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Page builders vs. structured content: which is best?

8th July 2022

Page builders within content management systems afford users a great deal of power and flexibility when creating content. But a large proportion of websites are built with a structured content template model. While this is not as flexible as using page builders, it takes advantage of the ability to use content across different websites and devices.

Both are useful options in different contexts, so we’re going to explore some of the benefits and limitations of page builders vs. structured content.

Creating content for your website has never been easier, thanks to page builders. You don’t need to have developer skills, which means you can have total control of the content on every page. It also means marketers can focus on the messaging and visuals rather than getting involved in a software development cycle.

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Why use page builders?

Page builders allow the user to create a page on their site without involving developers. There are some amazing solutions available such as Elementor for WordPress, which allows an editor to build a page to their specific requirements using a drag-and-drop interface. Site Studio and Layout Builder for Drupal also offer drag-and-drop features that allow the user to build a page from a fixed set of components.

These components can comprise different layouts for the user to add content to. They can also be carousels curated from existing content (a news list, for example) or created at the point of entry. They can also be forms that a user can decide to include as part of a campaign.

This allows marketers to create landing pages for campaigns, but also to edit their website quickly and easily. If the site has been configured correctly, a user will be able to build pages that conform to their company’s brand guidelines without consulting a web designer. The page will still look attractive and consistent. So the advantages are many, both in terms of speed to market and flexibility for the marketer.

But what are the limitations of using page builders?

These solutions won’t be right for every website. It really depends what you’re trying to achieve. So what else do we need to consider when choosing an approach? Firstly, page builders aren’t ideal for authoring a large number of pages with a defined content model, such as product pages. You could find yourself working on each one manually, when a CMS can often generate product pages automatically based on a feed from an API.

Another major thing that’s rarely considered when designing web pages with a page builder is the process of migrating content from your current website – in whatever CMS it’s built– to a later version of your CMS or a different one altogether. Our experience tells us that whatever system you’re currently using, there will be a time when a rebuild or redesign will make it necessary to migrate away from your current system.

Page builders store the content data, style and structure in the same place in a database, making it extremely difficult if you change your branding and want to update the style your content is presented in. The only way you can transfer this content data to a new system is to also bring over the layout and styling code, which will not fit into the new system easily.

At Proctors we have solutions that offer the best of both worlds.

With Webflow, our designers can build attractive websites with a low code/no code approach, but with a designer’s eye. They can also create content structures so that they can import content from other systems easily.

The main benefit of building a site with Drupal is that you can use the page builder functionality to create landing pages, campaigns and even homepages, but you can also take advantage of the fact the architecture allows easy content structure planning and is REST API-ready straight out of the box, so your content migration is achievable.

This approach also has the added benefit of allowing you to transfer your content data to other channels and devices. Your content can be pushed to native apps on mobile devices, kiosks and other websites, and presented in a local format on these sites.

There are benefits to creating content with page builders and creating content in a structure. Being able to take advantage of both in a single application is what you should be aiming for.

As an enterprise-level Webflow partner and an experienced Drupal agency, P+S can help you decide on the best solution for your project. Just email [email protected] and find out how we can help you.

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About Proctor + Stevenson

Game-changing strategy, creative and technology that means more impact for your marketing. And more power to your business.

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