Issue #374

Sent to members on February 28, 2022

Wordpress killing off page builders?

The world of Wordpress is changing. And it could eventually result in tools like Elementor, Thrive Architect and others becoming obsolete.

It is changing the ways themes are built, too.

See, Wordpress has always had a weak spot when it came to site design. It started as a traditional blog platform. And the editing interface was just for the purposes of writing primarily text articles. The actual design (the theme) was controlled by a big pile of PHP files.

While you could ultimately design your site any way you please, it was quite the nerdy experience. You had to know CSS and PHP and dive into all kinds of special functions.

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The market solved that problem with it’s own solutions. First we had themes come out with their own control panels so people could change colors and turn things on and off. But, soon… we had full page builders.

The page builders enabled people to visually design any page they want. And eventually, these page builders evolved to a point where many of them could even control the theme itself. Today, we have platforms like Thrive Theme Builder where you can visually design anything you want. Elementor, too, can build the theme.

Thing is, these page builders do bring on additional overhead. They load up a bunch of CSS and javascript files that are not natively part of Wordpress. And in the end, these tools were built because Wordpress itself didn’t do it.

An entire industry of page builders and visual themes came to be because Wordpress was not built to solve this issue of user-friendly visual site design. Even large scale alternatives like Wix and Squarespace rose up, in some ways, because Wordpress was too nerdy to use.

Things are beginning to change, though.

It started with Gutenberg. This was the project code name for the new editor being built for Wordpress natively.

When it first came out, it wasn’t very popular at all. People don’t like change. Even now, if you look at Gutenberg in the plugin repository, it doesn’t exactly have the highest rating.

I didn’t use it either. I resisted change. I would always install the Classic Editor plugin so I could get back my old, trusty, boring content editor. And I would use Thrive Architect to pretty things up.

But, Gutenberg just kept on advancing.

Today, we don’t even really refer to it by it’s codename anymore. It is just called the block editor.

The block editor is the new Wordpress approach to site design. Instead of dealing with HTML and PHP, you assemble your content and your whole site using blocks. These blocks are like little widgets that do certain things. And you drag and drop these things into place to build what you want.

The block editor started as an alternative way to write and edit your page content. But, as of more recent versions of Wordpress, the block editor is now expanding to be able to control the look and feel of the entire site. Wordpress 5.9 has a “theme” category of blocks for things like header, navigation, footer, etc.

The idea of a theme is actually being reengineered. The coding behind themes is even changing in order to be compliant with the block editor. The new Twenty Twenty-Two theme that ships with Wordpress is the first official theme coded in the new way and block compliant.

So basically, the world of Wordpress is changing.

You’re going to see a lot of newer themes come out that are fully compliant with the block editor. There’s already several. Kadence Blocks is a popular option now that expands the block editor to allow full design of pretty advanced sites using the block editor.

This is all a very different approach than tools like Thrive Themes or Elementor.

So, what’s going to happen here?

Will page builders and visual design themes like Thrive Themes die off and become obsolete?

Already, we’re seeing a growing sentiment in the Wordpress community that abandoning page builders for the block editor leads to site performance increases. I’m seeing some people literally rebuild their entire site just to get rid of Elementor and switch entirely to block-based design.

Personally, I don’t think there’s any rush to do that.

While there is indeed a degree of overhead when you run an add-on like Thrive Architect or Elementor, the performance hit is actually pretty minimal. Not non-existent, but just not enough to worry about unless you’re an absolute perfectionist and have a ton of time to spend on things that won’t actually benefit you that much.

I do expect the block editor to continue to get better. I do expect more themes and marketing tools to come out that are built for the block editor and that will give us even more options for how we want to build our sites.

I expect companies like Thrive Themes will need to continue to up their game to provide a strong value proposition to keep people with them. Same with Elementor. In fact, I see Elementor’s release of Elementor Cloud as a potential way to remain relevant.

Some people will always prefer full visual editing from the likes of Thrive Themes and Elementor. I know I do. The block editor is not truly “what you see is what you get”. And I find it much more limiting.

But, Wordpress is definitely plugging this design hole. It is becoming much less nerdy to design your own site. And now Wordpress itself is going to plug this hole without relying on third-party, paid add-ons like Thrive to fix the issue.

And as end users, that just means we have even more options. And that’s a good thing.

Tech Talk

Well, seeing as this week’s article above was kinda like one big “tech talk”, let’s see what else is going on here…. 😉

FluentCRM has just released a brand new update that will make it much easier to switch over from ActiveCampaign, MailerLite, Mailchimp, Drip and ConvertKit. For those platforms, you can now auto-import all your contacts and keep all your tags intact. This will be SUCH a time-saver. In fact, I’m almost sad to see it because I know how freakin’ long it took me to switch over from Drip and keep tags intact. 😉 Oh well… better late than never, I guess.

Working on a client project right now to convert him from the classic version of Keap (formerly Infusionsoft) over to FluentCRM. Wish they had this importer in place for Keap. Would save us a ton of time. Oh, BTW… please avoid “all in one” platforms like Keap. It is such a pain in the ass to move out of something like that. Massive project. The only “all in one” platform you should ever use is the one you own and control. In other words, WordPress.

I now recommend nothing else for email than FluentCRM. I used to use and recommend Aweber. I used Drip for awhile and it is a good platform. I also really like how ConvertKit works. But, truth is…

FluentCRM is the way to go now. It is far more economical. It competes head on with the “big boys”. And most importantly, YOU own and control the data. It is hosted on YOUR site. And you are not billed more the bigger your list gets. You just don’t need to take on a big monthly bill for your email list anymore.

BTW, some people do find the process of converting to FluentCRM a little confusing. Did you know I offered a service for that? Check it out.

Cloudways, the web host that I use myself and recommend to others, is now providing access to Object Cache PRO free of charge to all clients using a 2GB or greater server. This is the paid, premium version of Redis cache that usually costs $95/month, but now you can enable it free of charge inside your Cloudways control panel. That’s a pretty big deal… especially for anybody running highly dynamic sites like membership sites, ecommerce stores, or sites that get a lot of traffic. Click here to learn more about it.

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