Considering using Elementor for your WordPress sites? Our hands-on Elementor review will help you decide whether or not it’s the right option for your situation.
We’ll take a look at 🔎 specific things Elementor does really well, as well as actual downsides to using it.
Beyond that, we’ll share important information on pricing plans and alternatives to help you choose the best tool for your situation.
By the end, you should have all the information that you need to make a decision about using Elementor. Let’s dig in:
What does Elementor do?
If you’ve read the Elementor website or the WordPress.org listing, you probably already have a good idea of what it does.
If you haven’t, here’s your very fast primer:
In a nutshell, Elementor lets you design some or all of your WordPress site using a visual, drag-and-drop interface – no code needed.
You get a sidebar on the left where you can add/edit widgets (these add content to a design) or sections/columns (these control the layout of a design), along with a real-time preview on the right where you can see your design:
The free version of Elementor is only for designing individual posts or pages.
However, if you upgrade to Elementor Pro (which we’ll cover in our Elementor Pro review below), you get access to new features that let you design your entire site.
In fact, you can even use Elementor Pro to completely replace the need for a theme. You can design and edit your header and footer, customize the template that your blog posts use, and so on:
So there’s your quick introduction. Now, let’s take our Elementor review more hands-on and look at the advantages and disadvantages of using Elementor.
Elementor review: The advantages of using Elementor
I’m a glass-half-full guy so let’s kick off the hands-on section of our Elementor review with a look at the main advantages of using Elementor. Then, in the next section, we can take a look at some of the downsides.
1. A fast, real-time visual, drag-and-drop design experience
The interface of a visual builder is one of the most important elements…and Elementor does the interface very well.
First off, the interface is very fast when customizing settings or adding elements. It’s rare to encounter lag or glitches and the actions that you take are usually very fast.
You can also use inline text editing, which means that you can just click and type on the page to add/edit most text, rather than being forced to work from separate settings areas (though you can also use that approach, if you prefer it).
Beyond that, Elementor adds some really useful interface elements to help you work more efficiently:
- Right-click support – use right-click to interact with design elements. Not all builders offer this, so it’s really nice to have.
- Copy/paste – copy/paste entire widgets/sections or just the settings.
- Navigator – get a high-level look at the structure of your page (and rename sections to stay organized).
- History – view a full history of all the changes and revisions you’ve made.
- Finder – quickly jump to other content on your site just by typing its name.
- Collaboration notes – add notes to the design, which is great if you’re working with a team (kind of like InDesign).
Basically, all of these features combine together to help you create designs in less time.
As a nice added touch, Elementor supports both light mode and dark mode and will automatically adapt to your operating system’s settings. For these example screenshots, I’m using dark mode – but here’s what light mode looks like:
2. Detailed design options to give you full control
Elementor gives you a ton of built-in design options, which means you have more tools to customize your design without needing to resort to custom CSS.
The only other builder that I’ve used that rivals Elementor’s design flexibility is Divi – beyond that, Elementor is generally above other options in the space when it comes to design flexibility.
Even with the free version, you can easily adjust colors, fonts, spacing, borders, and so on.
With Elementor Pro, you get access to even more advanced design tools, such as the ability to create eye-catching scroll effects (what Elementor calls “Motion Effects”). See some examples here.
For example, here are some of the many options you get for a simple button:
Beyond individual design choices, Elementor also lets you set up a sitewide design system, which lets you control the defaults for colors and typography.
If you ever update the defaults, those changes will apply across your entire site (except in instances where you overrode them):
If you’re familiar with CSS, you can think of these as CSS variables.
3. Strong responsive editing features to create designs for all devices
Our Elementor review wouldn’t be complete without mentioning that all of the designs that you create with Elementor are responsive by default. This means means that they’ll automatically adapt to different size devices without you having to do anything extra.
However, if you want more control, Elementor offers a responsive editing mode that lets you go in and make changes for specific devices.
For example, you could change the font size for mobile visitors or hide a certain widget:
Elementor also lets you fully customize the responsive breakpoints on your site.
4. Full theme building support with dynamic content
- Single (the template for an individual piece of content)
- Archive (the template that lists multiple pieces of content)
You can also design the templates for custom post types.
This lets you replace some or all of your theme with designs that you’ve created with Elementor.
You can also use conditional rules to only apply the templates to certain parts of your site:
If you’re building custom content sites with custom fields, Elementor Pro also offers a dynamic content feature that lets you populate the content of a widget with data from WordPress data or custom fields that you’ve added with plugins such as Advanced Custom Fields (ACF), Pods, Toolset, or Meta Box.
In version 3.8, Elementor Pro even added support for customizing the WordPress “loop,” which gives you even more control over listing blog posts or custom content.
This new loop builder feature goes further than pretty much every other visual builder (with the exception of Oxygen, which has always had strong support for customizing the loop).
5. Strong WooCommerce support
If you’re building a WooCommerce store, Elementor Pro offers a very tight integration.
First off, you can use the theme building features from above to customize your single product page templates and shop listing templates.
