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Gutenberg vs Elementor: Which is the best way to build a WordPress site in 2024?

By James LePage
 on June 8, 2022

Gutenberg vs Elementor: Which is the best way to build a WordPress site in 2024?

By James LePage
 on June 8, 2022

In this article, we're going to look at Gutenberg vs Elementor. These WordPress page builders are popular with content creators around the world. We'll be taking a look at both website creators to understand the similarities and differences between the two.

Overview of the CMS Space

Content creation has become indispensable for running an online business. The world of digital marketing is all about creating and distributing content the right way. And as you might already know, a website is where it all starts. Your website is your online identity. Ten years back, owning a website was expensive and time-consuming. You would go through the lengthy process of hiring a web developer and a web designer, and then spend days with them to get your website up and running.

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WordPress is a CMS

Thankfully, that is not the case anymore. Welcome to the world of page builders and block editors. Not to forget the king of all CMS (content management systems), WordPress. I have always been a big fan of WordPress. This open-source CMS has allowed millions of individuals and businesses to launch their business online without having to spend thousands of dollars. Such is the popularity and reach of WordPress that, today, close to half a billion websites use WordPress. In fact, each year, WordPress is downloaded over 2 million times.

Like all other things, WordPress has its own set of issues- too many options. Yeah, there are over 55,000 plugins on the WordPress Plugin Directory. And this number continues to increase day after day. 

This is where tools like Gutenberg and Elementor stand out. In this article, we will look into these awesome tools and break them down in terms of their features, ease of use, pricing, customer support, and others.

Gutenberg Overview

Gutenberg started in 2018 as a WordPress Editor plugin. Today, however, you have access to the redesigned and improved Gutenberg block editor for WordPress.

The improved WordPress editor aims at improving the website creation process by making it easier. How? The new Gutenberg does away with the need to write HTML and CSS code manually. Instead, even a non-technical user can use the editor to start building a website using Gutenberg.

You can drag and drop elements (in Gutenberg), aka, blocks,  into the editor and customize them as required to create a web page.

Gutenberg Addons

Given that Gutenberg is the default block-type editor in WordPress, you can easily find a large number of extensions and add-ons to improve and enhance the website creation process.

How about an example? 

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Well, you can use the Spectra plugins to add new Gutenberg blocks such as icon lists, user testimonials, and pricing lists. These features come in handy when you are developing a full-fledged website.

And you can do all this without writing a single line of code.

Elementor Overview

Page builders are great tools. Period.

I cannot imagine how difficult it was to build a website before the onset of these slick tools.

And when we talk about WordPress website builders, no tool comes close to Elementor

Think about this - over 8 million times Elementor has been downloaded and installed globally.

With its sleek and user-friendly drag and drop interface, Elementor makes it easy for anyone to create web pages without having any knowledge of coding or web development.

Once you install Elementor on WordPress, you will have a different interface to play with. What I mean is that its interface is different from the WordPress interface. I love the large number of widgets available with Elementor. Think of widgets as nifty tools to add more features to your website.

What makes the Elementor shine is its amazing design features. From modifying padding margins to setting custom positions, Elementor allows you to be as creative as you can. Using Elementor, you can create global rules for colors and fonts on your site.

Elementor allows you to create all types of websites- landing pages, blogs, e-commerce, and more.

What is the difference between a page builder and a block editor?

Elementor is a page builder. Gutenberg is a block-type editor.

This difference is important to understand before comparing these tools.

While using these tools, you might find a range of similarities, especially with their UI and UX.

However, these are not the same.

With a website builder, you can customize a web page to a high degree.

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Block-type Editors, on the other hand, are somewhat limited in the sense that they are dependent on the WordPress themes.

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One way to look at these tools is that a page builder allows you to create an entire web page, whereas a block-type editor allows you to add sections (blocks) inside of the WordPress page.

Unlike a block-type editor, a page builder lets you customize typography, colors, and other design elements of the webpage, without having to depend on the WordPress theme.

Trends: Gutenberg vs. Elementor

As of writing this article, Page Builders have an upper hand compared to Block Editors. But it is very much possible that in near future, a block-type editor like Gutenberg will have features comparable to a page builder such as Elementor. I even believe that in a few years, you can create a WordPress website without having to use a Page Builder - Gutenberg blocks will do the job.

However, block editors might not fully replace page builders due to the latter’s level of customization.

Features: Gutenberg vs Elementor

Both Gutenberg and Elementor boast similar features for creating web pages.

The biggest advantage of Gutenberg is that it works with all WordPress themes and plugins. This allows this block editor to be a universal component of WordPress.

Users who use Gutenberg blocks suggest that this block editor works as if it is an integrated part of WordPress.

Elementor, on the other hand, does not feel like it is integrated into WordPress.

For a lack of a better word, we can say it does act and behave like a plugin.

You should understand the fact that Elementor is a page builder plugin and not a feature built into WordPress.

However, when it comes to creating complex layouts and websites, Elementor shows amazing capabilities.

Compatibility: Gutenberg vs. Elementor

I am a big believer in systems that work seamlessly together, aka, are compatible. And since WordPress is a system built around plugins, it makes sense to know whether Elementor and Gutenberg are compatible with other plugins.

As I wrote earlier, Gutenberg, on account of being the default version of WordPress, works with all WordPress themes and plugins. If you find a theme or plugin not working with Gutenberg, you can almost always be sure those are outdated ones.

