I’ve been using Elementor (Elementor Pro) for about 18 months (as of August 2022). I’ve deployed the software across five active websites and two staging websites. Elementor calls me an “expert,” but that’s just because I pay them more money.
If you’re debating whether Elementor is worth it, then I’ll share my experience as a blogger building online sites with Elementor Pro.
If you don’t know about Elementor … then how did you escape from The Village? This thing is huge! Over 11 million websites are built with Elementor. It’s one of if not THE biggest WordPress page builder in the world.
What This Elementor Pro Review Is & Is NOT!
- This is a non-expert review. I don’t purport to be a professional web designer. Like many of you, I’m just looking for a WordPress page builder theme that balances ease of use with customization. I’m front-end-savvy, but if you start talking to me about PHP my eyes glaze over and I just remembered I forgot to call my mom yesterday on her birthday …
- This isn’t a glorified advertisement for Elementor. In the future, I might be able to monetize this post with an affiliate link for Elementor, but as today, this website is probably too small to qualify for an affiliate program, even if I am a fan. You’re getting my raw, honest, unpaid thoughts.
- This isn’t a walkthrough on the nuts and bolts of how to use Elementor. This is an actual review with opinions. (I can’t stand “reviews” that just show screenshots of how to use the software.) The Elementor IT team has already curated a library of basic tutorials, so let me just squeeze out of the way and steer you in the right direction: Click here for Elementor tutorials.
- This review focuses on the Elementor Pro WordPress paid plugin paired with the Elementor Hello free theme. That’s how I prefer to use Elementor Pro, and I think it’s the best way. With that said, Elementor plays well with most any WordPress theme.
Is Elementor Pro Worth the Money (Pricing)?
Let’s get something straight … building websites takes money. You’ll hamstring your success if you’re afraid to spend any cash.
As of today, Elementor Pro for one website costs $49/year and Elementor Pro for 25 websites costs $199/year.
Let’s do a little math … $199 a year is $16.58 a month. That’s what, like, three Starbucks coffees? And I run five websites off Elementor Pro, so that’s $3.32 per website per month. Not a bad deal, eh?
You’ll have to decide for yourself whether Elementor Pro is worth the money. As for me, definitely. It’s not the cheapest page builder, but the functionality is more than worth the extra $1 a month per website or whatever the difference is.
Should I Choose Elementor Free or Elementor Pro?
Elementor Pro, duh! [insert affiliate link here]
Actually, here’s what I recommend: Try out Elementor (free) for a few weeks. Then, if you like it, upgrade to Elementor Pro using the Hello theme.
Elementor as a free plugin is not much more capable than the default Gutenberg block editor (although it is easier to use because it’s truly drag n’ drop). But the Elementor Pro plugin paired with another all-in-one theme adds unnecessary bloat to your website.
So if you like Elementor, go all-in and use Elementor Pro with the recommended lightweight canvas theme: Elementor Hello.
P.S. A word to the wise: Experiment with themes early on. Once your website is up and running and receiving 1,000 visitors a day, changing themes can become an expensive nightmare.
My Road to Choosing Elementor Pro
Today, all of my websites currently use the Elementor Hello or OceanWP themes.
- Elementor Hello is a canvas-type theme specifically designed for Elementor Pro users. You can’t use it very well if you only have the Elementor Free version.
- OceanWP is a free general-purpose WordPress blog theme, but it plays well with Elementor.
I’ve also tried Neve and Hestia. They were both good themes. In a past life many years ago, I also tried an all-in-one WYSIWYG theme that used WPBakery (formerly Visual Composer), but I can’t remember the theme name … it may have been the predecessor of Divi or Thrive Architect.
If you’re looking for the answer to the eternal question, “What’s better – Divi or Elementor?” then you won’t find that answer here. In my experience, most of your Top 50 WordPress themes are all incredible. World-class coding. You just have to pick one that’s the best for you, and I don’t think you can learn that without demo’ing a handful of themes and page builders.
