Beautiful white sandy beach with palm tree

Ugh!

That’s putting it lightly.  If I didn’t keep it clean around here, there’d be more vitriol and a string of expletives opening this post.

Today I checked a popular article on a niche site I own and discovered it was an utter mess.

The ad placement was askew.

I had some bizarre “Save” hyperlinks all over the place.

The lead image wasn’t wide enough.

It’s embarrassing.  That page gets a lot of traffic.

What happened?

I had built it with a popular WP page builder.  I used the page builder so it would look great.  In fact, I spent way too much time about 1 year ago formatting it with the page builder.

Talk about a total waste of time.  It’s now an ugly page.  It took me 1 hour to fix.

How did I fix it?

I dumped the page builder and reverted the content to the regular WP visual editor.  What really ticks me off is it took over 1 hour to revert the content to the regular WordPress visual editor.

I resolved to no longer use page builders for regular post content.

They’re great for landing pages and sales pages, but a nightmare for regular blog content.

What are WordPress page builders?

They’re plugins that make it possible to add all kinds of CSS styles to a WordPress post or page without knowing CSS or any code.  You drag and drop the features you want where you want them.

You can add columns, images, toggles, tabs, table of contents, opt-in forms, timers, colorful boxes, dividers as well as adjust the content width, backgrounds, etc.  You can pretty much create any design you can imagine.

Sounds good, right?

I thought so.  I’ve bought licenses to 5 popular page builders and tried them all.

Many bloggers and site publishers swear by them.  I may end up with some backlash to this post; that’s okay.  My aim here is to explain what I do and use as well as what I don’t do and don’t use for my niche sites.

6 reasons why I loathe page builders for posts and regular articles

Please keep in mind my disgust with page builders pertains only to using them for regular blog content and articles.  I’m not talking about landing pages such as opt-in pages, sales pages, video landers, thank you pages etc.  I like page builders for these and continue using page builders for them.

1. Time-Consuming

It takes at least twice as long to format content with page builders.  It’s custom work that can be finicky.  Even with templates created, I usually get bogged down tweaking and tinkering with no real improvement.

Since it already takes a while to format regular blog content, page builders really bog down content production.  This is a huge strike against them as far as I’m concerned.

2. Ad Placement

This is my biggest beef with them.  Page builders create columns (usually).  I use placeholders for ads.  An example of a site-wide ad placement is after paragraph 6.  That almost always works fine in blog content.  However when there’s two columns via a page builder, the ad ends up in one column which skews the column content so that it looks bad.

Yes, I could use one column, but I’ve also noticed ads get injected in style features like a color box, which also looks bad.

I spend quite a bit of time testing different ad placements as well as different ad networks.  The last thing I want to do is manually adjust hundreds of articles so that the ads look good… which is what I would have to do if all my content was built with a page builder.

3. Constant Updating Required

The ad-issue aside, I’ve gone back to page builder content only to find out things have become messy.  That’s what happened today.  Yes, the ads were a problem, but so were other elements.

I do not want to have to check all my content individually on a regular basis.  I don’t have time for that.

4. Mobility Problems

Not only does content take longer to format for desktop content, but you need to usually make adjustments for the mobile view.  This is an added time-suck that I don’t want to bother with.

5. Loaded with Code?

Page builders say their plugins don’t slow sites down, but at the end of the day it’s more code and a hefty plugin.  I can’t say for sure whether they cause site speed issues or increase server costs.  I just know that add code to a site.  I’ve not tested load speed with and without so I’m merely speculating here whether page builders impact site speed and other site efficiency metrics.

6. More Difficult to Train VAs to Format Content

It takes time and patience to train VAs to format basic content in regular blogs posts.  I can’t imagine how much training and correction would be needed to train VAs to format content with a page builder.  It would be cumbersome and almost impossible.

Moreover, I would need to spend more time overseeing all content as well as spending more time sending instructions for corrections or having to do it myself.

Are page builders still worth getting and using for any purpose?

Yes, I still use them for landing pages like opt-in pages, sales pages and other pages that need a custom design different than a default blog post format can offer.

Isn’t user experience and design important?

Many bloggers believe creating stunning content with all the bells and whistles improves user experience and therefore results in a better site.

I agree that it does, but at what cost?  For me, the cost isn’t worth it.  Content with media in a regular post format works just fine.  Most of my thousands of posts across my sites are simple… photos, videos and text.  That’s it.

