Guest Essay

The Elementor vs. Gutenberg Challenge

elmentor versus Gutenberg video screenshot

Which builder is best for inexperienced users?

This is a guest post from Ben, co-founder and former editor of MasterWP.

This is a fun video – speaking personally it’s the sort of testing I don’t do enough of, and I imagine that’s the same for many others. Watching people use your product can be so revealing.

In this case it’s Jamie Marsland challenging his daughters to recreate one page of a website; one of them using Gutenberg, and the other using Elementor. Neither daughter has experience with WordPress and they’re given no guidance on how to do it.

Given these limitations the results are surprisingly good. One of the finished pages clearly looks better than the other, and the votes in the comments show that everyone agrees. But considering the lack of experience I think both pages would be considered reasonable output from a self built website by a non designer.

Personally, if I were attempting this challenge I would use Gutenberg. Over my time writing this newsletter I don’t think I’ve hidden my discomfort with page builders. I have tried using them a few times and always struggled to create anything attractive. I know it’s possible to make nice things, I’ve seen some great examples, but the sheer volume of features means that they take a lot of time to learn.

I found the comments on the video interesting, there were a lot of people who felt that Elementor was easy – either because of experience, or because that’s what they had been told – so they were surprised to see how hard it was for a new person to use.

Gutenberg wasn’t found to be straightforward either, but the much simpler, more consistent, interface meant that it appeared to be learnt more quickly.

I think the benefits of the Gutenberg process are two-fold. Firstly the design system based styles means that a consistent website can be easily created by using the default styles – so there’s less to set up.

Secondly the philosophy of decisions not options. I actually feel that Gutenberg could make more decisions for users, but compared to Elementor it does a lot behind the scenes to make the process of building a page nice and quick.

The block editor is getting more complex with every release – and the addition of the site editor adds even more to learn but the consistent interface means you have a head start.

When the block editor was first launched I was concerned that we would end up with a lot of “samey” sites and that’s still a bit of a concern, but I am now more confident in the direction of the block editor and the future of WordPress. – Ben.

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Ben Gillbanks is a co-founder of MasterWP and co-founded the leading WordPress theme shop Pro Theme Design.

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