In mid-2015 I became increasingly interested in using Divi as a starting point to launch several websites. I have always been (and still am) a Genesis fan but Divi offered some clear advantages when it came to ease of use and time-to-launch.
To this day, I still use themes from both companies depending on what type of site I’m building. The introduction of the Divi Builder plugin allowed many site builders to combine the best of both worlds.
As I grew more comfortable and efficient with using the Divi platform, I really started to enjoy working with the theme. For the most part, Divi has proved itself to be stable, fast and smooth.
In the past, I’ve had the opportunity to test several front-end page builders and to be honest; my experiences weren’t always that great. Slow, clunky and painful are three words that immediately come to mind, although not in every case. So, you can imagine my trepidation upon hearing that Divi 3.0 would be introducing a visual (front-end) editor.
Could it be that my newfound relationship with Divi was about to come to an end?
Would the marketing team at Elegant Themes soon be required to add the words “slow” and “clunky” to their always beautifully constructed promotional material?
Let’s find out….
Installing the Divi theme
I’m not going to spend much time talking about installation and setup because not a lot has changed from the previous versions.
Every time I’ve had to install Divi, across a variety hosts and on both new and existing installations, the process has been seamless. Just don’t forget to install the Elegant Themes Updated Plugin and enter your username and API key — that’ll make sure things are kept up to date.
One thing you should know about Divi and in particular about most Divi reviews is that there are too many features and options to review in a single post. I’ve reviewed more than a few themes and many of them can be thoroughly summed up in a 1500-2000 word post.
There are an extensive number of options, settings and features. Covering them all would require writing the web’s longest theme review. I’ll do my best to cover as many of the important features as possible — certainly enough to convince you that Divi is worth a closer look.
Updating from a previous version on Divi
One question you might be wondering is how easy will it be to upgrade from Divi 2.x to 3.0?
Should you expect any problems with pre-existing layouts or formatting?
While I obviously can’t cover off every possible scenario, I can say that I upgraded three existing Divi websites and experienced no issues whatsoever. Anytime a big release comes available, this is always a major concern. On my end, the upgrade process went off without a hitch.
Another important point to note (a major concern initially for me) was the fact that Divi 3.0 still offers the same back-end editor you’ve become so accustomed to. In no way are you forced to move to a strictly front-end or visual editing environment. In fact, you can seamlessly switch between front and back-end editing with just a few clicks.
Initial setup options
If you’ve used Divi before, you’ll already be familiar with the Divi Theme Options Panel. Once the theme is installed, this is probably the first series of screens you’ll want to visit. You’ll find options for the following:
- General settings – Options include Logo and favicon, fixed navigation, various API keys, social profile URLs, page/post settings, smooth scrolling and custom CSS.
- Navigation settings – Here you can adjust pages to be excluded from the navigation bar, enable drop down menus and adjust sorting order. These can actually be configured on a page and category basis.
- Layout – Easily adjust single post and page meta details as well as the ability to enable/disable comment and thumbnails.
- Ads – Here you can adjust settings for the single post banner ad (468×60).
- SEO – Detailed settings for the homepage, single post and Index.
- Integration – This is the tab you need if you have specific scripts that need to be added to your header, body or before/after single posts.
- Updates – If you’ve installed and activated the Elegant Themes Updater Plugin, you’ll find that your data is already entered in this tab.
Using Divi Builder
This is probably the most important part of the post and in fact, you may have jumped right to this section. In the months leading up to the release of Divi 3.0, the team at Elegant Themes did a pretty good job of building up the level of anticipation and hype. Expectations were high and instead of leaving you wondering for even a second longer, I’ll just come right out and say it:
Divi 3.0 delivered pretty much everything that was expected and more. My apprehensions about this update were put to rest very quickly. Like under 60 seconds quick.
Let’s take a closer look:
As with previous versions of Divi, getting started is as simple as opening a new page and clicking the “Use The Divi Builder” button. From there, the WordPress editor is replaced with the default Divi Builder.
This is a bit of a tricky review if you’re new to Divi because there are essentially two ways to edit each page or post — front-end and back-end. Because the front-end / visual editor is the standout feature for this release of Divi, most of the screenshots will focus on that aspect.
In order to cover all the bases, I’m going to start by discussing the major features included with The Divi Builder. From there, I’ll touch on the process of building page and post layouts.
Important Divi Builder features
Even before version 3.0, The Divi Builder presented smooth, user-friendly experience. It’s not without bugs (which I’ll mention later) and it’s not perfect. But what’s most important is that Divi is continuously improving.
With each new release come refinements, fixes and new features. So many features, in fact, one has to ask when it might be time to stop adding. Maybe at some point down the road we’ll be talking about bloat being an issue but for the time being, it does not seem to be a problem.
Personally, this is one of the most important elements for a theme that integrates a page builder. Divi is fast. Not as fast as working with a framework like Genesis mind you, but in making extensive changes to pages and posts, you won’t even have enough time for a sip of tea after clicking save or preview. This applies to both versions of the editor.
Divi relies on an intuitive layout system that lets you add sections, rows and columns as required with just a few clicks. You can pretty much configure the rows and columns as desired and making changes after the fact is equally simple.
Additionally, you have complete control over the margins and padding between each row and column. Once you’ve created sections rows or specific columns, you can easily move them around on your page by simply dragging and dropping them where desired.
