WordPress is all about choices. Do you need a quick design that can be ready in just a day or two? You can do that with a WordPress theme. That’s a great choice if you need a new website really fast.
But if you’re patient enough to wait and detail-oriented enough to skip the easiest approach, then you can do that too, with a WordPress builder. As said before, WordPress makes variety seem pretty effortless.
Having so many great options to choose from can be daunting, though.
So, which one is ultimately better: WordPress themes or WordPress builders? Let’s find it out in this article written by one of our readers.
What Is The Main Difference?
With WordPress themes, you get an out-of-the-box design solution that you can unpack, install, and start using immediately. If you’re satisfied with how the theme looks, then you don’t have to make any changes whatsoever. It’s a simple approach that requires no design skills or technical know-how.
Builders for WordPress themes are an entirely different story. They don’t offer a blank canvas per se, but they do ask for some technical skills and design thinking. Of course, they come with brilliant tools for customization that make the process easier, but the end result is still totally up to you as a designer.
Why Choose Builders Then?
Having a ready-made solution may seem much more convenient, especially if you’re not very skilled at designing website pages on your own. There’s plenty of templates to choose from, plus a couple of customization options for tweaking and adjusting, and no worries about ending up with a bad design.
Unfortunately, that may not be enough.
In all their multitude, WordPress themes are still pretty basic. That doesn’t mean that you can’t find a fair number of stunners, of course, but it might mean that you won’t be 100% satisfied with how they look. And, unlike with builders, customization features in ready-made themes are pretty much scarce.
On top of that, the vast majority of WordPress themes is what we call multi-purpose. They are typically designed for blogs and eCommerce websites, with a few exceptions of niche-relevant layouts for photography and magazines. Despite all your creativity and effort, it might be a glove that doesn’t fit.
Can I Customize a Theme?
To a certain extent, yes.
Virtually all WordPress themes come with a convenient customizer, which boasts at least a couple of basic features. There is a certain color scheme you can use for adjusting the titles and headers, but you can’t choose any hue that’s not a part of it. It feels like a needless restriction on bare necessities.
The same can be said about the layout design, which can be adjusted to display a different number of columns. All other elements, such as galleries and sliders, must be added via WordPress plugins since no default theme includes them (ok, just a limited number of them). Speaking of restrictions, not every plugin can be used on all themes.
WordPress themes lose another point for fixed widgets and sidebars. They cannot be removed from themes that include them, nor can they be reinforced with additional ones. Of course, all this counts for WordPress themes in general, and you may still be able to find some great exceptions to the rule.
A big advantage of themes is that they are usually categorized according to the primary niche they were designed to be used in. For example, on ThemeForest, one of the biggest marketplaces for themes, you are going to find categorized themes specifically designed for various niches. Let’s take a look at some examples:
- Enfold (Corporate / Business)
- Newspaper (Blog / Magazine / Editorial / News)
- ListingPro (Corporate / Directories & Listings)
- Flatsome (eCommerce / WooCommerce)
- Houzez (Real Estate)
These are just a few examples and you can find whatever you need, just be persistent and scroll on.
On the brighter side, this scarce choice of customization features requires no technical background. You don’t have to be a designer to use them, you can just click, drag, and drop until you end up with a layout you actually like.
It’s so user-friendly that you can have a brand-new website within two hours.
What’s Great About Builders?
More options, for starters.
WordPress builders allow you to create practically anything, as long as you have a clear vision and know how to use designer tools. Need a map for your OTA page? No problem, just add one.
Toggles, pricing tables, portfolios, galleries, testimonials, counters, blurbs, galleries, code modules, you name it – builders can enable them all and help you customize them to perfection. And that’s not all, folks.
Most WordPress themes have the same unengaging layout with a sidebar. With a builder, you can not only customize every page, but also every column, row, and section. It also allows you to play with different background colors, as well as to add and style images and videos, overlays and gradients.
Explaining how website builders work is complicated to do with text, but here is a video explaining how to use Elementor Pro, one of the most popular website builders out there:
And a few other examples of popular website builders:
You know how to use tools, but have no idea what to do with them?
WordPress builders have a solution for your designer’s block too. As a starting point, they offer premade layouts which can be further modified however you want. Similar to these templates are child themes, which cover a variety of different genres and can be applied with a single click of a button.
So Which One Takes the Cake?
Ultimately, no one can answer this question but you.
We have our opinion, of course, but it may not be applicable to your situation.
If you need an instant solution that looks clean and decent, then WordPress themes may be a winner. Convenience is certainly their greatest advantage, as they can be launched extremely fast and without any modifications. The learning curve is very short, and customization tools are scarce but adequate.
As for WordPress builders, they are the designer’s first choice for a reason. All elements are built in and basically, everything can be calibrated. Even if you’re not a professional, you can have a professional-looking website that boasts engaging visual content. With builders, options are practically unlimited.
This article is written by Rait who is a full time online marketer, top rated freelancer at UpWork, SEO enthusiast and CEO at RankBrain Meedia. Through his 10 years of SEO experience, he has helped hundreds of businesses to dominate the search engines and fight their way to the top. Besides SEO and marketing, he loves music, photography and plays guitar as a hobby.