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.
What we REALLY need, is standardized content blocks that can be reused by themes and (page builder) plugins, in a widget-like fashion. I’ve written about that here.
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
Beaver Themer is great – provided you can use it: it only works with themes that support it, like f.e. one of the many fine StudioPress themes.
Using another theme? Don’t fret – all themes can be made compatible with Beaver Themer.
Now that Elementor’s theme builder works with any theme, Beaver Themer’s approach does seem a bit dated. Elementor wins that round!
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!
Great comparison. I actually test Elementor and Beaver Builder in free version and are familar with Divi.
I like the UI of Beaver, because it’s integrates well in Gutenberg, but i don’t understand, why you left admin panel after publishing a page. Shortcut CTRL+E don’t work for me. I know I can use CRTL+P to publish without leaving the Beaver-Editor, but for me this is a very bad UI.
Elementor in free Version offers much more Modules and I like the Inline-Editing and Wysiwig during editing Moduls.
Mike Crixell says
Nicely done opinion piece, Oliver, but it seems that you have a subjective predilection for BB. A more objective comparison between BB and Elementor would likely arrive at a different conclusion. Bottom line, using a preferred pagebuilder is largely subjective. As an example, I would choose Elementor’s features and user experience over BB’s any day of the week. A new contender, such as Brizy, is an interesting choice as well, at least for me.
Oliver Nielsen says
What’s your point? That I’m not entitled to have an opinion, on my own blog?
There’s no “subjective predilection” at play here.
You may prefer Elementor, which I also find good. Ain’t that a nice feeling? Being able to have an opinion – a preference – and have it fully accepted?
By the way: have you ever read a movie review you didn’t agree with? This is quite the same thing. It’s normal, and expected. What floats your boat may not float mine – and vice versa.
Robert Donnell says
Thanks for the good article! I still appreciate Beaver Builder and Themer. My hope is they continue to grow and innovate. Switching themes and builders is not a simple task for me at this point. KISS works!
Oliver Nielsen says
Absolutely! KISS works!
Hi. Great comparison. Have you compared and load time or front end performance comparison on either?
Oliver Nielsen says
Not yet, but may do:) Keep an eye out:)
JB Manos says
Oliver, time to check out Oxygen 2.
We finally have a real competitor tonwhat Headway allowed us to do years ago.
Oliver Nielsen says
Ed van Dun says
Both Beaver and Elementor will allow anyone who is willing to spend some time in learning beautiful websites. By and large they both give you anything you need. But the real future survivor needs to do much more. Not in the front but at the back. 1. Integrate ToolSet and alike allowing the builders deal with complex data models and custom fields, tags, taxonomies. Why? In order to connect to real business processes and exchange data. 2. Connect to directory services like AD for the very same reason. If B.B. and Elementor keep focusing on pebbles and glimmer on the front instead of connecting to business processes they will die for sure anyway. Kr Ed
Mike Crixell says
This comparison between BB and Elementor is somewhat disingenuous, simply because Elementor 2.0 has only recently been released and just a few of its many new features have been rolled out at this point. Still, despite your clear bias towards B.B., given your past usage and blatant fandom for it, Elementor earns grudging respect for its own power and innovation. It doesn’t upset me that Elementor built their own theme builder, either regardless or because BB had one first. BB doesn’t and shouldn’t own the concept any more than one car manufacturer should exclusively own the concept of manufacturing in a factory. These things are only a means to an end; and in each case, the consumer wins. So there’s that. Love, hate, use or ignore Elementor. Any of that the s fine. But by many indicators, it a verifiably great page builder and its theme builder is powerful and just now beginning to roll out a long life be of functionality’s and innovations. YMMV.
Oliver Nielsen says
Good to hear from you. I’m a fan of Beaver Builder, but calling it “blatant fandom” is stretching it too far. I’ve been very positive and excited about Elementor in other posts. Quite positive about Thrive Architect too. Unbiased and fair.
If anything, you sound like a pretty big fan of Elementor. Which is great: I’m all for choice, variety and competition.
As is clear in my post however, I strongly believe credit for innovation is important – even in a world of open source etc.
Elementor’s theme builder is so close to Beaver Themer that it can’t be a coincidence. Now, of course, when something is released – it’s “in the world” and of course competitors will build upon those concepts. I get that. But still: credit where credit is due! I can see why Elementor aren’t saying “hey, we copied Beaver Themer” – but independent bloggers like me are in our full right to point out fact and fiction. I hope you can see the reason in that.
Choosing a page builder is not about fandom. It’s not a sports game. It’s not hooliganism. If you prefer Elementor, I’m just happy you’ve found a tool you like to work with. Likewise, I’m on a Mac, and use an iPhone. I don’t care whether someone use Windows and Android. Good we have choice and variety.
Thank you for the in detail comparison of the two!
I often use the Divi theme and till now sometimes the Beaver Builder with the Beaver Themer. Because of the hype of the new Elementor Pro 2.0 I wondered, if I should try it. But I know that getting my skills up with a new tool to the same level as I got with my old tool costs time.
After reading your review I will stay with Divi and Bever and wait for the further development of the three tools.