At the time of this writing, Divi comes packaged with 46 content elements including:
- Calls to action
- Optin forms
- Pricing tables and more
Each and every module can be individually customized to your liking. For example, a text module has settings for max-width, header font, body font, text size, spacing, line-height, color, background, border, padding and margin. This level of customization is available across pretty much all modules. If there is a customization that’s not available, you always have the ability to add custom CSS to each individual module.
Import, export and premade layouts
Divi makes is easy to import and export layouts from your other projects or from other sources within the Divi community. Once you’ve created or imported a layout, it’s saved to your library for future use.
In addition the convenience of the library, Divi also makes it possible to create global elements. For example, create a button or footer for use across your site then change it once and it’ll be updated everywhere. These little features really cut down on the amount of time it takes to build and customize your site.
Building pages and posts
Whether you’re building a page in the back-end or front-end, you’ll find the process to be very similar. The most notable difference being the front-end offers a real-time visual editor.
Both versions of the editors are color coded. Sections are blue, rows are green and modules are gray. Below, you can see the two different screens that represent the exact same thing — a blank canvas awaiting your creative input. Although on initial visual inspection, this might seem overwhelming (especially the visual editor), each element on the screen has a corresponding tooltip that makes the process very simple.
The total time to create layouts in both the back and front-end environment is relatively similar. The biggest advantage of the front-end editor being that you can see the changes you’re making in real-time. As an example, starting from a blank page, I created the layout below (excluding image preparation) in under 1 minute.
Virtually every element on the screen can be customized on the fly. This included adding all of the available modules as well as available customizations. You can even save your layout, publish, adjust page settings and load from your library.
One thing I don’t think can be overemphasized here is the speed at which all these changes take place. There is no clicking and waiting for things to load. The process was virtually instantaneous. Changes occurred as fast as I could click, even when using more complex layouts with dozens of modules and custom settings.
Additional Divi features
There a few additional Divi features worth mentioning.
- Module customizer – In the event that you like to establish some specific and consistent styling for any of the modules used on your website, the module customizer allows you to do just that. Although not every element can be customized, many can.
- Role editor – If you have multiple users (admin, editor, author or contributor), the Divi Role Editor is something you’ll want to become more familiar with. Using simple sliders, you’ll be able to customize permissions for every major role on your website. You’ll no longer have to worry about authors or contributors messing up your page layouts or Editors messing with you split testing efforts.
- Divi library – The Divi Library is a massive time saver if you find yourself creating similar layouts or design elements for multiple pages posts or even projects. From within the page builder, you can save or load specific elements or entire pages.
- Included templates – Although you’ll probably want to customize them, Divi comes packaged with several pre-designed templates that are a great starting point for your next project or just to see how specific layout can be built.
- Split testing – Possible one of the most underused elements of Divi is the split testing and CRO functionality. Divi allows you to identify a goal and then measure feedback from your visitors. Instead of bending to the whim of client or friends design advice, you’ll be able to justify your decisions with actual metrics.
- Divi community – The Divi community is largely an unknown until such time as you become a paying member. What you’ll quickly discover is that there are innumerable other Divi users out there who are happy to share their knowledge. You’ll find the forums to be packed with info and plenty of other websites that are also jam-packed with resources.
Support & pricing
Although I briefly touched on support in the previous section, I’ll expand on it a little here. I have been required to enlist Divi support on a few occasions and I’ve always been left feeling positive about the outcome.
One particular issue involved a rule being inadvertently added to the htaccess file that blocked Divi icons on the front and back end. Despite the fact that neither Divi nor Elegant Themes were at fault, they still help to resolve the issue.
In terms of pricing, I think that Elegant Themes offers a ton of value. Developer accounts at $89/year and Lifetime access at $249. Honestly, the Developer plan is a great deal considering what’s included and the Lifetime access is a steal at $249 (I wouldn’t be surprised to see this option disappear in the future).
One thing I have a lot of respect for is the fact that Elegant Themes keeps adding value without a corresponding price increase — at least for now.
Divi pro’s and con’s
- Fastest visual editor I’ve tried to date
- Intuitive interface that can be learned on the fly
- Very flexible page layouts
- Pricing offers amazing value
- Constantly updated & improved as it’s a flagship theme by Elegant Themes
- Lots of community resources available to improve your designs
- There is a lot to learn
- Expect frequent small bugs given the available number of features
- Poor third-party support
Although this review has been pretty glowing so far, I don’t mean to lead you to believe that Divi is perfect, because it certainly isn’t. Divi definitely has a few weak spots that deserve mentioning, no matter how small they might be.
With so many options and settings available, there are plenty ways for problems and small bugs to arise. For example, for the longest time, there was a bug in the code editor that prevented it from being used properly (this seems to have been resolved).
Divi also has poor integration with third-party forms. If you’re using Ninja Forms, Contact Form 7 or something like Infusionsoft, be prepared for headaches when trying to implement custom forms. You won’t be able to drop your form code into the editor and call it a day.
Finally, there is always the argument of the shortcodes that Divi leaves behind should you ever want to switch themes. Over time I’ve come to accept that this is just a fact of life. I have changed out many themes on many websites and it’s a hassle no matter what you do.
Little bugs aside, I have to say that Divi 3.0 has been nothing short of a huge improvement on the previous version. If you prefer to build pages in the back-end, there is no need to worry; all your features remain untouched. But if front-end editing is your thing, Divi’s visual builder is about as good as it gets.