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The Hidden Costs of Page Builders

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How Drag-and-Drop Page Builders Can Cost You Leads

After celebrating its 17th birthday just a few weeks ago, WordPress is now the most popular content management system (CMS) on the Internet. In that time, it’s become a lot more than “just a blog”. It’s one of the most simple, powerful, and popular CMSes on the market.

Behind some of that momentum are drag-and-drop page builders. They’re intended to make it really easy for anyone to build an entire WordPress website without knowing any code at all. You can customize each page of your site with layouts, content, images, and other features.

What’s not to love about that? As a WordPress developer with 10 years of experience, I wanted to share some of my experience with these page builders. Oozle Media uses a proprietary page-builder on our websites, and I’d like to explain why.

Most Page Builders Are Deceptively Complicated

Most of these page builders are sold under the promise that “anyone” can use them. I’ve seen clients get frustrated time and time again trying to do simple things. The simplest plugins come with premade options to get you started. But what if you want something a little different? Even small changes to a layout can be difficult.

The truth is that even seasoned developers can have trouble using some page builders. You might find someone who’s familiar with it, and that’s really convenient. But if they’re not familiar with it, or if you’re trying to make changes yourself, it can be a real struggle. There’s a reason clients (and our own marketing team) love our sites. They’re more intuitive and easier to learn.

You’ll Need to Pay for Updates (or Pay for Fixes)

Many of these page builders, even those “included” with your website, will require annual payments to maintain them. Usually it’s a pretty low fee, around $45 – $100 a year for the license. We often see clients let that license lapse. They don’t realize the potential harm. After all, the plugin continues to function; it just can’t be updated.

Failing to update your plugins can result in accidentally leaving security vulnerabilities on your site. In fact, there was one in May 2020 that compromised more than a million sites. There were also recent security issues with Elementor, Beaver Builder, Visual Composer and WPBakery, Divi, and “Ultimate Addons”. It’s just part of how complex these plugins are. Tons of included scripts and code libraries mean lots of places that something can go wrong.

Hooded Hacker with Code

Hoodie not required – malware can still take advantage of unpatched issues.

To be completely fair, many plugins will have the potential for a security flaw. The difference is that usually you can update the plugin to a secure version for free, and without fear of breaking your site with the latest version. Which brings me to the next problem…

They Can Break Your Site

Person Crawling Into Computer with 500 Internal Server Error

As a web developer, I can confirm that this is how we fix broken websites.

This is one of the bigger frustrations for me, a developer who wants nothing more than to help my clients. The problems can range from not looking ideal to being completely unusable. It just depends on how out-of-date the plugin is, or if you have other compatibility issues.

A lot of premium themes are built to use very specific page builders. They often have customized code in the theme to add extra functionality. If you let your license lapse for the theme and the page builder plugin, or if you simply forget to keep them updated, you might find yourself with serious issues when you finally do update. Content can be lost, the plugin stops working, your site looks completely different, or it breaks entirely and has to be reverted.

When it comes to marketing sites, any downtime could be lost leads. It’s a thing we take very seriously at Oozle Media.

They Slow Down Your Site

Just about all page builders use a lot of scripts and code to achieve your design. That can be a serious problem when it comes to site speed. What takes Oozle Media’s websites 4 lines of code will take a page builder 3-5x that amount. It adds up over the course of a website.

In addition to that, page builders usually include a lot of files – styles, scripts, and images – that may not even be used on the page. Some page builders go so far as to include every single Google Font possible, on the off chance that you’ve decided to use one of them on your site.

Tiny people bouncing off a computer that says "Bounce Rate"

You can lose a significant amount of traffic to a slow website.

There’s also a lot happening in the background that you, as a user, won’t be aware of. These page builders make a lot of requests to the site’s database. It’s easiest to visualize if you picture calling internet tech support, but everything you ask is a surprise to them. You think you just have one problem, but tech support puts you on hold for 2 minutes every step of the way, while they run to someone else and ask them.

If you can imagine waiting for all those questions to be answered one by one, you can see the problem. WordPress is trying to build a page and must ask the database for information. In reality, you’re only “on hold” for a few milliseconds. But the difference between 150 requests and 350 requests can be 2 seconds or more of load time – more if you have bad hosting. Can you afford that? Some estimates are that you’ll lose 40% of users if it doesn’t load within 3 seconds.

The Kicker – They’re Not Optimized For Leads

We could probably argue in the development community for years about the above issues, but here’s the real problem with page builders: they are not built to get you leads. They just aren’t designed for that. They’re used to make your site content look attractive, not useful.

Oozle Media realized many years ago that building pretty sites didn’t always mean more conversions. We started doing a lot of research to learn why this was true. We’ve shared our findings in the past (and highly recommend you read more about this!).

Thanks to all this homework, we created and refined our Proven Layouts website product. We’re now proud to say that our websites convert visitors to actual leads better than nearly any competitor on the market. We simply know what our clients need, and we’ve got the data to prove it.

Get Help

If you’re frustrated with your website, or you just want to start seeing the kind of results that we can provide, give us a call or fill out the form below. We can share some of the incredible results we’ve seen over the years and help you make the decision that’s right for your business.

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Cheryl Montgomery Jun 16 2020
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