When I got into web design back in 2009, the “hard” aspects for me personally were learning HTML, CSS and the technical side of web design.
But there weren’t many tools or options for building sites so that wasn’t an issue.
Nowadays, the opposite is true.
It’s easier to technically build websites with no-code page builders but it’s infinitely more difficult to decide on what tool to use because there are so many options out there.
To help you decide on the right website builder for you and to help give us a unique perspective on the landscape of page builders and WordPress, I’m excited to bring onto the podcast, fellow design educator Dave Foy!! (the go to 101 resource for learning the Bricks WordPress Page Builder)
In this one, Dave shares his insight on how Bricks stacks up next to other page builders like Divi and Elementor and gives his perspective on the pros and cons of where WordPress is headed.
- What led Dave to fall out of love (and stop using) Elementor
- How Dave got into Bricks
- Why Bricks seems to be a preferred solution for web designers and not the DIY crowd
- Why there seems to be such polarization between the different page builder communities nowadays
- The landscape and pros and cons of where WordPress is headed
In this episode:
00:00 – The Battle of WordPress Page Builders
05:15 – Page Builders
09:51 – WordPress Community Debate and Division
22:13 – Comparing Page Builder Options
35:32 – Progression to Bricks and Teaching Methods
40:20 – Teaching Web Design With Bricks
51:29 – Webflow vs WordPress
Connect with Dave:
Featured links mentioned:
Episode #297 Full Transcription
I think that diversity and that openness is its strength. And you know the laws of Yin and Yang equal opposite sides. I think that also causes problems as well, but generally speaking, I’m always positive and I think the open, diverse nature of WordPress is its greatest strength.
Welcome to the Web Design Business Podcast, with your host, josh Hall, helping you build a web design business that gives you freedom and a lifestyle you love. Hello friends, great to have you here for this episode of the Web Design Business Podcast, because we’re going to take a deep dive into the battle of page builders, specifically WordPress page builders, and what’s interesting about what’s going on right now and not only WordPress but web design in general is there’s just so many options. I think that’s one of the biggest things that is overwhelming for people. When you’re getting into web design, like when I got into it in 2010, there really wasn’t that many tools or choices. It was harder back then because you had to learn HTML and CSS, but it was easier to figure out what tools to use. Now it’s kind of the opposite. It’s easier to design and code or not even code, but it’s harder to decide what tool is right for me. So we’re going to take a deep dive into kind of what’s the landscape right now of page builders and WordPress, and even get into other tools like Webflow and Squarespace and Wix, and to do this, I’m so excited to bring on Dave Foy, who is a fellow web design educator. Now Dave is a BRICS guy and he is actually my number one resource for those of you who want to learn BRICS or look into it. Dave is just an awesome laid back guy who is just a pleasure to learn from, and he actually comes from a teaching background as somebody as you’ll find out in this interview who used to teach seven year old kids and then became an online educator. So I feel like if you can get through a classroom of seven year old kids, you can do fine online. He really just has a great approach to teaching and, as somebody who came from a traditional background in development and coding and then learned page builders and then was high on elementary but is now shifted towards BRICS, dave just has a really unique perspective on where WordPress is and where page builders are. So, needless to say, it was a pleasure to have him on and a real joy to hear his perspective, to help you decide what builder is right for you and to get a look at the battle of the page builder landscape right now. So, without further ado, here is Dave. You can find out more about him at his website, davefoycom, and if you’re interested in learning BRICS, I don’t know. I don’t think I can recommend anyone else to get started with BRICS than Dave Foy. So here he is. Dave, it is a pleasure. We were just chatting before we went live here. You are like the British BRICS version of me, I guess, so I don’t know what else to say, but it’s an honor to chat with you and have you on man.
Yeah, that’s quite a compliment Actually. Thanks brother. Yeah, you’re asking me I’m, I’m, I’m, I’m, I’m, I’m, I’m, I’m. I’m gonna say I’m a big fan, so it’s great to be asked.
I’m so excited to chat with you, man, and I don’t know I’m kind of joking about that, but we are very similar in the way of, especially from where I started with Divi tutorials and teaching Divi. You have, I mean, I don’t know of of of the BRICS world too much as far as the online education side of things, but from what I see online, you’re the go-to guy with BRICS and man, brics is like a hot new thing right now. So I’m really excited to pick your brain about and just kind of get your your your pulse on what’s going on with, with page builders and WordPress, the popularity of BRICS. So I figured that’s what we’ll dive into. That sounds good.
Sure, sure, yeah, excellent, that’s, that’s my expertise, that’s my area. So what are?
you seeing, let’s start out with BRICS. Why? Why is BRICS so popular right now?
Well, I think BRICS is partly popular because it is just, it is great, it is an excellent page builder which solves a lot of problems that other page builders have had up till now. I think BRICS has the advantage of being relatively new. I think it I think it was around about 2021 kind of time that they you know, they started kind of bringing out the very earliest versions. So the BRICS developer has had a. We can talk about the developer as well. I mean, he’s such a great guy and it’s a very small team, which I also think helps. But they’ve had the advantage of kind of standing on the shoulders of giants. I guess, having had a look at how page builders have developed and the problems that have arisen over the years, and I think they’ve they’ve had the opportunity to start with like a clean slate and say, if we were going to start from scratch, build a page builder, avoid all these issues, you know, because there’s always, there’s always kind of technical debt isn’t there in software? You know, you start off with the best of intentions and then by the third year you’ve you’ve acquired a load of bloat and it’s. You know, it’s horrendous and you wish you probably wish you could start again, but you can’t because you’ve got millions of users and and all that kind of thing. So they’ve had that benefit of starting from scratch. So, partly, brics is just an excellent page builder, I think partly as well. It is particularly picking up speed because I personally think and I mean it’s not it’s not my style to be negative and to be down on on anybody else but I think people have become a bit disillusioned with the Gutenberg block editor dream in many cases. I speak to a lot of people who, you know, really wanted to follow the, you know, the future of WordPress. I’m making quote marks in the air, you know, and I don’t blame, I don’t blame them at all, you know why. Why start using these kind of third party proprietary systems, almost, you know, plugged into WordPress, when you can use the core functionality of WordPress? But I just hear and this is my experience as well just so many, you know, just so many problems and hassles and the user experience is pretty terrible, I think. And so I believe that a lot of people are now casting back to page builders and thinking, actually, maybe this, this idea of having a piece of software that has solved all of these issues, with full site editing and all the stuff that you know is rolled out as being some incredible, brand new thing in the Gutenberg world was solved by page builders many, many years ago, right and with you know, generally with a fantastic experience.
