A few years ago, I talked about how great it would be if there were ways to visually build websites in WordPress. Today, tools like VelocityPage and Headway Themes allow users to visually build pages and even entire websites. As I’ve become accustomed to WordPress, I no longer desire these visual page or site builders.
When I watch a five-minute video showing how easy it is to build a great looking website with a site building tool, all I see is dreadful work resulting in endless bouts of trial and error.
I wanted a visual page and site builder because I thought I could do what web designers do without having to pay them money. In reality, when I use these tools, it’s an endless amount of frustration as I try to figure out how to create something that looks nice. I’m that someone who creates ugly looking sites despite having all the coolest and easy to use tools at my disposal. Because of this, I’ve come to the following conclusion:
Visual site and page builders in WP are great, but without design chops, they just make it really easy to make a website look like crap
— Jeff (@jeffr0) July 1, 2014
While not applicable to everyone, it certainly is a reality check for me. VelocityPage and Headway are great products but if I don’t know how to properly harness their power, it doesn’t matter how useful they are.
In 2009, I questioned whether or not a theme developer could go out of business by releasing a theme that puts all of the creative power in the hands of users. According to the poll results, No was the definite answer and four years later, I’m here to say No as well.
Good web designers have an eye for layouts, design, colors, typography, and making those elements work together as a cohesive unit to produce something beautiful. I don’t have that gift. The only thing visual builders have done for me is make it easy to create ugly looking sites. They’re great products, I just don’t have the skills to leverage their power.
Has anyone else used a visual page or site builder only to be frustrated by the results? How many of you have ditched site builders in favor of working with a designer or locating a theme that has most of want you want out of the box?
Jeff, I fully agree with you on this. When we set out to reinvent ourselves last year, we decided not to get into the page builder market and instead focus on beautifully simple themes that serve a niche well. I think there are some page builder products that work well but they are usually small in scope and don’t offer 90 million ways to tweak styles on just one element. Products like Make Plus and Basis from Theme Foundry seem to hit the mark pretty well when it comes to page layout management.