An In-depth Performance Comparison Of 5 Popular WordPress Page Builders

WordPress page builders have become wildly popular because they let anyone, even those without the gift of code, build a beautiful website or landing page.

But have you ever wondered what’s going on underneath the hood? Are the finished products that page builders put out all the same when it comes to performance?

It’s an important question to answer because how quickly your website loads is tied to its success. But unless you want to take the time to build identical landing pages with different page builders and test their performance, it’s hard to know for sure how each page builder stacks up.

Well…I took the time.

I built near-identical landing pages with five popular WordPress page builders and then ran them through a bevy of performance tests. Now, I’m going to share all of that data with you.

Here’s How I’m Going To Test These 5 Page Builders

To test each page builder’s performance, I’m going to build a landing page using each of the five page builders. I’ll base this roughly on the Pagely landing page, with a few elements added and removed.

These landing pages will be, as much as possible, perfectly identical, though this isn’t always achievable because of the elements available in each page builder.

Also, don’t expect them to look as good as the original Pagely homepage because I’m…well, not a professional designer (or even an amateur designer).

Once I build the landing page with each page builder, I’ll collect data using three different tools:

  • WebPagetest – gives a detailed performance analysis, including load time and a “speed index”
  • Pingdom Tools – provides page load time, page size, number of requests
  • Query Monitor plugin – shows how many database queries the plugin makes and how long those queries take

I’ll also time how long it takes me to build the demo landing page, but I recommend that you take these numbers as rough estimates, rather than absolutes.

Here’s why:

Going into these tests, I’ve used some of these page builders more than the others, so it’s not scientific for me to declare one “easier to use” than the others.

Here Are The Technical Details Of My Test Setup

For these tests to hold any value, they need to be consistent. And you need to trust that they’re consistent.

So before I jump into any actual testing, let’s run through how my test site is set up:

  • Hosted on Pagely
  • Running WordPress 4.9.2
  • Using the Astra theme, a popular option for developers to pair with page builders
  • No sidebar. Full-width stretched container (these are Astra theme options)
  • Query Monitor plugin installed
  • No other plugins installed
  • No page speed optimizations beyond those automatically implemented by Pagely hosting

And here are the page builder plugins that I’ll be using:

  • Elementor – version 1.9.2*
  • Beaver Builder Pro – version 2.0.3.1
  • Divi Builder plugin (i.e. not the theme version) – version 2.0.31
  • WPBakery Page Builder – version 5.4.2 (formerly known as Visual Composer)
  • SiteOrigin Page Builder – version 2.6.1 plus SiteOrigin Widgets Bundle version 1.11.3

*Because Elementor Pro is an add-on, rather than a standalone plugin like the other premium versions, I think it’s fair to test using the free version of Elementor.

Running The Tests For Each Individual WordPress Page Builder

Now that you know what these tests are built on, let’s jump in and look at the data!

For each page builder, I’ll include:

  • A screenshot of what the tested landing page looks like
  • Pingdom performance data
  • WebPagetest performance data
  • How long it took me to create the page (remember – this is just a rough guideline – don’t take it as a hard comparison)
  • A screenshot of what happens after deactivating the page builder, to give you an idea of how much “lock-in” there is

Then, at the end, I’ll put it all together in one, easy-to-compare table and make some conclusions! If you’d rather skip the play-by-play, you can click here to skip straight to the summary table.

Elementor Performance Test

What The Landing Page Looked Like:

elementor test landing page

Time To Build Page: 22:09

Pingdom Test Data:

elementor performance test pingdom

WebPagetest Test Data:

elementor webpage test data

Query Monitor Data:

elementor database queries

What Happens After Deactivating The Plugin:

what happens if you disable elementor

Beaver Builder Performance Test

What The Landing Page Looked Like:

beaver builder example landing page

Time To Build Page: 20:37

Pingdom Test Data:

beaver builder performance test data pingdom

WebPagetest Test Data:

beaver builder webpagetest data

Query Monitor Data:

beaver builder database queries

What Happens After Deactivating The Plugin:

what happens after disabling beaver builder

Divi Builder Performance Test

What The Landing Page Looked Like:

divi builder test landing page

Time To Build Page: 21:02

Pingdom Test Data:

divi builder performance test pingdom

WebPagetest Test Data:

divi builder webpagetest data

Query Monitor Data:

divi builder database queries

What Happens After Deactivating The Plugin:

what happens after disabling divi builder

WPBakery Page Builder Performance Test

What The Landing Page Looked Like:

wpbakery page builder landing page

Time To Build Page: 27:18

Pingdom Test Data:

wpbakery opage builder pingdom test data

WebPagetest Test Data:

visual composer webpagetest data

Query Monitor Data:

wpbakery page builder database queries

What Happens After Deactivating The Plugin:

what happens if you disable visual composer

SiteOrigin Page Builder Performance Test

What The Landing Page Looked Like: *SiteOrigin Page Builder doesn’t have a counter element, so I used static HTML instead which gives it a slight advantage in the performance tests.

