You’ve probably already heard of Elegant Themes and/or their flagship theme Divi. Whether it’s good or bad. We can say that they let nobody indifferent.
Then what to think about these different sounds of bells? Well, the purpose of this post is to present you in detail this independent shop so that you can make your own opinion.
Are their themes and plugins interesting for you? Does their licensing system suit you?
I’ll try to be as objective as possible to help you decide if you can invest in them.
When I started building WordPress websites in 2008, I first tried several free themes and few of them worked for me.
They weren’t very malleable, they didn’t look particularly good and I wasn’t proud of my sites.
That was a long time ago: at that time we had to pay a lot of money to make beautiful sites. And page builders didn’t exist yet.
Fortunately for me, everything changed the day I took a subscription to Elegant Themes. I was immediately blown away by the ease of use and design of their themes. I could (finally) proudly show off my new sites!
We’re talking about the themes before Divi.
How little I needed to be amazed at the time!
Since then, years have passed and I have used no less than 15 different themes from them. But moreover, since they changed their strategy, I am even more convinced of their offer.
So it is with great enthusiasm that I am going to introduce you today:
Originally written in August 2015, this post was updated in October 2021.
For transparency, we would like to point out that if you go through our links to get a license, we will get a small commission. And it doesn’t cost you anything extra.
Moreover, this does not affect our impartiality. When we like it, we like it. When we hate it, we tell you that too.
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The birth of Elegant Themes
The story begins in 2008 when Nick Roach decides to start creating WordPress themes. He was trying to solve a problem he had when he wanted to create his band’s website when he was 13 years old.
He found that it was complicated for a beginner to get started and change the colors of his site easily.
That’s why it was possible to choose between several sets of colors from his first themes.
As a graphic arts student, his strength is design.
But he also has a vision of an “accessible” subscription model.
He is one of the first to have launched an offer where you pay a reasonable amount every year to have access to all the themes.
The very first offer was at $19.95/year and it gave access to a dozen themes. He continued to release new themes and then he surrounded himself with other people to continue his growth.
He stayed in charge of the design for a long time but the team grew as time went by. So much so that the team is now composed of a hundred people, two thirds of which are dedicated to support.
During the first 6 years (2008-2013) of Elegant Themes, many successful themes were released. However, their design was easily recognizable due to the lack of customization options.
We can mention Professional, DeepFocus, Chameleon or Nimble. They have not necessarily aged very well and using them today would go against the latest web design trends.
But if you know them, you know that they were everywhere.
Since then, they have calmed down the release pace and focused on one theme, Divi. It even got a little brother, Extra.
When describing them, we better understand the turn Elegant Themes took in 2013.
Elegant Themes is now defined by only 2 themes
Forget all the previous ones, they belong to the past. They’ve had their moment and they don’t get as much care as they used to.
While they sell their license with 87 themes, know that only 2 are worth it: Divi and Extra.
The theme that changed everything: Divi
At the end of July 2013, Nick Roach published a preview of their new theme on their blog as they usually do. It shows a screenshot of a pretty clean homepage.
But where things change from usual is that the theme is not released within a month. Whereas we were used to this rhythm.
They will even publish a post three months later, apologizing for the delay. They take the opportunity to explain why: they are actually working on incorporating a brand new page builder.
In the end, it is only 2 months later (5 months after the first teasing) that Divi is released in its version 1.0. And its reception far exceeded their expectations.
As a comparison, they used to get about 100 comments on their “theme release” announcement posts in the past. Now they’ve approached a thousand reactions.
Feeling that they had done well, they decided to continue their momentum by changing their development cycles. They now focus on few products but spend a lot of time on them.
While they used to release a new theme every two months since they started, they haven’t released anything since Divi and Extra! But on the other hand they are evolving regularly and are much more malleable than anything they have done before.
Another change took place when Divi was released: while each of their themes had a specific use (blog, resume, magazine, showcase, real estate, directory…), they decided to go for a multipurpose theme.
That means that it can do just about anything you want.
They understood it was necessary to evolve by observing the success of themes like Avada or Enfold as well as the arrival of page builders like Visual Composer. They felt times were changing, they had to follow the trend.
That’s why the development of their themes is now closely linked to the evolution of their in-house page builder: the Divi Builder.
