Divi theme: is the Divi builder the best for your website project?
The “WordPress page building tools” is a pretty busy market.
Each couple of month, a fully functional and promising page builder sees the lights, making things even more complicated to pick one.
The Era when the former Visual Composer (rebranded WPBakery Page Builder) ruled as king is done.
One thing is sure, though:
There is no ultimate builder out there you can use for any WordPress project you have in your hands.
The sooner you realize that the better.
Don’t get me wrong. There are a couple of versatile page builders, like the aforementioned WPBakery Page Builder, that can be used in a lot of scenarios, including complex ones.
But ultimately, we kinda need to pick the right tool for the right task.
I’m here today to share with you some thoughts about the Divi theme/page builder and leave you with some use-cases perfect for that particular page builder.
The best way to justify when to use Divi is to dig a bit deeper into its strengths and weaknesses.
We’ll get to that after answering some general questions about Divi.
What the heck is Divi?
Divi is the flagship product of ElegantThemes, one of the oldest WordPress themes and plugins authors in the industry.
Divi has two variants:
- The Divi theme. It’s a fully functional WordPress theme (currently on version 3.17.2)
- and the Divi plugin or Divi page builder. It’s a plugin that can be used with any theme of your choosing (currently on version 2.17.2)
What’s the difference between the theme and the plugin?
Let’s start with the similarities.
Both the theme and the plugin will allow you to use the page builder and the frontend live editor to build your WordPress page.
That particular functionality, Divi’s Live Editor, gives the exact same user experience and produces the same outcome.
The main difference is that the Divi theme gives you more control over the Divi experience.
You get access to two advanced customization tools to control the general look for the modules site-wide and some theme settings.
You can check out the following video to learn more about how the Divi builder works and how the modules and theme optimization tools operate.
Is the Divi theme and/or page builder plugin free?
You need to pay a yearly $89 or a one-time payment (lifetime) $249 to get access to Divi.
ElegantTheme is a membership-driven marketplace. So, you don’t only get access to Divi when getting a membership, but you also get access to all their themes and plugins.
For a limited time, you can:
Pros compared to other page builders
Divi has the best live editor in the industry
For me, this alone was a decision-making feature to get an ElegantThemes lifetime license.
Divi sports what I personally consider as the best live builder/editor in industry.
It’s simply a delight to use.
I’ve tried every single builder and I never found something comparable in terms of:
- The overall look & feel,
- The elements experience (how you handle and preview modules),
- The easiness to change things on the fly without having to go back to the backend (like we do when using the WPBakery page builder),
- How you can switch to the structure mode (wireframe view) without leaving the live editor,
- The way you can edit CSS if needed within the live editor’s premise too.
The Divi builder gives more control over the layout without losing a second in the page-building process.
The extensive layouts library provided
Divi provides 82 layout packs and growing that can be imported and used right away.
That’s 600+ layouts already designed and structured and ready for production if you want to speed up the page creation process.
You can literally build a website in less than an hour if you have your content ready.
Check out the following video to learn more about how the layouts library works.
And it doesn’t stop there! Divi 3 introduced a couple of new features that make things even more interesting:
- We have now a documented editing history tool to store “actions” and allowing users to go back to specific edits with one click,
- If the Internet access goes down for some reason, the page’s edits are stored on the browser’s cache and pushed once the Internet access is restored (this is gold).
I also extensively use a couple of additional tools that I found really well thought and functional in my own page-building process, such as:
- The ability to build a library of layouts to use when needed,
- And the ability to export any layout and use it on a different Divi-driven website (this is gold).
I’ll end my praises about Divi with their unique “split test” feature, branded Divi Leads, that allows you to run split test within the same page without having to fully redo the whole page! (this is gold).
New features added in 2018
Divi’s development is on fire on 2018. We got a bunch new feature through this year. Here are my favorites:
Divi now can use Dynamical Content (October 2018)
Divi modules support now generate content dynamically from WordPress database, like the page title, featured image, custom fields.
Having dynamic content means low maintenance and content update for you. All you need to do is update the data field and once saved, the new linked content to a dynamic module will automatically have the new updated content showing.
Divi has now an extended modules animations library (October 2018)
Divi now can let you set animations triggered by hovering modules. The whole experience is highly customization and helps give a better user experience to your visitors.
A new column layout! (August 2018)
A more versatile and flexible column layout system is on the house with 14 new layout structures supporting 5-columns and 6-columns layouts, and clustered columns layout (magazine style).
A new smart drag and drop system that will convert the uploaded files to modules automatically (August 2018)
Here are a couple of examples:
- Dragging text file to the builder will automatically turn to a text module
- Dragging images will turn them to a image module
- Dragging CSS files will apply the CSS rules automatically to the page
- Dragging HTML files will generate a code module
- Dragging font files will add these fonts as custom fonts available to use from the Fonts tool
Divi announces Gutenberg Support (July 2018)
We are yet to see if Gutenberg imposed adopted will improve WordPress’ overall experience.
In all cases, Divi will support the integration for the upcoming native new WordPress text editor.
Find and replace feature and batch editing tool (July 2018)
It’s now possible to search and replace colors, fonts, and many more in few clicks.
This is very handy when importing a pre-built layout or design pack where you can quickly change the color scheme for example to fit your own branding.