That’s my take as well, and it’s funny. I actually just recently had a conversation with Nathan Wrigley, who’s a fellow, a fellow Brit, he is.
Okay, you know Nathan, now he so his interview. I think it’s going to come out after years, but he is actually all in. On the block editor, it was interesting because I’ve heard the same thing as you, dave, and it was my experience. I hated it, I really could not stand it, and I’ve been using Divi since 2014. So I’ve seen that builder just progress and progress to where it is now, whereas I, in short, my, my, my current state, my stance on that is that it seems like the block editor is where Divi and a lot of other page builders are in like year one. You know, they’re like they’re just trying to figure it out, whereas some of these, and even bricks, has gained a lot of popularity and gone really far, really fast. But, to your point, I think that’s because they’ve probably been in the world and they’ve seen the goods, the bads, the, the pretty, the ugly and tried to make you know their own version of it. So, yeah, I feel like I understand why WordPress wants to bring it native and and I don’t want to speak for Nathan but Nathan was saying he likes having a tool that is able to be used by different themes but still have that core functionality. So I definitely get that, but we are in a different or an interesting time right now with page builders, where and I might dub this episode the battle of the page builders, because it really is that there’s just like these conflicting options and the reality is they all work. And I’ve one reason I was so excited to chat with you is you and I share a similar philosophy, I think, in that we’re chill, we like everybody, we don’t want to make enemies out of other builders. We have our preferences, but I think it was your masterclass or one of your YouTube videos where, yeah, you said the same thing. You didn’t want to dog any other builders. Just this is what you liked, and I think that mindset is really important. What do you think about that? Just because I do see a lot of people in certain Facebook groups that are like hate divvy with a passion, or some people hate element, or some people hate bricks. I don’t feel that way. I have preferences. What’s your take on that with just yeah, that mindset and philosophy I think this has been.
I think this general kind of attitude of WordPress being a lifestyle rather than a tool has been prevalent in the WordPress world for quite a long time now. I just think that with the development of so many different options these days, that it’s just become amplified. We were living in a world where, I mean, you and I, going back 10 years, could only have dreamt of having such an amazing array of tools and options and ways of building websites that I just couldn’t have ever dreamt of. When I started building websites, you had to hand code the things yourself. I mean, that was it. But even fast forward in maybe like another 10 years, you still needed a developer. You still needed somebody to code the templates in the background. I think we’ve come to a point where it’s almost like Yin and Yang. I always see life. There is always an equal and opposite. I think, as more and more and more and more tools have come out, all very capable, all a fantastic old general very capable of making very professional websites Also that kind of I’m trying to think of the word for it but just that splintering of the community and the splintering of the WordPress world, I think for me. Partly the reason that that happens more in WordPress is because of the open source nature of the project. I think philosophically maybe is probably the word philosophically People feel more. I don’t know what the word is for it either. I can’t think of words today, but feel more yeah maybe bot in or like a it’s almost like a tribe, like you’re a Divi tribe. There’s an identity. I think, and I can really understand that If you’re paying for just a third party tool, a third party hosted tool like Webflow, maybe, or Squarespace or Wix, I would imagine that those people I know a few people that use Webflow and they like Webflow, they enjoy it they will tell people that they love it and they’ll recommend it, but they’re not going to start fighting and just being quite aggressive in communities and quite hurtful in some ways. You just don’t really see that.
That’s a good thing.
I think it is partly because people feel so committed to the WordPress ideal, but because there are so many options, people feel I don’t know, I call it like the WordPress tattoo crowd. This is the people who absolutely died in the wall, which, like you, josh, I feel the same. All of this is just. They’re just tools really to get a job done, and to different degrees, they’ve all got pros and cons. They’ve all got the strengths and weaknesses. Pick one that suits your style and go for it.
It’s an interesting viewpoint there. I think, even with the idea of like a Webflow user versus a Squarespace user, they would likely not even cross paths unless they were in maybe an entrepreneurial group or something that’s not tool specific, whereas WordPress you’ve basically got. I mean, in a way, it’s kind of like oh, I hate to even go into the political realm, but it’s almost like in America we’re all living in the same land but everyone has their own ideologies and there’s like these tribes and camps. You know, I I never thought about that until we’re voicing this out now, but it’s kind of like that. I mean, maybe that’s why people just get so, like you said, committed to their tool and and then defensive of it. And I’ve I felt that way, like I still, when I see people dog divvy, I’m like, ah, I’m not, I’m not in a place where I’m jumping in forums right now and I don’t have time for for debates or anything. Not that that’s my style anyway, but it does still irk me sometimes and I’m like, ah, come on, so one of it’s kind of like that. So I we’re really kind of shedding light on like why there is the this, this division in WordPress and the page builder world.
