The arrival of page builders with high-quality coding standards have drastically improved the WordPress ecosystem.

If you have been managing a WordPress site for some time, chances are already use Elementor or Beaver builder to create customized pages fast and without any coding.

What’s even better is that these page builders have been hard at work to make it quick and easy for their users to not just create pages, but entire websites as they please.

There are parts of a WordPress website which were not customizable until now with page builders. The look and feel of the parts like header, footer, archive pages, comments and more was determined by the theme you are using.

But with the advent of Beaver Themer and Theme Builder in Elementor Pro 2.0, you have now even more power in your hands to customize your website to the last detail. Again, without spending hours on programming.
So it’s natural for you to wonder, “If I have Beaver Themer or Elementor Theme Builder, what do I need the theme for? Does it still matter what theme I use?”

The Practical Answer

In theory, the answer to this question may seem like a no. It may look like with all the great things you can get done with a theme builder, you don’t need a theme anymore.
But in reality, the decision of which theme will you choose for your website has become even more important, considering that it has to co-exist with the theme builder you use with it. And it has to be such that it doesn’t get in the way and you save even more time.
Here’s what Elementor says about whether you need a theme:
“Yes. Elementor Pro 2.0 doesn’t replace your theme. It is a plugin that gives you visual design capabilities over every part of the theme.”
Whether you’re using a page builder, a theme builder or both, you need a theme you can trust to be coded to the highest standards to ensure it doesn’t cause any conflicts. Plugins like Elementor and Beaver Themer work best with themes which respect the coding standards of WordPress.
In fact, if you install a theme that enhances what you can do without coding, or without even using the theme builder, you’ll end up boosting your ability to create interactive, beautiful and conversion optimized websites fast. Let’s see how.

Advanced Customizer

Nobody can argue with the fact that the first and default place to look into when you want to change something in your website is the Appearance > Customize interface in your WP admin dashboard.

Up until now, it was only when something could not be changed from the Customizer panel that you needed to custom code it, hence spending more time. If you didn’t know or want to code, the only option was to hire someone to do it, hence spending more money.

Now if you are using a theme builder like Beaver Themer or Elementor Theme builder, obviously you’re in a better position than before. You can customize certain parts of your website without learning to code or hire someone to do it.
But what if you can have a theme that eliminates this need to customize headers, archives etc. all together? A theme where most of the stuff can be tweaked from the default customizer panel itself?
Of course, the customizer panel of a theme alone can’t take care of every customization you can think of, but there are themes with customizer panels so advanced and detailed that that you can make most of the custom changes you want from there itself.
The OceanWP theme customizer, for instance, allows you to make hundreds of tweaks without ever touching a theme builder.
From settings as broad as the width of your website, blog content and widgets, to as detailed as your 404 error page or input area of forms, you can control almost any aspect of your website outside the conventional content areas of posts and pages.
Isn’t this scenario even better? The more you can control things from the Customizer itself, the less time you’ll have to spend on picking widths, dragging and dropping modules, and creating layouts with a theme builder.

Loading Speed & Performance

When choosing a theme to use with popular theme builder plugins, you also need to make sure that the theme is optimized for high performance.
There is no point in taking the time to create beautiful custom layouts with Elementor theme builder or Beaver Themer, only to find that your website is getting slowed down by a bloated theme.
That means the kind of themes you get from ThemeForest are a big no. If you want the pages of your website, including the custom layouts, load fast, then you need a theme optimized for performance.
You may think that if you build your entire website with a theme builder and don’t use any parts of the theme, then the theme won’t have anything to do with how fast your website is.
But a high quality theme can still enhance performance as much as a bloated them can diminish it.

Ecommerce Conversion Optimization

You can’t use Elementor theme builder to customize WooCommerce product pages as of now, but I am sure these features will also be available pretty soon.
Here again, it’s easy to think that how your theme works in collaboration with WooCommerce will not be important anymore once you’re able to customize your product, checkout and other pages with theme builder plugins.
As I mentioned before when we talked about Customizer panel, the more work a theme has already done for you, the less you’ll need to do it with theme builders.
When it comes to setting up a WooCommerce shop, there are many good themes, and then some great themes.
Most good quality themes these days have already done the hard work of ensuring that they are compatible with WooCommerce.
But great themes like OceanWP go even beyond that to deliver a user experience that leads to more sales.
Features like native cart popup, floating add-to-cart bar, quick product view without leaving the catalog page, and an off-canvas filter sidebar make OceanWP theme a must-have for those looking to set up an ecommerce shop with WooCommerce and Elementor.
Now can you implement these features with only a theme builder? Given enough time, effort, and a bit of custom coding, maybe you can. But isn’t the whole reason of using a theme builder saving time and not having to code in the first place?
Themes like OceanWP not just complement, but greatly enhance what you can do by combining their built-in features with those of a theme builder like Elementor or Beaver themer.

