I just wrapped up a gig with a client of mine. They specifically requested the use of a theme called Massive Dynamic which comes with a pretty damn advanced visual builder. I previously had many preconceptions about these website builders such as Visual Composer and Divi. In this post I’ll walk you through my thoughts on them and if they are worth using for building out your website.
Out of the box the actual theme package was massive… (pun intended). But seriously, it was like 65 mb or something like that. And after importing the demo content I was closer to 150. So already at this point I had my concerns about the speed of the theme and I will get to that a bit later.
Building the site
Honestly the Visual Builder in Massive Dynamic was a pure pleasure to work with. It was incredibly easy to go from a white slate to a finished mock-up. In pretty much 1 day I had something to show to my client. And this is great, without too much time commitment you can get some input from the client so that you know you are going in the right direction.
I found the grid system to be really nice to use, and it was easy to align items in rows and columns. The padding and margin was easily controllable through just dragging the mouse. There are a huge list of elements you can choose from and most of them look great out of the box. Overall the learning curve was really tiny.
Customizing the site
Fast forward a bit until the site was completed. Now it was time for a few rounds of revisions. This is when the whole experience became a bit frustrating. So far in the project I had not really touched code much at all except for a few simple lines of CSS here and there.
The page speed turned out pretty slow. Mostly because of the use of a mp4 video header as well as many images. After some simple optimization it landed on 8 seconds until the whole page was completely finished loading.
The mobile responsiveness is alright, but not excellent. I had to do quite a bit of additional CSS to make it look good in smaller screen sizes.
Other page builders
Since this project I have also tried out Divi and Visual Composer, and to be honest, they are all really similar. So far my experience is that Divi is the most optimized of them with great page speed scores. Visual Composer had the most options inside the actual builder. And Massive Dynamic had the best user experience for building the site.
Are website builders the right choice for your project?
In some cases, it will be. If you are on a tight budget its a very lucrative option based on the speed of development you will get. But I will say this; if your site requires heavy customization, or any customization beyond some CSS and JS, then I would not recommend it. In that case it would probably be better to use the studiopress genesis framework or something along those lines.
These builders make it very easy to make “flashy websites” with elements flying in from all angles through fancy animations. It could potentially be really good for some e-commerce sites and product landing pages.
So now you should know what you can expect from using a website builder and if its something for you. Peace!