I think partly as well. It’s a product of the fact that these tools I think, I think a lot of the people, a lot of people that are developing websites, designing websites for whatever reason and I actually enjoy it, and I think there is some, I would say that in a lot of industries. You know that people produce tools various kind of saws and hammers and whatever else, and diggers and things. You know the people using them don’t really care. You know they don’t, they don’t love using those tools. It’s just, it’s just a means to get the job done. They just want to dig a hole. You know they just want to put a hole in something and then go home. But I do. I do feel that there is generally I know, I know I have always felt just enjoyment in the whole process, the whole creative process of building websites. And I wonder whether there yeah, I’ve, I’ve very, very often felt like it’s something that I would do for free. I actually just love learning new things, love using the tools, love creating something. I got into web design because I was desperate, because I’m terrible with my actual hands Asked me to put a shelf up. You know, forget it, it’s gonna, it’s gonna be an angle that’s all that’s, let’s just say.
But you can build the website for the shelf company and help them market it for sure. Yeah, exactly.
Exactly I can. I can create something and put it out there, and I’ve and it’s something that I’ve done with my virtual hands, anyway, and but I do. I do think there is a little bit of that that. That is why people Get invested in this and feel kind of some emotional attachment, because it is more than just getting a job, don’t, I think, for a lot of people that’s very well said, man.
Yeah, I think because I fell in love with Divi. I really did not love building websites until I I personally found and dove into Divi and then Back in those days, back in 2014 and 15, when I started using Divi, the community and still is a really strong community, but back then it was even more so like the best community compared to what I had seen Elsewhere. I mean, this was even before elementary took off and another. So I Think that that was a thing too, where it was like you do when you use a tool and you enjoy it and you and like being in it. You do, you are committed to it and in a way, it’s like I mean, it’s such a part of your business, it’s something you’re in every day, you’re, you’re, you’re really. It’s a part of you in a lot of ways as far as your business. So I think naturally when you see somebody Taking shots at it, you get defensive and you may feel like that. Now if you see somebody trashin bricks, you know, I don’t know, maybe maybe the gloves come off and we’re Star Wars fans. So you know we’ll say dark side Dave comes out and Hold on, hold on now. So I think, I think there’s a lot of that, but it’s this interesting, I guess. I’ve just never really understood why there’s so much of a battle between the page builders, but I this makes sense to me that it’s because we’re all on one platform and there are a lot of different options to go.
I think I know that actually just just sorry, just to chip in, josh, but just thinking about my experience talking to people who are much more and much more kind of Into the WordPress community, that they’re much more involved. Nathan is a brilliant example. Nathan is heavily involved in the in the actual WordPress community. But I can think of, you know, people who write regular like WordPress newsletters and People who do, like you know, wordpress podcasts and things like that. I’m thinking about guys like Matt Medeiros, for instance. You know, these guys are Absolutely immersed in the community and I’ve heard from different people so many times how they’re ready to almost like throw in the towel with the whole WordPress community thing because there is just so much drama Not only drama because my page builders better than your page builders better than your block editor, etc. But also a lot of the drama that’s going on in terms of Decisions made by the core. You know, the core, the core WordPress group and everything else and I actually feel quite, I feel quite lucky really, in the sense that I I Try thinking the best way to phrase this without it sounding too to shallow but I Pretty much don’t care Really it’s a great, I don’t care. WordPress is a tool that I absolutely love using. I love teaching, I love the fact that it allows me and so many people to build careers and, you know, provide for the families and all that kind of thing, and to me that is what it is. And so when people say I am sick of the, I know, I know one of my friends was a regular in the WordPress community, like on various podcasts and things, and he just gave it up. He just walked away and said I’m not, I’m not doing this anymore. My reaction was kind of like well, you don’t, you don’t have to Get into all the fights. Yeah, you know, you don’t have to be. That guy stood at the bar with you, you know right.
Maybe, just maybe, just you know, unsubscribe from of some things and get out of some groups for a little while. Like take a month with no social media, no forums, no WordPress groups and see how you feel. That would be my, that’d be my recommendation, before somebody burns out and calls it quits. Absolutely, and you know, I definitely one thing I was thinking is I think the reason we’re seeing some polarization with page builders now versus when I got into to WordPress heavily, from my perspective it was like I was in the Divi community and that was it. I was like around my tribe, my people. I very rarely talked with anyone else using different builders or or even different Themes and things for WordPress. Nowadays it’s very different because my pulse on what I’ve seen with a lot of my students and just being in the web design world how, how invested and deeply I am it’s different 10 years ago because a lot of people back then just use one builder and that was it like. When I use Divi, I just use Divi. Well, now people are using Divi and Elementor and bricks maybe, or Oxygen and beaver builder and something else, like there’s two or three themes in the mix. I think personally, there was anything I could pinpoint to one reason why there’s some Polarization and division with that. I think it’s that because now suddenly you’ve got people experimenting and trying things and up I see Dave’s masterclass. Now I haven’t. It’s to try bricks, but I like Divi still. And the next thing, you know all the bricks communities saying Divi’s not accessible and Stareable and Divi communities, like well, I’m not understanding bricks, so it’s, I think personally that’s my take on it why there might be.
Yeah, I think you’re absolutely right, it’s. It’s it’s because there is just like so much choice and so many, and I think also I’m just really just thinking this through actually I think also the pace of change, I think gives people so much maybe just underlying anxiety that they’re using the right tool at all, because what is the right tool one day Could well not be, you know, could well be out of favor the next day. I I Think I first used Divi back in, I think, about 2013.
For me, alright, like first one right.