siteorigin page builder landing page test

Time To Build Page: 19:51

Pingdom Test Data:

siteorigin page builder performance test pindom

WebPagetest Test Data:

siteorigin webpagetest data

Query Monitor Data:

siteorigin page builder database queries

What Happens After Deactivating The Plugin:

what happens if you disable siteorigin page builder

WordPress Page Builder Speed Comparison

After all the tests were run and the data crunched, here’s how things shook out.

Let’s look at the good first. Here’s the overall winner from each category:

  • Fastest Pingdom Page Load Time: SiteOrigin Page Builder at 390 ms
  • Fewest Pingdom Requests: SiteOrigin Page Builder with 13
  • Lowest Pingdom Page Size: SiteOrigin Page Builder with 245.0 kB
  • Fastest WebPagetest Fully Loaded Time: SiteOrigin Page Builder with 578 ms
  • Lowest WebPagetest Speed Index: SiteOrigin Page Builder at 500
  • Fewest Database Queries: Divi Builder with 8
  • Lowest Database Query Time: Divi Builder at 0.0039 s

And now let’s look at the worst performer in each category in our tests:

  • Slowest Pingdom Page Load Time: Beaver Builder at 665 ms
  • Most Pingdom Requests: Elementor with 28
  • Highest Pingdom Page Size: Divi Builder at 532.7 kB
  • Slowest WebPagetest Fully Loaded Time: Divi Builder at 1.294 s
  • Highest WebPagetest Speed Index: Divi Builder at 901
  • Most Database Queries: Elementor with 30
  • Highest Database Query Time: Elementor at 0.0123 s

You can view the full dataset below:

For all of the data in this table, a lower number is better:

ElementorBeaver BuilderDivi BuilderWPBakery Page BuilderSiteOrigin Page Builder
Pingdom Page Load489 ms665 ms463 ms401 ms390 ms
Pingdom Requests2820151513
Pingdom Page Size530.7 kB416.6 kB532.7 kB435.7 kB245.0 kB
WebPagetest Fully Loaded1.254 s943 ms1.294 s849 ms578 ms
WebPagetest Speed Index574700901610500
Database Queries30148109
DB Queries Time0.01230.00590.00390.00420.0042
Time To Build Page22:0920:3721:0227:1819:51

What Conclusions Can We Draw About Page Builder Performance?

The data is there for you to interpret yourself. But here are some conclusions I think are worth considering:

Page Builders Are, To An Extent, A Balancing Act Between Performance And Features

Unsurprisingly SiteOrigin Page Builder had the best performance in nearly all of the tests.

But here’s the thing:

SiteOrigin Page Builder isn’t just lightweight when it comes to performance – it’s also lightweight when it comes to features.

You get better performance than the other page builders by, in part, sacrificing functionality.

For the performance-focused, that trade-off might be well worth it.

But other people might be willing to trade a bit of performance for a more powerful page building experience, and I don’t think there’s necessarily anything wrong with that.

The average user will be able to build a more complex page with one of the other four page builders.

For that reason, I think it’s best to look for a page builder that has the features you need and then compare the performance of page builders that meet that criteria.

There Aren’t Major Differences Between The High-Powered WordPress Page Builders

If you exclude SiteOrigin Page Builder and just focus on the more feature-rich page builders, you’ll notice that there isn’t a ton of difference between them.

You can certainly spot some differences – Elementor is a bit heavy on database queries and requests, while Beaver Builder offered the smallest page size.

But overall, all of these plugins have clearly worked to optimize performance, which is probably why they’re the market leaders in the space.

Shortcode Lock-in Is A Real Consideration

If you’re choosing a page builder for life, you don’t need to worry about this.