The builder has now extended support to custom post types! (July 2018)
Meaning that Divi is no longer limited to pages and posts and can be freely be used with any other custom post type.
A new color management system is on the house! (June 2018)
You now keep theme’s color palette on premise and automatically generate complementary colors with few clicks.
GDPR + Custom Field come to all Divi Email Providers (May 2018)
You can now easily collect more info using forms and make sure your visitors check the GDPR compliance without having to hack/code anything
Cons compared to other page builders
Very limited and utterly expensive plugins compatibility
If you compare it to the best in the integrability ground, and by that I mean WPBakery Page Builder, we’ll find an unfortunate huge gap.
Divi poorly performs in term of integrability.
The former Visual Composer has the most extensive library of plugins and extensions (more than 1000 combined) available for a decent price tag, which usually go from $15 to $100.
Even the other most prominent page builders have their fair share of compatible plugins, like:
- Cornerstone has 100+ compatible plugins
- Elementor has 60+ compatible plugins and growing
Divi, on the other hand, has a select premium integrations with an awfully expensive pricing.
This detail will, fortunately, change with the newly released Divi API with an extensive documentation.
Hopefully, we will start to see better plugins integrations and more refined Divi modules and extensions.
Messy shortcodes if Divi is disabled
Divi is known to leave a messy page-code if you happen to switch themes.
As any page builder, Divi builds pages using shortcodes. The page builder itself is just a fancy GUI so you don’t have to manually add these shortcodes.
The same rule applies to the likes of WPBakery Page Builder, Cornerstone, BeaverBuilder, Elementor .. etc.
People not so friendly with how shortcode operate will be overwhelmed if they happen to switch off the Divi page builder plugin or the change the Divi theme.
I personally don’t mind having the messy code, ’cause ultimately if I decide to move away from a builder, I first store the page’s content in a usable form before switching off the formerly used builder.
It’s all about organization
A very slow support service
The support service is the most bothering component of ElegantThemes’ ecosystem.
You can simply wait for weeks to hope that your support request is answered. And even if someone does, you should expect a very long time to get a satisfactory answer to your concerns.
I had to ring their bells a couple of times in an attempt to solve some issues. All of them were either unanswered or I had to solve them on my own before someone proposed a fix.
So, just hope that you won’t need their support
ElegantThemes has launched a live chat support system which allows a better and quicker response compared to their traditional ticketing system.
Divi is slow and doesn’t perform well
Some will claim that Divi doesn’t perform as good as other page builders.
I highly disagree and here’s one of my customers’ website performance built entirely using the Divi theme as a proof.
There was a bit of performance and optimization work done there and the website is hosted on a handcrafted VPS optimized for WP.
My point is, WP’s speed is what you do about it! There are a lot of bottlenecks that can be handled to speed up any kind of website using any type of theme/plugins set.
The only limit is what’s the budget you are willing to spend to get things done right.
It will totally unfair if you use a shitty shared hosting plan, do nothing about optimizing your website, and still, claim that it’s Divi’s fault
When should I use Divi for my project?
The pros and cons give us some clues about when and where using Divi will make sense. But it needs to be paired with the right context too.
I can’t speak for every single scenario possible where Divi could be the right pick.
All I can share is when I personally opt for using Divi vs. anything else.
Landing and sales pages
I terribly rely on Divi to build standalone marketing and sales pages. It’s so addictive!
Divi provides a couple of tools that make things easier for me to build these kinds of pages efficiently:
- The live editor helps a lot to get the exact design needed for the project.
- I’ve built an extensive layouts library that I use to speed up the building process. This adds up to their 600+ ready to use page layouts.
- The new Dynamic Content features helps get the building process even faster when using pre-built designs I’ve already prepared.
- The seamless, plugin-free, split testing give me what I need to run slight variations of my pages on the fly.
- Bloom is natively integrated and makes things easy to build emailing lists seamlessly with pretty much all known list building services.
- I’ve worked on a performance profile using a couple of plugins like WP Rocket that I deploy instantly to get the fastest speed possible for my pages.
I usually feel the difference when dealing with long-form pages. The live editor helps a lot to cut drastically the building time.
When tech-challenged customers need to do some minor edits on their own
As much as the page builder concept is advertised to be easy and beginners friendly, it is not.
The page building and editing process need a consistent learning curve and a lot of practice to hope to do things right and quickly.
Dealing with the drag-and-drop layout can turn out to be a very challenging experience in some cases, especially when the user needs only to perform minor edits in wording and changing a couple of images for example.
I push for Divi when I feel that the main user of the website feels challenged when dealing with WP’s backend. But still expresses the need to be in control at least for doing some minor changes once in a while.
Once the layout is locked, changing text and images only requires enabling the live editor and performing the updates on the live page. This spare a lot of frustration compared to have to access the backend and pick up a fight with the wireframe layout and try to figure out where is what.
To build simple websites not requiring any major feature
Divi is perfect to quickly build a feature-less website with a quick turnaround.
If you skip the integrability component, which is required when dealing with complex features, Divi has what it takes to do the job efficiently and quickly.
Again, the live editor and the library of pre-made layouts are vital to speed up the building process without sacrificing the design’s quality.
Need more help?
Feel free to reach out if you have any question about Divi.
I’m also here if you need consulting or professional help to build your website using Divi (paid service).
You’ll find me on my personal chat page if you need anything.