Yeah, right, at the very, very beginning, I mean it would really just come out, and Up to that point you’re absolutely right. What WordPress was? Either a case of you Bought on off the shelf theme or you developed a theme or paid somebody to develop a theme for you, and that was pretty much it. And then I Was the guy building the themes, building the templates. You know, I was the guy the designers were giving the Photoshop files to to build the templates, to then, you know, put together into the CMS, and I Very quickly became the bottleneck, because I’m quite slow. Anyway, I’m quite happily hold my hand up, I’m not the fastest guy in the world, I’ll take my time, I’ll make sure that it’s right. And so, you know, I’m saying, oh guys, you know, yeah, I can, I can build these templates for this new website, this new landing page campaign, whatever it is. How, you know it’s, it’s two weeks, two weeks time. Okay, you know, come on, we want to test this new campaign, we want to, you know, create this new landing page. And so when Divi came out Divi was, I think, what there was Divi WP, was it called WP bakery at the?
time, yeah, bakery, and then visual page builder. What that was? That was different, right, the visual page visual composer. Yeah, that’s right I.
Think the visual composer actually was WP bakery, I think. Okay, I’m just getting my timelines a little bit mixed up, but anyway, there wasn’t a lot of choice for in the, in the. You know the realms of drag-and-drop page builders that normal people could, could use. And so my designer friends, my marketer friends, all those people Suddenly learn all about these tools like Divi. Well, the fact, divi was pretty much the only the only option at the time and love them I mean that, absolutely loved Divi, and that was my introduction my Marketer friend, my business partner at the time, saying, oh yeah, sorry, dude, I’ve been using this tool, I’ve built my own website, you know, and that’s that to me, after an initial, you know, handcoder snobbery, which I will hold, hold my hand up to it just suddenly just realized this is what it’s all about, this is, this is the democratization of the web that we’ve been, we’ve been promised. Well, now we’re in such a great position. Just, I think Elementor came along there was a fader as well, wasn’t there. And then Elementor came along, and then the whole Gutenberg block editor thing. Now you’ve got all these kind of, you know, block block editor we generate blocks and block C and all those others as well. Cadence. There is just such an enormous choice and I think this is the I hear from so many people with Anxiety am I, am I, you, we, you. And I didn’t have the luxury of that kind of anxiety back in the day with Divi because, you know, divi was pretty much the only thing out there that we could have used anyway.
But yeah, I think, like an analysis paralysis. There’s just so many exactly what?
which we should? I use, yeah, which is the best option? What you would mention, my bricks masterclass that was one of the reasons I made it was be purely to Try, so I would have something to send to people, like a link to send to people who we’re trapped in that anxiety. I could say well, I’ve got my take on it here. Here are the reasons that I think this tool is great, but, as you’ve said, you know I don’t want to be telling people you must use this thing because, yeah, I, even I will hold my hand up, you know, and say something else Fantastic might be literally just round the corner.
I think it was your masterclass because I did take a peek at most of that and just because I was curious about what bricks look like and how it and how it went. And I’m friends with Kevin Geary and I know he’s a big, big, big bricks guy but he’s also pretty advanced on the coding and and developers side of things, oh, kevin’s I fell the first couple introductions that I was like whoa, even with where I’m at as a web designer, that’s a little much for me. I want to get like a one-on-one look before I dive down that rabbit hole. Not that I’m leaving Divby, but I’m just curious, really trying to keep a pulse on it, yeah, but you said in your masterclass, there’s a lot of different options, and here’s here’s what I like and here’s how I do it. I think that’s a really good approach. Do you have any metrics that you recommend like? Do you have? I have my own take on this, what I’m happy to share, but do you have any metrics you go to when it comes to how to decide what to use if someone’s getting into web design?
Oh, In terms of criteria to choose a to choose a tool. Yeah, Mmm, yeah, I would. Well, I’ve not come up with anything. That’s like a, you know, a very fixed checklist.
I can share my three if you want. They’ve been prompts anything.
Oh well, yeah, I mean, please do actually. Yeah, because my my, my first question for people is usually like what are you actually using this tool for? You know, what kind of experience level do you have? Would you see yourself as more of like a designer or a marketer? Are you a business owner who just wants to build their own site and be able to manage it themselves? And so I would say that my recommendation would would actually change dependent on Our person’s answer, but I’m interested in your take on this minor three, but you may have just added a fourth.
I didn’t really think about that, but it is good to have your clients in mind, the type of projects you’re doing. So we’ll start with that Clients think about your clients. What type of projects? Because there are certain Themes that and certain builders that might be suited for small business brochure style sites that are more landing page and sales, versus like e-commerce or something that’s big and something that’s scalable, which bricks may be really good for as far as scalable nature. So we’ll start with that. But my others are Just the feeling of the builder like pretty quickly. I think most people will decide I like this like. I like the user experience. I like being inside the bills are, I find, intuitive. Now, I did not like Divi at first, but my second go around with it. I fell in love with it after going back to like one-off themes In short code. So that’s was my story with that, but I learned to like the builder pretty quickly. The other two metrics that most people I think overlooked, that are so uber important is the community Like, what type of support community is behind this theme or this page builder, because that’s going to be a huge part of where you’re going to spend time with support and hiring out and Colleagues and working with people moving forward. And the other piece that most people don’t think about and this kind of segues to a question I was curious about for you, because you mentioned this is the company like look at the people behind the builder. Do you trust them? Are they Self-funded or are where their investment companies that, like you know, invested in them and then they got a big funding campaign and are they going to sell it? Are they going to be out of business in a couple years? Also, do you trust them to like, keep up with the tool and be there in the long haul? That’s those are the metrics for me. With Divi, nick Rhodes, the, the CEO Really, I mean, it was his baby and he he built elegant themes, which is the parent company, and they created Divi. I have still have full trust that they’re going to be around for the long haul. I don’t know if that’s going to be the case with bricks or some other newer builders and again, I haven’t really taken a deep dive. It’s why I’m talking to you, dave, but what do you think? Do you think bricks I get you have faith that They’ll be able to handle growth and scale, because that’s another aspect that happens. I know you mentioned it’s cool that they’re a small team, but the problem with small teams is that sometimes they get so much popularity and so quick support is really tricky. They’ll be backlog with with the updates and stuff. What are your thoughts on that?
