NOTE: After moving to Ghost, this post is no longer as relevant, also in the end Elementor did have a lot of compatibility issues with plugins like LMS's! This post will take two parts, one at the start will share the journey of a year ago where Elementor a Wordpress Builder saved the site. After a year with that, it ended up being more trouble than it is worth, so I moved it to Ghost CMS. Saving it once again, but in a new way!
My site broke, and I was left with barely anything left. Take a moment today to find out how one WordPress Page Builder changed it all.
It has always been important to me to maximize the creative and design elements of any project I create. Especially when it comes to something as important as my website.
I wanted to simplify my work, so I started out with a theme or two. Allowing me to have a nice baseline, and at the time I was really wanted to make that "Hub of Innovation" idea out of a social network. Still might!
What ended up happening was that I realized that it was gonna be more complicated than it needed to be, so I simplified it to a simple course site with a blog.
I want to share the story with you about how the Elementor plugin saved my website!
Why did this happen?
As I said before I started out with a theme, since it was pre-built it came with a lackluster page builder: WP Bakery.
When I would go and try to edit the site, there would always be glitches in the back end. Hard to edit areas, for I believe they were so heavily modded to get to work. As well as many other limitations to the overall design choices.
I went through a lot of tribulations for this site, even after WP Bakery, so I wanted to write this post today to help you if you are in a similar place.
One day I go and edit a tiny couple things, make some posts, and then I checked the site. Boom! The site is completely broken, no page is loading, and there was no conceivable reason why. Nothing I changed should have done that.
There is the point of backups, but if I were I would have lost a lot of important additions.
Okay so the plan was strip the site, and remake it with a new page builder. Luckily most of the text was still in the backend, so I didn't lose any webpage content. I had to go in manually though, and scrape all my text while deleting WP Bakery code.
What happened next?
As it turns out there is a lot of page builders out there, and a lot of them seemingly were an interesting choice.
From Beaver Builder, Elementor, Divi, and more; There is a lot to choose from, and I had a hard time experimenting with them all.
What I decided to do was go try the free ones first, to see if I could even use them. I didn't like Beaver Builder, or Qubely, so I went to Elementor. Didn't like it yet, but I also didn't get the hang of it either!
I kept jumping back and forth between builders, which trust me was not a good idea. I kept losing my data every time too because the pages would get deleted in favor of the new one (Note: Some didn't, and could be retrieved once the new builder was deleted).
I've been building websites most of my life, most of the time out of pure curiosity. I love the creative expression, and the prospect of sharing what I know. I remember even starting with Lego mini website builder in the 2000's.
I bring that up because since then over 15 years ago, I have been using page builders (I.e. Wix or Webflow even), and that makes a heavy impact on my WordPress Page Builder Choice.
In the end it came down to three.
There was three choices: Divi, Elementor PRO, and Brizy. I loved the latter, but it was the new kid on the block. Had a lot less features that I wanted, and now Elementor has a lot of the features I liked from Brizy.
I went with Divi for a time, even started actually making the website, which was awesome at that point. For I was getting pretty distraught about not having a site for almost a month. The overall aesthetic was nice, and there was a theme builder. That was a really important tool to make things all work together, however I often had issues with getting things to work. Most of all the plugin itself was slow at times to load a page. Almost 30 seconds at some points (probably has gotten better though).
Here is the real kicker though, it was expensive, and when I say pricey I mean really up there. In the end I didn't like it much at all, and had to get a refund.
So what then??:
Back to square one, no website, no builder. At that point it was the two free builders (who have pro versions): Brizy and Elementor. Once again I found myself jumping back and forth, liking both, but in the end it was Elementor that allowed me to be creative.
I needed a tool that I could leverage for my creative expressive impulses. I.e. if I have an idea I want to try it real quick. See if it works, and such. Elementor at first felt clunky to me when I first tried it, but after I got used to the interface it got better.
Eventually I got the hang of it, and realized that in order to have a full site (header and footer) I'd need the pro. I had spent a pretty penny on the LTD version of Divi, so I was skeptical on buying anything else. As it turns out Elementor doesn't have a lifetime price, but their PRO wasn't too bad for a yearly cost.