The Top 5 Reasons I Like Elementor Pro
1. I Love the Elementor Pro Theme Builder!
When you pair the Elementor Pro page builder plugin with the Elementor Hello theme, you get a powerful one-two punch. You can design the visual architecture of your website from the ground up using the Theme Builder, which is by far my favorite feature.
That literally means you can design custom headers, footers, sidebars, etc. Or you can import site kits. And you can assign conditional logic rules so that, for instance, a footer will only appear on certain pages, categories, or subcategories.
Why would you want to do that, you ask?
Example 1: Landing Pages
Imagine your building a landing page for a marketing campaign. Do you really want a full-size header, footer and sidebar distracting the user from the CTA? No, you don’t! So you define a custom header and footer for all landing pages, thereby improving click-through rates.
Example 2: Archive & Category Pages
Most WordPress themes, by default, show Category, Archive and Search Results pages as simple results posts pages. With the Elementor Theme Builder, you can customize these pages to show whatever information you want, such as subcategories.
Example 3: Custom 404 Pages
Nothing is more boring than a stock 404 page. Add some wit to your 404 page. Better yet, include a menu of “Most Popular” links so users can get back on track.
Example 4: Effective Ad Placements
With the Theme Builder, you get complete control over your page layout. If you want to insert a full-width ad directly underneath your site title – no problem. If you want to include an Amazon Native Shopping Ad at the bottom of each blog post – no problem. If you want to place a sticky ad in the RH sidebar of every blog post – no problem.
2. You Can Still Use the Gutenberg Editor
Elementor Pro doesn’t replace the default WordPress Gutenberg block editor. You can still use both!
In fact, one of my favorite ways to use Elementor Pro is to build a template page layout with an empty Content Area. Then I copy and paste my content from Google Docs straight into the block editor. It integrates perfectly in the published version! (In fact, that’s what you’re reading right now.)
3. Elementor Pro Supports Common Integrations
Integrations are like underwear – you don’t think about them until they’re not there.
Look, as a blogger, you’re going to need an email list. You’ll (eventually) start a social media presence. And all that stuff requires software. And too much software starts to feel like herding cats.
Well, Elementor’s got your back. One reason I chose Elementor was because it integrates with SendinBlue, my email marketing software, and many other similar softwares don’t.
Elementor also supports MemberPress for membership websites, LearnDash for online courses, WooCommerce stores, Slack channels, ConvertKit, HubSpot, etc. You can read the full list of integrations here.
4. I Don’t Need a Bunch of Other Plugins
One of the cool things about Elementor Pro is it eliminates the need for many other plugins.
- You don’t need any other page builder plugin. No SeedPro, no WPBakery. Elementor Pro can (almost) do it all.
- You don’t need a form plugin. Say goodbye to Contact Form 7! Elementor Pro’s built-in Form plugin can do almost anything you can imagine, including follow-up actions.
- You don’t need one-off plugins for sticky headers, pop-ups, social media share buttons, tables of contents, galleries, sliders, carousels, etc. Elementor Pro has all that fancy-schmancy stuff built in. Just use them judiciously!
My one complaint about Elementor Pro layout design is the lack of support for tables. The Elementor Team itself recommends you download another plugin: TablePress (which is what I use). I like TablePress, but it seems kind of lazy that Elementor Pro doesn’t include data tables by default …
5. Elementor Makes Websites Easy to Sell
As I’ve said before, all websites end in one of three ways: You sell it, keep it, or kill it.
Selling a website built with Elementor is easy. It’s such a common page builder that most web developers are at least familiar with it.
I hesitate to say Elementor is too big to fail (Lehman Brothers .. too soon?), but I feel comforted knowing that it won’t be a one-hit wonder.
Caution! How to Build Website Designs with Elementor
I’m interrupting this regularly scheduled review to share some thoughts with you about how to design layouts with Elementor. Because I don’t want you to make some of the same mistakes I did!