Yeah, well, I know that I mean Thomas, who is the developer of bricks. He’s got a quite a long history of Development in WordPress anyway. I think he developed like that it’s happy files plug-in and there’s a few others as well that will Inevitably slip my memory while we’re on this call and will immediately appear as soon as we’re off. But he’s a very, very experienced WordPress developer and I it’s certainly one of the reasons that One of the things that attracted me to bricks in the first place was just his whole ethos Just seemed to be he’s not, absolutely not into getting, you know, like in investment I’m venture capital or anything like that, and I like the fact that his Approach to the development of the tool is is, I mean, it’s this quick. You know we’re getting new versions, new features, there’s a roadmap, it’s all very kind of transparent and public. So At the moment, anyway, at this particular level, it strikes me that they are absolutely on top of Of updates, the features that they’re introducing, features that the community actually wants. Now I’ve seen with Elementor, certainly after they had their round, round of funding, which is not again, it’s not the kind of detail I get into too much really. I can’t, doesn’t, doesn’t particularly interest me how much money they’ve raised and everything else, but I do know the difference that that makes to to then what happens and how that company operates. And I, you know a lot of people notice with Elementor that Suddenly there was this flurry of features that nobody asked for. I mean they certainly did, certainly cool, certainly flashy, certainly you know, whiz bang, but nothing that anybody actually wanted. And the stuff the really Unsexy I think that’s the key yeah, the unsexy, solid features that people wanted. You know there’s some. Funcional stability, some lack of bugs, yeah yeah, those kind of things just went by the wayside for a while now. To be fair to the Elementor team, I think they’re bringing that round now. Definitely they. They are now introducing quite a lot of the features people have been asking for for maybe the past two years. But I do I do like with bricks that the features that that they’re introducing I just just very Solid features that the whole community have been have been asking for. But they’re also very good at being Aspo’s careful about what gets on the roadmap as well. They were Thomas reminds me very, very much of, and you know, the 37 signals guy.
Yeah, I use base camp. I love love base camp, love their books, love this guys. Yeah, yeah excellent.
Yeah, yeah, so so do I. I signed up for base camp the first, the very first day that they released Wow back in 2004. Yeah, I was. I was a fanboy.
I still love base camp. Same thing, that’s it. Look, it’s kind of funny, the project management software, end of things is also the same. Like people love or hate base camp, love or hate a sauna, I love or hate Monday and there’s all these new ones popping up and I feel the click take the same. I almost feel like I go into project management tools Experienced in page builders where it’s like all right, you all calm down, calm down. You don’t have to love or hate something so much, it’s just a tool, same thing. You can all yeah to the end goal by using whatever you’re using.
So yeah, and this is the Thomas’s attitude just really reminds me very, very much of the base camp guys with Jason Freed’s philosophy of we’re not going to be rushed, we’re not going to have people, we’re not going to get into kind of feature parity competition with with everybody else. We’ll develop things in our own pace, we’ll listen to customers, but we’ll also have to accept that we’ve got to take, we’re gonna have to make trade-offs. You know we can’t, cannot please everybody, and if we implemented every single feature that anybody ever asked for, this tool Would be an absolute dog. You know it would be awful, and so I like the way that Thomas does that. Now, I personally haven’t seen so far any slowdown in support. I know that they are taking on like extra people, but it seems to be done in a very kind of careful, gradual way. They’re taking people on when they need them, rather than taking on a load of funding and hiring a hundred people who you know. I think sometimes More people on a team, I think certainly in development doesn’t necessarily make anything faster or better. You know, maybe with support it’s a different story because, you know, just dealing with a sheer volume of Of stuff coming in. But I’ve contacted support on about three occasions and I’ve recommended to my students sometimes, when there’s just stuff, that I just think that’s not my issue. That’s not my issue because go, go, take that to bricks and, generally speaking, their, their Experiences is great. So I like, I like the way that so far Thomas has had the philosophies, pricing philosophy. It’s just been it’s a lifetime deal, which a lot of people say they don’t like because you know, if it’s, if it’s a subscription model, the, the tool will clearly be there, you know, for the long haul where, if it’s lifetime, they won’t be able to support all these customers. But so they are moving to a subscription model, I think very soon actually. But I like the way that Thomas has just just taken things, you know, nice and steady, nice and slow and Not felt like it has to be, you know, matching all these kind of correct, crazy, fancy, gimmicky tools. I’m not sure we’re gonna see AI in bricks anytime soon.
Yeah, that was something I was very underwhelmed by with the V AI that came out, and there’s some cool things about. I don’t know if you looked into it in detail, but it wasn’t quite what I thought it was gonna be, and in most cases I just use chat GPT for for content and then bring it over. Yeah, yeah, I’m a whole different thing We’ve been talking about a lot, but, yeah, the AI things are so interesting. I do feel like a lot of companies are rushing to just get AI in there, when, yeah, I almost feel like just go 90s with it, like go old school, go function. All those are the things that really stand the test of time With. When it comes to just pure function, yes, that’s interesting and I’m kind of curious what made you go to bricks? Was there a? Was there a moment where, because you were an elementary guy previously, right Was there? Was there a moment that? Was it a gradual progression? What was? Yeah, what, what? What led you to bricks?
