From the April 6th Meetup on Elementor Changes there were some interesting observations about Elementor and the WordPress PageBuilder/ThemeBuilder market. First, attendees were split equally between using Elementor, Beaver Builder and the Classic Editor as their goto post and page editor. Second, choices of Gutenberg Block Editor, SiteOrigin Pageuilder and Thrive architect indicated diverse commitments to tools for WordPress Editing
Second, the group was unaware that with 10 million active websites, Elementor lead all the major PageBuilders & ThemeBuilders including Gutenberg Block Editor by a wide margin in active website usage. Despite the lead, Elementor has been adopting a risky strategy to defend its current market dominating position.
Specifically the sweeping move to FlexBox replacing mainstay section and column widgets with Flex containers forces major changes both for users and 3rd party add-on suppliers. Yes, the old Elementor code has been preserved as completely backward compatible. So Elementor offers a Convert button option if users want to make the upgrade to their existing sections and pages. But all new code in the Elementor release slated for April/May will require use of Flex containers with no support for the old sections and columns.
|Final Paint Time
|Same Page with Flex
|Same Page Gutenberg
However, this improved speed will be needed as seen in the Elementor Cloud Website offering. To this users’ surprise, Elementor Cloud has disappointing runtime performance as delineated here. Why Elementor would have its developer’s website deliver such tawdry performance is a marketing mystery.
Elementor’s Defensive Posture
Elementor, despite its marketing leading usage on active websites and its lead in Design and Styling features among PageBuilders – has taken some clearly defensive steps. The Elementor Cloud Website offering right now appears to be a misfire. Yes it provides some protection against against Godaddy, Kinsta, WPEngine and other hosting providers who are steering customers to their newly acquired theme, plugins and PageBuilder alliances. Elementor Cloud provides a secure, CDN enabled, and comfortable workspace as countermeasure.
But by creating a list of 37 banned plugin and tools Elementor stands to irritate customers and software vendors and thereby losing support in a very competitive market. Fortunately, Elementor has strengthened its lead in the Templates Battle with improvements to the ThemeBuilder interface,
Templates are important to all the PageBuilder vendors for 3 reasons:
- For new users to WordPress, finding a page template that meets their design and business needs can lead to adoption of the wider development toolset;
- Templates allow users a fast way to try out & get comfortable with new design options as well as development directions being offered by PageBuilder /ThemeBuilder vendors. Hence there are now more Template+ThemeBuilder playgrounds which provide wireframe system models, dynamic content, responsive styling and custom field/post types as free testing grounds;
- Wireframe Template Kits are a fast mechanism for delivering complete look and feel proposals to clients;
Even more important, templates play to the strength of the top PageBuilders – their ability to quickly change the layout or style on proposed blocks, pages or overall website design is their winning strength. This ability to quickly customize is more important as the Customizer gets overshadowed by FSE and Block Themes as they take over more Theme tasks. So Elementor is not the only ThemeBuilder offering expanded web customizing tools like Site Settings or expanded template import/export features.
From its start Elementor has excelled because of a)the bargain that is is the free PageBuilder combined with the army of 3rd party add-ons ; b)early development of cross-domain templates and ThemeBuilding features, and c)the many innovation in widgets and styling tools often pioneered in 3rd party add-ons. Is this mutually beneficial synergy between Elementor and its third party add-on vendors under stress? Certainly with the sweeping changes in Flexbox required of 3rdparty vendors to go forward. But the list of 37 banned plugins and tools from Elementor Cloud smacks of the same injuries that Automattic has inflicted on WordPress ecosystem with restrictions on the Classic Editor, potential shorting of shortcodes, jQuery limits, dropping classic widget editing, the Customizer, and the Core Theme model as Gutenberg, FSE and Block Themes expand in the Core.
In this regard, Elementor Management has to be aware of the MVP-Minimum Viable Product disaster that was the introduction of the Gutenberg Editor – it targeted replacing the Classic TinyMCE-powered Editor while ignoring PageBuilders advantage in very rich design and styling options available to every PageBuilder component plus the rapid templating and ThemeBuilding advances being rapidly introduced by Elementor and others.
Because of its awkward intro,[Gutenberg became a a full fledged PageBuilder with WordPress 5.7 Esperanza in March 2021 a full 2 years after Gutenberg’s launch in WordPress 5.0 Bebo on Dec 6th 2018], users still rate Gutenberg 2.0/5 in WordPress plugin ratings. Can Elementor’s Flexbox and Cloud Hosting avoid consequences with its rapid change? Stay tuned for an early verdict this summer.
Most of the material for this review came from the April 6th Toronto Meetup – WordPress Trends: Elementor Changes. So its Powerpoint slides provide a good summary of the review. These are also slides for the Meetup attendees to download: