When to use a page builder as a WordPress Developer

To be completely honest, this was not a question I knew how to answer before I started freelancing. In my mind I basically thought “page builders are for people who don’t know how to code.”

au contraire!

There are many many reasons why someone would use a page-builder, but my main mission today is to show you that page builders can often be the right tool for the job. WordPress page builders have gotten much better and people build awesome websites, e-stores and membership sites with them every day.

Let me ask you this: Can a website built with a page builder be successful? The answer is ABSOLUTELY. With tools like Divi, my personal favorite, and Elementor, people build beautiful websites, often designed by professionals. There are successful e-commerce stores, blogs and membership sites built with WP page builders that get thousands of monthly views. These days, you can quickly build almost any design and very easily make it mobile responsive with a page builder.

This is the point I’m trying to get across:

Divi is a tool.
Elementor is a tool.
Beaver Builder is a tool.
People pay thousands of dollars to have their WordPress websites built and maintained with page builders.

WordPress page-builders are tools

I also need to mention that it’s always very important to understand the client’s needs before starting a project.

Great, now we can move on to some reasons why you might want to reach for a page builder for that next client project.

Main Reasons: Speed of Development and Budget

Image the following scenario: you’re a well-paid, freelance WordPress developer and a potential client contacts you about building their website for them. They have a domain name, hosting, some content, a logo and a vague idea of what designs they like. The website will be mostly informational and will have between 5 and 10 pages. The client wants to be able to blog in the future as well.

Their budget: $500 USD.

To a new freelancer, $500 might sound like a lot – but let’s think about that for a second. You’re a well-paid freelancer. You need to make at least $40 an hour (as a modest example), which leaves you 12.5 hours to complete the project if it’s going to be profitable.

This client considered letting their teenage brother build the site, but they’ve got $500 to work with, and you’re the expert. Will you build it?

Believe me 12.5 hours isn’t much time to build a website. Even to set one up. Here’s where you might reach for a page builder. If you’re familiar with a page builder already, and you’re good at managing clients and scope-creep, you could definitely make a profit on this project.

You might just find an awesome premade template that saves you a TON of time.

And remember, the end product is still a good website that the client is very happy with. They can probably even figure out how to edit everything themselves once the site is built. The site will be completely responsive, look great and give the client the online presence they’ve been lacking. Not only that, page builders like Divi and Elementor work super well with WooCommerce and popular membership sites if the project ended up growing a lot.

Scenario #2: the client has $1500, but they need the website up and running in 72 hours!

Even if the client has all the content ready, a 6-page PSD design and the hosting set up, 72 hours is a quick turnaround. No problem! You’re good with a page builder. You can probably even build the website in three days without stressing yourself out in the process.

A few of the MANY premade layouts that come with Divi.

Next Reason: The client will be doing a lot themselves

Don’t get me wrong , a custom theme with Gutenberg can be very flexible these days.

But sometimes clients want FULL CONTROL. They don’t care to learn about [normal] page templates. They don’t want to follow a design system. They want full control to mess up the design you so carefully built them.

Ha, but seriously, sometimes this is an awesome option. Something like Divi or Elementor would allow an artist or designer to easily manage a very successful blog, membership site and e-store, especially if a WordPress developer set it up properly for them.

Again, these are tools that can help your clients make money.

Last Reason: Sites built with page builders are easy to hand off

You can probably teach your client how to do a lot with their website on their own. But if not…

  1. The best page builders are very well documented.
  2. There are literally thousands of free tutorials on how to use WP page builders
  3. A client’s not going to have any trouble finding another freelancer who can help them with their site.
  4. Page builders have regular updates, and with a valid license your client’s site will stay modern and secure into the future.

Main Reason NOT to use a WordPress page builder: Site Speed

Especially with quality hosting, a page-builder site can still get good speed scores IF the person who built it knows what they’re doing. Page builders get a bad reputation because people who don’t know much about the web build them, add tons of unnecessary plugins and upload huge images. That said, a site built with Elementor will always be slower than the same website with a custom-coded or lightweight theme. Page builders give you a lot of flexibility, but that means you will probably be loading styles and scripts you wouldn’t otherwise need.

If speed is important to your client and they have the budget, you’d probably want to consider something more custom.

This was a bit of a long-winded post, but if you’re looking to freelance or get a job with a WP agency, don’t hate on page builders. I was a hater for years…until I started making good money taking freelance gigs that used popular WordPress builders. They’re a tool that can be used professionally as they are tested, responsive and allow you to build websites quickly. What are your thoughts? Do you use WordPress page builders.

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