In this Divi 4 theme review we look at Divi 4.0 from a theme perspective! I highly recommend you also read the VERY comprehensive in-depth Divi Builder 4 review!
Features of the Divi Theme
When I wrote my initial Divi theme review, back in 2015-2016, I critiqued Divi for being a very page-centric theme, in the sense that it wasn’t truly template-driven.
You couldn’t design a true template, and have it automatically applied to all other, current and future, pages and posts.
Yes, you could design a page or post, and save it as a “template” in your Divi Library (for reusable assets – a useful and time-saving feature, nonetheless) from which you could then apply it (manually) to other pages or posts.
The beauty of templates, real templates, is that should you want to change the look of all your pages, or posts: you do those changes on the template, and voila – it’s instantly reflected everywhere that template is used.
That’s the beauty of templates. Real templates.
Now, with Divi 4.0 – and its new theme builder – all that has changed. Divi now does have real templates. And it does them elegantly.
The closest you get to a “theme builder” is Dynamik Website Builder, which lets you build real Genesis child themes. Child themes that work, even after you’ve disabled Dynamik Website Builder (for ultra lean performance).
The Divi WordPress theme – worth it?
While the Divi page builder is quite good – the Divi WordPress theme isn’t that great. As a theme – it’s pretty average.
Simplicity of the Divi Theme
Simplicity is where the Divi theme somewhat disappoints. Especially in Divi 4. Not because its design options are particularly complex. They’re rather rudimentary. But because they’re split between two interfaces: the standard WordPress theme Customizer – and Divi’s customization panel.
Odd – and not quite as elegant as we’d suspect from Elegant Themes Conversely, the Divi Builder plugin is very elegant.
Why not consolidate it into one? As is, it feels like they transferred half of the old panel to WordPress’ standard Customizer panel – and then forgot to transfer the rest, leaving an inconsistent user experience.
And there’s no rhyme or reason as to which options are found in the standard WordPress theme Customizer vs in Divi’s homespun options panel.
It will confuse and befuddle Divi newcomers, and it will needlessly tax the brains of Divi regulars, on a daily basis.
Do you change design option X here… or there? Like a ping-pong ball, your mind will bounce back and forth for the answer. And until the Divi theme options have become habitual and thus hardwired into your neuronal pathways, you’ll occasionally look for stuff in the wrong place.
The Divi theme’s “multiple panel disorder” can feel similar to keeping your appointments randomly in two calendars. One on your phone – and one on paper. Which one has the details you need for that appointment tomorrow?
To make matters worse, let’s not forget Divi’s otherwise great theme builder – included in Divi 4 (Divi Builder 4 review). The theme builder also has its own interface. Now there are three distinct interfaces for designing your website. Kinda confusing!
The Divi shortcode controversy
What’s been so controversial, is the way the dear Divi theme creates its impressive page layouts. Technically, under-the-hood, Divi does its job; using shortcodes. As long as Divi is your active theme, these shortcodes will be replaced with your intended layout.
But – and this is a big but (not butt… you don’t want a big butt, do you?) – should you ever decide to leave Hotel California aka Hotel Divi: you’ll be in for a nasty surprise!
“You can checkout any time you’d like… But you can never leave!”
The Eagles – Hotel California (lyrics)
As long as you’re using Divi, there’s no problem. Beware: should you ever decide to switch theme at some point in the future, your dear content will be soaked in a sea of shortcodes.
We’re not talking “a few shortcodes here and there” – we’re talking massive shortcode pollution to an extent that will make your web site look like, well… a giant “waste disposal” site. Not nice.
Being tied to Divi might still be good for you though!
That said, it can actually be a blessing in disguise. How’s that? Well, too many WordPress users switch themes as often as they buy new outfits. But a website isn’t a Barbie doll. It’s the vehicle that lets you deliver what you are offering to the world. It’s a reflection of you (or your company) – and as such, it shouldn’t change much, fundamentally. Just like YOU. Your outfit may change, yet you’re still the same you, broadly speaking.
Yes, your website design should be updated every now and then, but in more of an evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, fashion. Being tied to a theme like Divi, might be good for you, then! Your brand will be more consistent, you’ll be investing more time refining your website, than wasting time, redoing and redesigning, year after year. And, you’ll have more time to focus on creating high-quality content!
Still, sacrificing your content in trust of the Gods at Elegant Themes, really is a choice you should be very conscious about!
To alleviate this widespread critique, Elegant Themes (makers of Divi) announced a Divi Builder Plugin, that can be used with any WordPress theme.
Problem solved? Partially. What if you’d like to stop using the Divi Page Builder plugin, for whatever reason?
Verdict: is the Divi Theme worth it?
It’s easy to think that the Divi theme would let you hit two birds with one stone: one neat package, combining theme and page builder.
Potentially, it could yield faster performance, a more efficient UI / user experience, or less feature-overlap (between theme and page builder) … Right?
That’s not the case.
Usually, I champion such integrated solutions, as they ensure a unified user experience and dodge compatibility issues.
But while Divi Builder 4 is a positively refreshing and dazzling page builder plugin (read review) – the Divi theme just isn’t as impressive.
It doesn’t yield better performance, the Divi theme’s control panel is cluttered, and there is overlap between features of the theme and page builder.
So for the ultimate web design combo, pair your page builder of choice, with the best possible theme. Mix and match to best meet your needs.
The Divi theme isn’t as well-rounded and versatile as Astra Pro. It’s not as easy-to-use as the Beaver Builder theme. And it’s not as lean and fast as GeneratePress (review).
Divi as a theme? Not necessarily. There are better options (see above).
Divi as a page builder? Possibly! Read the full, insightful, in-depth Divi Builder 4 review. As a page builder, Divi 4 isn’t too shabby! It’s capable and fresh!
I hope you enjoyed this Divi theme review? Are you already using Divi, Elementor, Thrive Architect or Beaver Builder? Share your thoughts below! Questions are also welcome – speak up:)