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
You’re still left with the fact that a columnless, drag-and-drop’less editor isn’t going to wipe out page builders 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:
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.
For example, here’s one Beaver Builder community on Facebook:
And Elementor’s Facebook Community is just as big:
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:
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.
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 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, 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 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!