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In a move that’s a clear ‘shots-fired’ towards Wix, Squarespace, and even WordPress-dot-com, Elementor has launched their own cloud-based website hosting service. If you haven’t heard of Elementor, then you must not be watching your YouTube ads, because they are a marketing beast.
Elementor is one of – if not THE – most popular page building frameworks in WordPress. There are plenty of agencies out there that are all-in on Elementor, using it not just to build landing pages, but in place of any theme development at all, controlling headers, footers, template files, and more with the Elementor WYSIWYG. Elementor has become its own ecosystem inside of WordPress, and BuiltWith estimates that Elementor is running on 5% of the top websites. For comparison, we see Divi at just under 2%. All of that to say that Elementor is a major player in the page builder game.
We wrote earlier about how full site editing has the potential to make page builders like Elementor obsolete, so it only makes sense that Elementor is doing everything they can to carve out their own flavor of WordPress. With the previous controversy over their use of ‘full-site-editing’ as a Google Ads keyword, I think it’s clear that Elementor wants to position themselves as a robust alternative to spinning up a vanilla WordPress website.
The biggest fish in the WordPress ecosystem have really been the hosts, like Liquid Web, GoDaddy, and WP Engine, who have acquired major themes and plugins from CoBlocks to LearnDash. By going head to head with the hosting companies, it’s clear that we’re going to see more of these idiosyncratic WordPress variants in the world. The original “custom” flavor of WordPress is certainly WordPress-dot-com, with its unique UI and curated list of plugins and themes. However, these days even WP Engine ships a Genesis-based starter website, Liquid Web offers a managed WooCommerce package, and GoDaddy has a custom onboarding experience with a page builder and theme library.
On the other hand, these hosts also offer the dev toolkits and advanced functionality that attract developers. At this point Elementor Cloud doesn’t even offer basics like a staging site, SFTP, or phpMyAdmin access. It has a long way to go before being as easy to develop multiple sites on as WP Engine or Siteground.
The real differentiator for Elementor will be the user experience, especially for the lynchpins of WordPress – designers and developers who build and manage dozens of sites each year. What’s key to Elementor’s success so far is that they really target a very specific market: professionals who want a low-to-no-code experience. If their cloud hosting solution offers a cheap and easy solution to spinning up low-code WordPress websites, that might make the difference.