The difference between a WordPress theme and page-builder

I was asked today to explain the difference between a WordPress ‘theme’ and ‘page-builder’, so let’s take a quick look at each item so you can understand the differences and decide which one is best for you to use.

What is a WordPress theme?

A WordPress theme is a folder of individual elements that when combined, dictate the look of your website.

Within the ‘folder’ are elements such as individual page templates, styling code sheets (CSS files) and possibly digital code files such as Javascript.

When you install a new theme onto your WordPress site, you will upload a zipped folder that contains the theme files. Once installed and activated, your site will be displayed according to the design styling coded into the theme.

Sometimes the theme will have individual page templates (such as a specific template for the 404 page or the Contact page). When you create a new web page, you can assign that template to the page.

Popular WordPress themes

There are thousands of free and premium WordPress themes on the market and what is best for your site is a matter of personal and business choice.

Having said that, there are a number of themes that stand out as being market leaders.

  • Avada is the best selling theme on ThemeForest, a WordPress theme market place;
  • Divi is a complete WordPress theme and page-builder;
  • Astra is a free WordPress theme, ideal for starter websites; and
  • Blocksy is a free WordPress theme (with premium option) that is just beautiful (I’m biased because this site uses the Blocksy theme)

What is a WordPress page-builder?

Where a WordPress theme is a complete set of design elements, a page-builder utilises individual elements that you add to a page to build it.

So rather than installing a theme to drive the appearance of your site, you use page-builder elements to build each page.

For example, you would create a new page and then use page elements such as an image block, or a text block, to build the page contents.

Elementor is one of the most popular page-builders available. Click the image below to watch a video overview of Elementor in action:

Click the image to watch a video overview of Elementor

As you add each element from the page-builder software, thus your page is created.

Page-builders also use page templates, where you can import a complete page and then edit each element individually.

You can use a page-builder in conjunction with a theme.

WordPress full site editing

One thing to consider is the evolution of WordPress into a ‘full site editing’ experience. Future plans for WordPress include expanding the customiser capabilities to enable almost every element of your website design to be edited, from the header to the footer.

Whilst it’s not there yet, full site editing should be taken into consideration when choosing your next WordPress theme.

As always, I am here to help if you need guidance when choosing or customising a WordPress theme – get in touch if you need help.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

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