If you're familiar with my personal opinion of website page builders you'll appreciate that I'm not a fan. They lock you into continued use of that builder to maintain your website functionality, so it's difficult to modify your website in any serious way once it is built, and the builders introduce custom shortcodes that are only available while using that specific builder or theme. Additionally, as a default component of many 'premium' themes the packaged builder will often fall out-of-date exposing serious security vulnerabilities, and they'll often include a 'premium' slider plugin that inherits the same serious flaws. In all our years of operations we've never inherited a website where these plugins were kept up-to-date. This lead me into a mindset where I was generally vigorously opposed to their use (despite their ubiquitous nature).
As we'll come to describe, Elementor is different. It's the first builder we've dealt with that allows the creation of a website to look however you want it - literally, however you want it... and it's the first builder we've used that has a quick-and-easy learning curve making it a simple process for any business owner to introduce professional design elements into their website. Whatever opinion I've had about builders in the past, they're an everyday necessity in the web design world these days, and Elementor is the only tool that provides real flexibility and continued design options - builders are for businesses - not us. Best of all, Elementor provides a free version which is suitable for most businesses.
While we provide our clients with an (optional) amazing conditional website, we still wanted businesses to have the capacity to make changes that might be required from time-to-time (and we wanted to completely eliminate your reliance on web designers). We also wanted to provide clients with a website that introduced industry-leading finance elements made available via drag-and-drop blocks. We've committed ourselves to the continued creation of various custom Elementor blocks that don't just provide amazing website functionality, but we also wanted the blocks to connect to Yabber in a way that never requires you to copy or paste anything. This methodology might be best illustrated by a simple YouTube block - you drag a block onto your website and select your video from that of your library... so no copying or pasting embed code, or even a video ID.
Providing you with the most powerful and highest-converting website experience in the industry wasn't enough... we also needed to make it a slave to your imagination.
By design, Elementor doesn't include shortcodes in the traditional sense. Instead, the drag-and-drop blocks provide continued functionality for various on-page features, yet we've still included a number of our own shortcode options for each block, and for a number of other shortcode features you'll use when writing posts. As we'll come to describe, we're not a fan of multiple website plugins, either.
The Problem with WordPress Plugins & Themes
Many web designers flock to the first generic plugin or premium theme that meets their needs (rather than the needs of their client) without consideration to the security and page-load consequences the usage might have on their website. The end result of indiscriminate plugin results is listed in brief below:
- Indiscriminate usage of plugins often results in a huge suite of generic products from various vendors. We routinely encounter websites with upwards of 40 plugins (sometimes much higher). While many argue the “quality over quantity” message, it stands to reason that the more lines of code a computer has to evaluate, the longer it takes to return a result. Also, large numbers of uncontrolled plugins installed on your website presents numerous ‘entry points’ for hackers by way of outdated or vulnerable scripts.
- Many plugins provide a paywall (or yearly licence fee) for premium features and critical security updates. They’ll often ‘hijack’ your dashboard with advertising and unwanted feeds. Many have malware installed as a “feature”.
- Plugins will decrease website performance. While having just a few plugins is generally acceptable (far more if they’re optimised and secure), installing a large number or plugins without first auditing its impact on your website is reckless.
- The WordPress core code is maintained by an army of experts that are generally quick to fix security exploits. However, because WordPress’ codebase is open-source, those that have less-than-honourable intentions will heavily scrutinise the code for vulnerabilities (often finding weaknesses before the dedicated WordPress security team). Hackers will also investigate popular plugins for vulnerable code and other security exploits because of their widespread use. Plugin developers are usually much slower to provide essential security fixes than the WordPress teams (assuming a fix is presented at all).
- The premium WordPress plugin and theme model is fraught with dangers because businesses rarely update expired plugins or themes with the necessary (paid) patches. This danger is promulgated by theme developers that are in cahoots with plugin authors to provide a free entry level plugin (an unlicensed version) in a theme package. If you’ve ever purchased a theme with a slider it’s likely you have already encountered this problem. Your current slider plugin is probably out of data and may contain security holes.
