The Ultimate Guide to Choosing Between a WordPress Theme vs Page Builder

Chipo   10

Updated on March 26, 2024

Are you trying to figure out the best option for you: WordPress Theme vs Page Builder?

Well, this is the blog post for you.

We take things one step further and propose a third option to consider: WordPress theme builders.

Each option has its advantages and disadvantages, and this guide breaks them down for you.

Keep reading to learn about the difference between a WordPress theme, theme builder, and a page builder, to find out the best option for creating your website.

Everything You Need to Know About WordPress Themes and Theme Builders

This section delves into the differences between a theme and a theme builder, and why you should consider using the latter.

What is a WordPress Theme?

Simply put, a WordPress theme is a collection of files that work together to create your website’s design. These files include your site’s layout, default templates for your posts and pages, fonts, colors, menus, sidebars, and other design elements.

The white portions of this diagram illustrate the areas themes typically manage. The content section is often dynamically populated (which is why it's crossed out, but the theme will control details like its layout width.

WordPress offers a variety of free and premium themes. Some are tailored for specific industries, while others can be used for any type of business or niche. You can also purchase a theme from a third-party platform like ThemeForest.

You MUST install and activate a theme on your WordPress website. This is done under the Appearance >> Themes tab on your WordPress dashboard.

Some of the most popular themes include Astra, Divi, and Hello Elementor

Themes are convenient because they already come with everything you need to set up your WordPress site. However, they come with very limited customization options

If you want to make significant changes to your theme’s layout or want to add extra design elements, you’ll have to code – which isn’t a convenient option for most beginners and busy business owners.

Which is why we recommend using a WordPress theme builder instead.

What is a WordPress Theme Builder?

The biggest reason why you might want to use a theme builder on your WordPress website instead of a pre-designed theme can be stated in a word: flexibility.

A WordPress theme builder is a tool that allows you to control every aspect of your website’s theme and design from the front end.

You can build custom elements like headers, footers, page templates, and more – without having to modify your website’s PHP files.

But for any WordPress tool on the market claiming to be a “theme builder”, to actually work as a fully functioning theme builder must be developed as a WordPress theme — NOT a plugin.

If a “theme builder” tool can’t be installed and activated as your actual theme, how is it supposed to manage all of your theme-dependent features?

The truth is that “Theme Builderplugins CAN'T.

They usually require fragile, multiple-instance workarounds that don't apply themselves universally across your site. If you then want to change a theme feature, you'll have to modify all these different instances — which becomes a website maintenance nightmare!

But if you’re using a theme builder like Thrive Theme Builder, this isn’t a problem you’ll have to worry about.

Screenshot of Thrive Theme Builder landing page

Thrive Theme Builder is an actual WordPress theme (installed in the Themes section of your WordPress site) that gives you the power to customize ALL your theme features — down to the last crucial detail — with an intuitive drag-and-drop editor.

Building Your Website with a WordPress Theme Builder: Pros and Cons

Theme Builder Pros

  • Ease of use: Create your own custom theme without needing to code or creating a child theme to make modifications
  • Extensive customization options: Tailor a unique web design for your brand
  • Design flexibility: Modify any aspect of your theme – headers, footers, page templates, etc.
  • Time-saving: Make quicker modifications with less hassle
  • Consistency: Use a theme builder’s templates to maintain a uniform look across your website
  • No need to hire a developer: For small business owners building on a tight budget, theme builders are the perfect way to build a solid WordPress site

Theme Builder Cons

  • Performance impact: Some theme builders can bloat your website, so be sure to pick one that prioritizes clean code and site speed
  • Learning curve: Despite being user-friendly, your theme builder of choice might require time to learn how to navigate it
  • Compatibility issues: There is a risk of potential conflicts with other WordPress plugins, website builders, or widgets..

You Should Use a Theme Builder If You…

  • Want a custom design but don’t have the coding skills or resources to create a custom theme from scratch.
  • Need specific layouts and custom pages that aren't available in standard themes, such as unique landing pages or a portfolio display that matches your specific requirements.
  • Want full control over every aspect of your site’s design, from the header to the footer, and everything in between.
  • Find yourself frequently wanting to update your site’s design or page layout to keep up with new trends, branding changes, or user feedback.
  • Prefer using drag-and-drop interfaces rather than editing theme files, adding bits of custom CSS here and there, or using Gutenberg (the WordPress Block Editor)
  • Want to easily make your site mobile-responsive

If this sounds like you, then you need Thrive Theme Builder. 

Screenshot of Thrive Theme Builder landing page

Thrive Theme Builder is easy to set up, even easier to use, and lets you create a stunning website that will blow away your site visitors.

Check out Thrive Theme Builder.

Everything You Need to Know About WordPress Page Builder

This section breaks down what a page builder plugin is and how these tools can help you high-quality webpages for your small business site.

What is a WordPress Page Builder?

A WordPress Page Builder is a plugin that allows you to create and customize the design of individual web pages on your WordPress website

It's designed to help users build a professional-looking website without needing to have knowledge of coding. 

You can use this tool to build homepages, sales pages, WooCommerce store pages, and other types of landing pages.

Most top page builder plugins also provide built-in design elements to drive conversions, e.g. countdown timers, popups, pricing tables, and more.

Using a WordPress Page Builder: Pros and Cons

Page Builder Pros

Ease of Use: Simple drag-and-drop interfaces make it easy for anyone to design pages, regardless of their technical experience.