Elementor page builder does not work that way. It does not blend with every single theme and plugin on WordPress. In fact, you will find dozens of WP themes and plugins that do not work with Elementor.

Ease of use: Gutenberg vs. Elementor

I have always said that just because a tool has a plethora of features does not mean it is the right one for you. Your experience with the tool and your preferences play a big role in deciding which tool to go for.

In this context, both Gutenberg and Elementor have some advantages and shortcomings.

Given Gutenberg’s native integration with WordPress, the UX is seamless. You will not even feel you are using another tool when working with Gutenberg- it is just an extension of WP.

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Gutenberg UX

Installing new themes and plugins in WordPress would never be an issue when using Gutenberg, as it would work with all of them (minus the outdated ones).

Think of Elementor as a third-party accessory to WordPress.Having used this tool for a few years, I can say that it is overall easy to learn. However, for the beginner, it could take some time. Given its non-technical nature, it will most likely not pose an issue to playing around with features.

Features: Gutenberg vs Elementor

With Gutenberg, you can create modern layouts with great ease. You will find a large number of predesigned templates and block patterns with Gutenberg. This block editor is responsive and mobile-friendly. You don’t need to be a coder to use Gutenberg.

Elementor page builder lets you create beautiful web pages via its simple-to-use drag and drop interface. It boasts a large library of add-ons and pre-designed themes and templates. You will find dozens of styles across headers, widgets, and more. Unlike Gutenberg, Elementor allows you to be creative by adding carousels, galleries, and other design elements.

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You will find Elementor to be more advanced than Gutenberg when customizing a website. Unlike Elementor, Gutenberg does not offer landing page creation, marketing integration, or workflow optimization. You will find motion effects and dynamic content missing in Gutenberg.

However, you can install the If-So Dynamic Content plugin to bring the dynamic content functionality to Gutenberg.

Page Speed: Gutenberg vs Elementor

Ask a developer or designer, and one of their biggest complaints is that page builders slow down your website.

This is true in our discussion of Elementor vs Gutenberg as well.

With Elementor, you will experience the website loading a bit slower than working with Gutenberg.

However, compared to other page builders, Elementor is faster and better.

The kind of theme you use, the number of plugins you add, all contribute to the site speed.

Not to forget your web host.

Gutenberg vs Elementor: Pricing

Gutenberg is available for free.

This is also a small issue when it comes to customer support.

A free tool like Gutenberg relies on an open-source community for support.

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Gutenberg Github Issues
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Gutenberg WordPress Support

Elementor (paid versions) does away with this issue as you can always contact its customer support in case you run into an issue.

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Comparing Free vs Pro versions of Elementor

What is the sense of paying for a tool when you cannot assess it?

That is why I like Elementor.

You can try Elementor free of cost. 

With over 40 basic widgets and over 30 templates, the free version is just right to get started.

If you are an absolute beginner and want to learn web design with Elementor, the free plan is adequate.

Once you hone your skills and want more features, you can upgrade to Elementor Pro. This plan costs $49 a year per website. The Pro plan costs $999 a year and allows up to 1000 websites for agencies.

Unlike the free plan, Elementor Pro offers over 90 widgets, more than 300 templates, website builder kits, premium customer support, and a range of features.

As I said earlier, the Pro plan makes sense for users who want to create a full-fledged store or want their website to have additional features.

Pros and Cons: Gutenberg vs Elementor 

If you are not tech-savvy, you will find Elementor user-friendly. It is indeed easy to use. This page builder packs a ton of features both for beginners and advanced users. The level of customization Elementor offers is incredible. You can customize possibly every inch of your website.

Even if you for its paid version ($49/year/website), you are getting a lot for that price. Elementor integrates with a ton of marketing tools, such as ActiveCampaign, HubSpot, GetResponse, MailChimp, and ConvertKit.

I love the fact that this page builder allows you to optimize your website for Mobile, Tablet & Desktop Views.

The downside?

I have observed and heard from my friends and colleagues that Elementor does have performance issues when it comes to site speed. That does not mean that Gutenberg is all rosy. The block editor also gets clunky at times. It is difficult to switch between Gutenberg's editing and preview screens, which is a child’s play when using the Elementor page builder.

Elementor often releases updates (that’s a good thing).

However, I have realized that some of these improvements actually cause site issues.

A quick fix: always back up your site before updating Elementor.

Gutenberg offers several block types, the TINY MCE editor, automatically refactors old posts, offers searchable blocks, has individualized block settings, and comes with a handy informational box. On the flip side, the new Gutenberg UI is quite different from the TinyMCE editor. This could be an issue for those who are used to the older editor.

Conclusion: Gutenberg vs. Elementor 

Who is Elementor and Gutenberg for?

If you are just getting started, go for Gutenberg. Play with this block editor on a simple WordPress theme to get a hang of it.

Once you are a bit familiar with it, try the Elementor free version, and customize your website better.

If you are already an experienced coder/designer, you might as well opt for the paid version of Elementor.

Needless to say, if you are an agency, you would benefit from the paid versions of Elementor as Gutenberg would not be able to deliver to your expectations.

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Article By
James LePage
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James LePage is the founder of Isotropic, a WordPress education company and digital agency. He is also the founder of CodeWP.ai, a venture backed startup bringing AI to WordPress creators.
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