Drawing of Lawrence Laodmery

Lawrence Ladomery

Opus in digital artifex cum XLVIII

Another brick in the Page Builder wall

My desire to try out Bricks inspired me to (finally) launch my personal website.

If you’ve used Elementor, Oxygen or Zion before Bricks will be very familiar to you. It’s the latest visual page builder for WordPress catering for designers who don’t want to learn PHP / CSS  to build custom websites. 

The point of difference is performance. Bricks was conceived to prioritise speed and get as closer as possible to 100% scores on Google PageInsights and GTMetrix tests. As the world re-aligns and prepares for the Core Web Vitals era this is an important factor and it will be interesting to see if Bricks can deliver on the promise.

So far so good — my homepage is certainly quick.

That said, I’ve purposely kept the UI simple and text-centric. I’m also running on a fast WordPress hosting provider (disclaimer, I collaborate with them) and have caching installed. But I must say that Bricks certainly feels quicker that similar sites I’ve built using Elementor.

There are a couple of elements slowing things down too. I’m still referencing one font off fonts.googleapis.com and are using Matomo for analytics, which delays page load by 200ms. 

Built for speed

So, what’s the secret?

  • Bricks generates “clean, semantic, and valid markup”, reducing the weight of the page.
  • Lazy loading assets when they enter a vistor’s viewport (eg. the images on my Consulting page)
  • Disabling bloat: JS, scripts, embeds that are not really needed. Not for me, anyway
  • Font loading. I’ve downloaded Barlow and Recursive

You can read up more about this on their Performance and SEO page. Check our their Roadmap too as there are further optimisations on their to-d0 list.

It’s not quite ready for the prime time, though

Until they iron out a number of crucial bugs I would classify is as beta that is good enough for non-mission critical websites. Like this one.

Also, they are just about to release an update where layout design changes from the section > row > column model to a container > container > container > etc… one. 

Here is what the container-based approach looks like in version 1.2 of Bricks. You can try it for yourself here too: https://try.bricksbuilder.io

Look at the Structure pane on the right to check how containers are nested. The Direction option on the right, for the ‘parent container’, allows you to stack them vertically or horizontally.

I’m still learning about how this works. The next step would be to use real content and test nesting, but will do that once the final version is released.

Elementor remains my preferred Page Builder. For now.

Here are the milestones I need Bricks to hit before I go all-in:

  1. Some of the more critical bugs are quashed
  2. RankMath integration
  3. Version 1.2 launches and container layout works flawlessly
  4. Toolset integration

#1 and #3 are the main ones and I’m positive we’re only a few weeks away, which is exciting.

The other reason why I’m keen to use Bricks is that it’s a new product and there’s a ton of buzz around it. The community is growing fast around it and folk are super helpful.

Elementor was just as exciting when it launched and remains an incredible product. It has helped thousands of designers and agency owners produce better work quicker and the whole WordPress ecosystem has benefited from that.

But Elementor are now backed by VC cash and that means two things: a) they don’t need help from the community as much and b) there are a bunch of accountants influencing decisions. And that’s fine. Companies grow, evolve, mature and the market ultimately decides if they are successful or not.

I just prefer to back a small player Vs a corporate giant… that invites you to a Zoom meeting out of the blue and tells you off for recommending a competitor product in a public channel.

Yep, that’s exactly what happened. I used to be an Elementor Leader after having founded and run the Elementor Melbourne Meetup. I was chatting to someone during Atarim’s Agency Summit a couple of months ago and recommended Oxygen over Elementor for their specific use case. Someone noticed that and reported me to Elementor, and a few weeks later I was told off about it. I resigned from my Elementor Leader position the minute I got off the Zoom call. But I’m keeping the swag they sent me as it looks cool.

Bricks may follow the same path, who knows. For now, it’s a start up with a beta which is very close to be production-ready. 

I’m even tempted to start a Bricks Meetup…