- Usage of multiple plugins often results in unnecessary feature overlap.
Some of the most popular WordPress plugins – including Yoast SEO – are historical sources of some of the most significant security vulnerabilities. If you’ve ever installed Contact Form 7, Mailchimp for WordPress, or Wordfence (just three of thousands of examples) your website was likely vulnerable at some point in its life; if you weren’t hacked it’s likely the nefarious cave-dwellers just didn’t find you.
With over 50,000 plugins in the WordPress repository, the community-oriented feature is both WordPress’ premium selling point and its Achilles' heel. We absolutelyuse plugins but we simply need to be more cautious about how they’re used.
The speed issue associated with plugins doesn’t necessarily compare to WordPress’ slow architecture overall. By its very nature, WP is an extremely slow and resource-hungry platform. In the very early days of web development we were crucified for pages that exceed 50 kilobytes – we’re now seeing pages that average around 8MB in size. In a world of Google’s ‘Mobile First’ mantra we’re obligated to provide a more streamlined and fast-loading experience… and responsive desktop designs.
One of the many advantages of using Yabber is that we’ve built in features that replace the hard-to-use WordPress back-end. All our plugin options are submitted directly via Yabber to any of your registered websites. This methodology replaces the older and very comprehensive plugin we once made available. We still provide a plugin but it only requires you enter your Platform API Key, Secret, and your personal API Key.
The Elementor Page Builder
Having just discussed all the reasons why we don’t like website plugins, lock-in themes, the ongoing licencing issues associated with plugin support and so on, we now we use Elementor Page Builder on your WordPress website so you have access to an ongoing and premium facility to update your website yourself.
Virtually every website we inherit has an unlicensed and out-of-date copy of WP Bakery or Beaver Builder – both page builders, and neither of which we’d ever use or endorse. This leaves your website vulnerable. We were acutely aware that we needed a design solution that gave businesses full control over how pages were built, how features were integrated, but more importantly, we needed a tool that we could build upon to incorporate our own drag-and-drop features.
Enter Elementor. Elementor provides one-click actions from everything required to build a page or a full website. It includes global templates, generic templates for pages, blocks (such as the elements necessary to build your front page). The builder works by dragging and dropping blocks of content into a page which are immediately rendered, with each block of content altered for what is literally a pixel-perfect design on both desktops and mobiles. We build your complimentary turnkey website with Elementor so a licenced and always up-to-date version is always installed on your complementary website. Best of all, it’s so easy to use that you’ll be building professional designs and altering the website we provide you in just a few minutes.
There’s plenty of 'help' documentation on Elementor's website , and we’ll have a bunch of videos in BeLearn to help you fast-track your designs (not that they're immediately required).
Part of the reason we chose Elementor – apart from the fact is really is the best builder on the market – is because we extend the features of the software to include our own drag-and-drop blocks. For example, we provide blocks for the following (a non-exhaustive list that is growing by the week):
- Because our Wistia integration includes a client email by default we obviously need to automatically apply the email to the embed code. We provide a drag-and-drop Wistia block for a featured video and a block of three videos for other content (of course escalation applies for each). You select your up-to-date video from a select menu (no copying and pasting), and drag the block into your page. We also include a Wistia 'button' which launches a Wistia video modal. It’s ridiculously easy.
- In addition to the one-click creation of landing pages via Yabber, entire landing pages and panels may be created by simply dragging a block into your page. We’ve built the integration so we suck in the values from Yabber and return a ready-to-go landing page in about a second. The same applies for in-page landing panels and subscription forms (remembering that escalation and conditional features apply to these panels).
- Mortgage calculators are rendered on a page by dragging the relevant calculator block into your page. No copying of code or any other ridiculous requirement is imposed on you. Absolutely no skill is necessary.
- Conditional panels (such as state-based first home buyer information), or any other conditional content which is rendered based on known user behaviours, is another block that is simply rendered directly into a page. Any concerns you might have had about the complexity associated with this feature should now be removed – the whole process takes 2 seconds.
