Since the COVID-19 pandemic emerged and accelerated e-business adoption, most notably via website and ecommerce channels, you might have spotted a lot more self-building website tools popping up online. You know the type that read: “no coding? no problem” … “create a professional website in minutes” and our personal favourite, “build websites like the pros.”
As professionals who actually build WordPress-powered sites for our clients from scratch with our own plugins, we were left wondering: “How do you build and design a professional website like a professional, when you aren’t a professional?” For some developers (and rightly so) it’s the equivalent of selling Michelin-star cuisine from a box that sits in the mass-produced frozen food section. To put this oxymoron to the test, we decided to check out DIVI, one of the original theme & page builder combos for WordPress.
DIVI is marketed as a “website building framework that makes it possible to design beautiful websites without ever touching a single line of code and without installing and configuring dozens of disjointed plugins.” It has some good design elements and templates which can be appealing for businesses who want a site that looks and behaves like every other. But a cookie-cutter solution rarely works for many businesses looking to establish a web and Google presence that is brand-centric and caters for its unique set of requirements, functionally and aesthetically.
One of the reasons we raised eyebrows with DIVI is its slow page loading times. This arises because websites built with DIVI are often bloated with unnecessary code, which affects page speeds. DIVI undergoes updates all the time – a little too much if you ask us, which may be attempts to rectify design flaws that users pick up. It works with large swaths of data that can make its software slower, resulting in a slower website overall.
Google has found that 53% of mobile website visitors will leave if a webpage doesn’t load within three seconds, which for us, does not position DIVI favourably in this regard. It is especially worrisome when you consider that Google and other search engines rank websites partly on the load speed of the site. Slower sites will fall low in the search engine results page as compared to their faster ones. This will harm their visibility which in turn negatively affects their traffic numbers.
From a user-friendly point of view, DIVI falls short when trying to edit page layouts for enhanced UX in that it:
- Has too many icons that hinder navigation
- Makes editing difficult with its rows and grids
- Drag and drop to where you want content to appear may violate the template layout
- The ability to “undo a change” is not seamless and can only be done from an edit history window.
The process of adding content to a single DIVI theme if you aren’t code-blooded isn’t the easiest. It’s like creating an online CV with a free template, and not having information or images sit where you need them to in the layout. It is also difficult to customise multiple web pages with a universal page template without the use of DIVI’s Post Content Modules, which can go unnoticed as a page building requirement. We have also found that the layout does not automatically transfer to mobile and other devices.
Switching a theme from DIVI isn’t the simplest process as you may not be able to move non-supported DIVI functionality to a non-DIVI website. Each theme – Divi included – has its own features, so switching from DIVI could prove problematic in the long run and may require the building of a whole new site.
In summary, we can’t say that we’re fans of Divi. Not because the web building platform is terrible, but because our site building from scratch approach is a knowledgeable and problem-free way to build websites that clients ultimately love, and so does Google.See related projects >