As a web designer and developer of many years, I am always keen to test out new WordPress plugins that can help me build awesome websites, faster.
That is why I am so excited to test out Elementor, after having used most of its competitors (Thrive Architect, Divi, Visual Composer) for many many years.
Elementor has a huge reputation amongst WordPress website owners as being easy to use, powerful and fast.
Let's see if that is true, and what the difference is between Elementor and Elementor Pro!
The first and simplest thing to do is a quick and easy table comparison of most of the elements & features in Elementor and Pro.
I have not covered absolutely everything, but this is 98% of it. It gets boring to just list and list and list these items. You will quickly get the point.
Big Difference: Elementor Pro has more complex elements and things the developers might expect (like custom CSS). So, things like testimonials, pricing tables and a social share button widget. The standard version has enough to produce a website, but you might get frustrated when you get more serious because some things you need are missing (forms for example).
AND since Elementor 2.0's release earlier in 2018, they also have the very first theme builder. Which will more or less replace the need for a theme (you still need one installed, but almost any theme will do). More on this below...
Image, Image Box, Image Gallery, Image Carousel
Video, Video Lightbox
Icon, Icon Box, Icon List
Counter, Progress Bar
Hover & Entrance Animation
Posts, Blog Pagination
Facebook Widget, Social Share Buttons
Global Widget, Embed Anywhere
Media Carousel, Testimonial Carousel
Block Quote, Flip Box
Blog Page Template
Blog Archive Template (Category etc)
Elementor 2.0 revolutionized page builders by introducing their own Theme Builder.
What is a Theme Builder?
It gives YOU the ability to access & change almost any part of your theme. YOU can customize (build) it using Elementor - instead of being restricted to the theme options/customizer. Which, if you have done it before, you will know is annoying, limited, painful and usually stops you doing what you want.
Amazing huh! That means if you want a new header/menu on your site, built with elementor, you can. And you can make it different for various parts of your site (one for the homepage, one for blogs, one for products).
The same for the footer and the blog/blog archive pages.
So actually, you don't need much of a theme anymore. Just use any simple Elementor compatible theme (or the one you have) and you can change your theme completely.
Good bye expensive themes!
Elementor comes with lots of awesome page templates to help you create the page you always dreamed of, without having to start from scratch.
Here is a screen shot of the types of templates you get with Elementor and Elementor Pro.
Big Difference: There are approximately 125 templates currently in Elementor (as of November 2017). I just counted them! About 30 of them are available in the basic / free Elementor, the rest you only get in Elementor Pro.
So, if you are relying on the templates to create your website / landing pages etc. then I would go with Elementor Pro. They are constantly adding to the templates and the Pro version gets most of them.
One of the great things about the Thrive Architect and Thrive Leads combination is the focus on conversions and getting more people onto your email list.
Elementor fails a little in this area in my opinion, but, Elementor Pro does at least have the Forms element.
It enables you to set up a contact form, and completely customize it including adding all contacts to a database if you want. They also have an anti-spam honey pot, such as the one I usually add manually to Contact Form 7, my normal go-to contact form plugin.
The forms element also integrates with Mailchimp and Mailpoet, but if you want to connect with other systems (like I use Active Campaign, or even Aweber) then you need to go via Zapier, which if you go over the monthly free limit, can get costly.
One of the weaknesses of most page builders is just that. They build pages.
More recently, a few of them have also been able to be used on posts (like Thrive Architect) but you can't embed any content you design anywhere else (footers, sidebars etc).
Lucky for us, the guys (and gals) at Elementor have thought about this and given us in the Pro version the ability to add our Elementor template masterpieces almost anywhere a widget can go, or by using a shortcode (in your posts for example).
Elementor Pro has a specific element for WooCommerce which really helps store owners to customize their website and product layouts.
There is the WC widget that you can add to any page and then filter, tweak and customize the display of the products you want to show - right from your Woo store. It does not work inside the normal WooCommerce pages of course, this is for your standard Elementor pages, but still, a good starting point.
If you are serious about using Elementor, then you are going to love some of the other Pro add-ons you get.
1. The Global Widget is an idea that I first saw in Divi. If you repeatedly re-use elements on your website that you want to be able to change in "one place" it is usually not possible with page builders.
You normally have to change them all. OMG, horrible!!
With the Global Widget you can add something in 3 places and when you need to change it, just change it once. Once you have made it "Global" and re-used it, they are all connected.
2. Custom CSS gives you the ability to access the CSS on your pages, instead of having to rely on the page builder. Sure, the page builder is good, but sometimes you want (or need) to customize it yourself.
This is bascially a field they add to any and every area of the editor. So, every element, column, section etc.
That way, you can get to everything on the page.
The honest answer is - it depends.
I would start with the free version and have a play around with it. Give it some time (it takes a while to get used to where everything is) and watch some of their videos so you can see how things work.
Then, once you are serious about it, and intend on really using it for your whole website or significant pages or landing pages, then check out what you are missing in the templates and the features above.
If you are a web designer, then I would go Pro straight away. For less then $50 it is a no-brainer. The Global Widget, templates, the theme builder and other pro add-ons are worth the money.