Yeah, it was actually the product of a lot of research. I I’ll give you the short version of it. But, as I mentioned before, you know I started building websites by hand and I lived through, started to really learn web design around the time that the whole web standards thing was kicking in and the sort of dropping the tables for layout and using CSS instead. So I kind of worked, you know, lived through all of that and Enjoyed the fact that all right it was. You know you had to learn how to code, but I got used to the fact that I had complete control over all the styling. You know there wasn’t ever a sense of like well, you can’t globally style that element because, Well, the developers just not giving you that option. So tough, we know that was never an option for me. It’s like, you know, I’ve got these Funny little heading styles that appear on the top of blog posts. You know it’s like well, I’ll create a class of funny little heading style and create the style and job done. So I Loved the fact that I’d, you know, never had any of those restrictions. Now, when I Started to use and teach Elementor, I pretty much used and taught the tool because it suited my sort of the target audience that I had in mind to teach. It may not have been the tool that I would have chosen if I was purely just building websites for myself. I’m not really sure because it’s hard to separate now. You know what I would have done given a different path. But when I because I’d rewind slightly I’d previously been a primary school teacher in the UK. It’s like you know, elementary school maybe sort of teaching seven year olds, ten year olds, eleven year olds, and I’d done that for many years as a classroom teacher then moved into web design and built websites for clients for a good 16, 17 years, and then the pullback to teaching was really strong. I just could never lose the fact that I was kind of supposed to be a teacher ultimately.
Oh, that’s clear, that’s clear as day. And you probably teach the same way you teach beginner web designers, just like you do seven year olds, right? It’s like all right, good job, way to go.
Have some candy.
Yeah, it was pretty much. That sounds great, that sounds good.
Do you know what a lot of people do say to me? The one thing that they like about my teaching is that the fact that I don’t just tell them how to do something, but I’ll explain the why as well. So, like we’re going to do this because and I think I learned that from teaching young children, because young children, you know, if you tell them something and say, well, it’s just because I say so. I, you know, most, most young children were certainly in the areas I was teaching in would raise two fingers.
That’s a great lesson, david. I know I’m kind of playing around about that, but that literally teaching. I think that’s such an important mindset to have. I’ve found that out as an online educator and creator and coach and I learned, too when I was teaching my clients about this stuff as a web designer, that they are like when it comes to web design. They are like toddlers. They don’t know anything. So I had to teach like. This is actually a really important lesson for all web designers when you’re speaking to your clients, you have to treat them like a seven year old when it comes to the technology stuff, because they don’t know. They don’t know what the heck you’re talking about. They don’t know what bricks and Divi are, and they may have heard of WordPress, but they don’t know what that is. They don’t know what’s in hosting and domain and email set up and they don’t know accessibility and speed and optimization and the tools that are involved with that. They don’t know that stuff. So it’s actually a great reminder for us to like almost dumb down how we’re talking about our industry to clients, especially and I know you and I when it comes to like the folks getting into web design. I think you and I probably have to remind ourselves of that too that they don’t know.
Yeah, definitely. Yeah, I think it’s that. It’s that they call it the curse of knowledge, don’t they? You know that that thing where you just expect that everybody else is probably at the same level you are, but for me, yeah, just just telling people why you do this particular thing in this certain way, I just, I just think is really powerful. I’ve forgotten your original question, josh.
I’ve got off on a tangent. Oh, I was curious about the progression in the bricks. Was there like a moment that was?
I’ve wandered off off on my own little path, yeah, yeah. So when I decided I wanted to teach web design I’ll keep this very brief, but I had in mind the designers, the marketers, the business owners, the clients, not the developers. You know those people who I’d seen yeah, they wanted to be able to build websites for a variety of different reasons, but would have absolutely had no chance learning how to code. You know, they just wouldn’t have been in their skill set whatsoever. So I did a lot of research back in 2016, decided on elements of various reasons. Elemental for me, gradually over the next three years, just started getting very buggy and not very reliable. And features, you know features we’ve talked about. You know already. So I actually the reason before I discovered bricks, I actually took well, I don’t know maybe a year or two off, like completely I kind of threw it all up in the air. You know, my teaching business was doing incredibly well. Teaching Elemental was doing incredibly well. It’s a huge market. You know, let’s be, let’s be clear and so. But I just thought I’m not sure I can recommend this tool. I don’t feel confident. I don’t feel, like you know, just confident in in recommending that people use this and in me teaching it really. So I went off and well, it’s a long story. We built our own house, which was a horrendous project. We got there in the end rather more gray hair.
You didn’t build it right. We’ve already established that.
