Should You Use A Page Builder As A Web Developer?

In recent years, page builders such as Elementor and Beaver Builder have exploded in popularity, accumulating as many as 2+ million downloads on WordPress. However, their user base doesn’t only consist of non-technical people looking to create their own website. In fact, more and more developers have begun to use page builders extensively as a tool in their arsenal. And unfortunately, this development hasn’t been met with open arms by other coders in the community, leaving many with a sense of “cheating” whenever they resort to using these tools. 😰 But are they in the right? Should you actually use a page builder as a web developer instead of coding it yourself?

Why some hate it

Page builders get their fair share of hate from developers and not without reason. In web development, convenience always comes at the cost of something. And its main victims? They go by the names of code quality and customisability.

Bloated Code

Woman screaming "I hate it". GIF illustrates web developers hating page builders
Haters be hatin’…

Back in their infancy, page builder were infamously known to create bloated code that would slow your page down. 😫 In order to accommodate your page customisations, page builders often generate copious amounts of code, not always adhering to WordPress coding standards. And you can bet your ass that this will have an impact on the performance of your website. However, while these problems still persist, some page builders have made great strides in mitigating them.

It goes without saying that for the foreseeable future, developers have the upper hand in creating nimble and high-quality code. πŸ‘©β€πŸ’»

Limited Customisability

At first glance, the header might seem like an oxymoron. Limited customisability with a tool that’s supposed to enable customisability? What’s that all about? 🀨 Don’t get me wrong, page builders are great for creating simple yet beautiful websites. However, if you try to build anything more complicated than that, whether it be visual or featurewise, you will quickly realise its limits.

Quite frankly, it can also be quite a headache for developers to work around these limits, especially if he or she discovers it by surprise. While the ability to extend certain page builders with custom functionality does provide some alleviation, it only does so much. Not to mention, building these extensions can give developers the impression they are being trapped into an ecosystem. It also doesn’t help that it’s practically impossible to leave a page builder once you’ve committed to one. If you do, you’ll be greeted with a mess of shortcodes.

Pride

Oh, did I also forget to mention that many are just butt hurt that there’s an easier solution for a portion of a web developer’s tasks? πŸ˜‚ Many developers often have in mind their own set of criteria that define what a web developer is. And to those people, using a “crutch” such as a page builder certainly isn’t one of them.

Meme with a man doing finger quotes when mentioning web developer because they use page builders
Don’t be ashamed!

Why you should love it

Now, I believe you should fully embrace page builders as a tool to build websites and here’s the big reason why: clients don’t care. πŸ™„

Yep, there you go! I said it! When it comes to building websites, the simple reality is that most clients don’t care what tools you use. As long as you deliver on what you promised, what’s the problem? Clients come to you for your expertise and knowledge in a domain in which they have little to none. They honestly couldn’t care less, or more likely wouldn’t even know what the latest and greatest frameworks and tools are. They have a problem and they come to you for a solution.

A great story that illustrates this point goes as follows:

The huge printing presses of a major Chicago newspaper began malfunctioning on the Saturday before Christmas, putting all the revenue for advertising that was to appear in the Sunday paper in jeopardy. None of the technicians could track down the problem. Finally, a frantic call was made to the retired printer who had worked with these presses for over 40 years. β€œWe’ll pay anything; just come in and fix them,” he was told.

When he arrived, he walked around for a few minutes, surveying the presses; then he approached one of the control panels and opened it. He removed a dime from his pocket, turned a screw 1/4 of a turn, and said, β€œThe presses will now work correctly.” After being profusely thanked, he was told to submit a bill for his work.

The bill arrived a few days later, for $10,000.00! Not wanting to pay such a huge amount for so little work, the printer was told to please itemize his charges, with the hope that he would reduce the amount once he had to identify his services. The revised bill arrived: $1.00 for turning the screw; $9,999.00 for knowing which screw to turn.

— Source from Calvin Correli

Lesson of the story? People hire you for your expertise, not for the tools you use! πŸ˜‰

Doing it the “proper” way

So let’s say you do decide to always do it the”proper” way… whatever that may be. As you forgo the option to use page builders in your client’s projects, you will quickly realise two main things: it’s cost prohibitive and time consuming ⏱ . Now, there may be other disadvantages that I haven’t mentioned, but the aforementioned ones are truly the only ones that matter. After all, they affect your bottom line.

Why should you try building a website from scratch that takes 40 hours, if you could do it in half the time using a page builder without compromising quality? That way you can spend more time working on other higher paying projects, while increasing your income πŸ“ˆ in the process.

However, it’s not only worth considering from a developer’s perspective, but from a client’s too. In fact, it’s the reason why page builders were even created in the first place: enabling non-coders to customise their website without having to contact a developer each and every time. This way clients can task you with more challenging and higher paying tasks that are worth your time.


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