Avoiding Elementor

There is nothing functionally wrong with Elementor, it's more of a philosophical issue that I have with it.

Elementor is an add-on for Wordpress which allows users to build their websites using drag and drop functionality. It removes the need for coding knowledge and puts a vast array of layout options at the users fingertips.

Elementor is powerful and easy to use. It also utilises a business model that I am rather fond of, a freemium version (powerful if limited with zero cost) and a paid for version with an expansive host of plugins.

Given it's many good points, what is the problem? Or should that be what are the problems, because there are two, one for each hemisphere of my brain.

The problem with the promise of simplicity at the front end is that it requires a whole nest of complexity at the back. Elementor can produce stunning webpages, however the code that lies behind them is a vile morass of divs within divs and a chronic overload of CSS classes. It's horrible and it produces slow, unwieldy websites.

Elementor advocates will tell you otherwise, but even they have to admit that a site created in Gutenburg will run far faster than a similar looking site using Elementor.

The other problem is the sheer power of Elementor. Gutenburg by comparison gives the user far less room to maneuver in terms of layout and design. On the surface this sounds like Elementor is the better choice but in reality it is the opposite.

The bad news for most Elementor users is that access to design tools do not make you a designer. In the same way that access to a tennis rqwcquet will not turn you into Rafa Nadal.

The grim reality is that letting someone loose on a website without a proper understanding of the fundamentals of graphic design (which are a lot harder to internalise than most people realise) leads to some very bad places. The whole point of good graphic design is to communicate. An amateur armed with Elementor will only serve to obscure your message.

Even if you do get a grasp of the basics, there is no guarantee that you possess the innate talent to convert that knowledge into decent web design and layouts. In the same way that I can't dance, the hard truth is that some people cannot design and never will be able to.

But that's not the promise of Elementor. The reasoning goes that if you have the tools, somehow the talent really doesn't matter. This is wrong on every level.

So despite the promise of great code and beautiful layouts, what you actually get is bloated structure and visual crimes against good taste and communication.

So what about Gutenburg?

Gutenburg is a halfway house between the original Wordpress editor and powerhouses like Elementor. It lays out pages using simple blocks which represent the page elements, and for that reason is much closer to a page builder than the simple blog editor which it replaced.

Each block represents a structural html element like a heading, list or table. There are a limited range of drag and drop options for both the blocks themselves and for their relationship to each other.

Gutenburg is far more intuitive than it's predecessor but compare to afully fledged page editor it;s like cycxling with training wheels.

For content creators and desingers alike, this is a good thing. It allows for the creation of solid code while preventing the creators from beyttraying good design practices because they simply have less opportunity to do so.

If I sound like a design snob here it is because I am. Gutenburg pushes it's user - via its own limitations - towards creating simple, more elegant pages which load quicker and translate well between devices.

What's not to like?