How page builders encourage slow page loads.

Updated: June 2018
scapel

Because you like Elementor page builder plugin, does that make you’re a speed fool? No. Lots of people like Elementor (200,000+). But it doesn’t match our speed *philosophy* because it causes bloat. Not because of plugin page weight or load time. Because of human psychology. The herd can’t resist the temptation to create page-builder massive pages. It’s like a compulsive addiction. More is better is the assumption.

Elementor is the fastest and best of breed page builder. But we don’t endorse page builders!

For the computer to become “invisible,” you need 1-second page loads. That is when the user thinks they’re in control. That’s been the case with human-machine interaction for 30 to 40 years. Do any sites  achieve this transparency? Yes. But they’re only 1 percent of the Internet. Rare. It’s beyond the reach of most of our readers and costs big money to achieve.

All web hosts, theme authors, and plugin vendors make speed claims. Their proof to sell is vaporous. If there’s no anxiety, there’s no impetus to change. Our goal is saving the Internet from WordPress abuse. It’s never WordPress’ fault – or themes even. Most themes (Divi not included here) load in 50 milliseconds. It’s abuse that ruins websites. Overindulgence. We preach the evils of millisecond delays to get people to back off on design overkill.

Why do stripped down themes run faster? Because there aren’t options to fill with junk and bloat.

If you use a page builder, use Elementor. But realize it may not future-proof your site. We have a suspicion WordPress will “break” all page builders soon. On purpose? No. But they want to own that page-builder space.

We don’t use page builders on principle. Mobile sites don’t usually need them with only one column of content. We find page builders frustrating (slow). In the end, we get the same results (only faster) using discrete plugins and other workarounds.

We recommend using Elementor as long as you’re aware of potential traps. We steer clear of all page builders.

SEO guys say speed directly affects SEO. It doesn’t. It affect UX. And UX indirectly affects bounce rate, dwell time, and return visits. That, in turn affects Google’s perceived user intent. Get used to waiting for page ranking!

We satisfy the quest for speed, image stimulation, and short attention spans.

For over a decade, we’ve studied balancing expressive aesthetics (aka branding) and mobile speed. It boils down to value analysis of all web assets: combination, simplification, elimination, standardization, and substitution. And if you don’t have firm goals, you can’t make wise choices.

Market positioning is a creative communication strategy. It serves as a shortcut to the buyers motive. Users won’t wade through junk trying to figure out why you are valuable or why they should care about what you do. They don’t have the patience. It’s a much more intolerant world. But the world’s always been intolerant of slow things.

Page builders don’t cultivate essential or simple UX.

UX is about overcoming three critical things for quality-first impression (aka credibility):

1.) Speed being prime. Why? If you can’t get past this hurdle the user won’t hang around to even see your cool presentation. Page builders make available enticing options to overload the page with expressive design aesthetic. Too many extras. There are no limitations.

2.) Next attractive aesthetics. We react emotionally and holistically to what we see and instantly determine if a site is “good” or “bad.” Based on design appearance, we decide to stay-or-go. Too much clutter or moving elements can repel. Is this overindulgence the page-builder plugin’s fault? No. It’s lack of discipline on the part of the real builder – the site owner or developer.

3.) And lastly, readability and findability (like navigation and text size, etc). Websites are about reading content (or skimming at the least). People are foraging for entertainment or problem solving. Pictures are nice. But it’s words that communicate to humans – and are also machine readable. OK. Page builders don’t encourage you to put the wrong words. But we needed to include this for UX completeness.

UX is that simple. Three helpful things – not thousands of tricks. And metrics (big data) are a tiny part of the evaluation. UX is about *feeling right* and being polite. What meter exists for measuring hospitality?

Short user attention spans want to click a button every 20 seconds.

Anyone can make a fast stripped down site. But can you make one that looks attractive? That’s the challenge. How good is good enough? Do page builders help you reign in the desire to add more site features and functions? We don’t think so.

You merge simplicity, space, content, and colorful GIFs or PNGs. That breaks up huge content. It’s like orchestrating technology and design. Certain technology solutions bog down your site. Can you use faster-loading alternatives and still get the right feeling?

With a page builder, you can add heavy parallax effects in many places. Parallax effects now and then, break monotony. They allow a few seconds before the next informational landslide. It adds visual relief to a heavy cognitive load – a time out. Or breathing room. But often the a parallax image doesn’t reinforce the theme or goals. Then it’s a waste and mere eye candy. If you add heavy JPEGs then they better to do some work to motivate sales.

Using anything but system fonts on mobile is a waste of bandwidth. Mobile screens needs readable type more than decorative Google webfonts. Web designers don’t realize the utility of system fonts and fast loads are important. Page builders allow the choice of many Google Fonts. It’s almost a pressure to add fonts. There’s no warning of the speed consequences.

Hardcore PagePipe readers get 70-percent mobile audiences. Then speed pain becomes intense and the need to differentiate from the competition is high. You must build and test for mobile first (that old mantra) because if you don’t visitors have bad UX and bail out.

Fight waste. And resist faddish page builder trends. Classic design still communicates best. What can you eliminate or offload and still function? What’s the minimum viable product – MVP?

To be creative, set limitations. That includes the idea of not being seduced by page-builder features.

Godspeed—

Steve Teare
performance engineer

Mobile WordPress Speed – without coding!

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