WordPress Page Builders vs. Gutenberg | Times are a changing

For a long time, WordPress has had the Classic page editor and several page builder options like Elementor, WP Bakery, Beaver Builder, and Divi. In 2018 came the Gutenberg block editor with the potential to transform the world of WordPress page editing.

Today, Gutenberg is the default block editor in WordPress and is part of WordPress core. Therefore, there are definite advantages in working with Gutenberg, not the least of which is improved page performance. Indeed, one would imagine that a fully developed Gutenberg editor could potentially reduce the demand for other page builder plugins!

Gutenberg: The Block Editor

Being part of WordPress itself, Gutenberg has several pluses to its credit.

Native Integration:
Integrated into WordPress core, Gutenberg updates automatically with WordPress, raising compatibility and security. It is more lightweight and faster and therefore promises to significantly lift page speeds.

User-Friendly Interface:
Gutenberg’s clean interface provides added flexibility to add new content types through blocks. With a growing library of blocks for various content types like text, images, galleries, and embeds, Gutenberg provides a consistent editing experience across different WordPress sites, themes, and plugins. However, it is another matter that not all themes and plugins are truly Gutenberg friendly!

Custom blocks:
Plugins like Spectra add additional custom blocks to the basic Gutenberg library, making it easier to design websites with Gutenberg. Though, I have noticed some issues in working with Spectra like difficulty in editing some blocks, delays in changes becoming visible on the front end, and a more challenging responsiveness editor compared with a plugin like Elementor.

There are always the cons to any solution!

Limited Advanced Features:
While improving, Gutenberg still lacks some advanced design and customization features available in dedicated page builders like Elementor. There are fewer pre-designed block templates and design options compared to page builders. Though, plugins like Spectra are trying to address this very gap!

Learning Curve:
Users accustomed to traditional page builders could find Gutenberg’s interface and workflow different and less intuitive. It does take some getting used to. Speaking of responsiveness editing, one will miss the functionality that a plugin like Elementor delivers in its free version itself.

Plugin Dependency:
To match the features of page builders, additional plugins like Kadence, Spectra, and GutenKit are required, which means more plugins to manage and greater the chance of compatibility issues.

Traditional Page Builders

Regular page editors have opened the wonders of WordPress to the non-coder community and their pluses cannot be understated.

Advanced Design Options:
Page builders like Elementor offer many customization options that allow for intricate and unique designs. Intuitive interfaces make it relatively easy to build complex layouts without much coding. But custom CSS is usually necessary. Plugins like Elementor also seem to add additional HTML tags to custom HTML elements making the custom HTML editing experience more challenging.

Rich Features:
Page builders come with a wide variety of built-in widgets and modules for adding elements like sliders, carousels, forms, and advanced galleries. Plus, there are several complementary plugins that bring in additional functionality. Sliders are a good example. There are several advanced slider plugins that play nice with page builders. Building advanced sliders seems much harder with Gutenberg and even after you add in Spectra.

Then, there are the cons.

Performance Impact:
Page builders can slow down page performance if not optimized properly. They may generate more complex and bloated code compared to Gutenberg, impacting site speed and SEO.

Compatibility Issues:
Some page builders may not work seamlessly with all themes, leading to display and functionality issues. Then there is the lock-in effect! Moving away from a page builder can be challenging when the page was created with plugin specific features. It may require redoing the site. Though, that may be true with a plugin like Spectra as well. For a truly open website editing platform, Gutenberg may be the best option.


As a lightweight, integrated solution with a growing set of features, Gutenberg seems exciting and holds a lot of promise. But for advanced design capabilities and customization options, page builders may be the way to go for now. But one would expect the scales to start to tip the other way when WordPress packs Gutenberg with more punch.

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