There’s a lot of competition when it comes to fast website design, especially with the focus on Core Web Vitals for SEO. A lot of folks shy away from more customizable visual builders like Divi in favor of lightweight counterparts, but is that really the answer?
As someone who has been building websites and working in SEO since 2008, I’m no stranger to shifting goalposts when it comes to ranking on Google Search. I’ve gone from hard coding everything in HTML and PHP to working with CMS like Joomla, and now WordPress.
While some developers prefer to custom code from the ground up, and indeed you’ll be getting the most custom product if you opt for that type of service, I appreciate the time savings from page builder themes like Divi. As a bonus, they’re also much easier for my clients to login to and update on their own.
Lower rates and client access is a win-win in my books, especially for small and mid-sized businesses that don’t have a large marketing budget.
can Divi deliver on core web vitals? Let’s take a look:
I’m going to start by saying that Divi and lightweight haven’t always been a combination. The builder was much clunkier when it first came out, but has seen some major updates in response to Google’s focus on sitespeed.
The trick is to optimize Divi websites. Do that and you should be able to secure great core web vital scores.
Here’s the real-world (not lighthouse) pagespeed insights for a site I built in Divi recently with very basic optimizations:
The following are standard optimizations I do on every custom Divi website I build. Keep in mind that we prioritize style over performance on our own website. That includes a large video that slows down the page and diminishes our score.
Divi Built-in Performance Optimizations
The first step is always to configure the built-in performance settings. These cover a decent amount of optimization and definitely help make pages load quicker.
Lighthouse mobile without these settings:
Lighthouse mobile with the settings:
For the record, the desktop score is MUCH higher, but mobile is always more difficult to optimize for mobile so I’m focusing on that.
The biggest issues are the speed, LCP, and CLS. We’ll try and fix those now.
This is an important tool for optimizing a website. A cache basically stores some of the website information on visitors’ computers or a cloud server, which reduces the load times when they access the site.
I use LiteSpeed because it’s optimized for my web host, but your favourite caching tool is fine.
Because of my experience, I apply the most aggressive caching preset and work backwards troubleshooting to save time.
Next Generation Images
This is something you’ll see a lot in Core Web Vitals. Next generation images means serving them in new, faster file types. .jpg and .png, for example, are old gen files. .Webp is an example of a next-gen format. Thankfully all the images on your site can be easily converted with image compression plugins. Again, I use LiteSpeed, but Smush is also popular.
I avoid running any unnecessary plugins in WordPress. What you consider vital is going to change depending on your website’s goals, but this is just a general thing to keep in mind if you’re optimizing for pagespeed.
Another thing to avoid is duplicate optimization plugins. These can lead to conflicts and longer load times.
Comparing Apples to Apples
As I mentioned, I can get great real world pagespeed numbers on lightweight sites. Pages like ours with large video files, a blog, or e-commerce site is going to see lower numbers. When you compare, you need to compare to similar websites.
E-commerce Side by Side
Below is a comparison between an e-commerce site I built in Divi and that of popular book retailer Chapters-Indigo. As you can see, e-commerce is clunky in general. For transparency, I ran lighthouse a second time after the screenshot and got a performance of 40 for Indigo.
Divi Lighthouse Results – Desktop
Last, but not least, I want to point out how our relatively unoptimized website runs on desktop. As you can see, performance scores are MUCH better than mobile.
And there you have it! Proof that you can build fast websites with builders like Divi, especially if you’re working with simple designs and want a great option on a budget.
Need some help with core web vitals or want to redesign your website? Send me an email.