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  1. I read the original Divi post and this one. I wholeheartedly agree with these articles 100%, and my personal experiences in client work are exactly like how these articles described.

    I contend that there is no way around learning at least the basics of HTML and CSS if you want to be serious about SEO. It’s relatively easy to hit the limitation with those visual builders. Once you hit the limit, you will have to deal with custom codes, and there is absolutely no way around learning HTML/CSS at that point, which, by the way, is NOT that hard to learn. I have to say that HTML and CSS have become somewhat of a rubber dragon at this point. Learning all the quirks of visual builders such as Divi is, in fact, more complicated than the HTML and CSS languages themselves those visual builders are ostensibly designed to simplify.

    I think that the biggest irony of “no code necessary” tools such as Divi is that those who could code HTML/CSS responsive layouts by hand are the one who could get the most out of visual builders (IF they chose to use it). They could see how a visual builder abstracts HTML/CSS coding in its GUI because they know the code. But then what happens is that you will hit the limit sooner than later because GUI could cover only so many variables. That’s why most of them have an admin panel where you inject handwritten codes. At that point, users of those tools painfully realize that knowing how to code *is* necessary after all.

    Furthermore, there’s the question of whether clients are even well-suited to make a variety of changes in the first place. They’re probably not professional copy editors, and they are probably not knowledgeable in SEO and how it works. So, you might be giving them the rope to hang themselves by giving them an environment such as Divi. They should either learn enough to do things the proper way or hire someone who can. They most often have no problem doing that for their house (hiring a plumber to fix their kitchen sink) or their car (have an auto mechanic change the filter of their vehicle). Their difficulty with doing that for their website puzzles me to no end.

    And that leads to yet another problem with visual builder tools; they give users a false presupposition that good web marketing is about look and feel. It encourages clients to buy into the idea of building the frame first and then drop the content in later. It’s completely backward. Building a website is ultimately about contents, and semantic code is a part of essential product quality. They are important for effective SEO. Visual builders such as Divi encourages a backward process that takes what should be the top priority (contents, code, etc.) and saves it for the end, in the name of “ease of use.”

    I hope more clients will come to understand the points of your articles.

    • Sam, you make several good points, especially about understanding how to create clean code. I hope that the Divi and Visual Composer fad comes to an end… but not before they develop an easy way to extract content from the shortcode. Otherwise, clients will be held hostage.

      • EXACTLY. Chris Lema has written about the Divi shortcake problem:

        It bothers me to no end that so many people, even so-called professional WordPress developers, seem to think visual builders are a good idea. It goes against every principle that the industry fought for; separation between contents and presentation for a maintainable website, semantic HTML for better accessibility, cleaner and lighter code for mobile UX, and so on. So much focus on “around” stuff (= appearance), not enough focus on “it” stuff (= contents). More additional layers of unnecessary abstractions for the sake of “ease of use” while, ironically, making things more complicated for end users. It’s a mess.

        • Yes! While I agree that a website needs to be attractive and easy to navigate, it’s the content that drives a business. Focus on providing value — by writing content that informs, helps and challenges your readers. Then, you’ll succeed on the web.

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