- Venus reports, bank icons, mortgage graphs, download boxes, event forms, and other blocks are all rendered via a drag and drop interface.
We expect to build Elementor blocks specifically for the finance industry as a need is introduced to us. The standard blocks made available to you via Elementor permit you to build literally any website feature in a matter of seconds – you’ll never need a web designer ever again!
Pictured: Landing Page Elementor Options (the left hand image shows a number of BM blocks). Values are extracted via the Platform but can be altered to your liking. Creating a landing page takes just a few seconds and all automation as defined by you on the Platform will automatically and immediately be applied.
Pictured: A Wistia video will inherit the default attributes that are defined on the Platform, although you may individually alter attributes such as volume, colour, popup type, thumbnail, and other features directly via Belief’s Wistia block. Each block, regardless of what that block is for, will provide a number of options that alter the final output.
Pictured: Want to include a design element into any page? Simply select your templates button and a modal is returned with hundreds of (growing) default templates that can be imported directly into your page. Then simply alter the text. Elementor is extremely easy to use.
Pictured: Building full page designs (if required) is often as simply as selecting one of the hundreds of pre-built designs and clicking ‘Import’. If you were starting from scratch a full site could be built in less than an hour. Don’t ever use services such as WIX website builder – they’re seriously limiting your marketing potential.
The Belief plugin obviously enables all our Elementor features. We do have a second plugin that should usually be used to enable our Elementor blocks, and this plugin can be downloaded from the Platform (we’ll install it for you if you’re using our turnkey product).
Altering text, designs, footers, headers, or anything else is super-simple and is usually actioned in seconds. Pre-build and default blocks for inclusion on pages includes funky features such as galleries, icon lists, accordion text areas, tabbed sections, alerts, navigation menus, sliders, animations, pricing tables, call to action buttons, and so on. If Elementor doesn’t provide a feature you’re looking for, we’ll build it!
If you’re not one of our clients (but you’re interested in Elementor) the company that has made Elementor provide a free plugin that includes a number of features - you may download it from WordPress by searching for simply 'Elementor '. Elementor also provides a super-fast theme that provides for the perfect canvas upon which to paint your website. If you’re one of our clients and you’re not using Elementor (and don’t want to use it), adding features is just as easy via simple shortcodes.
Managing Website Plugin Features
We no longer provide back-end management features via client plugin (for example, our former SEO Plugin is now replaced by a Yabber-driven automated SEO features). Instead, the only plugin we now provide is used to provide connectivity with Yabber, and Yabber is used to update all of our 'plugin' and site options. The manner in which website features are introduced in another article.
The important feature to understand is that the default values of Elementor blocks (and those of major shortcodes) are managed via Yabber. We've designed the complimentary website in a manner that negates your need to log into WordPress to adjust minor code, major front page features, plugin styling, or the escalating defaults. The primary system advantage that comes from a cloud-based facility to manage your website features is that BeNet (our Inference AI API) has the capacity to change your features if trending traffic dictates a need.
Pictured: An example of how website features are managed. In this case the Sharebar options are shown on the left, and the resulting rendered sharebar that appears on your website on the right. This is how all website features are managed, including all those that are connected to Elementor Blocks. An example of a block integrated with Yabber is the simple YouTube block. First, videos are selected from a select menu, and the video chapters for the video are created on Yabber before being sent to your website.
While the conditional website we provide you (at no direct cost) is plug-and-play and immediately very high-functioning, there are times when your imagination or business demands will take you places our website doesn't, and it's in these cases where we're entirely confident you'll be able to quickly and easily deploy brilliant designs without the need for a pesky web designed. Elementor will make your online life a lot easier than it is now... and our website integration makes connecting it to high-performing marketing automation an extremely easy process.
We'd encourage you to review the articles we've published on Yabber that'll introduce you to the broad integration and automation that is guaranteed to deliver you the organic online growth and website traffic conversions your business deserves.