August 29, 2022 | Web Design
WordPress visual page builders have been around for a long time. They were introduced because of the limitations of older versions of the WordPress editor.
Since WordPress was initially created as a blogging platform, the Classic Editor in WordPress was built for basic content like text and images. This limited the types of layouts someone could easily create unless they knew HTML.
What are WordPress visual editors?
Visual editors or page builders allow you to create complex formats on a WordPress page more quickly. You can add columns or design different page sections in different sizes or styles.
Competitors like SquareSpace and Wix made it easy for users to have more complex layouts on their platforms. Page builders came to WordPress as a response.
Some of the more widely known WordPress visual editors are Divi Builder, WP Bakery, Elementor, and Visual Composer.
These editor tools were great for a DIYer who wanted to be able to build and customize their site themselves but didn’t have coding and development skills.
Now you are stuck with it…forever
The problem with these editors arises when you want to stop using them. It isn’t easy to unshackle your site from them once you use them.
Visual page builders write code injected into the page to create these slick layouts. This code gets embedded and mixed up directly with your text and images.
Trying to revert to either the Classic editor or the newer, more visual Gutenberg block editor will leave you with a pile of HTML code and inline styles that will display as part of your content should you ever decide to stop using the editor. Once you’ve used the page builder on a page, you can’t revert to the native WordPress editor.
This problem typically arises when someone is ready to redesign their site and wants to switch to a new theme or have us create a custom WordPress theme.
Mixing up code and content
The idea behind WordPress themes is that you should be able to swap between them pretty quickly. Ideally, your content stays the same, and you only change your layout and styles.
But with inline styles, as described above, the styling code gets embedded into the content.
An easy theme upgrade becomes impossible once you start using a page builder.
Visual editors also slow down your site
Page builders are also notoriously slow. Many of the code’s customizations for fonts, colors, etc., are ‘inlined.’ This creates site code that’s large and bloated, which will reduce load times.
Also, many of these editors can do everything a website could ever need to do. Most are adding code for lots of functions your site may never use.
All this extra code and functionality will slow down your site and affect your site speed score with Google.
You probably don’t need a visual editor anymore
WordPress introduced the Gutenburg block editor in 2018, making creating complex layouts much more accessible. The blocks are a more visual approach to page layout and are now part of the core WordPress tool.
The block editor continuously evolves, and new features are added with every release. At this point, site creators can use the block editor in conjunction with plugins to create complex page layouts that rival page builders without the added bloat of poor code. This also allows for more flexibility when you update your theme.
How to move forward if you’re using a page builder tool
If you’re ready to move away from a page-building editor, be prepared for some hard work. There is no silver bullet for removing the leftover code and shortcodes left in place by these builders when you are ready to stop using them.
A few plugins can help strip out the code based on which builder you’ve used. Unfortunately, they are typically not 100% accurate.
Manual code cleanup
Expect to review and clean up every page on your site when you move away from a visual editing tool. You may be manually removing code or copying-and-pasting content to a new editor.
Sometimes a “nuke it” approach is the best way to unchain your site from these editors.
It can be an opportunity to thoroughly audit a site and decide what needs to stay and what needs to be updated. Then, you can create a new site with updated content.
Ready to get rid of your page builder?
Visible Logic has helped many clients transition away from the page builder they are stuck with. We can start by auditing your current site and help you decide if we’ll transfer content or start fresh.
In addition to the design, we’ll help organize and write new copies. We’ll then create a custom WordPress theme built for your specific needs. And we have a thorough project management approach to manage the transition.