Does drag and drop, ease of use, front page editing ring a bell to you? After all, these are qualities that appeal to most users who opt for a WordPress landing page builder like Elementor.
But Elementor is more than just a WordPress page builder plugin, it’s a complete website builder with which you can design your entire website. More on this later.
What you should know is that in this in-depth Elementor review, I will walk you through the Elementor plugin interface, usability, features, etc. I will also address your concerns over its speed, pricing, and its pros and cons.
Armed with this knowledge, you will be able to decide whether Elementor is really worth it or not in 2021.
But first, let’s talk about…
What is Elementor and What Does it Do?
Elementor is a WordPress page builder plugin and by far the most popular one as well. It is presently active on more than 5 million websites that speaks volumes about its popularity.
It lets you build and edit customizable posts, pages, and landing pages with drag and drop simplicity. You do not have to work at the backend and constantly click the preview button to view the changes on the front end.
Elementor works on the front end and you can see the changes live as you work on a page.
Another advantage is that you don’t have to mess with code to create a beautiful layout. Everything you need to design your page is available right in front of you in the Elementor editor.
But perhaps one of my favorite features is the reusable templates that I can create, or if I am feeling lazy, I can snap one of the 150 pre-made templates instantly.
This time-saving hack is the reason Elementor is loved not just by lay WordPress users but also by web designers who want to create custom designs for their clients quickly and easily.
BTW there’s a Pro version of Elementor as well that lets you go the whole hog and edit every part of your website aka ‘full site editing‘, minus the pain. I’ll explain the Pro features later on in this review of Elementor.
So let’s get started.
Elementor Review: Interface and Usability
Elementor lets you create three different types of content: posts, pages, and landing pages. It also lets you disable the default fonts and colors in the Settings panel and inherit the fonts and colors from your theme in order to maintain design consistency across your site.
Apart from the Settings panel, there is a dedicated Templates panel that houses all your saved templates and also the Kit Library that contains many free and premium templates.
However, the real action takes place in the Elementor editor. There are two ways to fire up the editor. The first one is when you create a regular post or page in the WordPress editor and click on the Edit with Elementor button.
The second one is by creating a Landing Page that takes you directly to the editing screen bypassing the WordPress editor.
The Elementor Editor loads quickly, within a few seconds. All the widgets are placed in the panel on the left.
The widgets are organized under 5 different categories: Basic, Pro, General, Site, WooCommerce, and WordPress.
There are 40+ free widgets available to all users. But that’s not all. All the regular WordPress widgets are also available at your beck and call.
Take your pick.
Within the Elementor Editor, there is a tab called Site Settings. Here you can define global colors and global fonts. Think of it as custom color and font palette that you can use on any page that you create using Elementor.
I really love such time and effort-saving hacks that I come across in any tool.
Going further, the Theme Style options allow you to control the default theme styles for non-Elementor typography, buttons, images, and form fields used throughout your website.
This means using the Theme Style options, you can easily override your default theme styles for non-Elementor elements. And if you need to edit the styles used on Elementor pages, you can always use the global colors and global fonts option.
Using the Elementor Editor
Creating content using the Elementor editor is pure joy. All you need to do is drag and drop the widgets on the screen. You can then customize every aspect of the widget from colors, fonts, to spacing, backgrounds, etc.
Elementor is 100% mobile responsive and allows you to set separate mobile settings for any element you select. Also, it’s possible to hide any element on desktop, tablet, or mobile by a simple flick of the toggle.
You can even add motion effects like animation and parallax at the click of a button. The Elementor page builder is this easy to use.
The layout structure is straightforward. To get started, you need to add a Section which is basically a row, and then within this Section, you can add columns or stand-alone widgets.
So, it goes something like this: Section > Inner Section (columns) > Widgets
or like this: Section > Widgets
Nesting is also possible allowing you to add multiple sections within a section.
It’s always a good idea to start with a primary section or container and then add other sections within this primary container. This allows you to set the spacing, colors, or background for the entire page by editing the primary container (section).
If you thought that you would lose yourself in this maze of sections and inner sections, help is at hand in the form of the Navigator. Clicking on the buffer icon opens up a floating Navigator tool that displays all the sections and their widgets in a dropdown.
You can then quickly navigate to any section or widget from the Navigator.
Everything works smoothly without any stutter or lag, which makes designing pages using the Elementor plugin a breeze.
In fact, if you start using Elementor regularly to create your website content, there’s a strong possibility that you will not return to the WordPress editor again. Elementor makes it that easy (and fun) to edit posts and design pages.