Design Flexibility: Page builders offer a variety of options to create stunning, interactive landing pages beyond the limitations of the default WordPress editor or preset free themes (or even premium ones).

No Coding Required: Eliminates the need for an in-depth understanding of HTML, CSS, or PHP to build engaging layouts.

Time-Saving: Enables quick creation and editing of pages, significantly reducing building time.

Pre-Built Templates: Many page builders come with a library of pre-built templates and blocks (modules), allowing for easier building from the backend of your website.

Live Previews: Changes can be viewed in real time, allowing immediate feedback on your design choices.

Responsive Design: Easy to create mobile-friendly, responsive layouts that adapt to different screen sizes.

Page Builder Cons

  • Can slow down your website – especially if it’s outdated or not compatible with your new theme or other plugins

  • Some page builders have a learning curve, especially if you’re using them with a separate theme or theme builder

  • May conflict with other plugins

You Should Use a Page Builder If…

  • You want to create a custom-looking website but lack the technical skills for coding in HTML, CSS, or PHP.
  • You prefer seeing your edits in real-time, using a live visual composer
  • You prefer to have hands-on involvement in designing your site's pages rather than hiring a developer.
  • You have specific ideas for your site’s layout that can’t be easily achieved with your existing WordPress theme.
  • You need the flexibility to change and update your website's content regularly without delving into code.
  • You want an easy way to ensure your site looks good on all devices without having to manually adjust settings for responsiveness.
  • You want to try out different designs and page layouts to see what works best for your audience and your brand.

Combining the Power of a Page Builder & Theme Builder

You can dramatically elevate the flexibility and uniqueness of your website if you use a WordPress theme builder and page builder.

These powerful tools can complement each other, helping you create a visually appealing website that makes your business stand out.

With this combination, you can:

  • Customize your pages and site elements at every level
  • Maintain design consistency
  • Create a cohesive user experience
  • Build a fully responsive design
  • Streamline the workflow for customizing your site’s appearance
  • Optimize your site for SEO and user satisfaction

To achieve this, you’ll need a theme builder and page builder that are fully compatible with each other.

Enter Thrive Theme Builder + Thrive Architect: the best website building duo for WordPress users.

Think of this combo as “web development made easy”.

Thrive Theme Builder helps you build and customize every aspect of your website design without typing a single line of code.

Once you’ve created your website’s structure, you’ll hop in and customize your web pages with Thrive Architect.

No need to code. No need to purchase expensive add-ons. You get everything you need to build a stunning WordPress site.

You can purchase Thrive Theme Builder and Thrive Architect as a bundle or as part of Thrive Suite, where you get access to eight additional premium plugins.

Next Steps: Create a Custom WordPress Theme in Minutes

The Thrive Theme Builder Setup Wizard is designed to help you put together your custom WordPress theme quickly.

Text Screenshot of TTB Setup Wizard

Setup the wizard in Thrive Theme Builder.

  • Some of the steps in the wizard include:
  • Uploading a dark and light version of your logo
  • Selecting a header and footer template
  • Choosing a homepage template
  • Picking a blog layout and blog post template

By the end of the Setup Wizard, you'll have created a clean website design that you can now go in and customize using Thrive Architect.

Now You Know the Difference Between a WordPress Theme and Page Builder

By now, you should have a clear idea of what works best for you. Now it’s time to work on your actual website.

Here are four free tutorials to help you build your website the easy (and right) way:

Thrive Theme Builder & Thrive Architect are the best tools for building your dream business website.

Whether you’re a blogger, solopreneur, course creator, or startup owner, you can use our tools to build any type of website with ease.

As you get more comfortable with the tools, you'll find it easy to create sales pages for your offers, and other types of pages to get more leads and customers.

So what are you waiting for?

Start building your website today.

by Chipo  November 2, 2023


Disclosure: Our content is reader-supported. This means if you click on some of our links, then we may earn a commission. We only recommend products that we believe will add value to our readers.

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Leave a Comment

  • As an experienced web developer, I really liked how this article clearly explained WordPress themes, theme builders, and page builders. It’s great to see both the pros and cons of each option laid out so simply. I’ve used your product and combining a theme builder and page builder has definitely saved me time and headache. Congrats on a well-written guide that’s helpful for both beginners and pros. Great job on making complex topics easy to understand!

  • I’ve been a digital marketer for years, and Thrive has always been and always will be my go do Dev suite. it just gets better and better every quarter!

  • I love Thrive Themes. I’ve tried many other page builders and themes out there such as Divi, Elementor, Beaver, etc…..

    What I like the most about Thrive Themes is that it’s so intuitive and simple to use. All the elements I need to create an awesome site are all there at a click of a mouse.

    Not to mention how quick it is to go from A-to-Z with my website development. I literally can build a conversion based website within hours.

    I love that it integrates with all of my tools with its own built-in automator that works like Zapier, plus there are built-in integrations with your email provider/service. The landing page creator, lead capturing features. I mean Thrive Themes has really thought about everything and they’re constantly improving the features.

  • I love the flexibility of using a page builder (thrive is my preferred). I couldn’t go back to using a regular old theme now.

  • Honestly, Thrive Theme Builder & Thrive Architect are not JUST a theme and page builder, the company is incredible at customer service and delivering amazing content to drive sales and profit. I’ve never seen a more dedicated company. I’ve been with Thrive for years and hope to be for many more!

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