Avoid Individual Widget Style
Elementor Pro comes with over 60 widgets.
And they will allow you to style a widget ad nauseum. From background colors to margins and padding to sticky overlays to custom borders, you can endlessly tweak it all. And it’s sooooo tempting.
I must caution you against this. A blog, by design, is 95% posts and 5% pages. You should be recycling the same layouts, same formats, same styles over and over again. Except for a few pages – Home, About, Contact, FAQs – your website front end should be controlled through global structure and style parameters. More on this below.
Don’t Fall for the Widget Gingerbread
When you first get Elementor Pro, you will fall head-over-heels in puppy-love with all the fancy Elementor widgets: flip boxes, carousels, countdowns, animated headlines. It feels like MySpace in 2005 all over again.
No! *smack.* Snap out of it!
You won’t use most of these fancy-schmancy widgets very often. And if you do, you shouldn’t.
Yes, flip boxes and galleries have their place. But a little widget goes a long way. Beware of making your site look like a carnival shooting gallery! (Plus, widgets can severely slow down your website performance.)
So use widgets in moderation. You’ll come to find out that the most powerful thing about Elementor isn’t all the gingerbread; it’s the global editing ability. Let’s talk about that next.
Take Advantage of Elementor’s Global Editing Workflow
What makes the Elementor Pro pagebuilder so powerful is the ability to define global parameters and templates. You can define global colors, typography rules, image layouts, CSS classes, global widgets, and section templates. You can l.i.t.e.r.a.l.l.y. craft your own theme without any coding! Mwa ha ha ha!
It’s INCREDIBLY powerful. You’ll feel like the Hulk of website design.
Here are some examples how you can control your website with these global tools:
Global Site Settings
Just imagine – with a simple click of the button, you can update the typography of every single H3 heading across your site.
Decided to change your theme colors? Just update your Global Colors, and watch as your entire site shifts hues like a chameleon!
Or another example: By defining a Section Template called “Affiliate Disclaimer,” you can use the same affiliate disclaimer in every blog post. Even better – when you update the master template, the changes will propagate to every location on your site!
If you’re not familiar with CSS, then this may sound a bit intimidating to set up. But I promise you – when you have 200 posts and 12 pages on your site, and you can change everything in 15 minutes of work, you’ll be grateful.
P.S. Fair warning: When you get started, understanding the difference between a Global Widget, Dynamic (Global) Template, and Static (Local) Template isn’t easy. Elementor doesn’t make it easy. Here’s a Freshvanroot blog post I found helpful on the subject.
Elementor Pro Plugin FAQs
Can I Still Use Elementor Pro If I Can’t Code?
Yes, you can.
But let me give you some honest advice.
If you’re code-phobic, you’ll always be struggling.
You don’t need to know how to hand-code a CSS stylesheet, write an HTML page or even know what the heck MySQL actually does to use Elementor.
But if you don’t even know how to define a CSS class or insert a “nofollow” attribute in a “rel” tag … you’re making life needlessly difficult. I promise you, you will waste more effort climbing steep “no-code” software learning curves than just taking the time to understand the basics of front-end coding.
And understanding the basics of front-end coding will at least allow you to avoid common mistakes when using Elementor.
So is any code knowledge required to use Elementor free or Elementor Pro? Absolutely not. But you’ll pour some octane in your design tank if you know the basics.
Can You Use Elementor with Any WordPress Theme?
To quote Elementor, straight from the horse’s mouth:
Elementor is compatible with most themes. To be compatible, the theme has to be well constructed according to WordPress guidelines.
Can You Customize CSS with Elementor?
Yes, you can customize and add CSS using Elementor.
Although you can add custom CSS in the WordPress theme customizer, I’ve had better luck adding custom CSS through the Elementor Site Settings interface. One time, my theme updated, and I lost all my CSS in the Customizer!