On the flip side, it’s quite easy to deviate from the primary task of creating your website content once you start playing around with the numerous options that Elementor offers.
You already know that Elementor is a front-end live page builder plugin. But while creating pages you might need to test how the changes appear on mobile devices.
Thankfully, Elementor has a Responsive Mode button in the Editor panel clicking on which toggles the responsive bar on the top of the editing screen.
You can now check how the page appears on a tablet or mobile without leaving the editing screen. There’s also zoom in and out feature to make minute corrections to the layout on mobile screens.
Widgets and Templates
I already mentioned that Elementor offers more than 40 free widgets combined that take care of all your blogging and design needs.
Some useful free widgets include the image box, icon box, gallery, star rating (useful for product reviews), and video embed.
If you wish to make your life even easier, you should take a peek at the 50+ Pro widgets as well. These include the posts, portfolio, navigation menu, price list, call to action, featured image, plus many other widgets.
The Pro plan doesn’t just include additional widgets, but a full site editing experience and a pop-up maker as well. I will get to that in a minute.
The text editor includes the system font option and all your theme fonts. You can also browse through the vast library of Google fonts and pick your favorite ones.
Apart from fonts, there are multiple colors and effects that you can play around with within the text editor.
The Advanced settings tab opens up even more possibilities. There are options for adding motion effects, custom backgrounds, borders, masks, etc. Literally, the sky is the limit when it comes to customization.
Templates and Kits in Elementor
Elementor comes loaded with 150+ free templates. You can pick a template while creating a page and then customize it further. What’s more, there are tens of template blocks to readily insert into your pages.
You can also save a page as a template or even save a section as a template for reuse on other pages. I saved a lot of time and effort while designing a landing page during my testing thanks, to these templates.
I also liked the fact that the templates are organized under different categories like 404 pages, call to action, services, FAQ, etc. that makes searching easier.
In July 2021, the Kit Library was introduced in Elementor. As the name suggests these are website kits to design all parts of a website. Think of them as Starter Sites in the Astra theme or pre-designed website templates in any other theme.
The stand-alone templates can be used on individual pages but the template kits help you design every page on your website like the homepage, about page, 404 page, blog posts, archive page, etc.
I tried using a template kit by selecting a kit and clicking the Apply Kit button. But bloop, nothing happened and it threw an error. I guess I will need to contact support to be able to apply a template kit on my test site.
Nevertheless, I feel that the Template Kits filled an important gap in Elementor and now you no longer have to design individual pages if you’re starting with a blank site. Just pick your favorite template kit and get going.
On the flip side, if your site is well established then replacing your current design with a starter kit may not really be an option for you. In this scenario, you can explore the extensive library of stand-alone templates available in Elementor or design your own.
The Pro plan offers many more templates to choose from, so if you need a wider variety of templates and blocks, you can consider upgrading to the premium version.
Elementor and SEO
Are you worried that Elementor may ruin your SEO? Think again.
Elementor has no adverse impact as far as on-page SEO is concerned. Rather, it offers some useful SEO features for its users.
In the General Settings tab, you can set the post/page title and the meta description that is displayed by search engines like Google on the search results. You can also set the Featured image here.
But what makes Elementor unique is its full integration with popular SEO plugins like Yoast and Rank Math. If you use any of these plugins, you can access their features right from the Settings tab within the Elementor Editor.
No more going back and forth to the WordPress editor to tweak your SEO settings.
Elementor Pro Review
We have seen so many unique features of the Elementor WordPress plugin already. But as you already know, there’s a Pro version of Elementor as well. So let’s check out the unique stuff that Elementor Pro brings to the table.
As expected, you get a much wider selection of templates, template kits, and template blocks in the Pro version of the Elementor page builder. There are more than 300 templates to pick from in the Pro version.
To insert a template, you can either use the Template widget (Pro) or click the folder icon on the editing screen.
I have to admit that the templates in Elementor Pro are quite extensive. Finding a template for your specific needs is almost painless. No matter which niche you’re working in, you can discover a ready-made template in no time.
Better and more widgets
You can work with more than 50 widgets in the Pro version of Elementor. This is in addition to the 40 odd widgets available in the free version.
Some of these include the Posts widget (for displaying your latest or archive posts), the gallery widget, form widget, login widget, navigation menu, price list, pricing tables, call to action, reviews, PayPal, and many more.
