Since Gutenberg’s release with WordPress 5.0, Gutenberg has improved markedly. I love Gutenberg because it gives you out of the box elements. Not only that, compared to the old way of building out template files, you can build a standard website quickly and easily.
When replacing Beaver Builder, WP Bakery, or Elementor with Gutenberg, you will initially find it has less options out of the box- but what you lose in immediate functionality, you gain in site speed and SEO.
Gutenberg lacks the huge navigation menu with infinite items, and infinite styling abilities out of the box. This means that yes, initially a lot of CSS customisations
Six reasons I prefer to build websites with Gutenberg
- Low barrier to entry. Bloggers, marketers and non coders can quickly and easily build pages with ease.
- Site Speed. Gutenberg is part of WordPress core, which means Gutenbergs structure is built into the WordPress framework itself. When you install a page builder, you are installing a software on top of a software, and the out of the box features significantly slow down your site.
- Custom blocks. Built in React JS, Gutenberg blocks can be built by a developer custom to your business needs. Need a tabs element that scrolls horizontally? Custom blocks can be built to achieve design features that any business owner can drag and drop onto the page.
- Hooked blocks. In Genesis development where you can hook sections of code into any section of the website, Hooked blocks in Gutenberg allow you hook blocks into the same registered hook areas of your site.
- SEO. Going back to point 2, site speed is one of the highest value metrics google uses to rank your site. Site speed affects your domain authority, user experience, and bounce rate. Not only that, when you use page builders you end up with excessive DOM size- that is, a high markup to content ratio, which is ranked poorly as an SEO metric.
- Less unforced errors. I use page builders only when client’s request them, and I have never had a smooth web build. Elementor, Beaver Builder, and the worst of all WP Bakery often malfunction- elements disappear, are suddenly deprecated, and the page builder itself freezes slowing down development time. It’s really nice making changes to a page, saving them and having those changes stay that way. Page builders often mysteriously revert back to previous versions, even after deleting your cache. Its frustrating and in the end it costs the client more money.
Control of page layouts
Gutenberg gives you a fair degree of control over content editing, but you couldn’t call it a true drag and drop editor. With the release of WordPress 5.3, columns are much more customisable, down the percentage width of each column.
Errors and speed
Gutenberg block content is saved in your SQL database, under the post_content database field. Page builder plugins either use short codes or save the content in custom fields, which can lead to other plugins causing errors displaying the content correctly.
When I build a client website in Gutenberg, I would say I average 5 plugins for a business website and 10 plugins including several Woocommerce plugins for an ecommerce store. In the grand scheme of things, these are low numbers. When I inherit a page builder based website, they usually have 20,30,40 or even 50 plugins installed.
Page builders have high Plugin dependencies, and non coders buy and use them because it achieves a certain design/function they want for a low-ish cost. The payoff is poor site speed. Not only that, but websites with high numbers of plugins as dependencies, are a down right nightmare to debug.
Downsides of Gutenberg
Although I am a Gutenberg developer, and use it on most web project builds, it would be remiss of me not to mention the use cases of where Gutenberg may not be appropriate so here we go:
- Because it is a block based content editor and not a page builder, there is no front end editing. This means a marketing or non technical person would not be able to build their site visually.
- Gutenberg has less responsiveness built into it, and a lot of CSS and particularly media queries are required to achieve the desire look on all devices. This won’t suit a non technical person building a website, or they will have to build what they can themselves and engage a developer to finish off the CSS.
- Out of the box, the amount of blocks available are much less than a page builder. This can usually be remedied with many of the Gutenberg extension plugins such as the ultimate addons for Gutenberg, or atomic blocks to add elements that are desired but no standard.
- Reduced control over page layouts. Gutenberg has improved in flexibility, but page builders do allow greater control down to the pixel, without any custom css.
Having just mentioned the downsides, I really must make a point: what you lose in initial functionality, you gain 100 times over in site speed and SEM. When trying to improve a page builder based website, I have only ever been able to get the site speed on GTmetrix to a D at Best. And thats using tools like Wp Rocket, Cloudflare, Imagify and so on.
Using Gutenberg, I can almost always get an A score, and considering this is considered the most important metric of Googles 200+ SERP rankings, I think this is the primary reason you should consider Gutenberg for your next web project.
Have you switched from WP Bakery or a page builder to Gutenberg? Comment below , I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Jane James is a WordPress web developer based in Melbourne, Australia but also services clients from Sydney, Brisbane, Newcastle, Perth, Adelaide, Darwin and Hobart.