Using a drag-and-drop WordPress theme? What you need to know before buying one
Some say drag-and-drop themes are revolutionary and will help a lot of WordPress users with their easy-to-use interface. In the same time, there are lots of people who think the opposite. They say that page builders can’t bring the same quality and functionality as a ready-made WordPress theme can.
In this article, we will try to put on the table the best and the worst a drag-and-drop theme has to offer. Is it a good idea to use one? Let’s find out.
What is a drag-and-drop theme?
A drag-and-drop theme is a beginner’s helpful tool because it comes with very simple customization options, like WYSIWYG – What You See Is What You Get. It means that you take one of these themes and start playing with it until you finally have something for your taste.
The best thing with drag-and-drop themes – at least in beginners’ opinion – is that you don’t need to know a single line of code because any change can be done right from the front-end. You don’t need to get stuck with plugins, tools, HTML, CSS, setup processes, and so on.
It’s like you are given a blank canvas and you’re starting to make your own design and layout by just adding things here and there in just two or three clicks. Sounds pretty cool at first sight, doesn’t it?
But to what extent is this a good thing? Let’s put in balance what using a WordPress page builder brings good and what it brings bad.
What’s great in working with page builders?
- Create website pages fast and with minimum of effort. As I said above, you have a blank page and start to add, drag, drop, and arrange things on it. It’s really simple and fast. If you have ever used PowerPoint, then it’s that simple. No kiddin’.
- You don’t need to know code… at all. Development and stuff are not your business. Make a site without headaches.
- They let you use code though, if you know the basics. So you somehow have the freedom to combine front-end editing and coding if you feel like it.
- Independent layouts and components. Drag-and-drop themes let you create and customize your own layouts that work independently. So, if you switch them constantly nothing bad will happen.
I know, this is what you were looking for so long.
Things are not as optimistic as seen from the outside
On the front-end it’s all well and good, but do you know what happens in the back-end? Well, let me clarify this for you: the scenario doesn’t look very promising. Here’s why.
- Difficult maintenance. Page builders use their own shortcodes and structure. Big amounts of shortcodes, to be more specific. Which means that the pages are difficult to maintain. Sometimes, if you make a minor mistake while editing can make the page unavailable.
- Lost content when migrating. Being so “addicted” to shortcodes, you won’t be happy when you’ll need to migrate to another page builder or HTML content. Why so? Because if you deactivate all your theme’s options, your content will be long gone together with the theme. Each element’s shortcode will disappear. So be careful about investing too much work into a visual composer because you won’t be able to “transfer” it to another theme.
- Bad speed. Every functionality – widgets, columns, rows, or containers – comes with shortcodes, which makes the theme heavyweight. Let alone the complexity of a page builder. This thing can turn into performance issues and slower pages. I know you’re not good at coding as long as you’re interested in drag-and-drop builders, but believe me, the source code of a theme like this is killer. It won’t be very friendly to your site’s speed.
- “Meh” design. Let’s keep this between you and me… the final version of a site built with a visual composer won’t look very professional. The output looks somehow amateurish and childish. And even if they look okay, you won’t ever be more than “meh” after seeing such pages.
So, to use or not to use a drag-and-drop theme?
It depends. I’d say you should use a drag-and-drop theme only if you have a small business or if you hate code and dealing with developers that much that you can’t just get over it. Seriously now, a drag-and-drop theme is fine for a basic site that doesn’t need too much content, too many visuals, or serious marketing strategies.
Otherwise, for a complex and truly professional purpose, I’d advise you to take a WordPress theme that mostly puts everything at your disposal. You might need to learn a few things to customize it, but nobody died trying. You should seriously put things in balance before making the final decision.
Drag-and-drop themes are simple and fast and allow anyone to make website pages. But the output won’t be as exciting as the customization itself.
So make sure what you need most – fast work and mediocre results or hard work and an exceptional output?
Adelina Tuca is a writer and WordPress blogger at CodeinWP. She also creates content for JustFreeThemes website. She loves sports, hiking, books, rock concerts and puts down the paper everything she finds challenging and unique.