In 2022, Elementor Pro also added dedicated widgets for the Cart, Checkout, and My Account pages, which lets you fully customize those pages using Elementor.
Beyond that, you get a bunch of WooCommerce widgets that you can use in other parts of your site.
Again, Elementor is above most of the competition when it comes to letting you design and customize a WooCommerce store.
6. A flexible popup builder
With Elementor Pro, you can skip using a separate popup or opt-in plugin because you’re able to design all kinds of different popups using Elementor’s visual interface.
Here are some examples of what you can create:
- Email opt-ins
- Contact forms
- Login/register forms
- Age gates
- Cookie consent notices
- …lots more
You also get a wide selection of targeting and trigger rules that rival dedicated popup plugins.
Most other builder plugins do not have a built-in feature, with Brizy being one of the few that does.
7. Huge third-party extension marketplace
When creating Elementor, the developers built it in an open way so that third-party developers can build their own add-ons.
That, combined with Elementor’s massive popularity, means that there’s a huge marketplace of third-party Elementor add-ons to extend Elementor in all types of interesting ways – much larger than what any other builder offers (though there are solid add-on marketplaces for Beaver Builder, Divi, and Oxygen).
These extensions can add new widgets, templates, features, integrations, and more. The full list is so extensive that you could easily write a separate Elementor review article on just the add-ons alone.
In fact, it’s almost like WordPress itself – with WordPress, you can find a plugin to do pretty much anything you want, and with Elementor, you can find an Elementor add-on to do pretty much anything you want.
Here’s a very small list of some examples of how add-ons can be helpful:
- Split Test for Elementor – this add-on lets you run A/B tests using Elementor.
- Essential Addons for Elementor – this adds 90+ new widgets to use in your designs.
- Dynamic Visibility for Elementor – this lets you show/hide Elementor widgets and sections using a bunch of different conditions.
- Elemailer – this lets you use Elementor’s interface to design the emails that your site sends to users. For example, if you have a WooCommerce store, you could design your WooCommerce transactional emails using Elementor.
This is just a small taste of what Elementor add-ons can do.
8. Popular and easy to find help/tutorials
Another advantage of Elementor’s popularity is that it’s super easy to find community help and tutorials.
For example, the official Elementor Facebook group has over 136,000 members, and then there are also lots of unofficial groups with thousands of members. The strength of the community is a positive Elementor review in and of itself, because it speaks to how many people love using it.
You can also find tons of YouTube videos and blog posts covering general tips or ways to use Elementor in very specific and useful ways.
Having all of these resources and communities makes it very easy to get the most from Elementor.
Elementor review: Main disadvantages of using Elementor
While we like a lot of things in our Elementor review, there are also some disadvantages to using Elementor. Let’s take a look at two of them below.
Performance could be better (but it’s improving)
When you use any visual builder, it’s going to add some extra weight to the page versus using the native WordPress editor.
However, Elementor is a bit heavier than some of its alternatives, which means you’ll need to work a little harder to create a fast-loading site.
The Elementor team knows this and they’ve been working hard to improve its performance, but it’s still not at the top of the game.
Here’s a quick example where I created a very simple design with four different builders (using comparable elements in each builder):
Here’s the full weight of the page (including the Neve theme, which I used as the base of the test site):
|Builder||Page Size||HTTP Requests|
|Native Block Editor (Gutenberg)||40 KB||8|
|Beaver Builder||85 KB||12|
|Divi Builder (plugin version)||153 KB||13|
You can see that all of the visual builders add weight to the page vs the native editor…but since we’re giving you a raw, honest Elementor review here, the fact is that Elementor adds more than Beaver Builder and even a little more than Divi Builder. There’s no denying it.
With that being said, you absolutely can build fast-loading sites with Elementor, so this shouldn’t be a dealbreaker. It is important to use fast WordPress hosting and optimize your site’s performance, though.
A bit more expensive (and no unlimited or lifetime licenses)
When compared to the competition, Elementor Pro is pretty affordable if you only need to use it on a single site, but more expensive than the competition if you need to use it on multiple sites.
Additionally, Elementor Pro’s license terms are not as friendly as some other builders because Elementor Pro doesn’t have unlimited site or lifetime licenses.
For example, with Divi, you can purchase a lifetime license for $249 that allows use on unlimited websites, including client sites.
With Elementor Pro, you’d need to pay $399 per year if you want to use it on more than 25 sites.
However, it’s not all bad. For example, if you want a yearly license and you only need it for a single site, you’d pay just $59.00 for Elementor Pro vs $89.00 for Divi.
We’ll talk more about Elementor pricing later on in our Elementor review.
Elementor free vs Pro: Which one should you use?
In general, the free version of Elementor is plenty capable if you just want a little more control over the design of individual posts or pages on your site.
For example, if you’re a blogger who wants to create a custom “About” page, the free version of Elementor can definitely handle that.
However, for anything beyond that, I think that Elementor Pro is worth the money. Here are some examples of situations where you should upgrade to Elementor Pro:
- Full site building (using Elementor to design all/most of your site)
- Building client sites
- Using Elementor for marketing (landing pages, lead generation, etc.)