I jumped on the bandwagon, and got started.
Watching video after video, reading their blog and guides, and most of all just being creative with the blocks. I got my first version down pretty quick, and although I had a lot of pages to remake. It didn't take more than a couple weeks to fully fill in all 30ish pages I was working on. Many of which have since been revamped, merge, or some deleted. All in all the site was reborn again.
One key thing that makes me really happy is that I was finally able to make the site dark, which with the themes before were all white based. The dark is much easier on the eyes!
A New Day (2021)
Now we sit here on a newer site still, and I could have easily just left this post alone. Although I thought it prudent to edit this one, rather than make a new one (which I sort have already lol).
This causes the site to be extraordinarily faster, which is something I could never fix with Elementor. It was super frustrating to have had made a rather simple site, with some flourishes here and there. I.e. the gears on the homepage rotated as you scrolled. I'd love to get that back on this one, although that would have to be hardcoded.
It was a really trying experience though moving over to this platform.
Ghost's Minimalist Problems
As much as I love being rather minimalist myself in life, and the tech here actually makes it easier to accomplish various tasks. The level of minimalism to the platform actually annoyed me. This is because two staple features of modern websites: A static homepage, and drop down menus, were not supported natively.
I literally went and looked at every single Ghost theme I could find. There is a very nicely designed, yet paltry collection on Ghost.org. As well as a handful storefronts around the internet, but the best luck came from Github. At the time there was about 2700 themes on there, some were forks, some were quaint, and others just down right not good (to is their own!).
I came across a fork of Simply, which had most of the features I wanted. Such as blog posts in a unique display, light/dark mode, nice layouts, and even special podcast and video pages.
The theme actually solved some of my problems I faced with wordpress, for things like custom taxonomies. I didn't need to make separate kinds of posts for those other formats, I needed a way to display those tagged as that kind better. Which if you go check out a video post for example the video will take up more space, making it a better viewing experience for example.
I managed to get past the two problems I had with Ghost's minimalism.
The static homepage I managed on my own with a variety of combined websites to provide knowledge. Even had a problem where the blog posts wouldn't show if I had the static page there, but I fixed that in the end.
However the menu was a brutal experience, and after two months of working on it. I finally got someone to hire to fix it.
The Benefits and Future
People can often say the things I say are hyperbolic, such as I went through all the Ghost Themes, I've tried over 90+ social media management tools, and that I went through all 11,000 plugins in the wordpress directory. However they're all true, and it is rather crazy to think about.
I would rather search through all of that, then settle for anything less.
Even if it prolongs my success. For example this site too a long time to get started, when I should have probably adapted, and started on the posts a lot sooner.
I'm happy with it all now, and I'm glad I made the decisions I did, and now that PolyInnovator is finally on here. There is a lot that can be gained from it. With the extremely higher speed, that I could never increase on WP, Google and other SE's will rank the site higher. It will be a better user experience for people like you.
Finally, the tag system is really interesting, and I'm excited to explore what I can do with it.
Not only was I able to create the site that I WANTED, there was also the fact that with other builders I couldn't make the site AT ALL. Divi and Brizy came close in some respects, but would have had sacrifices. Even Elementor fell short in the end, but that was also Wordpress too itself. A combination of both of them caused me to have far too much #metawork to keep me from writing.
I wanted to share this awesome story because of the trials it takes of a content creator, let alone a polymath. I may be versed in many areas when it comes to this, but even for me it was really hard to find out what I needed to do. When it comes to creating content I really don't want to be bogged down by the technical aspects.
When a tool like this can save me a lot of time, and even better make things superior? Then for sure I am going to go for it, and now with the frequent updates of the plugin since. There is more features, like theme builder, and blog post designer that make even more of a difference.
My site broke, a site meant to be a culmination of all the projects I want to work on all my life. With it gone (even temporarily) it left me upset, and with this tool I was able to save it.
The site itself is my home on the internet, and is my online presence. Without it I literally don't feel whole. I think that is a good thing actually because it means I am dedicated to making this all work!