I didn’t build it with my own hands. No, yeah, we found some people who knew how to build houses and got them to build this one. But yeah, that was horrendous. And now I also went off away from WordPress for a while and started using Webflow for a bit. I didn’t know that, just to try yeah, just to try, you know, new tools and new perspectives and see what was out there. And so when I decided to come back to WordPress, it was a whole new world. You know, a year had passed, right, a year in web design, a year in WordPress I mean in Internet years. That’s 10, 10 years at least, isn’t it. And it was a whole different landscape with all these new kind of Gutenberg block editor tools out there. Now you know blocksy cadence and generate blocks and all sorts of different things. And so I embarked on, probably honestly, three months of testing out all these different tools, and the reason I came to Bricks in the end was well, I’ll try to think of just a few simple reasons. Really, one was was a negative thing against the Gutenberg experience, which we’ve already discussed. No matter how much this is supposed to be the future, I just can’t. I can’t get on with this at all. So so that was one reason. The other reason was what you said, where it is just the feel of the thing. You know, as soon as I installed it, as soon as I started using it, I’d gone from struggling with the block editor, you know like really struggling to just even just move something from one column to another. So just having this experience that was just custom built from the ground up to be a page builder and I was just throwing together designs and layouts and everything you know like really really quickly, just felt really really good. So there was that. The other thing that I really liked about Bricks as well was that I knew that for certain people in my audience, there would definitely be a learning curve. You know there absolutely is. There isn’t, although there are pre built widgets, elements, whatever the different tools call them. You know the stuff that you drag onto the canvas. Bricks has got loads of them, all kinds of different. You know like icon boxes and tabs and you know different, different things. But a lot, of, a lot of the way that you build with Bricks is actually kind of building things more manually yourself. You’ve kind of got to really, if you want, you know all the control and all the power and all the flexibility that Bricks offers, then you know you have to kind of roll your sleeves up a little bit more than some other page builders maybe. But what I thought was I know some people might say for smaller projects they might use one tool, for more complex projects they might use another tool. I personally feel I would rather get good at one tool. If I’ve got a one-page website, I’ve got my system. If I’ve got a 50-page website with dynamic content and false CMS-driven, with custom fields and custom post types, well, it’s the same system, it’s the same workflow, it’s the same styling. I like the fact that bricks, with the way that it works, encourages people to either develop their own styling frameworks or you can buy third-party paid frameworks that you can install. I know that that sometimes makes non-coders, especially in non-techies, oh God, what the hell it’s a framework, but for me it just makes life so much easier. It’s harder to teach, it’s a bigger learning curve, but I believe it’s not that big a learning curve at all. Once you’re there, you’ve got this workflow that works across all websites. You’re going to have consistent spacing, typography, color management and all this stuff. Also, if I’ve had quite a lot of my previous kind of Elementor students who were very much of the non-coder designer kind of ilk. I’ve actually said to me they actually find bricks ultimately, after the initial learning curve, actually find it easier because if they want to achieve a particular layout, particular design, particular bit of functionality that we all know what clients are like, they will always pull out some feature that they’d like or some Can we do that that they’ve got on that website. And you think, no, my page builder doesn’t allow that particular design, it doesn’t have a pre-built feature for it. But with bricks you can pretty much do whatever you like, but it’s still. There are page builders out there that I think are even for me, are just way too complicated, but bricks is still. If you’ve had a double yourself, it’s still ultimately a canvas widgets or elements that you drag onto the canvas. You build things, you add your content. It’s not actually that different to an Elementor or a DB.
I think the challenge that page builders have by nature is that they’re attracting a DIY crowd and a developer web design crowd. So some builders, if they are more like Elementor from my perspective is a little more towards the DIY crowd. I have a good friend, wes McDowell who is an Elementor guy and teaches that His clientele are not web designers, they are DIYers, business owners, and he teaches them how to use Elementor but they’re not far into the weeds on that. They’re not taking around the CSS. Divi is a level back from my perspective where there’s a lot of developers and designers using it along with DIYers. But bricks seems to me it’s more heavily on the developer, true web designer side. It may be some DIYers who are savvy, but most DIYers, yeah, are not going to look at that and get a good understanding immediately. But what Bricks is is kind of interesting. I’m really excited to see how it progresses because they may kind of fit the need over the next few years for serious web designers who want a page building experience but don’t want the bloat or extra fancy, swooshy stuff like you mentioned. That is unneeded for functional web design. And with the changes with accessibility and speed and everything, I think some of those things are probably going to be on the way out. Like 10 years ago it was really cool to see something slide in. Now it’s like that’s annoying, like turn that off. I got some parts on my side. I got to go and turn some of that stuff off, but I did like five years ago.
So yeah, that’s my perspective. I personally. It’s funny, actually, how I’ve ended up like teaching a tool like Bricks, because I started off teaching online, teaching web design online, very, very much to help the DIYers, the designers, the marketers, you know, the guys who didn’t want a code, didn’t want to have anything to do with that, and it’s funny how I’ve actually ended up really sort of specializing in Bricks these days, when it is aimed more at a developer crowd. I would say. What I would say about that, though, is that you, I think, if you look out there, you know a casual glance across YouTube, a casual glance across even just like the Bricks Facebook group you know the discussions that are going on can be very heavily developer-y, but I do. I quite often say to people please don’t be put off by that. There’s a there’s, I think, a lot of the time, a lot of the discussion that’s going on isn’t necessarily it’s more, it’s not necessarily developer’s sake. It’s more people trying to outdo each other, like we were talking about this thing. That kind of goes on in the, you know, in the WordPress space. I personally, I’m on a little bit of a mission to show people that you don’t have to be a developer to use this tool at all. But there are the developers. You know, there are the features under the hood. So if you are a developer, or later on, you decide actually I’m out of my depth now and the client’s asked for some kind of more complex feature that I’m going to have to ask a developer. Well, it’s likely that they will be able to handle that as well, but I must say, more recently I have been thinking maybe I would also like to choose another tool that is more aimed at the DIYers, the designers and those people as well. I’m not sure what I would choose, though.
What was your take on? What was your take on Webflow?
I actually really enjoyed Webflow. Webflow is very much, I would say, like bricks in terms of actually, I would say Webflow even more. So you really have to have some understanding of the basics of CSS. You need to understand the basics of HTML, the basics of CSS, at least the understanding that you can create a class, you can create styles, you can apply that class to different elements. But I would actually say with Webflow that there were a few things that started to hurt me really. One of them was that actually you really needed to be on the ball. You couldn’t style anything without creating a class for it. So there isn’t some separate settings area with preferences, preset preferences. You had to just create styles almost yourself, kind of on the fly. So even somebody like me, who I’m quite comfortable writing in CSS, would get myself sometimes like tied in knots and end up just having hundreds of classes and think, oh my word, what on earth are all these four? I’ve got no system whatsoever. But I started to also realize the disadvantages of being kind of tied into a closed system as opposed to an open source system. I know that Webflow have got their own pressures with their own, you know, got investors funding needing certain results. The prices go up wildly. I know some of the pricing in certain situations can sometimes be very unfair and I just ultimately didn’t ultimately prefer to the open source model. And of all that we’ve talked about the problems in the WordPress community, I actually missed the WordPress community. I missed the people that use WordPress. I missed the kind of people that I used to teach and used to help, so that’s ultimately why I came back.
That’s cool. That’s a great segue, because I was actually going to ask you why WordPress kind of put a cap on this conversation. Why do you think WordPress will remain strong? If you do think it will remain strong, what is, yeah, what’s going to hold WordPress together?
