Gutenberg is in WordPress core today. It may be a baby, but visual builders have been around for a while. Gutenberg joins the ranks of Divi Builder, WPBakery Page Builder, Elementor, Beaver Builder, and many others. How did we get here?
Visual builders allow for the non-technical creation of beautiful pages. They range in versatility, but you often have the ability to add columns, add an assortment of pre-built features like a slider or newsletter signup and configure specific styles at the block/module level. All without coding. It’s a great business proposition, one that has stuck, given their prevalence.
A visual builder offers a special user interface in either the WordPress backend (admin), frontend, or both for users to create content. But do we need one? It depends. And it should be part of planning your WordPress website. Here are some considerations?
When can a visual builder help me?
A sound business case is if I have a small business website that will have dynamic pages like the home (new content, updated slides, routine color changes, etc.), and the admin maintaining the website doesn’t have a technical background. Maybe the home page will have several interactive elements or will need to scale. It will be easier to find an all-in-one solution in a visual builder than adding a bunch of plugins. However, if speed is your need and you don’t envision the pages changing that much over time, coding page templates is more ideal.
What theme / visual builder combination should I use?
Compatibility is first and foremost. In the wake of Gutenberg’s release, it may take some time for your theme of choice to release a version that plays nice with the visual builder. The theme may also come pre-packaged with one. In this case, it makes the most sense to leverage the visual builder that comes with the theme. But if you would rather not be locked in to a certain builder or aren’t sure if you will use one at all, a theme that doesn’t have one integrated may best suit your needs.
Where can a visual builder help me?
Editors like Gutenberg can be great for creating unique one-off pages like home and contact. You can often choose pre-formatted layouts and color schemes to quickly stand up a site. Adding interactive elements like sliders, maps, newsletter signups, etc. is simplified when your visual builder is worth its salt.
These editors aren’t that useful as templates for something like blog posts, products, or events. Your posts and other content types outside of pages won’t be so sophisticated that they need their own dynamic custom layout. It’s likely more ideal that blogs and other dynamic content have a consistent look. Adding a visual editor to the mix may bog down your writing process. You can reasonably rely on a more bare bones editor to add and format text and images.
What to look for…
Above all else, the visual builder you select should be well-supported. If you’ve made the decision to use a builder, remember that there is a time investment to learn it. You don’t want to be stuck with one months down the road that is being decommissioned. Outside of that, the matter will come down to your priorities. Do you want the one with a bunch of elements/modules and third-party plugins? Try the WPBakery Page Builder. Do you want the one that’s very intuitive? Try the Divi Builder. Give Elementor a review for an up-and-comer choice.