If you’re still thirsty for more widgets, you can install a 3rd party Elementor widgets plugin (there are hundreds available) and these will show up in the widgets panel.
But beware, such 3rd party plugins can slow down your website’s front-end and the Elementor editor backend. More on Elmentor speed in just a minute.
From my personal experience, I didn’t feel any need to install a 3rd party widgets plugin since the Pro version offered all the widgets I needed for creating a custom website design.
Another useful feature in Elementor Pro is dynamic content. You can pull any type of content in the editor like site title, page title, featured image, post meta, tags, navigation menu, sitemap, etc. using the dynamic content options once you unlock the Pro version.
Also, Elementor is fully compatible with the popular Advanced Custom Fields (ACF) plugin. Using ACF or ACF Pro, you can easily insert custom fields in your Elementor content.
Do you need to reuse some widgets often and wish that you could edit these from a single place? Elementor Pro offers just the right solution for your needs.
You can save any widget as a Global widget and insert it on any page created with Elementor. What’s more, editing the widget in one place will apply the changes at all places where the Global widget is used.
This is similar to saving and using a global template. The difference is that a template can comprise multiple widgets.
Full website editing
All this talk of widgets, templates, and dynamic content has prepared us for the most exciting Elementor Pro feature – full site editing.
Remember, I mentioned that Elementor is not a just live page builder plugin rather it’s a complete website builder. Now is the time to explain it in detail.
The Theme Builder in Elementor Pro allows you to edit every part of your website and you can replace the following default areas of your WordPress site: Header, Footer, Single Post, Single Page, Archive Page, Seach Results Page, and 404 Page.
This way you will have a completely custom design in no time. Also, remember that you can always use a pre-made template kit for designing your website.
This is what makes Elementor different from its competitors like Thrive Architect that offer page editing features but not a complete website building experience like Elementor Pro does.
Do you dig fancy popups to display a Call-to-Action (CTA) or an opt-in form? You can easily do this with the versatile Popup builder in Elementor Pro.
The popup is completely customizable. For example, you can:
- Set the popup trigger condition like on page load, on scroll, on click, etc.
- Set the display conditions for the popups like display on particular pages, posts, categories, etc.
- Set advanced display rules like show after X sessions, show up to X times, etc.
- Integrate different email marketing services to capture leads, includng, MailChimp, Drip, ActiveCampaign, GetResponse, ConvertKit, MailerLite, etc.
I found the pop-up builder to be a real money-saving feature considering that dedicated WordPress opt-in plugins cost upwards of $50 per year. And you’re getting the pop-up and opt-in builder bundled in Elementor Pro without additional cost.
Custom Fonts and Icons
The free version of Elementor includes the default theme fonts apart from all the Google fonts.
Additionally, the Pro version of Elementor allows you to add custom fonts and icons with just a single click. To add custom fonts manually, you need some tech-savvy but you can easily add custom fonts in modern formats like woff2 by uploading the font file directly in Elementor.
The same holds good for custom Icons. All the Font Awesome icons are available in the free version. But if you wish to use custom icon sets, you can simply upload them and insert them within the Elementor Editor.
If you wish to create an online store, Elementor has you covered. It features dedicated widgets and templates for creating a complete e-commerce store.
- Product catalog pages
- Add to cart buttons
- Widgets for product images, ratings, price, etc.
- Landing page templates for ecommerce
Elementor also provides WooCommerce integration using the WordPress widgets panel in the Editor.
If you need more control over your store, you can check out these WooCommerce Elementor themes.
Elementor Speed: Does it slow down websites?
There is a justified concern among bloggers, web designers, and website owners whether Elementor negatively impacts website speed. After all, page load times are part of Google’s ranking algorithm so you would want your site to load as quickly as possible.
To test Elementor speed, I created a test landing page using one of the pre-made templates and ran the page through GTmetrix. I ran two configurations – without cache and with the cache enabled.
Let’s see how fast the page loaded without using any cache plugin.
- Number of requests: 79
- Page size: 1.86 MB
- On load time: 901 ms
- Fully loaded time: 4.4 s
- Time to interactive: 893 ms
- Total blocking time: 28 ms
- Largest contentful paint: 865 ms
- Cumulative layout shift: 0
Also, there are numerous images and videos on the page resulting in large page size of 1.86 MB.
However, on a positive note, the page scores well on the Core Web Vitals (CWV) metrics of time to interactive, total blocking time, largest contentful paint, and cumulative layout shift.
That’s why the overall page speed score is very good.