Well, I think the thing that will, because WordPress is in danger of I think it’s in a real crisis point at the moment, because it isn’t if you, if you, if you take page builders out of the equation. We talk about the core products. For me it doesn’t know who it wants to, who it wants to target, you know, is it for developers? Is it for, and just completely kind of, end users? It doesn’t seem to do as good a job as Squarespace and Wix for that particular crowd, but it’s falling into the trap of not doing a particularly good job for the developers either. You know, the whole Gutenberg experience for me, despite how much people will try to gloss over you know it’s clunky, so, but I think, the fact that still we can use our own tools, you don’t have to use Gutenberg. You know, wordpress has always built, being built on the philosophy that there is a core Framework, a core kind of tool that people can build whatever they like on top of, and so for me, as long as we are still able to use tools like bricks, you know, I think WordPress still has a has a strong future. I just worry. I just worry about all the stuff that’s going on with the core products Because, like I say, I think there are other. There are many, many other products out there now, although kind of means of building websites that are very particular, suited to quite a defined target audience, and WordPress isn’t. But as long as guys like you and I can use the tools that we we want to in a way that we want to, then I think WordPress has still got a long future.
One final question what do you think separates the WordPress community from other web design tool communities?
Well, I think that I think it’s the fact that it’s so open. I know that other communities, you know, we talk, I guess, with other communities. We’re generally talking about closed communities. You know, kind of separate sort of paid hosted products. Usually there are probably some exceptions, but I think by their very nature they are closed. You know, they are kind of like closed communities, whereas I feel that people it’s almost like it’s like we were talking about before it feels to me that you’ve got WordPress as a tool, but really WordPress is hundreds of tools, you know, and you have all of these. Could you imagine, with Webflow, that you would have so many Facebook groups? You know, if you think of the Bricks group, the Elementor group they generate press group, the, you know, the Divi group, the probably hundreds and maybe thousands of different groups that you could join without ever having to join. I don’t know how many people are actually in a WordPress group, you know, as in purely a WordPress group, I mean, a friend of mine just started like a Gutenberg specific group trying to focus on literally the core block builder experience and the full site editor. But I think that is extremely, extremely rare.
That’s a good point. I think that diversity themes are the people running them. I mean, I had I built a Divi group, divi web designers, which is over 25,000 right now but a lot of them are based off of groups or tools or the people who are thought leaders in the industry.
Yeah, definitely yeah. So I think it’s that that diversity and that openness is its strength. And you know the laws of Yin and Yang equal opposite sides. I think that also causes you know, causes problems as well, but generally speaking, I’m always positive and I think the open, diverse nature of WordPress is is its greatest strength.
Well, I think that’s a great way to end, dave. We’ll end on a positive note. Man, it’s been such a pleasure chatting with you.
It’s a huge fan of your work. Oh, you too, dude, yeah. Well, I, we’re very thank you so much for inviting me Very like minded We’ll have to.
if I ever get across the pond here one day, we’ll we’ll have to meet up and talk some shop, yeah, and vice versa as well.
Yeah, if I might my way over your end as well. Definitely, definitely, deal, we’ll make it happen.
Where should everyone go to find out more about you and connect with you, dave? Were you active as well? Are you active on this, dave Floyd?
I’m not especially. No, I mean I I kind of dip in and out of Twitter a little bit, but I can attend. I tend to focus more on, you know, my, my training, my courses, my YouTube channel, my sort of like, my, my email list and things like that. So I would say probably the best place would be Dave foycom, because from Dave foycom you can jump off to check out my courses and the free, the free bricks masterclass that we were talking about, and yeah, yeah, I’d say that’s pretty much the best place to go.
Heck, yeah, dude, we’ll have it. Thanks, dave. Thank you for your time, man Excited. We’ll have to make a round two in the near future.
Thank you, we’ll see how bricks goes the next couple of years and we catch up.
Yeah, definitely, I’m as interested as anyone.
Thanks, man Cheers Well. A big thanks to Dave for taking some time to chat here and man again, I just so appreciate Dave’s approach to not only business and the WordPress industry but just life in general. He just has a really calming nature and I think that’s needed in the world of web design where things are often so fast paced and often very tricky and very overwhelming Sometimes. I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling like that. So again, if you are interested in bricks, I can’t recommend anyone enough to get going with bricks than Dave. You can go to his website, DaveFoycom. That will have a link to his YouTube channel, his newsletter and everything on where he’s active. And, like I said, there’s no right or wrong. I’m still a Divi guy. It would take me a, it would take a lot to get me to move from Divi, but it was really interesting to get Dave’s perspective on where Divi is compared to bricks and some other page builders and just what the heck’s going on with WordPress. So I would love to hear from you. Do you have any insight you would like to share? If so, leave us a comment on this episode. This one will be over at joshallco. That will have all the links and resources we mentioned here in this episode, along with Dave’s information to connect with him. And then I would love to hear from you. I do read every single podcast comment that comes in on the website. So go to joshallco 297 to connect with me there and leave me your feedback on your take on what’s up with WordPress and maybe where things are headed. If you have a nudge on that, I’d love to hear from you. Again, thanks for listening. Go check out DavidDaveFoycom and make sure to subscribe. If you have not yet actually subscribed to the podcast, even if you’re listening, you may not be subscribed, which means you’re not going to know when the next episode goes live. I generally do six a month, an interview every week, and then I try to splice in a couple of solo episodes every other week or so. So make sure you’re subscribed to get the next one. We’ve got some awesome ones coming up, including my first ever web design round table with a few web design friends, which is going to be for the big 300. We’re going to have some fun on that one, so need this to stay. Make sure you subscribed. I’ll see you on the next one, friends.