Will Gutenberg Kill WordPress Page Builders? Not So Fast…

Back in November 2017, the team behind Tailor Page Builder made the hard decision to bow out of the page builder market because of, in part, the incoming WordPress Gutenberg editor.

Will other companies soon be following suit? Does Gutenberg signal the end of WordPress page builders?

Well – spoiler alert – I don’t think so. At least not anytime in the foreseeable future.

But I do think Gutenberg will bring some changes to the page builder and theme builder industry.

In this post, I’ll lay out my reasoning and then we can, hopefully, dig into things even more in the comments section.

Gutenberg Is Not A Replacement For A Page Builder…

At least not yet…

That’s a pretty big caveat, I know.

But in its current iteration, Gutenberg just isn’t even close to a 1:1 replacement for a WordPress page builder.

Page builder companies should probably be sweating the vision for eventually making Gutenberg into a tool that can “go beyond the post into page templates and ultimately, full site customization.”

But right now, Gutenberg doesn’t even have drag and drop or columns.

So even if you ignore all of the other page builder features missing from Gutenberg like:

  • True front-end visual editing
  • Much more advanced styling options
  • Responsive design settings
  • Etc.

You’re still left with the fact that a columnless, drag-and-drop’less editor isn’t going to wipe out page builders (like Duda website builder)any time soon.

Yes – it’s likely that Gutenberg will get columns and other enhancements eventually. But at least in its initial release, all of this falls under hypothetical behind-the-scenes groundwork:

gutenberg columns

And The Big Players Aren’t Going To Go Down Quietly, Anyway

Putting aside the fact that Gutenberg isn’t a 1:1 substitute for page builders yet, there’s also just plain a ton of inertia behind the popular page builders that isn’t going to be easily stopped.

Have you ever checked out the developer communities for the major page builders like Divi (see Divi WordPress theme examples for yourself), Beaver Builder, or Elementor?

For example, here’s one Beaver Builder community on Facebook:

beaver builder facebook community

And Elementor’s Facebook Community is just as big:

elementor facebook community

Not only that – these page builder communities extend into YouTube, membership sites, and lots more.

These aren’t all casual users, either – these are people who’ve built the entire workflows of their businesses on page builders.

These are people who’ve built what has to be at least tens of thousands of sites using their favorite page builder. And not only will these people probably continue to use their tool of choice to build new sites, they’ll also have to maintain all those thousands of old sites that were already built using their tool of choice.

Until (and if) Gutenberg can not just equal the flexibility offered by the big players, but surpass it enough to convince people with entrenched workflows to shift their business towards Gutenberg, I don’t think we’re going to see the disappearance of the big players anytime soon.

But Gutenberg Will Likely Cull The Weak

There is one group of companies that should be worried:

If your name isn’t Elementor, Divi, Beaver Builder, Visual Composer/WPBakery, Blox Page Builder or, in the affiliate marketing communities at least, Thrive Architect, your life is about to get a whole lot harder.

I think we will see more of the smaller products go the way of Tailor Page Builder as they’ll now have to compete with:

  • The big name page builders for developer usage and website building
  • Gutenberg for casual usage and content layouts

While I never like the idea of someone’s livelihood being disrupted, there are, in my opinion at least, already too many “me-too” page builders that don’t offer anything new, so this consolidation was probably inevitable anyway – Gutenberg is just speeding things up.

With that being said, I think there’s room for these smaller page builders to pivot into integrations with Gutenberg…

Page Builders Can Work With Gutenberg, Too

Gutenberg doesn’t have to be seen as an all-out assault on page builders, either.

There are avenues where page builders and Gutenberg can work together to create an even richer, more flexible editing experience.

For example, in his post on Gutenberg, Robby McCullough of Beaver Builder talks about how the Beaver Builder team is embracing Gutenberg and already working on building compatibility between the two.

Similarly, the Elementor team is “looking into different methods to integrate and extend Gutenberg in Elementor.”

So what might of those integrations look like?

Well, what if you could, say…

  • Use all of your favorite page builder modules as individual blocks in the content that you design with Gutenberg.
  • Drop a whole page builder row design into a Gutenberg block. You could even save these like an Elementor Pro Global Widget so that you could, for example, create an email opt-in form that you can quickly drop anywhere in your Gutenberg content and update once from Elementor.

Those are both things that, rather than steal functionality from page builders, actually add functionality.

For example, sometimes you want to add a little advanced design to a regular WordPress post, but not so much that you want to completely fire up the page builder interface.

Being able to just drag in a block from your favorite page builder to the otherwise native WordPress editor will be pretty awesome – heck, it’s like a better version of what you can already do with Elementor Embed Anywhere shortcodes.

I think that, once developers get their footing with Gutenberg, these potential integrations could open up some cool bridges between the two.

Here’s What It Comes Down To

I don’t think Gutenberg is going to kill page builders. But I think the market is going to change (duh! I know). And I think that page builders that don’t continue to adapt in the form of:

  • Adding features that Gutenberg doesn’t have (which, as I told you in the intro, is already a pretty long list)
  • Embracing Gutenberg with helpful integrations

Will be in for tough times as Gutenberg matures and gains market acceptance (as much as something built into the WordPress core needs to gain market acceptance, that is).

I think the teams at the major page builders recognize this, which is why you already see talk from Beaver Builder, Elementor (Elementor vs Divi comparison), and others about finding ways to work with Gutenberg, rather than treating it purely like a competitor.

So What Do You Think?

