Considering using the Divi theme for your WordPress website?
In our hands-on Divi theme review, I’m going to help you decide whether this popular multipurpose WordPress theme is the right solution for your needs.
I’ll start by explaining how Divi helps you build a custom WordPress site and how it’s different from the more traditional WordPress themes that you might be used to.
Then, I’ll give you a hands-on look at the Divi theme, including some thoughts on its performance and how it stacks up in the WordPress visual design space.
By the end, you should know whether Divi is a good fit for your site or whether you might be better off with a different WordPress builder tool.
Let’s dig in…
While Divi is a WordPress theme, it’s not a WordPress theme like you might be used to. Instead of offering a single “look” or a small selection of importable demo sites, Divi is more of a “design platform” that you can use to build your own unique site.
To give you the ability to design your own custom site, the Divi theme comes bundled with its own visual, drag-and-drop builder, called the Divi Builder. It looks something like this, though we’ll take a deeper look at it later in our Divi theme review:
Side note – you can also download a standalone plugin version of the Divi Builder, which lets you use it with any WordPress theme.
Depending on how much flexibility you want, you can either use the Divi Builder to build all or some of your site.
The simplest way to use the Divi theme is to use the theme’s settings to control your header, blog post layouts, and so on. Then, you can use the Divi Builder to design key pages, such as your homepage, about page, contact page, and so on.
However, if you ever feel limited by Divi’s theme options, Divi also supports full theme building as of Divi 4.0.
With theme building, you can use the visual, drag-and-drop Divi Builder to design 100% of your site and your theme templates. If you want to, you can build your own custom templates for your site’s…
- Blog post template
- Blog list template
Essentially, this means that you can use Divi’s visual design interface to design 100% of your site without ever needing to look at a single line of code. You can basically build your own theme from scratch using Divi Builder.
And again, the unique thing about Divi is that it gives you two routes to build your site:
- You can use Divi as a traditional theme where you use the theme settings to control your basics and then use Divi Builder to design key posts and pages.
- You can use Divi as more of a theme builder plugin where you design your entire site from scratch.
Another reason why Divi is so popular is that you can use it to build literally any type of website.
Whether you’re building a blog, portfolio site, small business site, eCommerce store, or anything else, Divi can get the job done.
I’ll single out some specific features in the Divi theme in the next section, but I think we need to start with a general look at the Divi Builder interface.
First off, if you want to experience the Divi Builder interface for yourself, just click this link. Elegant Themes (the developer) maintains a public demo that you can try right in your browser. There’s no need to sign up for anything and nothing to install. Just click the link and you can instantly experience the Divi Builder for yourself.
You can launch the Divi Builder from the regular WordPress editor just by clicking a button:
Once you launch it, you’ll see three options to start your design:
I’ll build something from scratch for this example, but I’ll circle back to the templates later on.
To create your designs, you’ll use three foundational elements:
- Rows – these are the lowest-level element. They let you divide your design into different horizontal sections.
- Columns – these go inside rows. They let you divide a row into multiple vertical sections, AKA columns. You could have one column to create a full-width row or you could divide a row into multiple columns.
- Modules – these let you add new content to the columns. You’ll get modules for text, headings, images, buttons, forms, and lots more.
At first, the Divi interface hides everything away and just gives you a full-screen preview of your design. To add new rows, columns, or modules, you can hover over your design to reveal buttons:
I think you’ll either love or hate this approach. Personally, I prefer Elementor’s fixed sidebar interface because I find it difficult to see buttons regularly popping up as I move my mouse around the design. However, I know a lot of people prefer Divi’s approach because you get a full-width preview of your design.
It really just comes down to personal preference. Just because I personally don’t love Divi’s interface doesn’t mean it’s bad; it just means my personal preference is to have a fixed sidebar interface.
To edit the text in your design, you can just click on the text and type as if you were working in a word document.
For everything else, you’ll need to open the settings popup. The settings popup is fully resizable and you can drag it around anywhere on the page. Or, you can also pin it to the side of the page to make it a sidebar:
So here are the basics for setting up a design in Divi:
- You’ll add content and control its positioning using rows, columns, and modules.
- You’ll style your design using the settings popup for rows, columns, and modules.
Now that you know the basics of the Divi Builder, let’s look at a few useful interface features that Divi offers to help you design more effectively.
First off, Divi offers responsive design editing modes that let you preview your designs in different devices and make device-specific style changes:
All of your designs are responsive by default, but it’s nice to have the extra control when needed.
Another really useful option is full right-click support. If you right-click on anything, you’ll open a full action panel, including the ability to copy and paste entire elements or just style settings:
You also get a Layers tool that gives you a high-level look at your page, including letting you rename elements to keep track of your design:
For an even more abstracted view, there’s also a full wireframe mode.
Finally, you’ll also get useful features like undo/redo and a full editing history:
Overall, Divi Builder is definitely one of the most powerful visual builders for WordPress, which is a big part of what explains Divi’s popularity.
While the Divi Builder forms the meat of the Divi theme experience, there are a few other key areas that are worth exploring.
In Divi 4.0, Divi users got access to a powerful new feature – full theme building support.
With the regular Divi Builder, you can create custom designs for posts and pages, but you can’t touch your theme template areas. Divi’s theme building changes that, letting you use the same Divi Builder interface to design your theme’s templates:
To make this clearer, here’s the difference between the regular Divi Builder and theme building:
- Regular Divi Builder – create the design for a single blog post.
- Theme building – create the template that all of your blog posts use by default.
To design your theme templates, you’ll use the exact same visual builder. The key difference is that you’ll be able to pull in dynamic information from your WordPress site.
