Builder is a powerful tool for building custom websites. It offers the most flexibility of any other framework balanced along side a user interface that anyone can learn to use. I often describe it to other developers as a sandwich style layout designer. Kind of like building a hamburger, you can layout any combination of elements stacked up together. There are a few design limitations that come along with that model, but nothing that can not be worked around with a little creative graphic implementations. It works best when you just embrace the simplicity and flexibility of the layout engine and run with it. Just because you are a hamburger shop, doesn’t mean you have to make ugly hamburgers.
When it comes to non-profits and churches, there is a huge benefit to scalable growth of the site. Builder helps in that regard. Designing a layout that works in a variety of Builder’s layout of modules and widgets allows the site to grow over time, which also means that the site can launch more quickly and grow into their intended size as content is developed. With Builder you can go from a simple blog style site to corporate style website and then into a news magazine style website all without updating the theme.
We recently launched a church website for Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Edmond, OK and I’m going to show it off here just as an example of how builder layouts work and allow for flexible changes in layout.
You can see here above a simple screen shot of the home page and then an overlay that demonstrates the widget areas that make up the layout of the home page. These widget areas can be added and repositioned as needed and the design of the template is flexible and can work with any combination. From there it’s just a matter of widgets. This layout uses iThemes Slider, and iThemes Billboard, a custom menu widget, and a custom written “latest news” widget which has some different options that the user can configure. The footer from the child theme has also been customized so that it wouldn’t need to be configured for each layout used.
When we build Builder based sites, we do a combination of a child theme customization and a variety of plugins for shortcodes and widgets. Keeping everything modular means that the user can make massive customizations to the layouts for different areas of the site and not have to be concerned about breaking anything. Since we use plugins to add to the flexibility of Builder, it means that we can change between child themes and not lose any customizations to the presentation of content throughout the site. Not only is that a big benefit to the client down the road, but it is also handy as a developer to archive each individual customization you make to a site. Now I can go back to my library of custom widgets for any new Builder project and non-Builder projects for that matter.
In conclusion, here are the benefits of using Builder:
- Fast frameworking layouts (allowing the client to envision what content will go where)
- Modular design allows for future flexibility (turning the homepage into a simple text message during a crisis event or just adding temporary content areas to the homepage for special seasons or events)
- Easy updates (since Builder core is separate from your child theme, it’s easy to update without losing or modifying your design)
- Lower cost of development
- Flexibly layouts expedite site launches (You won’t be waiting on that one more thing. Just cut it from the layout and add it in later)