Given the popularity of our posts on best WordPress page builders, I know that we have a lot of avid page builder users here at WPLift.

How do you think Gutenberg will affect the position of page builders going forward?

I know there’s been a lot of vitriol towards Gutenberg in the hardcore WordPress community. But while I’m still terrified about backward compatibility and what happens to all the sites built with ACF and such, I think the Gutenberg team has made a ton of strides and that the editor will be a good thing at least for new users.

I’m still not sold but…it’s better than it was. So if you haven’t tested the latest version, give it a look!

Other interesting posts on WPLift

Colin Newcomer

Colin Newcomer

Colin Newcomer is a freelance writer and long-time Internet marketer. He specializes in digital marketing, WordPress and B2B writing. He lives a life of danger, riding a scooter through the chaos of Hanoi. You can also follow his travel blog.

11 thoughts on “Will Gutenberg Kill WordPress Page Builders? Not So Fast…

  1. Great write up Colin. I am of a strong opinion there will always be room for page builder like Elementor / Divi. Remember, what you see in Gutenberg is not what you get on front-end (at least for now). But in page builders, the reverse is the case.

  2. So the Gutenberg mantra has now become:
    ● a good thing at least for new users
    ● Adapt or Die!

    This is not my vision of an open source project with a mission to democratize publishing

  3. Beaver Builder and Elementor keep getting better and adding solid new features, so not seeing page builders going anywhere soon. Gutenberg UI and UX is still not that great.

  4. It’s hard for us seasoned WordPress users to think from the perspective of new users, but WordPress has to become more consistent and intuitive. We saw a lot of pushback when the Customizer was implemented, and now we’re seeing that with Gutenberg.

    Gutenberg will ultimately be a good thing for WordPress, which competes with the user-friendliness of other platforms. Otherwise, it will lose significant ground to the likes of Squarespace, Wix, or even another open-source CMS.

  5. And yet, jQuery Migrate still squawks at me in the console (yes, I know how to disable it) and Automattic’s War on SVG™ continues.

    I tried Hindenburg awhile back and it broke most of my CPT and page builder extensions. I’m pretty sure that Gutenturd was mentioned in Dante’s Inferno.

    By the way, I think that you should add SiteOrigin to the list of love. I primarily use WPBakery solely due to the number of available extensions. I occasionally use Divi for novice clients (Divi is pretty fast and lean, too, but it lacks… literally everything I want). However, my favorite is SiteOrigin because it is clean and easy to extend. (The WPBakery extension framework is as ghetto as WHMCS’ and Divi is a _massive_ irritation to develop custom elements for*.) I wish that I had the opportunity to SO on more projects.

    I fear Gutenberg… It breaks everything and doesn’t add things that developers have been begging _years_ for.

    When the Challenger lands, I actually think that the Genesis framework will benefit most (and I hate working with it). It will add a “better” page builder but still retain the good features of Genesis, since they don’t compete.

    *To be fair, Divi has a pretty awesome community.

  6. Please stop comparing what Gutenberg is going to do, vs what the theme Customizer is doing to the themes. The Customizer just to begin with, did not force anyone to use, themes and plugins did not break, and it is merely a better choice for Option pages, just because one can preview the settings in real time. So, it did not break anything, it did not force it’s use, and it did not replace anything, just improved what was available.

    Fast forward to Gutenberg, the equivalent of software communism, where clearly the vast majority don’t want it, and yet it is being shoved down our throats, it replaces not just the current editor, but the entire way of editing, so it’s way more than an editor, and it does not solve any problems, it just creates new ones, by breaking themes and plugins. Because of the push backs, the scale of the dismantling of WordPress as we know it, has slowed down… the Shortcodes, the Editor Toolbar Buttons, and the Meta Boxes were initially to be deprecated and gone altogether, but now they are merely considered as legacy items. Meaning that, sooner or later, those 3 things will stop functioning sometime in the future, and we will be forced to create hundreds, if not thousands of block as their replacement, and the only way to customize anything will be with blocks. From day one, this was clearly their intention, and they will do it soon enough, even though they say they value our input (but clearly they don’t), and they don’t care how many lies and propaganda they have spread to get things done. WP 5.0 is expected sometime around April-May, and Matt promised that at least 100,00 installations are needed to test this disaster, and last time I checked, there were only 4,000 installations, with overwhelmingly negative reviews.

    The real embarrassment will come when most sites don’t update to WP 5.0, or a plugin that disables Suckenberg becomes the most popular plugin in the repository. Sad but True, (and there is my Metallica reference…) !

    Automattic clearly is the new Microsoft.

  7. Great post Colin.

    Considering Gutenberg doesn’t even support the ability to add multi-column layouts, they’ve got a long, long way to catch up to any of the major Page Builders out there. One of the main reasons that people use Page Builders is to be able to do prettier page layouts than the single column of text that TinyMCE allows. And considering Gutenberg currently only allows that as well, If anything, it’s only going to force more people into using page builders, due to its lack of functionality.

  8. I think in 5 years time Gutenberg will have killed off many page builder but like you said many big names will probably adapt and use Gutenberg to enhance their own builders.

    My concern is a log of people simply won’t update WordPress when Gutenberg is merged into the core out of fear their sites won’t work. We already have the issue of outdated WP installs being a big security flaw and Gutenberg might just make that worse. Of course the core WP users and business will update but we work with businesses constantly that are using WP 3.XX because of cowboy ‘web designer’.

    • > people simply won’t update WordPress when Gutenberg is merged into the core out of fear their sites won’t work.

      Exactly this.

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