Page Builder or Code By Hand?
What comes first when designing a new website? The chicken or the egg? Sometimes we find we do not have a concept in mind until we’ve done some sketching and begin laying out a web page.
Spontaneity often produces exciting results. I find myself with an initial idea: the so-called light bulb moment and I jump right in with little to no preparation. That’s where low-code or no-code page builders provide optimal value. On the other hand, those who cannot code must rely on page builders and remain on an endless quest to find 3rd party plug-ins that generate the code he or she needs for a specific task of the most trivial kind.
The page builder plug-ins website design-build business has adopted the subscription business model. Sure there’s lots of free plug-ins but –you get what you pay for– will always ring true. Paying annual renewal subscription fees for the many plug-ins typically needed for many types of websites not programmed manually can exceed paying out the cost of coding an entire website manually.
That said, it is really great to have plug-ins for WordPress such as the aforementioned current King of the Hill Elementor that helps those of us such as I who can write code design and lay out web pages quickly and efficiently.
WordPress itself is no panacea; without a page builder plug-in manual coding is required to design and build websites. The following well-written Colorlib WordPress Global Usage Study puts the matter into perspective that I urge all to read as a “Come to Jesus” moment.
Elementor offers two subscription business models: freemium and pro. That’s typical these days. Elementor itself is a plugin for WordPress (global market leading website development framework.) that has become the de facto standard framework for developing websites.
Website development has become brutally competitive from Day One; there’s –always– something to learn and page builders and plugin developers cannot stop to rest lest a competitor will show up and grab market share.
Its a feeding frenzy for the most part due to the fact that many totally incompetent people have become “web designers” that build portfolios using page builders to sell to bottom feeders.
I use a plethora of tools to design and code websites. Take a look at this page where I have an image collage of the tools I am currently using to build –this– and other websites.
As I say on the homepage of –this– website I am a WWW Day One Design-Builder. An old one. Having tried most of the website page builders I currently use Elementor Pro as I alluded to earlier. It is the smart thing to do and people operating businesses do not knowingly hire dummies do they?
When all is said and done Elementor Pro remains the best of the worst so to speak. New page builders are constantly emerging. Each time a new page builder will emerge I as well as others will flock to it like hungry pidgeons being fed popcorn thrown to us by children visiting the park. We want a look-see. Nobody wants to miss the next boat to Fantasy Island.
However that is not to say each new page builder is worth the time and effort to adopt as one’s mainstay. Is it worth the time and effort because a new page builder has improved the way to make a button on a web page? None of the page builders generate code that can be used with other page builders so a website developer cannot expeditiously maintain the body of their works. Furthermore, the new page builder is still going to require manually coding at some point in the development of a website.
ALL page builders poop out –always have and always will– so it behooves those who design and build websites to learn early there has NEVER been a software program that does not fall short of our ideals.
I paid my dues beginning to code using ASP and then adopted ASP.NET using C# several years back. I migrated over to the WordPress camp when learning the hard way that coding an entire website manually takes a hellishly long time.
If –you– are working with somebody that is ONLY using a page builder or if –you– are using a page builder and cannot code a lick you are not working with a competent web developer nor are you a competent web developer yourself. WE HAVE TO LEARN AND USE IT ALL. PERIOD.
That is the cold hard reality of the nature of web design and development and its been this way since Day One. This is irrefutably true because web design and development is fundamentally software development the art and science of which constantly changes never to be generated entirely without conflict simply by dragging and dropping or pushing buttons.
Personally, hanging out online and begging for help from competent developers wore away my self-esteem so I had to learn to code beginning Day One back in the 90s.
Neither I nor anybody I’ve ever met has escaped what we call Imposter Syndrome; a common malady most if not all musicians, software developers and others who delve into the realm of the most challenging endeavors known to man are touched by at some point during the practice of their endeavors.
I’d like to say learning to code does not free us of depending on page builders or begging for help on Facebook or Twitter. Resources do not provide the means to achieve and maintain self-esteem in and of themselves so I cannot claim otherwise.
Competency developing and maintaining the creative and technical skills required to function remains a constant challenge: web design and development is a moving target.
This is perhaps the most difficult reality to convey to those who hire web developers.
Those who understand and empathize with us are worth working with and for and value the fees they pay accordingly. Those that do not and will not are not worth it and may never will be.