By Stephen Walker

In my apparently relentless pursuit of finding an alternative for Avada, I once again made my way around the builderverse and once again I am back to Avada.

I am working on a couple of concept sites and a personal site and wanted to make use of Gutenberg or other possible builders. The list this go-around includes Oxygen (again), Cwicley, Bricks Builder, Elementor Pro, WP Full Site Editing (FSE), and a couple of Gutenberg-based themes — Generate Press and Blocksy. In my opinion, these are the best alternatives on the market right now.

My Biased Evaluation

If you are a coder and want total control, I would say Oxygen is probably the best choice, but it still has problems and the latest release seems to be a little buggy. Oxygen handles most of the builder functionality fairly well, but to get a good user experience, you still need to buy some additional plugins. There are some new design plugins available — AutomaticCSS and Oxywind — that make Oxygen stay at the top of my list. Avada needs to add the lightweight nature of this tool (on the front end) and many of the extended design features — I think (desperately hope) many may be coming in Avada 8.

Other Products

  • Elementor Pro is actually the one I thought I would end up using based on some initial performance numbers, but the inability to use a color variable started me down a path of how lacking this tool can be. If you just want out-of-the-box functionality with limited customization and coding required, this is probably the best alternative. Also, the Elementor ecosystem is very robust.
  • Cwicley is a good builder if you want to be Gutenberg only and reminds me a lot of Oxygen, Elementor, and Bricks Builder. I wanted to like it but it just doesn’t work for me.
  • Full Site Editing – nope.

The rest of the tools have many strengths and weaknesses and outside of Avada, amongst the other tools, my choice would probably be Blocksy with a host of Gutenberg plugins.

Strengths

The strength of Avada has really been evident in version 6 and beyond. From flexbox to custom layouts to the template library to global typography and colors, Avada continues to lead all others. I often chuckle when I see a theme or builder introduce a new capability that Avada has had for years — Elementor is finally adding flexbox. I actually find that even Gutenberg Full Site Editing is just trying to bring all that Avada has to offer into the tool for the masses — they are a long way off. Gutenberg is the future so for Avada to stay strong it is going to have to be more block-friendly.

Support

Avada support has been outstanding for me. I do have grandfathered support, so maybe that helps, but between the official support, the Facebook group, and at the time the community forum, there has been almost nothing I could not resolve. I created this site to showcase things I have solved so that others can benefit. I do notice that customers tend to ask a lot of support questions on Theme Forest even though it is very clear that this is not a support channel.

Familiarity

I have to say that part of my evaluation is very biased due to my familiarity with Avada. If I was coming into Avada with no experience, it does take a minute to get used to the way it does things, and compared to some of the other tools evaluated, can seem a little outdated. This is especially true with containers, columns, and nested columns as well as some basic design limitations. While I don’t know everything Avada can do, anything it can’t do can easily be overcome with custom CSS or some basic JS or PHP.

Weaknesses

Believe it or not, Avada does have a few weaknesses.

Performance

In my opinion, this is the one area where Avada suffers the most and part of my reason for looking elsewhere. New Blocksy and Oxygen sites routinely score in the 80s and 90s on both mobile and desktop with little additional optimization required. Adding optimization bumps these sites to almost 100. Avada creates a lot of code and even with new optimization features is still slow — combine that with poor design and infrastructure and you may have an unusable site. Don’t get me wrong, all sites will suffer as a result of poor design and infrastructure, but given the typical Avada user — novice to WordPress and the web in general — this could be more prevalent.

Licensing

Another area where Avada suffers slightly is the licensing model — one site, one license. Simple and potentially expensive, but it really isn’t any more than many of the other builders on the market especially when you consider the plugins you don’t have to buy. The one area that needs drastic improvement is licensing management. The connection to Theme Forest and the inability to easily transfer licensing to a client does make it a little cumbersome especially if a client relationship ends badly. The need to buy another license in order to regain control over something that has already been purchased is problematic especially if the original license was purchased years ago and included grandfathered support. For those of use that are not strapped by resources, $60 may seem cheap, but to a business on the edge or in a region that is not so affluent, it could be detrimental.

Let me know your opinion or experience, and if you have found a capability you wish Avada had.

Originally published on June 14, 2022

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