Enhancing Theme Builders

The great thing about using a high quality product like Elementor or Beaver Themer is that there is a highly qualified, experienced and innovative team behind each.
The people behind these builder plugins are always working to make their products even better, and frequently pushing out new updates and features.
Therefore, you need to make sure you have a theme that can keep up with all these developments, and ensure ongoing compatibility.
Your theme should also have dedicated and experienced professionals you can trust to always be in business and keep supporting your theme builder.
A great theme provider can not only ensure ongoing compatibility, but will also be aligned to the values and practices of your theme builder.
Take OceanWP for example. Just like Elementor and Beaver keep pushing out innovative and useful updates, so does OceanWP.
With extensions like modal window, responsive side panel, and 10 extra widgets for Elementor, OceanWP goes the extra mile to figure out what else it can provide apart from the features you already have in your theme builder to make your workflow even easier.
Since it’s based on the addons model, you can ensure that the theme’s features will not overlap or conflict with whatever theme builder you are using. In fact, you get new enhancements, modules and widgets you don’t already have and gain extra creative mileage.

Extensive Documentation

Nothing will be more frustrating than spending a couple hours trying to make a change with a theme builder, only to find that it would have been quickly done from one of the theme settings or tweaks itself.
Most theme developers are notorious for focusing on the actual development than taking care of user experience and documentation. That’s why not giving any thought to your theme is just not a wise move.
It’s important that your theme has extensive and easy to navigate documentation so you can quickly find answers to your problems. So you can check first if something can be easily achieved with the theme before you get your hands dirty with your drag-n-drop theme builder.

Great Power = Great Responsibility

Having spent years developing websites for clients and then WordPress themes, I can tell you from experience that you shouldn’t change something just because it’s easy to do.
So many times it happens that a professional designer delivers a pixel perfect website to a client, which the client ruins then by making tweaks according to his personal tastes because everything is so easy to do in WordPress.
Let’s stop kidding ourselves. Of course, you can now create photos quickly and easily with tools like Canva, or web pages with page builders, or theme sections with theme builders.
But that doesn’t make you a professional designer who understands the principles and best practices of graphic, web and UI design. Good designers and developers have years of formal education or experience in the field.
When you see things looking and feeling in a certain way in a theme, it’s a conscious decision by the theme developer. He has put thought into everything. Everything is the way it is for a reason, not by chance.
So you’ll better off having a theme with web design best practices already built in, and stay confined to those rules as much as you can.
Try to get done as much as possible from within the theme options itself. Rely on theme builders only when it’s necessary and you really know what you’re doing.

Conclusion

My objective in this post is not to say that a theme is more important or better than a theme builder or vice versa. But to show you that it still has a unique role to play with regard to the overall appearance and performance of your website.
This is not a competition. Having a great theme cannot act as a substitute for the amazing things you can do with a theme builder. Similarly, having a great theme builder doesn’t eliminate the need to have a powerful theme.
It’s only when you pick and join the two in a way that they complement, rather than compete with each other, that you have real control and power over the ability of your website to engage and build an audience. And you’ll have an unfair advantage that others won’t be able to match.

Hitesh Sahni

Hitesh Sahni is a freelance digital marketer, content writer and WordPress website builder helping businesses worldwide generate more leads and sales online.

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Hitesh,

    I think you really captured the important part of building a site.
    It’s really about getting the site built quickly and pushing it live.

    “In fact, if you install a theme that enhances what you can do without coding, or without even using the theme builder, you’ll end up boosting your ability to create interactive, beautiful and conversion optimized websites fast.”

    I totally agree.
    I meet many people new to WordPress who are wondering what page builder to use.
    I tell them: first see what the theme will do, before you start adding extra layers of complexity.

    For myself, I try to not code anything. I want to use tools.
    Isn’t that why we use WordPress instead of notepad?

    1. You’re right Mark.

      Just like someone with a hammer may get a narrow view where everything looks like a nail, many WordPress users, especially beginners, have become so obsessed with page builders that they see every problem to be solved with a page builder, without even checking if it can simply be done through one of the WordPress or theme default settings.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  2. In most cases, using just a theme (Can’t recommend OceanWP enough) is all you need to built that perfect website for yourself or client.

    Say you are building an eCommerce site, with OceanWP deep integration with WooCommerce and out-of-the-box styling, it will be overkill to use a page builder.

    Excellent post Hitesh.

  3. True that Collins! Many people just get carried away by their newfound ability to make custom changes with page and theme builders, that they forget to stop and think whether the changes are actually required. Thanks for the comment 🙂

  4. I’m glad you guys worth with and not against these changes in the add-on community. Makes me glad to use the Ocean/Elementor stack.

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