Even though Elementor Pro 2’s new theme builder was launched with much fanfare as an industry first – a revolutionary quantum leap for WordPress – they didn’t come up with the theme builder idea. Beaver Builder did, and last year launched Beaver Themer, an optional add-on for Beaver Builder. Here’s how they compare.
What is a theme builder?
WordPress page builder plugins like Beaver Builder and Elementor use the term theme builder to describe their ability to create and control global website elements like headers and footers, blog + archive templates, and other website elements traditionally handled by the theme. A theme builder is a powerful supplement to your theme and lets you do more than you can with most WordPress themes.
See all WordPress theme builder reviews »
Anyone who has looked at Beaver Themer can see that Elementor Pro 2’s theme builder feature is conceptually a carbon copy clone of Beaver Themer.
The main selling point of Elementor Pro 2 is its included theme builder. “Included” is the key word here. Elementor’s theme builder is a surreptitious attempt at matching (i.e. blatantly copying) and one-upping (by including it for free) its main competitor Beaver Builder and its optional add-on: Beaver Themer.
Notice the word “optional” there. As an optional extra, Beaver Themer also costs extra, making the Beaver Builder + Beaver Themer combo more expensive.
I’ll get back to the pricing considerations later in this review / comparison, but first, please allow me to raise my finger and rant a little, about the virtues of innovation – and paying respect where credit is due.
Knowing the hard work the good Beaver Builder guys put into conceiving Beaver Themer, I couldn’t help feeling a bit sad when I read the launch copy for Elementor Pro 2:
“It all started as a crazy dream: creating a complete website builder solution for WordPress.Elementor Pro 2.0 – Introducing Theme Builder
Meet Elementor Theme Builder. With this release, you can finally visually customize your headers, footers, archive pages, single post pages and other areas of your site. This not only saves you time, but introduces a whole new drag and drop experience to building WordPress websites.
We believe the new theme builder capabilities will change how people create and edit websites. We worked months developing the most streamlined, simple process for editing every area of your site.”
Elementor certainly didn’t invent the theme builder – Beaver Builder came up with the idea and implementation, and launched it a year before Elementor. The Elementor team may market Elementor as a revolutionary new thing… but it’s new only to Elementor-users. Users of Beaver Builder have enjoyed the power of a theme builder since Beaver Themer was launched in May 2017.
“Who cares?” some may say.
We should all care. Innovation doesn’t happen by itself. Innovating something like a theme builder / Beaver Themer, is hard work.
Not hard as in “whoa, it took us 3 days of brainstormin’ and mindmappin’ but here we are” but hard as in “damn… never imagined we’d spend THAT many months developing the initial idea to fruition; all that prototyping, testing iterating, learning, refining, testing, iterating… Phew…”
Yes. innovation is that kind of hard work. It deserves proper credit. Period. That’s the reason I mention it here.
Rest assured: I’m not on a witch-hunt for “teh evil Elementorz” – business is business, it’s a dog-eat-dog world, and why wouldn’t they do their best to one-up the competition? After all, they’re an innovative company too – bringing new features to Elementor at a rapid pace. The new Blocks feature is powerful and can potentially save you lots of time.
Heck, it seems Elementor themselves “got copycatted” by Thrive Themes: Thrive Architect’s UI is so close to Elementor’s it can’t be coincidental.
I’ll leave it at that. Let’s get on with the review / comparison, shall we?
No doubt: Elementor’s theme builder is already receiving rave reviews, and is benefitting Elementor fans tremendously.
But so has Beaver Themer benefitted Beaver Builder fans worldwide.
Now that Elementor has joined the theme builder space, the big question to be answered, is this:
Who makes the best theme builder?
I’ve previously reviewed Beaver Themer in detail, and prublished a full Elementor review as well. Here I’ll review, compare and downright pit Elementor Pro 2 against its main competitor Beaver Builder with its theme builder add-on: Beaver Themer.
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Ok, on with the review:)
Comparison of Elementor Pro 2 vs Beaver Themer
To give you a quick and easy overview of the pros and cons of each page builder / theme builder, I’ve made you a table that highlights a focused selection of criteria, based on my own priorities as well as those of other users, across the web. I’m confident it’ll be very useful to you.