I ran another test using a free caching plugin (WP Fastest Cache) and here are the test results.
- Number of requests: 78
- Page size: 1.71 MB
- On load time: 611 ms
- Fully loaded time: 4.3 s
- Time to interactive: 693 ms
- Total blocking time: 16 ms
- Largest contentful paint: 589 ms
- Cumulative layout shift: 0
But it did improve the Core Web Vitals parameters like on load time, time to interactive, total blocking time, largest contentful paint. The cumulative layout shift remained zero as it was without caching, which is a good thing.
Also, the overall page speed score improved after implementing a caching solution.
How to speed up a slow Elementor site
From the preceding stats, it’s clear that you need more than a caching plugin to speed up your Elementor site. More often, it’s not Elementor that is slowing down your website, rather it’s the design elements that are added to the page that are the real culprit.
The following Elementor speed tips can help.
- Use local fonts: I always prefer to use the default system fonts to keep things light and fast. If you must use custom fonts, make sure to upload them and serve them locally. Elementor Pro has a handy feature to upload your custom fonts.
- Take advantage of Elementor’s speed enhancements: If you navigate to the Experiments tab under Elementor settings, you can activate experimental speed enhancement features like Optimized DOM Output, Improved Asset Loading, Improved CSS Loading, and Inline Font Awesome.
- Optimize your images: Usually, media like images and videos account for Lion’s share of the page size. To minimize the page size, you should optimize your media by compressing, converting to WebP format, specifying the image dimensions, etc.
Check out my complete guide on speeding up a WordPress site, which is equally applicable to websites created with Elementor.
Elementor pricing and support
I’ve already run through the features available in the free and pro versions of Elementor. Now, let’s check out the pricing of Elementor Pro. At the time of writing this Elementor review, there are 5 pro plans available.
|Expert Website Kits||NIL||NIL||20||20||20|
|Support||Live Chat||Live Chat|
|Price Per Year||$49||$99||$199||$499||$999|
Elementor offers free support on the WordPress.org forum. If you need help with any feature in the free version of this page builder plugin, you can search the forum or post your support request. The Elementor support replies within a day or two.
If you’ve upgraded your license to Pro, you can receive 1 on 1 email support and support replies take between 1-3 days. You can also join the Elementor Facebook group where you will receive a reply much more quickly from the thriving community of Elementor users.
If you opt for the Studio or Agency plans, you can enjoy VIP live chat support which is much faster.
Elementor Pros and Cons
- The best drag and drop page builder plugin for WordPress
- 40+ free widgets and 150+ free templates
- Many 3rd party widgets and templates available for free
- Small learning curve. Hundreds of free tutorials on YouTube
- Thriving community on Facebook. Easy to find answeries to any query
- Build a complete website using the Pro version
- Popup builder included in the Pro version
- You can get locked in and might need to recreate many pages if you decide to uninstall Elementor
- Email support is not the fastest way to troubleshoot issues
Is Elementor Pro worth it?
A single site license of Elementor Pro costs just $49 per year and comes with a complete website builder, popup builder, and many Pro widgets and templates apart from other features.
So, as far as value for money is concerned, Elementor Pro is totally worth it. For a small yearly fee, you can build a completely unique design and change it as often as you want.
It’s also worth comparing Elementor Pro to premium WordPress themes that are priced similarly. But even premium themes do not offer theme template editing features except for some Themeforest themes.
On the other hand, you can install a free Elementor theme like Hello or even the free version of Astra and then let Elementor Pro work its magic.
However, it’s also true that about 80% of Elementor users will not need to upgrade to Pro. Most users just want to design their homepage and other landing pages or create nice-looking blog posts.
For all of these use-cases, the free version of Elementor is sufficient. The free version works like any other page builder plugin. You can join the Elementor Community group on Facebook and shoot your design queries. Life couldn’t be easier.
But if you need more control over your design, want to use reusable premium templates, widgets, and website kits, or edit any part of your WordPress site in general, then Elementor Pro is what you should be looking at.
Elementor Review Summary
Elementor is the most popular freemium live page builder plugin for WordPress. While the free version is good enough for about 80% of Elementor users, the Pro version packs in quite a punch for those in need of a complete website builder, at a reasonable price
This was a lengthy review of Elementor. But hopefully, I managed to cover all the important features and uses of this hugely popular page builder plugin for WordPress. Now it’s your turn. Have you used Elementor and what has been your experience so far? I would love to know in the comments below.
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