But if you think there’s a chance you might switch (or stop using) page builders down the road, it’s important to point out that only two of these page builders leave behind completely clean code.

The two plugins that leave behind 100% clean code are:

  • Elementor
  • Beaver Builder

SiteOrigin Page Builder leaves behind mostly clean code, but it does leave a few shortcodes, notably showing up wherever I used buttons.

Finally, both Divi Builder and WPBakery Page Builder leave behind a heap of shortcodes that you’ll need to find a way to remove.

What Are Your Experiences With WordPress Page Builders Performance?

You saw our data. Now, what about you?

What are your own experiences with page builders and performance? And more importantly, where do you think the balance should lie between features and performance? For another in depth opinion piece from Pippin Williamson on page builder plugins, check this out.

13 Comments

  1. Mitch Rezman
    Mitch Rezman

    No mention of AMP and elementor blows all the others out of the water with woo commerce functionality and their video training library – if I’m on a $3/mo server none of those numbers matter

    Reply

  2. Dave-P
    Dave-P

    Next test – add a Gutenberg version of this layout 🙂
    ps – thanks for the comparisons – interesting reading…

    Reply

  3. Jeff
    Jeff

    I have used all this page builders and I don’t like them : too little possibilities or bloated code. I I personnaly use Oxygenapp since few month and I like it. Unfortunately it seems that very few people know it. This page builder don’t use a theme, all the design is stored in the database. I don’t know if it’s good for page speed but after deactivating the plugin, the design still exactly the same. I love the way I can add or edit code or CSS, this is the most powerfull page builder I have used. I would love to see a technical test of it.
    Hope my comment is understandable … English is not my native language 😉

    Reply

    1. bissan
      bissan

      Hello i was actually reasearching to see what happens if you deactivate oxygen, so the design and the content of the page will stay intact if i deactivate oxygen?

  4. Al Harji
    Al Harji

    Great article/comparison of tools. Wish Thrive Architect was included in this review. Thanks!

    Reply

  5. Athlone
    Athlone

    Very unexpected but awesome review of WP Page Builders. I’m a BeaverBuilder Fan but I have to say the competition is heating up.

    Reply

  6. Emre
    Emre

    Best test about page builder I have ever seen. Thank you for this awesome post.

    Reply

  7. Paul
    Paul

    First of all great article!

    I have been using WP Page Builder and my WordPress Admin is super slow. I’m using a shared hosting account which is not helping the situation. I used to build websites using PHP HTML includes only. Then I got lazy and switched to WordPress. It has made some things easier but overall I just get sick of building pages with WP Page Builder as its slow and takes forever to update a page.

    Reply

  8. Philipp
    Philipp

    Wow, that’s a great test – thanks for that. I recently switched from Visual Composer to Elementor and i do not really get familiar with it. I have the feeling, that it is more complicated. But from my feeling i would say: Elementor pages seem to be a little faster. Btw:The advantages, to create product and shop pages with Elementor are a huge advantage over the others…

    Reply

  9. Nuno Pereira
    Nuno Pereira

    Hi there,

    What do you think of Advanced Custom Fields (ACF)? Would they be a good alternative to page builders? Could a non-developer create and customise page layouts using ACF rather than page builders?

    I have to decide between using ACF or a Page builder. The agency that will develop my website recommends ACF, but I think it’s because they want to push me to use them again in the future, since any changes require the involvement of a developer.

    So, I’m a non-developer, I’m the typical digital marketer who knows some HTML/ CSS and I know how page builders work, but I’m not sure about ACF…

    I’s important for me to have the flexibility to customise page layouts if needed. For instance, would I be able to create a new page with a new layout by copying existing sections from other pages (e.g. create page #3 using the “testimonial” section from page #1 and “customer logo” section from page #2)?

    Let me know what you think,

    Reply

  10. Chris
    Chris

    I’ve been looking for a comparison like this. Thanks Colin. Very valuable info.

    Reply

  11. Clint
    Clint

    Great job! This is exactly what I was looking for. It is a difficult balance choosing a good theme with page builder and enough options to make a site unique yet load quickly. WP Bakery does seems to take a long time to develop and front-end editing is not accurate. Thank you!

    Reply

  12. Martyn Thompson
    Martyn Thompson

    We have a multi-site license for Elementor and absolutely love it. We use it on almost every website we build now. Sits over the top of Genesis Framework a treat and it so much fast to build than WP Bakery.

    Reply