Below the table, I’ll go into more detail with its contents – including the shockingly huge difference in cost of Elementor vs Beaver Themer. Read on!
|Elementor Pro 2||Beaver Builder + Beaver Themer|
|Ease of use / Simplicity||3 of 5 stars||4.5 of 5 stars|
|Theme compatibility||Yes (allegedly)||Select list. Other themes can be adapted.|
|Sticky headers||Yes (shown here)||Yes|
|Show/hide elements by user-role and logged-in/out status||No||Yes|
|Custom Post Types supported
|Use with WooCommerce
||Yes (extra features in Elementor Pro)||Yes (extensively)|
|Use with Easy Digital Downloads||Yes||Yes|
|Use with Advanced Custom Fields||Elementor Pro only||Yes|
|Use with Toolset
||Elementor Pro only||Yes|
|Use with Pods||No||Yes|
|Cost for ∞ sites||$199||$99 (BB) + 147.00 (BT) = $246|
|Cost for 1 site||$49||$99 (BB) + 147.00 (BT) = $246
(same as above – all Beaver licenses are unlimited)
|Pre-designed Blocks can speed up design. Superior animation capabilities.||Best user experience. Exceptional support.
Easiest to learn & use.
Stronger theme builder.
|UI can be confusing.||More expensive.|
|More info||Elementor website||Beaver Builder website|
Which theme builder is easiest to use?
Here at WebMatros, my main focus has always been to find the simplest, most elegant web design tools.
So… When it comes to Elementor 2 vs Beaver Builder / Beaver Themer… Which one is easiest to use?
Overall, Beaver Builder is fundamentally easier to use than Elementor. The same holds true for Beaver Themer vs Elementor’s theme builder – albeit to a lesser extent.
Neither Beaver Themer nor Elementor Pro 2’s theme builder are intuitive to use, right out of the box. They both feel like additional functionality bolted onto an existing solution. Which they indeed are… and it shows!
It’s akin to a multimedia computer speaker manufacturer bundling them with velcro so you can also fasten them to your head.
… Or akin to using an electric drill with a whisk attached, to make a smoothie.
I prefer using a blender, to make my smoothies.
… And I prefer using regular headphones, thank you very much:)
Don’t get me wrong: both Elementor and Beaver Themer are powerful theme builders, and in a few hours you’ll have wrapped your head around them, designing your own custom headers, footers, archive templates, 404 pages and much more.
Still, I feel we (the WordPress web design community) are walking in circles. Elementor’s theme builder is touted as revolutionary – but compared to f.e. the Headway theme (sadly abandoned) popular in 2014-2016, we’re still left with cumbersome, peculiar ways to design WordPress websites. A common denominator is that they all still depend on video tutorials and written documentation for new users to grasp how to use them.
That shouldn’t be the case, IMO.
And that’s why I enthusiastically applaud the Gutenberg initiative. It’s exactly what WordPress needs: a 100% rewritten, rethought content editor experience. It’s not a page builder – it’s simply the long overdue content editor WordPress has been severely lacking for 10+ years. I’ve written more about that in my post on Gutenberg.
Elementor’s Blocks are cool!
That said, Elementor scores extra points with its many well-designed (downright sexy) header and footer Blocks. Blocks are pre-made, pre-designed sections you can use either as they are, or as a starting-point for your own, custom designs. They can be a huge time-saver.
Beaver Builder has templates too, but they’re full-page templates. Elementor’s blocks can be mixed as needed. A much more flexible solution. Well-done!
Beaver Builder does let you save your own row/section templates though. So here’s hoping Beaver Builder will soon have a similar feature.
Which theme builder is most powerful?
It’s evident that Beaver Themer has been on the market for a year longer than Elementor Pro 2’s theme builder. It’s simply more powerful. Not a lot, but it’s more full-featured in important areas:
Beaver Themer gives you more control
Currently, Elementor Pro 2 doesn’t let you display content based on conditional rules like user roles – whether visitors are logged in or out of your website and whether they’re administrators, editors, authors, or other user roles.
Bottom-line: Beaver Themer has stronger conditional display rules.
Beaver Themer has stronger layout options
Even though I know its power, it came somewhat as a surprise to me that Beaver Builder / Beaver Themer gave me quite a few more options to customize how groups of posts are displayed on f.e. blog index pages and archives (category and tag pages, etc) than Elementor.
In short, Beaver Themer takes Beaver Builder’s extremely well-equipped Posts module to the next level. With Beaver Themer, you can create blog indexes, custom category pages, and do so with gorgeous Columns, Masonry, Gallery and List post layouts. Impressive! Whereas Elementor only gives you: Classic and Cards. Masonry can be enabled though.
