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WordPress is one of the most flexible, powerful, and useful Content Management Systems (CMSs) available today. When it comes to building your website with WordPress, you have two main options. The first is to use the built-in block editor, and the second is to use a WordPress page builder.
There are advantages and disadvantages to each option. The best solution will depend on the specific types of features and tools you’re looking for and your experience level. The more you understand how each works, the easier it will be for you to decide which is right for you.
In this post, we’ll start by introducing you to the WordPress block editor and WordPress page builders. Then, we’ll break down six key factors and differences to consider when choosing between them. Let’s jump in!
- An Introduction to the WordPress Block Editor
- An Introduction to WordPress Page Builders
- Block Editor vs. WordPress Page Builders: 6 Key Differences and Factors to Consider
An Introduction to the WordPress Block Editor
The WordPress block editor, also known as Gutenberg, offers a relatively new way to edit content in WordPress. First introduced in 2018 with WordPress 5.0, it is now the default editor of the CMS, with new features being added on a regular basis:
Rather than working with a single large text area as with the Classic Editor, the block editor allows you to break your content up into smaller segments or “blocks.” This makes it easier to rearrange your content, add multimedia elements, and more.
Another advantage of the block editor is that it comes built-in with WordPress Core. This means that as long as you’re using WordPress 5.0 or later, you don’t have to install a third-party plugin to use it.
An Introduction to WordPress Page Builders
A WordPress page builder is a plugin or theme that allows you to create custom pages or posts without having to code. This can be helpful if you want to create a unique layout for your site or if you’re not comfortable coding.
Page builders are drag-and-drop tools that let you easily arrange your layouts, add or edit content, and design professional pages that look and function beautifully. Some popular WordPress page builders include Divi Builder, Visual Composer, and Beaver Builder:
The exact features and functionality that come with page builders will depend on the tool you choose. However, for the most part, you can find a library of commonly used elements, as well as pre-made layouts and templates.
In general, page builders often offer much more flexibility and customization in terms of design and styling options. They’ll typically work with any WordPress theme and let you exercise full control over the look and feel of your pages without touching a line of code.
Still, some users may find it difficult to use a WordPress page builder if they’re not familiar with its User Interface (UI). While most are built for beginners, there may be a bit of a learning curve involved.
Block Editor vs. WordPress Page Builders: 6 Key Differences and Factors to Consider
Now that we’ve covered what the block editor and page builders are let’s dive a bit deeper to explore the key differences and nuances between the two. Below are six important factors to consider when comparing the block editor vs. WordPress page builders.
1. Front-End and Back-End Editing
One of the main differences between the block editor and WordPress page builders is that the former doesn’t offer much in terms of front-end editing. Gutenberg is designed to make the back-end editing experience similar to front-end editing. However, to actually see what the final result will look like for visitors, you still need to click on the Preview button.
Conversely, page builders typically offer a full front-end editing experience. You can build and customize your pages using a live preview interface, so you can see the changes instantly as you’re making them.
2. Drag-and-Drop Functionality
Both the WordPress block editor and page builders come with drag-and-drop functionality. However, the block editor is a bit more limiting. With it, you can only drag and drop blocks in certain areas.
On the other hand, page builders let you use the drag-and-drop functionality anywhere on the page. You can add and rearrange blocks and widgets, as well as adjust the styles, height and width, and more.
3. Themes, Templates, and Layouts
You can use the WordPress block editor to modify your site’s theme. However, to do this, you’ll need to have a WordPress theme that supports full-site editing. There are also block themes that you can use. One of the downsides is that any changes you make to your theme using the block editor will disappear once you change to a different theme.
Additionally, when building posts and pages using the block editor, you’re limited to the layout of your theme. While you can customize the content, the basic layout of the theme (header, footer, sidebar, etc.) will remain the same. You can add custom CSS to make some modifications, but it doesn’t automatically override your theme’s styles and settings.
With WordPress page builders, this is not the case. Many come with ready-made templates that you can use for pre-built inner pages and layouts. Then, you can easily substitute the placeholder content with your own information and media, streamlining the process of building your site:
The premade sections, modules, and templates aren’t constrained to your theme for styling. You’ll have full control over the customization of your page design.
In addition to individual blocks, you can also save entire rows, sections, and templates to use later. Furthermore, you can change your theme without having to worry about it affecting the styling of your pages, including the headers, footers, and sidebars.
4. Blocks and Widgets
The block editor offers a solid set of blocks that can be used for the most common site elements, including options for:
- Images and galleries
- Social icons
While the blocks do come with styling and formatting options, including the ability to add columns, they can be somewhat limited. To add advanced styling and formatting, you would need to add your own custom CSS, which isn’t ideal for those who aren’t familiar with coding.
The block editor also lets you save and reuse unique blocks for future use and create block patterns, which are helpful if you want to implement them on other sites. It also includes an Application Programming Interface (API) that developers can use to build their own custom blocks.
While the block editor offers a ton of blocks, page builders typically come with many more options. Usually, this includes more elaborate blocks such as those for:
- Countdown timers
- Call To Action (CTA)
- Pricing tables
- And much more
Page builders also typically give you more block customization features:
For example, you can adjust the sizing and height, change the background colors, add gradients, etc. You can also add shadows, effects, and even your own CSS.
5. Usability and Performance
The block editor is designed to be more user-friendly and intuitive than the traditional WordPress editor, and it offers more control over the layout and design of your content. It can be used by both beginner and experienced WordPress users.
The block editor is also faster and more lightweight than most page builders, which means it won’t slow down your site. On the contrary, using a page builder involves installing a third-party plugin.
This means you’ll want to take compatibility into account. You’ll need to make sure the page builder you use is supported by your current version of WordPress and works well with the other plugins installed on your site. To avoid any security issues, it’s also essential to ensure your page builder is developed using clean code and that it’s actively maintained and updated.
It’s also important to keep in mind that you might not need all of the tools and features that come with a certain page builder. If that’s the case, you may be adding unnecessary files, scripts, and code to your site. This may slow down the performance of your site much more than the standard block editor would.
6. Website Goals and Budget
Both the block editor and WordPress page builders are meant to make creating and editing website content easier. The block editor is intended for everyone, from bloggers to businesses.
However, WordPress page builders come with a wide variety of pre-built widgets, blocks, and templates that can be more oriented to specific goals:
For instance, you can find pre-made elements and layouts designed to increase conversions and generate leads. Therefore, they can be ideal for e-commerce sites, businesses, agencies, and much more. Furthermore, page builders can be an excellent choice if you plan to create a lot of landing pages, lead capture forms, etc.
Finally, it’s also important to consider your budget. As you might have guessed, the built-in WordPress block editor is free to use.
On the other hand, there are different page builder options to choose from, and not all offer the same functionality or features. While there are free versions available, most page builders require a premium plan or subscription to unlock the total suite of features. That said, the price is often well worth the investment when you consider all of the tools that you get.
The block editor and WordPress page builders are both excellent tools for developing and designing a website. However, there are some key differences between the two that you should be aware of before choosing one for your project.
Ultimately, the best option will depend on your needs and preferences. If you want to create custom pages or posts without coding, or you need more layout options than the block editor offers, then a WordPress page builder may be a good option for you. However, if you’re comfortable coding or you want to stick within native WordPress functionality, then you may opt for the block editor.
Thanks for reading this guide on using the block editor VS a WordPress page builder. Please share it with someone else if it helped you out today.