My only experience with WordPress of any great length is Elegant Themes' Divi theme. It is from this perspective, and my general dislike for WordPress that I write this.
I normally code sites by hand, as the site you are currently viewing. However, many clients request WordPress for its ease in updating. I might add, apparent ease. Divi attempts to solve the design interface problem by using a drag and drop methodology. This is not the only theme to do so, but in my brief research, the most complete.
The discussion is on Twitter here
Remove All plugins
As with all things, there are defects, compatibility issues, and therefore support request. The absolute number one support answer is please remove all plugins and see if that solves the issue. I can not express enough how much this irritates me. I don’t know enough about this framework to say it is a Divi issue, or a WordPress, or plugin issue. But it sounds very Microsoft support to me. I do understand the issue of plugin compatibility, so this post will address that.
Much of what I am writing here, I have submitted to ET within a few of their blog posts.
Visual Builder Store
The most important release for ET would be a Visual Builder Store, and in fact I hear there are plans to do so. The Visual Builder Store (VBS) can be templated off the Apple Store where a 70/30 split of revenue and each item in the store is guaranteed to work with Divi.
The largest issue with WordPress plugins is that they are developed to support many, sometimes tens of themes. No plugin developer can support every theme update in a timely manor, nor do they seem to want to from my communications with them.
Within a VBS, everything would be built for VB and to take full advantage of everything VB has to offer. I’ve talked about plugins, but the store should contain much more.
VB can extend functionality by taking popular plug-in capabilities and coding them in.
- Better store integration
- Back end functionality (see below)
- SEO/PPC/Tag Manager (see below)
Another great VBS item would be layout packs. I have to say, layout packs are one of the most versatile aspects of visual builder. It allows you to import and export sections, pages, or complete site layouts. ET gives plug-ins several layout packs for free, such as the footer layout pack, Divi Landing Page Layout, and complete site layout packs such as the Small Business Layout Pack. You can find a complete list of the Divi 100 Giveaway here.
Layout packs allow non-graphic designers, such as myself, to create awesome sites. You can use a complete site, single sections, or combine sections from many layouts. The possibilities are endless. But also scattered around the web, and implementation is not always 100%.
Visual Builder Modules
Extending VBs capabilities via additional modules will be a huge advantage to developers. Currently, 3rd party modules are only implemented at the backend level, not the visual level of VB. There are many number of visual extensions that can be added, but there is another that will take WordPress to another level.
Why isn’t WordPress used for more big builds? Have you tried access database capabilities in WordPress? Don’t! If ET would build the Divi backend to allow for database modules, there would be endless capabilities.
A much more robust data management than what WordPress gives via Projects or Portfolios (whichever it is called).
Gallery can have the ability to drop in photos just to that gallery, separate from the media library, have it’s own ID, shortcode and properties. The Gallery module can have an input for the ID of database you just created and will pull images from just that database or table, and you can run your own queries. The module will allow the visitor to sort, filter, or search through results. If there is a module, then there is a layout pack to take advance of it.
Aspen Grove Studios has a handy dashboard plugin that allows you to customize the WordPress dashboard. This is great for handing off sites to clients as you want to keep your services front and center when they log onto their website. Unfortunately, the customer can uninstall the plugin, and or remove the layout.
ET needs to make this a built in feature of VB. They can bake this into the child theme generator. This dashboard can be used to advertise additional services, products in the VBS, and contact information.
But why stop there? I think having a built in support ticket module (purchased in the VBS) so that customers can submit support request from the dashboard. As important, customers can view support updates in the dashboard. Not tickets to ET, but to the developer of their site.
If I purchased the Divi Developer version (hint), then as a developer, I can manage many clients support tickets via my dashboard. Now all developers, of any size, can have a level of support every customer deserves to have.
Included in the Divi Developer (DD) is the child theme creator. It is this creator that allows the support ticketing system above.
Cild themes are very important as they protect your custom work from being overrides by WordPress updates. Child themes are not necessarily hard to create, however, ET can do much in helping to template and manage this process. I do hear this is on the schedule for 2017.
ET can take Divi to a whole new level by having it manage some backend processes. Simple things such as setting up file compression. More complicated tasks such as Cron jobs, as well as minifying files on update. Why not some code checking on publish?
I would really like to see an API built in to compress files via Tiny PNG.
More common backend processes would be 404 checking, outbound dead link checking, and a very important site or page down notification. Having the system create a Cron job that will notify me when a page or site is down would be huge.
Google Tag Manager
A bit far fetched for me to even suggest, but would it not be absolutely cool to have the ability within a module to set up a tag! Yes, that would be AWESOME!!
You have completed this great developing work. All the defects are fixed, the site is looking awesome, and your client is absolutely thrilled with the product. Now you have to migrate all this work from your staging environment to their platform. No, this isn’t a nice clean task, nor is it for any platform really, but ET can do much to help developers.
Here is what I would like to see happen.
- You install the Divi migration plugin into the clients host and input the key and URL of your staging build.
- This plugin then does a few backend maintenance depending on settings.
- Backs up your client’s entire WP environment as it stand then.
- You select to clear or leave all current data
- Migrates over all elements from staging and verifies.
- Installs Divi
- You then activate Divi and the site should be as it is on staging without.
- Lastly, after you verify the site’s integrity on the client’s server, you access the migration plugin to clear all old data, including plugins.
This should give you a clean install on the client’s server, and one you don’t have to sit there to manage.
There is much more Elegant Themes can do, and doing the above would go a very long way to overcoming many WordPress shortcomings.
There is too much competition from WiX and Squarespace with their drag and drop frameworks for WordPress to compete much longer. Adding a store with WiX or Squarspace is are painlessly simple, unlike WordPress, which has many more steps.
Elegant Themes does a good job of answering many of the front end design nightmares of WordPress, but I fear this is not enough and that Elegant Themes is leaving too much to WordPress to manage.
Honestly, I would love to see Visual Builder built on other frameworks such as Foundation or Bootstrap. This would be a game changer, and probably the demise of WordPress. Let me know if you would use a full Divi CMS.
If you would like to collaborate with me on this or any other project, please contact me.
Thank you for reading!