Are Page Builders Dead?

OK, I know. I know. Almost any time there’s a headline that talks about something being “dead”, it is just clickbait. But…

It is possible that page builders like Elementor, Thrive Architect, Beaver Builder and others… just might become irrelevant.

As I’ve mentioned in earlier issues of The Edge and my last blog post, I decided to convert the Blog Marketing Academy site from BuddyBoss / Elementor over to Kadence Theme.

And let me tell you… I’m rather shocked at the improvement in site performance scores.

I’m not done with the conversion yet, but much of the site is now done. BuddyBoss is gone, however Elementor is still in use on some pages until I get in there and rebuild them with Gutenberg blocks.

Let me share with you those numbers and then you’ll see why we have to ask this question about page builders. For testing purposes, we’ll simply take the homepage of BMA.

We’re going to look at PageSpeed Insight scores for both desktop and mobile, the core web vitals, and some data from GTMetrix on overall page size.

RUNNING BUDDYBOSS WITH ELEMENTOR:

PageSpeed Insights:

  • Desktop: 84. Mobile: 69.
  • Core Web Vitals On Mobile
Core Web Vitals On Mobile: BEFORE
  • Core Web Vitals For Desktop
Core Web Vitals On Desktop: BEFORE
  • Total Page Size – 851KB. Total Page Requests – 55.
Page Size: BEFORE

So, the page had a lot of code to it. It was pulling down a lot of CSS and quite a bit of fonts (no doubt from Elementor). And it was failing on multiple core web vitals particularly on mobile.

Now, let’s compare to the homepage now…

RUNNING KADENCE THEME

PageSpeed Insights:

  • Desktop: 100. Mobile: 98.
  • Core Web Vitals on Mobile
Core Web Vitals On Mobile: AFTER
  • Core web vitals for Desktop:
Core Web Vitals On Desktop: AFTER
  • Total Page Size: 222KB. Total Page Requests: 26.
Page Size: AFTER

SUMMARY OF RESULTS

The BMA page is mostly the same as it was before. A few minor components were removed, such as a few small product logos. But, overall, the content and design of the homepage has remained mostly unchanged. The primary difference is just that one was built with Elementor on top of the BuddyBoss theme… and now it is built using Gutenberg blocks.

And with that, I am now scoring almost perfectly on PageSpeed Insights. Literally almost scoring a perfect 100 on mobile, which is something I never thought I would ever see with my site.

All of my core web vitals are well within the green. I mean, it isn’t as if it was a marginal improvement that just happened to get into the green range. These are like night-and-day differences.

And the page size dropped by 74%. That’s a 74% reduction in “stuff” that a user’s browser will need to download in order to display my homepage.

Even though it looks almost the same as it did before.

Frankly, I was shocked to see these numbers. I knew it was going to be better, but I had no idea it would be this much better.

So, Are Page Builders Dead?

To be clear…

No. Page builders like Elementor and Thrive Architect will always have their place. They are easier to use and more capable. But…

Page builders bring on bloat. There’s no two ways about it. And you’re relying a lot on the developers of that page builder as well as an army of performance tweaks and caching in order to get your scores up. Or, you have to keep things simple and just not use much of what these page builders can do. The more you drop on the page, the slower things get. And a lot of those fancier features of the page builders take a lot of code to make work.

The BuddyBoss Theme itself is also a rather beefy theme. Don’t get me wrong… it is a great membership site theme. BUT… it is worth it mainly if you are using most of the features of BuddyBoss. If you’re using most of the social features of the platform, then it is worth it. But, in my case, I was only using the forums. I was not using BuddyBoss for most of what it could do, so it was rather pointless for me to be running such a beefy theme.

The alternative here is to use the block editor. To build your entire site with Gutenberg blocks.

Many modern themes are built this way now, such as Astra, GeneratePress and Kadence Theme.

As I’ve said, I chose to use Kadence Theme and Kadence Blocks. I have the PRO versions of both.

Yes, there’s a learning curve. I’m not going to say it feels as intuitive (yet) to build with blocks as it does with Elementor or Thrive. It does take some getting used to. But…

Once you DO get used to it, you’ll find you can do almost anything you want with blocks as you could do with a page builder.

Why’s it so much faster?

It is native WordPress. Blocks is how WordPress works natively now. It is coded to be highly efficient. Whereas a page builder is like an entirely new layer added on top of WordPress.

And the score differences sorta speak for themselves.

Want To Convert Your Own Site To Blocks?

Your results may differ. But, I have little doubt that scores would improve on almost any site that converts from a page builder theme to blocks. I think it is inevitable.

Coming up, I will have more content and videos on the site about using blocks to build sites.

The scope of difficulty of converting a site to blocks can vary quite a bit. But, if you’d like my direct input on the situation for your site, just hit reply on this email and get in touch. Or, you can use the contact form.

I may also be able to help you do the conversion, if that’s something you’d like to look into.

Plus, in some cases, it might not be the best idea. There’s nothing inherently wrong with page builders or BuddyBoss. It’s just a matter of right tool for the right job. Plus, there’s performance tweaks that can be done. So, feel free to get in touch and I can advise on what might be your best move here.