Custom CSS is where I add code for things like:
- Heading and subheading CSS classes
- Textbook, call-out and block quote CSS classes
- Padding and margin rules for unordered and ordered lists
You can also add custom CSS, like classes, to individual widgets.
Is Elementor Pro Responsive?
I’m old enough to remember when smartphones didn’t exist and responsive website design was just optimizing for different desktop monitor resolutions. Those were the days …
Anyway, those days are long gone (thank God). Elementor Pro layouts are, by default, responsive. You can even preview what a page will (probably) look like on a table or smartphone.
There are two features I would call to your attention:
- First, Elementor Pro gives you the ability to hide a section column on mobile or tablet devices. That’s seriously powerful. I use it to hide media I’m afraid will slow down the mobile experience.
- Secondly, don’t trust the preview 100%. You need to check a live mobile version of the website for yourself. I’ve had problems with Tables of Contents layouts or advertisements overlapping the content. No bueno!
Will Elementor Pro Slow Down My Website?
Great question. I agonized over this question quite a bit, myself!
Elementor Pro is … somewhat lightweight. (I can hear the laughter right now).
So, “lightweight” is a relative term. None of the WYSIWG page builders generate lightweight code.
But the Elementor team (based in Israel) has been responsive to criticism, and in recent years they’ve really paired down their core files and introduced beta options to speed up front-end asset loading.
They’ve slimmed down the DOM output by minimizing wrappers, split JS and CSS libraries, introduced lazy loading, and support custom local fonts rather than external libraries. Plus a bunch of other stuff.
I decided the sacrifice in speed was worth the increase in customization.
Are There Any Negatives/Cons to Elementor Pro?
Nothing is perfect (except my wife … awwww …)
But I’ve been really happy with Elementor Pro. I definitely recommend it. But like any software, it ain’t perfect. In an interview with Yaniv Golbderg, Elementor’s marketing manager, even Goldberg candidly admitted room for improvement.
Decreased Page Speed
Like all page builders, Elementor will slow down your website more than clean coding. You can improve performance by:
- Simplifying your designs
- Using a CDN
- Enabling browser caching
- Avoiding widget gingerbread
- Lazy-loading and compressing images
- Paying for dedicated hosting
Niche Kit Library
Elementor’s kit library isn’t as comprehensive as some competitors. If you don’t want to design your layout yourself, and would rather customize a stock website, Elementor doesn’t offer hundreds upon hundreds of kits. Personally, I don’t consider this a con. Too many options give me analysis paralysis, and Elementor still offers 100+ designs. Here are some examples below.
These kits are basically pre-designed websites. They aren’t just demos or templates; they are fully functioning websites.
Lack of 24/7 Chat Support
Speaking with a technical support person can be a challenge. Elementor’s support library is awesome, though. Lots of written and video content. Plus, the software is so popular that you can find lots of tips and tricks online. Getting a human to help troubleshoot your problem will take some energy, though (although it’s easier with the Expert and above plan subscriptions.)
No SEO Direction
No built-in SEO tools. Again, not necessarily a con, but there’s nothing in Elementor to double-check that you’re designing your website to SEO best practices.
Bonus Question: Will WordPress Gutenberg Kill Off Elementor?
There’s been a lot of radio chatter whether the WordPress Gutenberg Ful Site Editor will render page builders, like Elementor or Divi, obsolete.
Now, I accidentally used my crystal ball as a fish aquarium, so it’s now ruined, but here are my two cents on this question:
WordPress has been 100% honest that it plans to build the Site Editor and block theme into a Full Site Editor, similar to the Elementor Theme Builder.
Will this compete with Elementor? Oh yeah. Definitely.
But competition breeds greatness. Big players like Elementor and Divi already know WordPress is coming for a slice of their pie. That’s why you see them expanding into 3rd party integrations, cloud hosting, and ecommerce platforms. They’re investing in their UX, making it as intuitive as possible.
Something like 6.5 million websites use Elementor. I doubt Elementor’s going down without a fight. I think stronger native competition from WordPress will only make Elementor better.