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On a recent project, we had a requirement to help improve the site’s overall performance and the experience of working with it from the editors’ perspective.
As we tested the performance on the site we noticed that more things were pointing to Divi making too many queries for some simple pages. At the same time, people who had to work with Divi to edit the content on the page had a bad experience during those actions.
We decided to swap Divi for Elementor in order to improve loading performance and make the content easier to edit.
Note: this take is more on the Admin side and working with the Divi Builder.
Divi Theme Issue
The main issue that we stumbled upon with Divi was the way you have to interact with the header.php and footer.php.
We had a Divi child theme on the site and everything that needed to be added in the header or footer is done via theme-header.php and theme-footer.php which will then be rendered in those places.
Now, even that didn’t work as expected sometimes and you had to use a hook to make sure you added your code to the header or footer. For example, we needed to add a shortcode on certain pages in the footer, to generate a certain modal window, we’re able to achieve that only by using a hook from Divi.
To be fair, this issue appears when you start to use the theme builder from Divi in order to make a fully editable header and footer.
Here I’d like to point out 2 separate issues.
Performance on page load
The Query Monitor showed a 35% decrease in queries when changed from Divi to Elementor, with no other changes being made.
While some of these are when you’re logged as an admin where maybe more assets are loaded, there still are 35% more queries done. This always translates into a slower experience for the persons managing the content.
Performance of the builder on different devices when editing
I feel this is a very important part. When editing in the Visual mode, actually seeing the page elements rendered, Divi is very heavy on the device you’re using. I don’t think that you should have a beast of a machine to be able to edit directly on the front end to “Build Visually” as they call it.
If you have a longer page, that will become problematic when you start scrolling or moving elements around. You’re browser lags and it’s a very unpleasant experience.
You can swap and use the Divi builder in the element mode where you just get the layout and move the elements, which I actually prefer, it’s still going to lag when you move things around.
Better UX/UI on the admin side
Overall the Elementor performance on the UX/UI is better and smoother, it makes editing a more pleasant experience. There is no lagging when moving elements, even on bigger pages, there is an easy transition for different device sizes to simulate the correct layout.
I would’ve liked Elementor to have the option to switch to a more basic builder, where I can only see the blocks and not the actual page rendered, but it’s moving so well that I can’t complain too much about that.
Marketing vs product
Divi is marketed so well, that there is no way you can escape the Divi marketing campaigns. Search for “WordPress” once and after that YouTube, Twitter, Reddit, etc., will start showing you Divi ads. The problem with those is that they sell the idea of everything being so easy to do and achieve, just buy the product and the page will almost build itself.
I will not get into all the details of why this aggressive marketing is not a good idea and the differences between some of the ads and the actual product (maybe in a future article), but what I want to point out is the fact that Divi comes with bloatware. You will have tons of things you don’t use and it might slow your editing/building experience.
Being so well marketed you get the impression that this is the only option or the way to go around building pages.
Elementor does offer a free version. It is limited but usable. There are projects where there is no need for the Pro version of Elementor. Building simple landing pages or having a visual editor to provide for your client, the free version of Elementor does the job.
Divi on the other hand requires a yearly subscription to get access to the product itself.
Is Divi bad? Not really.
As I said this is from my own experience and at the moment I find Elementor a more easy-to-use builder.
Is Divi performing well for the visitor? Sure, you can get a perfect performance score with Divi.
My main concern was the back-end part, where editors would struggle to edit content because of performance issues.
Is Elementor better than Divi? It depends on your needs.
Elementor Free is enough for a lot of my projects and I can build the other things that I need as custom Elementor Widgets.
My main goal is to create fast websites (front-end and dashboard as well) that are as light as possible.