The Wordpress Block Editor is the future
Wait a minute, why don’t you guys use and recommend awesome page builders like Elementor to your clients?
The answer is we did and we can’t rule out we may even still do for some clients we work with. However, we’ve experienced some key benefits to working with Wordpress’ native block editor and below we’ll set out why we believe it is the real long term future for Wordpress over more traditional page builder plugins.
We’re not going to lie, we, like many in the Wordpress space were skeptical when the new Wordpress block editor was first launched. At the time we just couldn’t see how it could compete with page builders like Elementor. However that was a while ago now, and since then the core product has now matured and improved on a lot of the initial shortcomings it had. In fact, with recent updates to the Wordpress block editor, or “Gutenberg editor” as it’s still referred to by many, it has been gaining real traction in the last year or so, and even more importantly, so has the plugin eco-system extending it.
That last point is important because whilst the block editor has been receiving some significant udpates of late, right now it is still no page builder out of the box unfortunately. This is where third party block plugins are helping to bridge the gap with some very high quality solutions starting to become available, turning the block editor into a full page building solution, or as close as you can get to one in a native Wordpress sense.
We’ve also recently experienced how the aproach of buidling sites natively (without an extra page builder plugin) can have some real performance benefits too. By using the right combination of theme, third party block plugins and the native Wordpress block editor we have experieced some quite surprising leaps in page speed performance, which we found just wouldn’t be possible using popular page builders such as Elementor or Divi at the time of writing due to the extra bloat they tend to add. This is regardless of the various plugins, caching or server optimsiation settings we have seemingly tried to improve them too.
The page speed problem
With page speed and loading performance becoming a confirmed Google ranking factor and the general quality of site code and structure being put further under a microscope with the introduction of Google’s web core vitals, it’s now more important than ever that websites and Wordpress in particular are as lightweight and clean coded as possible. This is one area where the block editor is really shinning over its popular page builder competition as the code it outputs is surprisingly not too dissimilar from if a developer was hand coding it themself. Page Builders on the other hand are quite the opposite and usually litter the page with extra markup.
Pleasingly the majority of worthy third party block plugins seem to have adopted the same ethos as the core Wordpress blocks and rather than adding feature after feature with endless settings, they too are purposefully creating lighter weight solutions, giving users only what they actually need with blocks that output only the code which is absolutely necessary and which use smart loading of assets etc to keep things on the page as lean as possible for better page loading metrics.
Going native makes it easier for clients too
The other benefit we’ve witnessed is how using the native Wordpress block editor to fully edit a website cuts down confusion for many business owners and their staff. This is because the current leading page builders all use their own separate user interfaces (UIs) for the main page building aspects. Whilst this is good in a lot of ways (in the case of Elementor they do have a good UI in our opinion), the problem remains that most clients will still end up using parts of the Wordpress editor to manage their site overall, which leaves the experience feeling rather fragmented.
A good example of this is creating blog posts where using a page builder is simply overkill and not really advisable as it locks the blog content into the page builder solution, and trust us this can be a real headache if you regularly post articles and ever decide you want to migrate the content back to Wordpress, change builder or heaven forbid move to another site! With a page builder the business is essentially requried to learn two UIs to manage the whole site effectively, and for some less tech savy users this can be just plain confusing when it is not something they do on a regular basis.
With the native Wordpress block editor everything is edited in the same, familiar editor UI space using blocks, granted they might need to learn some additional blocks and settings if we install some third party extensions, but these are usually easily taught and it all happens within the same UI, so overall it is easier for them to retain the information taught because we are not jumping around different looking screens to manage different site parts.
This is also the case when we are creating content types that require extra page meta attached. Our go to tool for adding extra data fields to pages, posts or custom post types in Wordpress is usually the Advanced Custom Fields plugin (ACF). For most sites we usually create at least a few additional field groups in ACF to hold additonal data to show in page templates etc. When using a page builder explaining this to a client was often a bit of a disjointed experience as some of the content might have been edited within the page builder UI, but the ACF fields can only be edited on the Wordpress block editor screen!
On the flip side, when using the native Wordpress block editor to edit the page content the Advanced Custom Fields are sitting there right on the same editor screen making it way more intuitive for the client to find and edit those easily at the same time and minimise any clicking around to jump between editing interfaces.
Future-proofing your investment with blocks
At the end of the day the Wordpress block editor has been a long time in the making and whilst it is still evolving it is now fully part of Wordpress’ core experience. There’s also a lot of clever folks working to move it forward at an increasingly rapid speed. So, we think it is definitely safe to say it is here to stay with the long term future of Wordpress.
Whilst some page builders such as Elementor and Divi are still incredibly popular now, they are separate entities with different objectives and motivations, so nobody knows what will happen in the future in an increasingly saturated page builder marketplace.
That’s why we feel that recommending the Wordpress block editor is the most robust option and best way to future-proof the investment made into your business’ Wordpress website for the long term and mitigate the risk of using separate, fragmented third party systems which may eventually fall out of favour or just get left behind by the future development of Wordpress.
If your business runs a Wordpress site using a page builder and you have problems with page speed/loading performance, or want to ensure your investment in your website is future-proofed as best a possible don’t hesitate to get in touch for advice with no obligations.
Given our own experiences with the performance gains of using the Wordpress block editor and blocks we have also recently launched a dedicated conversion service to convert a page builder based site (Elementor, DIVI etc) over to a block based one. Please use our contact form if you like a FREE consultation.