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Elementor Review 2020: Does It Live Up to the Hype?

Andrea Schlottman
Andrea Schlottman
68
February 23, 2020

I’ll admit – when my editor asked me to write this Elementor review, I wasn’t too happy about it. I’d tried plenty of free WordPress page builders in the past, and never managed to stick with any of them for very long. As a web designer, I always felt they were actually limiting me.

Sure, I’d heard Elementor was “the best WordPress page builder,” but I was skeptical. How good could it really be? Well, after working with it for a few weeks, I can tell you it’s better than I expected. In fact, WAY better than I expected.

Read on to find out what made me change my mind and decide to give Elementor a chance for the long run.

What Is Elementor?

Elementor homepage

Elementor is a free page builder plugin for WordPress. Essentially, it gives you a drag-and-drop interface for WordPress, making your work process similar to what you get with popular website builders such as Wix or Squarespace.

You can choose a ready-made template or build your own feature-rich page with elements you can place wherever you like – no coding knowledge required.

Once you install Elementor:

  • You can create new pages with any style, layout, or functionality you need. You aren’t limited to what your current WordPress theme offers.
  • You can keep your current theme, as Elementor works with all WordPress themes (as long as you have Version 5.0 or higher of WordPress).
  • You’ll get an entirely separate (and much more intuitive) editor to build pages. You won’t have to use WordPress’s native editing interface.
  • You’ll be editing your pages from the front end, which means that you see exactly what your site visitors see in their browser – no need to constantly save drafts and preview pages.

Sure, there are other page builders out there that offer similar features, but they usually come with some big drawback: either they have awesome editing features but there’s no free plan, or they do have a free plan but with far fewer templates (that don’t look as good, either).

Elementor really does set you free, in more ways than one. Let’s take a closer look at what it lets you do.

Build Pages with 300+ Ready-Made Templates

As a professional designer, I approve of Elementor’s templates! Even if you have no eye for design, they make it easy for you to create a beautiful, professional-looking page. There are two template types: full-length page templates (called Pages) and smaller, individual elements (called Blocks).

Use a Page

The easiest way to get started with Elementor is to use a pre-designed Page. Elementor has 150+ Pages, with around 40 of them available for free. (Annoyingly, you can’t filter by “free” and instead have to check manually for the small “Pro” tag in the corner of each template.)

Pro templates on Elementor

To create multiple pages with different layouts in a cohesive look, you can choose Pages within the same family. Elementor calls these “kits”, but there’s no way to search for “kits” in the actual library. Instead, look for templates that end with the same name, like Travel or Digital Agency. For example, the Travel kit has seven pages that all look great together, including About, Gallery, and FAQ.

For even more variety, you can import Elementor page templates from third-party vendors like ThemeForest.

If you want total control over your design, you don’t even have to use a template – you can build your page from scratch.

Pro tip: By default, Elementor page templates are placed in the body of your page, which means that your theme’s header, footer, and sidebar elements will still be visible. Depending on your theme and the specific template you’re using, this combination can look pretty weird.

To remove these elements and start with a truly blank slate, go to Settings and switch the Page Layout setting to “Elementor Canvas.”

Setting up a Blank Canvas page template on Elementor

 

Use a Block

In addition to full-length Pages, you can use templates for smaller, individual elements called Blocks.

Elementor has 200+ ready-made Blocks for pricing tables, testimonials, “meet the team” layouts, portfolios, and more.

Elementor page templates

Like templates, some content blocks are free, while “Pro” Blocks are paid.

Pro tip: If you plan to reuse the same elements across different pages, you can create your own templates:

Opening a saved template on Elementor

You can also export your templates and use them on other WordPress sites. This feature is particularly useful if you build websites for clients

Drag a Widget

Unlike Blocks, Widgets are smaller, more contained elements like text, images, titles, and maps. You can drag as many Widgets as you want onto any page.

Dragging a widget from the left-hand bar onto your webpage with Elementor

Elementor offers 30 widgets that are free to use (and 50+ more that are paid), and you can also insert WordPress’s native widgets from the same toolbar on the left. Depending on how flexible your WordPress theme is, you might be able to achieve the look and functionality you want using only free widgets from Elementor and WordPress.

Use the Drag-and-Drop Editor

Once you’ve chosen a page template and added all the content blocks and widgets you want, you can use the editor to click into any element on the page and make local edits to it.

Since Elementor is a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) tool, you won’t have to click Preview or change modes to see your edits. You’ll see changes as you make them, but they won’t be visible to your site visitors until you click Publish.

Pro Tip: Maintenance Mode

If you’re in the process of creating or updating your site, Elementor’s built-in maintenance mode lets you display a temporary page and sets the correct HTTP status code for you. You can access this option from your WordPress dashboard.

Switching your WordPress site to Maintenance Mode using Elementor

While in Maintenance Mode, you won’t have to worry about accidentally publishing edits before the site is ready. You can choose one of 10+ Elementor templates as your temporary splash page.

While editing, you’ll use the left-hand toolbar to fine-tune color, font, spacing, layout, and more:

Editing text on your webpage using Elementor

One of my favorite things about Elementor’s drag-and-drop editor is that it gives you very fine control over every single element. You can adjust nearly every detail of your site’s content blocks, widgets, text, images, columns, and dividers.