- Creating a WooCommerce store
- Creating custom content WordPress sites (e.g. with custom fields)
The extra features and enhancements in Elementor Pro will more than pay for themselves for the types of use cases in the list above.
Elementor Pro vs Elementor Cloud Website: What’s the difference?
Another important part of our Elementor Pro review is the difference between Elementor Pro vs Elementor Cloud Website.
Elementor Pro is the standalone plugin that you can install on your own self-hosted WordPress site.
Elementor Cloud Website is a newer service from Elementor that offers built-in hosting plus all of the Elementor Pro features. Essentially, all you need to do is sign up for Elementor Cloud Website and start building – you don’t need to mess around with purchasing hosting and installing WordPress.
At the same time, you still get a fully functional WordPress site where you can install other plugins beyond Elementor.
This offers the absolute simplest way to get started with an Elementor-powered WordPress website. And, if you have a simple site, it can be a great option that’s very cost-effective.
However, for serious WordPress sites, I recommend using your own WordPress hosting for Elementor and just purchasing the standalone Elementor Pro plugin because it will give you more control over performance and your site’s technical foundation.
As we mentioned above, there are now two ways that you can access the Elementor Pro features:
- Plugin – you pay for the plugin itself that you can install on your own self-hosted WordPress site (or WordPress.com).
- Cloud Website – you pay for an all-in-one service that includes hosting and Elementor Pro features at no extra cost.
For a comprehensive Elementor review, let’s look at the pricing 💸 for each:
Elementor Pro plugin pricing
The standalone Elementor Pro plugin has four different pricing tiers. As of 2023, all four tiers have the same features and support – the only difference is the number of sites that you can use Elementor Pro on:
- 1 site – $59.00 per year.
- 3 sites – $99 per year.
- 25 sites – $199 per year.
- 1,000 sites – $399 per year.
I recommend starting with the smallest plan that fits your needs because Elementor will let you upgrade later and only pay the prorated difference.
Elementor Cloud Website pricing
With Elementor Cloud Website, you’ll pay $99 per year per site. That price includes both the built-in hosting and all of the Elementor Pro features.
If you only have a single site, that essentially means that you’re just paying $40 for a year of hosting, which is pretty good ($99 minus the $59.00 that you would’ve needed to pay for the plugin).
However, if you have multiple sites, you can probably save money by using a cheap WordPress host that supports unlimited sites and purchasing the standalone Elementor Pro plugin. For example, Bluehost’s unlimited site plan starts at just $4.95. So, hosting six Elementor Pro-powered sites would run you ~$265 vs $594 for Elementor Cloud Website.
Best Elementor alternatives in 2023
While Elementor is definitely the most popular visual builder for WordPress, it’s far from your only option when it comes to visual design for WordPress.
As such, no Elementor review would be complete without mentioning some of the other quality options.
Here’s a quick rundown of some of the top Elementor alternatives:
- Neve – Neve is a WordPress theme rather than a plugin. However, it gives you a lot of flexibility for setting up your site, such as a drag-and-drop header and footer builder. It also bundles in the Otter plugin to extend the native WordPress block editor with a more page building experience. You can even pair it with Elementor for the best of both worlds.
- Beaver Builder – this visual builder doesn’t offer as many features as Elementor, but some people actually prefer that approach because it keeps things simple. Beaver Builder is also pretty stable and generally performs a bit better than Elementor (as you saw in the data above). Read our Beaver Builder review.
- Oxygen – this full theme builder is a great option for more advanced users who prefer sticking closer to actual HTML concepts (e.g. <div> and Flexbox). It’s also very strong when it comes to dynamic content (e.g. custom fields and designing the loop). However, it’s not as user-friendly as Elementor, so it’s not a good alternative for casual users.
- Divi – this visual builder offers a lot of the same features as Elementor and is very strong when it comes to design flexibility. It also has much friendlier license options – the license supports unlimited sites and there’s also a lifetime option. Personally, I find Divi’s interface to be much less efficient than Elementor, but you might like it so it’s worth a try.
Should you use Elementor? 🏁 Final recommendations of this Elementor review
Now that we’ve reached the end of our Elementor review, let’s recap the main ideas.
Overall, Elementor is an excellent visual builder, which is why it’s grown to become number one in the space.
You just can’t find another tool that rivals Elementor’s feature list, huge extension marketplace, and large community.
If you just want a little more control over individual posts and pages, you might be fine with the free version of Elementor.
However, if you want to design your entire site with Elementor, I definitely recommend upgrading to Elementor Pro to access theme building, more widgets, more design options, the popup builder, and more.
If you combine Elementor Pro with a lightweight theme like Neve, you have a very powerful setup for building code-free WordPress sites.
If you just have a very simple site, you can use the Elementor Cloud Website service. However, I think most people will be better off using their own hosting and the standalone Elementor Pro plugin because it gives you more control over performance and it can be cheaper if you have multiple sites.
Do you have any questions about Elementor or our Elementor review? Let us know in the comments.
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