As a web developer, whether you like web page builders or not, you have to be aware that customers do like them, and you will do badly if you don’t at least try to understand them.
In this article I’d like to clarify some things, from the quiet and restful debate, about web page builders, why their huge growth in the last years in the WordPress world and why they are here to stay, whether you like it or not.
Furniture industry as an example
During the 14th and 15th centuries, there was enough money for people to start wanting enough furniture, and suddenly a new profession appeared.
Instead of carpenters making furniture, a specialization of cabinetmakers emerged to make furniture by hand.
Everything was going so well, and the growth of furniture making was so good, that in the 17th and 18th centuries, specialists left cabinetmaking to become chair makers.
From woodturning to carving and upholstery, other trades emerged. In the 19th century, the cabinetmaker did not deal with finishing, because it had become another specialized trade.
And another big division in that century was the introduction of people selling furniture – in big shops. The sellers were not the manufacturers.
In the Beginning the Webmaster was the only one
The first time a website was created, there was one person – the webmaster – who did everything. Like the first carpenters who not only built the house, but also the furniture.
Over time, we saw more and more specialization. And in our own industry, it’s not hard to trace all the different profiles that have emerged – although instead of taking 500 years, it’s taken 25.
Today we talk to customers who want a website and tell them that they probably need one:
- A hosting company
- A web developer
- A web designer
- A web maintenance team
- A specialist in SEO
Is it any wonder that the web world has seen large markets with mass-produced themes that are not of the same quality as custom-made code?
Are we surprised that the web industry sees web hosting, design and development as commodities with the expectation that prices should be lower?
We shouldn’t be.
Today, someone can walk into a furniture store, choose any mass-produced piece they like, then go and choose the color of fabric they want, and the type of material they want for their legs, and have their custom chair, sofa or bed delivered to their home in a matter of weeks.
Why do people like Web Page Builders?
Easy. They offer clients a customization solution that mass-produced themes cannot offer, at a lower price than working with a professional web developer and designer.
After all, they’ve been hearing many companies of all kinds say “do it yourself” for decades, and they like the idea.
For the past twenty-five years they’ve listened to specialists try to educate them about the nuances of a specialty they don’t care to learn.
When I walk into a furniture store I am grateful that an upholstery specialist does not want to educate me about the kind of material that might look good on my new couch. Even if they’re right, it’s a waste of time since I don’t plan on getting into the furniture material business.
Too often our web industry experts want to educate customers beyond what they need or want to know. And most of the time, they want to be paid extra for that kind of education.
The marketplace allows for this in the high-end, like custom furniture, and it’s something that has lasted since the 14th century, but it’s a very small percentage of the furniture that’s made and paid for today.
Things You should learn about customers who want Web Page Builders
They don’t want to start from scratch and they’re not trying to become professional designers.
I’ll be the first to tell you that you’re not a designer if you’re not a designer, and buying a WordPress web page builder doesn’t make you one. But the truth is that most people who buy them don’t think they’re designers.
They just want to solve a problem, quickly and easily, without spending thousands of bucks. If, on top of that, the page builder has some nice templates, they’ll be glad.
They do not understand the code generated by their designs and are not interested in knowing it.
When people start complaining about the code that the page builders produce, they focus on a problem that customers are not trying to solve.
Customers want the end result, not a discussion about the process. Just like you eat sausages without knowing how they are made.
What matters most to them is making changes quickly and easily. Time is of the essence.
Page Builders offer customers a way to make changes to their website without having to call a developer. And those calls can often be frustrating because the developers don’t answer the phone, sometimes they disappear (sometimes they are even rude and/or impatient). It shouldn’t shock you that some people prefer to skip the drama.
The next most important thing is the amount they have to pay or not. Web Page Builders offer people a good alternative to the cycle of buying and trying out subjects that don’t work.
I don’t know what the average is, but of the customers I’ve worked with, most have bought and tried 3-6 themes before choosing something they hope to use on their own to complete their site.
At $75 per theme, that’s about $500 wasted. And professionals will charge 10 times or more for a website, regardless of the role it plays in your business.
Web Page Builders make more sense for them.
These days, there are people who are not developers who use layout artists to make a living making sites for others. Some are called implementers, others designers/page builders, it is almost always a matter of marketing as they call themselves.
Although we like to think that the only people who buy these web page builders are the owners of sites that want to do what they want in their own way, this is not the case.
There are these site creators who are selling their services to the web owners, who use web page builders to do the job.
This should not shock anyone. It is diversification and specialization, it has always happened in all sectors, it will always happen, also in the web business.
Yeah, but I just hate page builders!
There’s nothing wrong with not liking web page builders. Absolutely nothing wrong. And if you’re at the top of your game, you may never lose a client to one, whether you’re a designer, developer or theme developer.
But the markets aren’t going away. Neither will commoditization disappear. The success of builders like Wix, Weebly or 1&1 is not debatable, people like them, they help them with their first website. I just hope you’re there to create the next one for them.
I think it’s an answer to a question you need to have an answer to.
Why does it have to be so expensive, take so long and have such varied results when I want to hire someone to create or fix my website?
Until there is a satisfactory answer to that question, I think you are here to stay.
If you’re a customer and looking for a good page builder
My favorite has always been Divi. It offers an unbeatable cost/time/results/simplicity ratio compared to other web page builders.
If your moment is to want fast results without wanting to know how things are done, but simply to have the tools to create your website quickly and easily, then Divi is the ideal page builder.
Not only is it the most popular web page builder, but it is also the most complete, advanced, intuitive and easy to use.
There are others, like Elementor, that approach the solution to the “problem” from another approach, but personally I don’t recommend it, because of its unclear licensing policy, because in the end it is much more expensive than the rest, and because I don’t like it, end of story.
What about the WordPress block editor?
Right now, the WordPress block editor, introduced as the first phase of the so-called Gutenberg project, does not qualify by far to enter the category of web layout, page builder, or whatever you want to call them.
Currently it is merely a series of blocks that introduce some design into the editing of entries and pages, it does not cover web construction, either as a whole or in part.
Read this post in Spanish: ¿Por qué a los clientes les gustan los maquetadores web?