That said, both theme builders / page builders are plenty powerful, and you won’t miss much, if anything, in Elementor Pro.
For more on Elementor Pro’s many features, read my full Elementor Pro review.
A pricing comparison
It’s worth mentioning that each page builder comes with a yearly renewal cost for continued updates and support. Both Elementor and Beaver Builder offer a discount on these renewals, at 50% and 40% respectively.
Within reasonable limits, I personally don’t consider price the determining factor when it comes to selecting tools you base your website upon. Tools you use on a daily basis. You want the best! Plain and simple.
Still, pricing is an important factor to many. And there’s a HUGE cost difference between Elementor and Beaver Builder (with Beaver Themer). In the table above you can see how the calculus plays out for Elementor Pro 2 vs Beaver Themer. The latter is more expensive.
Whether the pricing difference is of importance to you: is up to you.
For the story behind the pricing of Beaver Themer, watch a few minutes of this video (from the 16:30 mark):
In the video above, the Beaver guys say they see Beaver Themer as a specialized toolset not necessarily making sense for new users… And when I reviewed Beaver Themer, I largely concurred. However, looking at the positive response to Elementor Pro 2’s similar theme builder feature: I’m not sure I can maintain that stance. People seem to welcome those features in the main product.
My take? They should’ve included Beaver Themer in the Pro package – and perhaps as a separate purchase for those not on the Pro plan. The added value would potentially bring in more sales, and more importantly: it would empower many existing users who would quickly see the value of Beaver Themer (of which there’s no light/free/demo version available) – and in turn be even happier with Beaver Builder than they already are/were.
Happy users talk. They share their product-love. They recommend their favorite tools to their peers and network. In the end, I wholeheartedly believe such a pricing strategy would benefit both the Beaver Builder team – and the Beaver Builder community. A win-win.
What about Thrive Architect and Divi Builder?
Now that both Beaver Builder and Elementor has a theme builder, it means half of “the core four” WordPress page builders: Beaver Builder, Elementor, Divi Builder and Thrive Architect now have a theme builder built-in.
Divi being available in two editions: the Divi theme and the Divi Builder plugin, means Elegant Themes (makers of Divi) are in a good position to either:
- beef up the Divi Theme to make it match the capabilities of Elementor and Beaver Themer. Or
- beef up Divi Builder. But it would be easier for them (and make more sense) to do it in the Divi theme. It’s a theme, after all. No reason to build a “theme builder” when you have a theme already. Makes sense?
Speaking of themes, Thrive Themes are rumored to be working on a new theme – a theme that will integrate their powerful, marketing-focused page builder, Thrive Architect. Personally, I can’t wait to see what they’ve been cooking in the Thrive lab. Makes a lotta sense to integrate Thrive Architect (reviewed here) in a lean, mean, marketing-focused theme.
Verdict on Elementor 2 vs Beaver Themer
Using another theme? Don’t fret – all themes can be made compatible with Beaver Themer.
Feature-wise, Beaver Builder (incl. Beaver Themer) are pretty equal. Yes, Beaver Themer does have an edge over Elementor’s theme builder, but there are other things (like gradients) that Elementor excels at.
All things considered however, there are two differentiating factors that’ll make your choice between Elementor vs Beaver Themer easy to make:
Pricing. And user-friendliness. Elementor wins on pricing. Beaver Builder / Beaver Themer wins on ease-of-use. It is considerably MORE user-friendly than Elementor. Of course, some will argue that user-friendliness is a matter of taste and accustomization, but if I had the time, and wanted to waste positive energy on being negative (which I won’t) – trust that I could write a very long post (or make a very long video) detailing the exact usability / UX areas where Beaver Builder beats Elementor. Jakob Nielsen (usability guru) would agree.
That said, Elementor’s pre-designed Blocks does help non-design-savvy users get a quick start. All’s not lost:) Elementor can be (a little) easy to use too:)
In a nutshell: when a tool is both more feature-rich (aka: powerful and flexible) AND easier to use: it’s a clear winner. So the best theme builder for WordPress, is Beaver Builder + Beaver Themer. It’s a winning combo that’ll help you design the websites of your dreams, with the least amount of effort.
I hope you found this Elementor Pro 2 review / comparison vs Beaver Themer useful? Feel free to use the comments below – I’d love to hear your experiences and thoughts on page builders – and now: theme builders!