project.

Native themes, on the other hand, provide a straightforward and more streamlined approach to website design. In native theme you write code and that represents the structure, functionality and form which can be easily extended, reused and versioned.

Customisation Limitations

While page builders offer a range of customisation options, they may still fall short when it comes to truly unique and tailored designs.

Custom themes can provide greater flexibility in terms of design, allowing you to create a website that perfectly aligns with your client request.

"In native theme you write code and that represents the structure, functionality and form which can be easily extended"

Bloated Code and Performance Issues

I guess that this its the main topic that everyone who is picking up page builder is considering, at least the ones which really cares about site performance, which you definitely should!

One of the most significant drawbacks of page builders is the bloated code they generate. Page builders add layers of CSS and JavaScript to your website, which your page does not really need can slow down its performance.

This can lead to longer loading times, a negative user experience, and even a drop in search engine rankings. Try to check your browser developer console how many assets ( css and js files ) requests is your site loading. Im pretty sure that the number can scare you 🙂

Giving too much control

Giving a page builder to a client is too much control. It becomes so easy to break something or build a page that is a design mess.

Instead give clients the ability to put together pages in a prescribed way, rather than opening up the entire toolbox to wreck everything!

Deep HTML structure

Page builders, in their pursuit of providing a user-friendly drag-and-drop interface, often generate deep nested HTML structures that can harm a website's performance and maintainability.

"Page builders make it feel like your content is glued to that particular theme."

Builders tend to produce layers upon layers of div elements and intricate nesting, resembling a labyrinth that makes it challenging for developers to navigate.

The excess of div tags and nested elements not only results in unnecessarily bloated code but also introduces a considerable amount of redundancy, negatively impacting the website's loading speed.

This convoluted HTML structure can pose problems for search engine optimization (SEO) as well. Search engine crawlers may struggle to efficiently parse through the intricate layers, potentially affecting the website's visibility in search results. Furthermore, deep nesting can lead to rendering issues on various devices and browsers, as the complexity of the structure increases the likelihood of compatibility issues. In essence, while page builders aim to simplify the design process, their penchant for deep nested HTML structures can inadvertently complicate the overall development landscape.

Data separation

The main issue with page builders they save everything into the database, which includes both your HTML and content. This makes it difficult to manage and migrate. It feels like storing your kitchen utensils in the same drawer – finding the right spatula suddenly becomes a frustrating game of hide-and-seek.

Now, picture this: you've got a website where your content is tied to the overall structure. Your client is in a moment of inspiration, decides it's time for a fresh new theme, bum!

Page builders make it feel like your content is glued to that particular theme. Switching themes becomes a cumbersome process, akin to rearranging furniture in a room where everything seems oddly interconnected.

When building of your website think of it from data separation perspective, make distinct boundaries between content and presentation. t's crucial to refrain from storing the presentation layer directly into the database.

"Consider your website's construction with a focus on data separation, establishing clear distinctions between content and presentation"

Learning and Growth

Constantly evolving as a developer is essential in this ever-changing field. Relying on page builders can stop the learning process and limit exposure to the requirements of web development.

Embracing the challenge of coding without these crutches has not only expanded my skill set but also deepened my understanding of the underlying technologies that power the web.

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