We love Elementor. It’s a powerful page-building platform built by and for web designers, and every update brings new opportunities. The core team is continually experimenting and pushing the interface’s capabilities, aiming to keep their tools the most sophisticated and future-proof available. As designers and web creators, we know how high the expectations of today’s consumers are. The demands on website capabilities are only growing as web design trends get more complex. In this article, we discuss the Elementor features we want to see in the next update.
What was in Elementor 3.0?
Released at the end of September 2020, Elementor 3.0 had three major announcements to make. Firstly, they introduced Design System Features, allowing designers to make global changes to their websites with a single click. These features include:
- New Site Settings panel – including options to edit site identity, lightbox settings, theme styles and more
- Global Colors – create site-wide colour schemes by selecting primary, secondary, text and accent colours. When you edit one, it changes everywhere that colour has been used.
- Global Fonts – just as with colour, build your design system with fonts for primary and secondary headings, body text, accents and navigation menus.
Elementor 3.0 also delivered the New Theme Builder, with which designers can visualise and organise themes for their entire site at once. The interface shows screenshots of the global page and post templates, headers, footers and all page themes. This gives designers an overview of all parts of the site to streamline their changes.
As a bonus, Elementor announced major Performance Improvements. Elementor users had complained that their sites had become ‘bloated’, with too many complex widgets and not enough focus on optimisation. With 3.0, their wishes were granted. Elementor now promises much faster page loading for site visitors.
Why not just use plugins?
Whenever a designer can’t find the feature they want within their current page-builder, they look for a workaround. Sometimes this means using plugins to augment the page builder’s capabilities. Where we want to create something bespoke for a client, we often write our own code and save it to use on other projects. In essence, this means building plugins and patches ourselves.
Native widgets increase efficiency. Sometimes a new plugin is incompatible with your essential plugins, such as WooCommerce. Other times they don’t stretch to use across multiple websites. Too many plugins can lead to site slow-down and risks to the design when updates are released. Finally, the best plugins are often not free.
Native features, however, come as part of the Elementor Pro package. They are designed and built by the Elementor team, with their core code in mind, so they will always be compatible.
Elementor is always adapting and innovating, so knowing what users want is valuable. They even launched a vote in early 2020 to decide which feature to complete for version 2.10 – read about the winning feature here.
What do Designers Want? – KIJO’s Elementor Wishlist
At KIJO, we use Elementor’s page building software every day for clients as varied as energy drink companies to carpet retailers. We asked our team what features they were hoping for in Elementor’s next update.
Our designers produce beautiful, intuitive pages, switching between drag-and-drop editing to coding to get the perfect look.
Filling the Space
“To be able to have a full-width column next to a boxed column so you could have a text section next to an image section that stretches to the edge of the page. This can be done but with some bespoke code currently.”– Liam, KIJO Designer
In this example, the image stands alone, while the text is contained within a box on the left. If we opted for full-width columns, the text would touch the left edge. If we opted for boxed, the image wouldn’t reach the edge but be lined by the blue-green background on both sides. Making the columns boxed or full width independent of each other allows for asymmetrical and streamlined designs.
We’d also love a feature that enables adding a border to our text sections. In its current form, Elementor only allows background fill behind the text. Highlighting the key points of a website with a border would draw the consumer’s eye and help make sites easier to read.
How consumers get around our clients’ websites is a key component of our web design. As more people browse on mobile than on desktop, Elementor needs to adapt capabilities to ensure web design can keep up.
Make Columns Clickable
When designing the simplest customer journeys, we think a lot about where people are likely to click for more information. A great catch-all is to make a whole column clickable as a call to action, increasing click-through rates. This method adapts well to mobile, where touch-screens make following text links more fiddly.
At the moment, we can make clickable columns with some HTML editing. A native feature to create clickable or linkable columns in Elementor would show the developers recognise how web creation and site navigation is changing.
When building a website with Elementor, all of the content comes through widgets. Part of the reason we use Elementor is that they have so many advanced widget options – we rarely have to look far for a progress bar, product image or testimonial carousel. That said, there are some gaps that we’d like to see filled.
If clients have tiered pricing systems, complex user types and permissions or some data they want to show, a table is the best format. Including a native table widget in Elementor would make creating these pages simpler for designers.
Conditional Logic for Forms
After the excitement of Elementor’s Multi-Step Form widget in March, many were disappointed to find that conditional fields still weren’t available. With a conditional field, forms are tailored to the user, changing as they go.
For example, when asked ‘Have you bought a car before?’, a user responding ‘Yes’ could then be asked ‘Which dealership did you use last time?’, while one answering ‘No’ could skip to the next section of the form.
Conditional fields reduce the number of redundant fields a given customer sees, streamlining the customer journey. We created our own for BCUAdvantage, but we can’t wait for Elementor to upgrade their forms to include conditional logic.
Until then, designers can achieve conditional fields in their forms with bespoke code or using the Formidable Forms plugin.
While Yoast serves our content creators well, we are interested to see how Elementor would fare with a native SEO wizard. This could offer web creators page-specific advice for on-page and off-page SEO, helping websites be more accessible through search.
Elementor 3.0 brought users some long-awaited global settings and design systems. Global configurations remove repetitive data entry. To improve this further, we’d love to the global settings expanded, including configurations for all widgets. At the moment, global configurations only apply to the style, not the content of a widget. In the future, perhaps we’ll be able to change the content of image galleries across all pages without repeating anything.
From an agency perspective, the ability to sync templates and blocks across websites. At the moment, we can use global templates and settings across every page of a single website. This is great, but for those of us managing hundreds of sites, importing and exporting templates and blocks one at a time is a huge task. A checklist to select all the instances of a template which need changing would save hours.
Security & Safeguards
After the 3.0 update caused problems for some websites, the Elementor team worked hard to patch the bugs as they were reported. As a number of these issues were created by incompatible plugins, Elementor made plans to create compatibility tags to ensure this never happens again. Their goal is to tag Elementor addons and plugins to prevent Elementor updating where the incompatibility is a risk.
A Page-builder for the Future
Whenever Elementor releases a new update, there’s a huge amount of excitement online. They have a track record of beating other WordPress page builders in releasing innovative widgets and settings. Because we use their interface in everything we do, we are highly invested in what they’re working on, right now.
Ultimately, our wishlist is focussed around what we can deliver for our clients. These feature requests can help us deliver a project more quickly with global configurations, or create a faster, more elegant website by reducing the number of plugins we use.