For example, instead of adding static text for the title of a post, you can just add the Post Title module and Divi will automatically insert each blog post’s title:
There are a few other useful things here:
- You can also insert dynamic content from custom fields that you’ve added with plugins like Advanced Custom Fields (ACF), Toolset, or Pods.
- You can use display conditions to control when to use certain templates. For example, you could create one template for blog posts in one category and a different template for blog posts in another category.
For example, here are all the conditional rules you can apply to control where to use certain templates:
While Divi gives you the power to build completely custom designs from scratch, there’s a potential issue with that:
If you’re not a designer, it can be tough to create good-looking designs when you’re starting from a blank canvas.
To address that, Divi comes with an absolutely massive template library that contains over 1,714 different importable designs.
These 1,714+ designs are grouped into 233+ “layout packs”. A layout pack is a group of templates that are all themed around a specific site. For example, the “Restaurant” layout pack includes templates for the homepage, menu, contact page, and so on.
All you need to do is import the template, edit its content to match your site, and you have a professional-looking design. Essentially, instead of drawing a picture on a blank canvas, you can just color in the lines like you did when you were a kid.
In addition to the included templates, you can also save your own designs as templates so that you can quickly reuse them later.
With a lot of Divi’s features, it’s easy to forget that Divi is a theme and not a plugin. So far, all the features that I’ve shown you are the type of features that you get from plugins like Elementor Pro and Beaver Builder.
However, Divi is a theme and, as such, it comes with its own theme options area along with settings in the native WordPress theme customizer.
If you’re using theme building, you might not need to use these since you’ll be designing your theme templates from scratch. But if you aren’t using theme building, you’ll rely on them to configure your site’s foundational design elements:
Whenever you use a WordPress visual builder plugin or theme, you’re always going to be sacrificing some web performance versus using the native WordPress editor. However, some builders are better or worse than others when it comes to performance.
For a long time, Divi has had a bad reputation when it comes to performance (and rightfully so, to be honest).
However, the good news is that the Divi team knows this and has been focusing a ton on performance optimizations in 2021, with multiple releases focused primarily on performance.
Divi 4.8 (released in January 2021) included some huge backend performance improvements that made a noticeable improvement to the editing experience. The Divi team said that it sped up a lot of editor actions by 100-700%, and I could definitely notice that the interface was speedier after this update.
In testing the performance of some Divi designs, I definitely noticed massive improvements. For example, I created a simple design with Divi Builder and the Divi theme and it only had 13 HTTP requests and a 200 KB file size, which is much, much lower than it would’ve been in the past.
So while Divi undoubtedly used to be bloated compared to other page builders, thanks to these recent changes it actually compares favorably versus other tools in this space.
With that being said, if you’re an absolute fanatic about web performance, you still might be happier with a builder like Oxygen (though Oxygen isn’t as beginner-friendly as Divi).
You can only access the Divi theme as part of the Elegant Themes membership, which gets you access to all of Elegant Themes’s products for one price.
Divi is the most valuable Elegant Themes product by a large margin, so you’re not getting that much extra value beyond Divi.
However, you do get access to the plugin version of the Divi Builder, as well as two other plugins – Bloom for email opt-ins and Monarch for social media share/follow buttons. Neither plugin is at the top of their respective spaces, but they’re both capable plugins that can eliminate the need to purchase third-party plugins.
There are two pricing options to become an Elegant Themes member. Both options allow use on unlimited sites:
- Yearly Access – $89 per year. After the first year, you’ll need to renew to continue receiving support and updates. The Divi theme and plugins will keep working – you just won’t get new updates.
- Lifetime Access – $249 one time. You get lifetime access to the products, updates, and support without ever needing to pay again.
The breakeven point between the plans is about two years and nine months. If you think you’ll be using Divi longer than that, you should get lifetime access.
If you’re not sure, you can always start with yearly access. Elegant Themes lets you upgrade to lifetime access and only pay the difference.
As long as you’re an active Elegant Themes member, you’ll get dedicated support to help you with Divi and all of the other Elegant Themes products.
In terms of official support, you get 24/7 live chat support. For a WordPress theme, I’d say Elegant Themes offers good support. However, you need to have honest expectations about the level of support to expect from a product that costs $89 per year.
However, it’s also easy to get unofficial community support because Divi is so popular. For example, the official Divi Theme Users Facebook group has over 69,000 members and is full of people willing to help you fix issues or use Divi more effectively.
As I mentioned in the beginning, I don’t think it makes sense to think of Divi as just a “WordPress theme”. Instead, think of it as an “all-in-one WordPress design platform”.
With Divi, you can use a visual, drag-and-drop editor to design some or all of your WordPress site – zero code or technical knowledge required.
In 2021, the Divi team has put a lot of effort into cleaning up Divi’s performance, which has led to notable improvements in both backend and frontend performance. This addresses one of the biggest criticisms that I, and many others, had about Divi, so it’s a very welcome change.
Overall, Divi is a very good tool for visual WordPress design.
Is it “the best”? Well, I think that really comes down to personal opinion. It certainly is in contention for that title. However, while tons of people swear by Divi, there are also lots of people who love Elementor Pro (our review), Beaver Builder, Brizy Pro, Oxygen, and other similar tools.
Now that Divi has addressed its performance issues, though, there’s really nothing holding me back from recommending it. So – if you like the Divi interface, I think you should definitely consider the Divi theme (or maybe even the standalone Divi Builder plugin). Again, you can test out a live demo here.
However, if you don’t like the interface, then you should maybe play around with one of the other tools that I mentioned above, as they’re all great options as well.
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