Don’t miss the Advanced tab (shown below) for some really interesting options:

  • Set exact margins and padding by pixel or percentage
  • Add custom widths to elements and set fixed page positions
  • Position widgets, text, or images within columns
  • Adjust the width and space between columns
  • Add advanced motion and hover effects

Editing margins and padding with Elementor

Here are a few more features I found particularly useful:

  • When you right-click in the upper-right corner of any element, you see all the editing possibilities
  • You can duplicate content blocks with a click
  • It’s easy to undo/redo changes with Ctrl+Z and Shift+Ctrl+Z (or Cmd+Z and Shift+Cmd+Z on a Mac)

Elementor is compatible with translation plugins like WPML or Polylang, and it supports right-to-left (RTL) language display (for languages that read that way, like Arabic).

Pro tip: If you’re working on a very long or complex page (especially one that has elements within elements within elements), it can become difficult to find the specific pieces you want to edit, or even to understand how the multi-layered elements sit within each other.

The Navigator feature will soon become your new best friend. Just right-click on any element and select Navigator. This will locate the element you’ve just clicked on within the context of your entire site and automatically pull up the editing bar.

Elementor's Navigation feature helps you find the editing bar of each element you wish to edit

Make Changes to the Mobile Version of Your Site

While all Elementor templates are mobile-responsive by default, Elementor is all about giving you design control. With the Mobile Editing feature, you can fine-tune the look of your site on smartphones and tablets.

You can change the settings to show or hide elements, change column order and settings, and change margins based on screen size. You can even set different fonts sizes for different devices, to ensure the text on your site will always be easily readable.

Elementor's Mobile View editor

Heads up: If you build your page entirely from scratch without using a template, it won’t be mobile-responsive – but you can use the Mobile Editing feature to create a separate mobile version.

Pro tip: You don’t have to be in the mobile editor to make changes to the mobile versions of your site. From the regular desktop editor, click on the Advanced tab of any element to hide or show that element on different.

Editing your site's mobile version from the Advanced tab in Elementor

Pressure-Free Page Building: Version History

Sometimes one, two, or even three undos isn’t enough to reverse a design disaster. It’s okay, it happens to the best of us!

That’s where the History panel comes in. From this panel, you can either view individual changes under the Actions tab or entire versions of saved pages under the Revisions tab. Just click the Revert button to restore an older version of your page.

Elementor's Version History feature

Combined with Elementor’s auto-save, the Revisions panel ensures your hard work is never lost.

Nobody’s Perfect…

By now, you’ve probably figured out that I love using Elementor. But there are still a couple of issues you should be aware of:

  • You can make nearly unlimited changes to each page, but you can’t set many global (site-wide) styles without buying a premium plan. This can make it tedious for free users to achieve a consistent look across pages.
  • Fast and awesome as it is, the editor can be a little buggy at times. If it gets stuck, you may need to hard-refresh or exit and re-enter the editor.

Elementor Free vs. Pro: Which Is Best for You?

Elementor Pro plans

What You’ll Get for Free

Elementor stands out for its feature-rich free plan. For many personal and even business websites, the free version is more than sufficient. You can build custom pages with all the basic functions and use most of the fancy design features.

The free version of Elementor includes:

  • Full use of the page builder platform, including live design, mobile editing, version history, etc.
  • 30+ widgets for images, text boxes, maps, audio files, and more
  • 40+ Page templates (including royalty-free stock photos)
  • 100+ Block templates for FAQs, features, testimonials, “meet the team,” and many more

What You’ll Get If You Pay

There are three paid plans available for Elementor Pro. The only difference between the Personal, Plus, and Expert plans is the number of sites you’re licensed for.

Here are some of the most attractive features of Elementor Pro:

  • 300+ premium Page templates
  • 100+ premium Block templates
  • Global widgets – you can use the same widget on multiple pages on your site. If you need to make a change to your widget, all you have to do is edit it once. It will be automatically updated on all pages.
  • Elementor Theme Builder – you can create your own theme from scratch using Elementor’s templates for footers, headers, and more.
  • WooCommerce Builder – lets you add an online shop with 18 WooCommerce widgets.
  • Front-end form builder and pop-up builder, including integration with MailChimp.
  • Access to your site’s CSS code
  • 24/7 Premium customer support – you get priority support for help tickets, and you can allow Elementor reps to log into your dashboard to solve issues.

If you own multiple businesses or build sites for clients, you can upgrade to the Plus plan to get licensing for three websites. The Expert plan, however, gives you amazing value for your money. It costs twice as much as the Plus plan, but the yearly cost is still quite affordable – and you get licensing for up to 1,000 sites.

All paid plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

So Does Elementor Live Up to the Hype?

The short answer? Yes, it does. If you want full control over what your WordPress site looks like, without having to dive into its code, this is the plugin for you. Even if you do have the technical know-how to code everything yourself, Elementor makes designing your site so easy and intuitive that there’s really no reason not to use it.

Although Elementor lets you do almost everything on its free plan, if you’re building sites for clients, or your website is the main asset of your business, I do recommend upgrading to one of the pro plans. The ability to create your own theme, and the global widgets feature, make it worth the relatively low investment.

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