Beaver Builder and Elementor are the two most popular and frequently recommended page builders in the WordPress ecosystem. For years they were locked in a page builder war for the hearts and minds of site builders. In April 2018 the stats were compelling enough that I called it, Elementor had won a decisive victory. The war was over. In this post I want to look at what has changed since then, why the change matters, and offer some recommendations.
Beaver Builder and Elementor Then and Now
There are big changes in comparison statistics that are worth noting. Let’s start with WordPress.org numbers:
Free Versions on WordPress.org
Both page builders use a “freemium” model where there is a free version as well as an advanced professional version with more features. Looking at the free versions on WordPress.org we see:
|Number of Active Installs||Number of Modules / Widgets||Approx Number of Free Addons|
|Beaver Builder 2018||400,000+||6||42|
|Beaver Builder 2019||400,000+||6||47|
During the last 18 months Beaver Builder has stayed the same while Elementor has made huge gains. Elementor now has 4.2 times the number of active installs and more than 3 times the number of free plugins available on WordPress.org as it did in April 2018.
Comparing the premium versions we also notice the same pattern. Beaver Builder had one point release between April 2018 until October 2019, from 2.1.x to 2.2.x. In that time frame, Elementor had 7 point releases, from 2.0.x to 2.7.x.
|Page Builder||Number of Modules / Widgets||Number of Templates|
|Beaver Builder 2018||~30||30|
|Beaver Builder 2019||~30||30|
Looking at the number of modules and templates, again Beaver Builder stayed the same. However, Elementor has three times the number of modules and three times the number of pre-designed templates as before.
While it is imperfect, we can look at the Google search volume as a proxy for popularity. At a time when WordPress market share is quickly increasing, interest in Beaver Builder is flat.
Beyond the Numbers
Early on, there were sometimes issues when new versions of Elementor were released. Beaver Builder, on the other hand, had been very stable. If you are managing a large number of websites stability is especially important. Elementor hasn’t had stability issues for a long time now and the “stability” comparison point is no longer valid. They are both very stable.
Beaver Builder Features
There are several areas where Beaver Builder (plus Beaver Themer = Beaver suite) is better than Elementor Pro.
- Theming Abilities: Elementor Pro has some limitations when creating archives for Custom Post Types.
- Conditional Logic: Elementor doesn’t have conditional logic options.
- White Label: Elementor doesn’t have native white label options. Note that white labeling is only available in the extra cost Beaver Builder Agency package.
Today there are a number of Elementor addons that fill those gaps, but of course it is nicer to have the solutions built into the core product.
Elementor has been releasing new features regularly and has several features not found in Beaver Builder, or which are limited in Beaver Builder.
- Popup Maker: The Elementor Popup Maker is a full featured lead capture option.
- Styling Options: Motion animation engine, hover effects, blend mode, element placement, and advanced background options are some of the design features.
- Monthly Template Kits: Full professionally designed website kits.
Third Party Addons
There are now so many third party addons for Elementor that it is impossible to keep track. Third party addons can be a problem area. While Elementor has solved its stability issues, apparently each vendor needs to make the same journey. It is important to select the addons carefully. There are a number of established and respected vendors that offer solutions from the ability to create Custom Post Types and custom fields, to full fledged form builders.
Online Community and Presence
Beaver Builder has a strong and friendly community, but it is small compared with the Elementor community. There are a handful of Beaver Builder Facebook groups with more than 100-200 members. There are more than 30 sizable Elementor Facebook groups. In terms of online training, the number of quality Elementor tutorials on YouTube is overwhelming.
The Elementor team is actively engaging with its users with regular articles, blog posts, tutorials, and partner highlights. Elementor staff are daily engaged with users on Facebook. The Beaver Builder team is comparatively silent.
In Elementor Facebook groups, Elementor actively promotes 3rd party vendor enhancements, people making tutorials, and individual site builders and their designs. Their affiliate managers reach out to their affiliates.
Beaver Builder plus Beaver Themer for unlimited sites (lowest package) is $246 for the first year. Beaver Builder has a 40% discount on renewals, so it would be $147.60 for subsequent years. Elementor Pro is $199 a year and no longer offers a renewal discount (though current subscribers retain it). So Beaver Builder is more expensive the first year and thereafter is cheaper. This is an example where the current lack of competition has lead to a higher price.
Summary and Recommendations
In April 2018 I concluded that Elementor had won the page builder war, so what’s the news? It is troubling that Beaver Builder development has stood comparatively still. That doesn’t bode well for the life of the product or its 3rd party partners. It also isn’t a good sign for site builders who need to keep current with site building and design trends. Does the Beaver Builder team thinks that their products are “mature?” That attitude is a product death knell in the web design / site building space. Beaver Builder subscriptions may be holding steady or even increasing, but as WordPress is growing, their overall market share has to be going down. Clearly some of Elementor’s success is related to better marketing. However, beyond just marketing, there is much more engagement and vitality. The project feels like it is alive and current.
People often ask whether they should use Beaver Builder or Elementor. I used to suggest they try both and see which one “clicks” for them. I can no longer recommend Beaver Builder for new users.
For people who have established site building businesses using Beaver Builder it makes sense to stick. It would be impracticable to switch and the Beaver Builder team is keeping the product current with WordPress and PHP changes, providing good support, and fixing bugs. Many in that space, however, will want to start hedging their bets and considering other options. In the site building / web design space it is essential to keep up with the trends and learn new things. With most tools there is an initial on-ramp effort needed to learn how things are done and work past the newbie frustrations. I suggest you set aside time to explore alternatives to Beaver Builder and get up to speed with other tools.
I know that this topic may be contentious and that people are invested and have strong opinions. For certain types of projects, the difference in features may recommend Beaver Builder over Elementor, but overall I think that the trends support my recommendations. However, if you think I missed something, either way, then please leave a comment so I can make corrections or additions.
I hope you found this article interesting and useful.