Gutenberg vs Page Builders (will they survive?)

My predictions for the future in 4 stages

In the last few years, several successful Page Builder Plugins for WordPress have appeared on the market:

Elementor, Divi Builder, Beaver Builder, Page Builder by SiteOrigin, Conductor, Themify Builder, Visual Composer and Thrive are just some of the the most popular.

Millions of websites have been built using page builders.

Many successful themes integrated with a page builder or created their own. For example Avada and its Fusion Builder.

Page builders lowered the barriers of entry to the websites development business for designers that didn’t have coding knowledge.

They also increased the number of WordPress users exponentially. Few WordPress directory themes integrated with popular page builders too.

These are all clear signs that WordPress needed its own default page builder. Especially to provide a standard for users, but also for themes and plugins developers.

I’ve read many articles and notes about how Gutenberg will affect the page builder market.

Most people agree that Page Builders will stick around for a while, after Gutenberg will be released. Because Gutenberg can’t currently compete with their features.

In my opinion they are not seeing the big picture and they are missing 4 points in particular:

  1. Gutenberg will be installed by default on millions of websites when WP 5.0 will be released.
  2. There are countless Open Source developers ready to contribute to Gutenberg success (and get their share of the pie).
  3. Plugin developers will ALL integrate their plugins with Gutenberg, while NONE really did the same for other Page Builders.
  4. Theme developers will create Gutenberg oriented themes

Smaller Page Builders will be gone very soon. The bigger players will resist longer.

If they don’t port their unique features into Gutenberg, they’ll see their number of users drastically reduced.

This will happen in 4 stages:

Stage 1 – Resistance

When Matt Mullenweg announced Gutenberg and the first BETA release, the community reacted with a lot of drama. The drama is still going on now and I personally believe resistance to change is the main reason for it.

  • Some Users don’t want to learn a new interface and new ways to do things.
  • Some developers don’t want to learn ReactJS or JavaScript in general.

Many complain about UX, but in my opinion their judgment is obfuscated by prejudice.

Gutenberg is a work in progress. It can be improved and it will be improved. Giving a 1 star review after giving it only few hours (or minutes) of testing is very shallow.

Most of the negative comments appear to be undeserved, because all of the problems that have been raised, can be fixed and most likely will be fixed.

The vast majority of users though, are quiet. Many probably don’t even know what’s going on.

Out of +8000 active installs of the Gutenberg BETA plugin, only 415 users submitted a review so far. 203 of them rating it 1 star.

A lot of WordPress businesses are working hard to be ready for the Gutenberg release. For example, we are making it possible to customize the templates of our plugin through Gutenberg.

Those who are not, will be losing the biggest opportunity to become relevant, in WordPress recent history.

We are still going through Stage 1, but we are quickly approaching Stage 2.

Stage 2 – Acceptance

Gutenberg, while still in BETA, is already growing faster in terms of features, than any commercial page builder ever did.

Every new release brings a lot of improvements. It won’t take long before it will become as good as any other page builder.

Some of the best developers of this community are working on Gutenberg.

An army of open source developers will soon start releasing their contribution to Gutenberg development too.

They will create plugins to extend it. They will develop Themes built with Gutenberg in mind and we’ll see more resources to develop custom Gutenberg blocks.

Several Gutenberg plugins have been released already and new plugins are added to the WordPress plugin repository daily.

The first boilerplate for Gutenberg blocks is Ahmad Awais’s Create Guten Block. Other tools will follow.

Stage 3 – Adoption

When Gutenberg will be finally released, it will be already almost as good as most commercial Page Builders.

Whatever will be missing, will be seen by developers as an opportunity to fill a void.

However, the biggest difference with commercial page builders will be the level of integration that major plugins will offer spontaneously with Gutenberg.

I see this as the biggest competitive edge.

For example, we never had the time nor the desire to offer some kind of integration with any Page Builders. The highest level of integration that we offer are shortcodes.

You can use them with any page builders, but you have to write the shortcodes in text blocks.

As soon as Gutenberg has been announced, we immediately started thinking on the best way to integrate GeoDirectory with Gutenberg.

Here you can see a description of what we are doing: GeoDirectory V2 Roadmap for Gutenberg integration.

We didn’t only create a custom block for every single GeoDirectory front end element. We are making it possible to design and customize the GeoDirectory templates, using Gutenberg.

I’m positive that many WordPress developers are working in the same direction.

After the release of WordPress 5.0, Gutenberg will be installed by default on millions of websites.

Most plugins developers will have created custom blocks for every bit of their plugins, making Gutenberg the most comprehensive and desirable Page Builders of all.

This will happen quite rapidly.

Stage 4 – Domination

1 year after the official release of WordPress 5.0, the authors of most minor Page Builders will have stopped developing their plugins.

Gutenberg will have hundreds if not thousands of extensions built by the myriad of developers that gravitate around WordPress.

Some will be excellent, some will be really bad. Some will be free some will be premium.

A new economy will grow around Gutenberg. It will revitalize the WordPress economy, opening new opportunities for those who are smart enough to seize them.

In a couple of years, only hard-core fans of commercial page builders will still be using them, while the vast majority of the community will have switched to Gutenberg.

Because it will offer a lot more and commercial builders won’t be able to keep up.

The fall in revenues will force their owners to slow down their development and support until they will eventually lose all their market shares and disappear.

The only way I see them surviving is if they use their experience to build whatever users might want to see in terms of Gutenberg premium features.

I’m sorry if this is not what you want to read, especially if you have stakes in a successful Page Builder, but this is what I predict, based on my personal observations.

Of course I could be totally wrong 🙂

What do you think will happen? Feel free to share your opinion in the comments down below!

Published by Paolo

Paolo Tajani is the co-founder and growth hacker of AyeCode LTD. With his business partner Stiofan, they are the makers of the GeoDirectory, UsersWP and Invoicing plugins for WordPress. Paolo developed his first WordPress website in 2008. In 2011 he met Stiofan O'Connor and together they started building and marketing successful themes and plugins for WordPress. Today their products are used by +100.000 active websites.

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