Another thing to keep in mind is I monetize my sites with ads.  I place ads via ad placeholders so they show up site-wide at specific locations such as after paragraph 6.  This works great in single column blog content.  It’s a nightmare with multi-column page builders.  Not only does it hurt revenue, it looks terrible.

Which page builder do I use?

I’m not going to say because I have no intention to single out any specific page builders.  The ones I bought do what they say they do.  I have no problem with the products as sold.  I have a problem with the way they’re built to work.  In other words, the issues I list out above apply to all the page builders I’ve used.

Besides, if you happen to know which one I mostly use, it’s not that I don’t use it anymore.  Instead, I just use it for specific landing pages, not regular blog content.

Are there page builder alternatives?  

Yeah.  Accept the limited designs and styles of a regular blog post.  While the idea of making every post beautiful with a page builder sounds good, in reality, it makes everything more difficult.  At least for me.

If you’ve had similar problems with them like me, embrace simplicity.  I’m trying to simplify as much as possible in my niche publishing business by letting go of previously held standards and website features.  Now I’m all about keeping it simple and focusing on what works within the simple paradigm.

Why the beautiful beach image for a featured image in a blatant grievance article?

At first I was going to use a train wreck photo or garbage dump photo as the featured image.  I found some nasty garbage photos and violent train wrecks that would make sense in a grievance article like this.

However, it occurred to me that the real point here is that simple is often best.  Simple can also be beautiful.  There’s not much that’s as simple or as beautiful as a beach.



What do you think? Leave a comment!

  • Another huge issue- if you use Mediavine with Thrive’s Architect page builder, Mediavine can’t insert ads into the content. So I, and many others, have had to ‘de-Thrive” all their content- an incredibly time-consuming process if you want to monetize with display ads.

    • Hey Ryan,

      That must have been brutal. Yup, I’m done with page builders except for landing pages. I think landing pages and perhaps small local business websites was their main purpose in the start anyway, but then bloggers started using them for regular post content. Fortunately, I never published too many posts with them just because it took so long.

      Thanks for the Mediavine tip… hopefully that will be words of wisdom for anyone thinking of using page builders for regular blog content in which they wish to place ads.

    • Hey Tal,

      For my bigger niche sites I use MyThemeShop themes. I bounce around with their themes… they’re all good. They are wicked fast, easy to use and look good. I may switch FatStacks back to MyThemeShop because they load faster than the theme I’m using here which is Newspaper by Tagdiv. However, I like the Newspaper theme on this site with large featured image which I don’t use on my niche sites because you can’t put ads below the title. But since I don’t put ads on this site, I can have that large featured image.

  • Wow. Things sure do change. I notice Gael Breton over at Authority Hackers has moved toward a similar trend of limiting use of page builders. As a noobie, I worry that not using Thrive will hurt me since they teach conversion techniques for affiliate sites that work well. I see Thrive has excellent table creation too.

    • Hey Daniel,

      By all means use a page builder, but be warned if you want to use ads on your sites. Read Ryan’s comment below – that alone is reason enough not to use them. Mediavine is a great ad network option that you don’t want to cut yourself off from.

      If, however, you do only affiliate stuff and you want to spend oodles of time creating one post, go to it.

      • Hi Jon.
        Yes I have followed you for a while and notice you cater more to ads than affiliate revenue. The question is can everybody be as successful with ads as you have done. You seem to be extraordinary in talent for this revenue model. I might assume the affiliate revenue model may take off quicker with less traffic than ads revenue model unless one has alot of experience at it. There are always exceptions of course. Regards…Dan

        • Hi Daniel,

          thanks for being a long time reader. Yes, I do think you can generate meaningful affiliate revenue faster than meaningful ad revenue because one good affiliate page can earn a good amount of money. That’s a great point you make BTW.

          However, publishing just affiliate content for me is boring. I like publishing all kinds of info in my niches and most of it can only be monetized with ads, so that’s a big reason I do what I do.

  • I agree. Page Builders SUCK.

    There is no substitute for useful information.

    We seem to forget that the communication of useful ideas is the primary objective. Everything else is just another layer of frosting.

    • Hey Emmett,

      I’m not surprised you feel strongly about this. The info you publish is amazing and certainly doesn’t need any unnecessary dressing up to stand on its own and delight visitors.