The great feature of Divi is finally its page builder. Especially since version 3.0 (September 2016) where it is possible to manage the content on the public interface (in front-end).
The result is a complete and intuitive customization experience. It’s a move to take, certainly. But once it’s taken, you save a lot of time.
Anyone can now make a beautiful site with full-width background images, parallax transitions, elegant testimonials, etc.
But that’s not it! Read my Divi article to learn all about Elegant Themes’ flagship theme.
I was talking about a little brother and it’s time to introduce it since Divi is not the only one to be part of the “new era” of the store…
We have been waiting for Extra for 1 year and a half
Extra was announced in June 2014 as the “magazine” variation of Divi.
Another teaser in July 2014 showed us a much nicer preview. But then, silence set in. Through comments, we understand that the focus has shifted to Divi and the Divi Builder.
And indeed, the Divi Builder is the technical foundation of all their future themes. Hence the need to finish the plugin before launching a new theme.
It is finally on December 16, 2015 that Extra is announced and joins Divi.
It takes the strengths of Divi while adding a little touch “webzine” very appreciated: the Category Builder.
Basically, it allows you to overwrite the homepage or classic category layouts to put advanced layouts instead. This way, you can use 7 new modules to call up blog posts according to the filters you define.
We also notice that its style is more controlled than Divi’s. Even less free. But Extra is more beautiful from the very beginning.
Somehow, Divi is made for showcase websites (even if you can go quite far) and Extra for blogs/web magazines. Two different needs, two different themes. Although both can be used for larger projects.
But here your skills come into play. Taking a theme out of its initial use is not necessarily easy.
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Even though there are “themes” in Elegant Themes, plugins should not be overlooked. They are included in the developer license and can really help you!
Plugins add real value
Since 2010, Elegant Themes has also been offering WordPress plugins that are useful and fun for members to use.
So basically, directly included in your Elegant Themes subscription, you get add-on solutions to use on your site. This can eventually save you from taking paid plugins to fulfil certain functions.
That’s why I’m going to introduce you to Divi Builder as a plugin first, then Monarch and Bloom. Forget the old plugins (Anticipate, Shortcodes, Elegant Page Builder, HandHeld…), they became obsolete because of the Divi Builder.
Divi Builder, the builder alone
As I said earlier, you can also use the Divi Builder as a plugin. So, you can take any theme and enjoy the Divi Builder experience.
But. Because there is a but.
But you need good CSS skills to be able to handle any situation.
Indeed, there are often style conflicts for which you will have to draw the inspector and write CSS rules with different priorities.
Clearly, it is better to use the Builder with themes that have been designed for it: Divi or Extra!
Monarch, the social sharing plugin
Released in October 2014, Monarch was a nice surprise. While everyone was waiting for Extra to be released, Elegant Themes released a plugin that allows you to easily add Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest (and other) sharing buttons.
You can choose to select certain social networks over others, different locations, different looks… They’ve taken the customization pretty far.
It’s a good solution for those who are starting out but after further testing, you may realize that the plugin doesn’t go far enough.
Personally, I prefer to use Social Warfare when sharing is an important part of the project.
So it will depend on the importance of the editorial on your site.
But for all the other smaller projects, I use Monarch with pleasure and I know that it suits a lot of Elegant Themes customers.
Bloom, the opt-in plugin
If you don’t know what an opt-in is, it’s normal. It is a terminology that is not used much in common language.
They are simply capture forms that often have a single purpose: to allow users to subscribe to the newsletter or download an exclusive resource in exchange for their email address.
This will take the form of a widget, a form at the bottom of the page, a pop-up… It doesn’t really matter.
As a publisher of an editorial site, it is very important to stay in touch with your readers. That’s why these optins are crucial for the development of many blogs.
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Released in March 2015, many Elegant Themes members quickly adopted it and for good reason: competing solutions are usually not free.
Through their Developer license, they have access to a perfect solution to get started. There are plenty of pre-made templates and it’s very easy to change their appearance (color, content, layout) in a few clicks.
However, we still prefer OptinMonster as an optin plugin.
It’s not free, it’s expensive, but it’s also much more powerful and they put a lot of effort into development.
However, if you are starting out, start with affordable solutions!
We are done with themes and plugins, I will now present their blog which evolved a lot with time.
Their blog has become interesting
While before they only had a corporate communication, they have totally reconsidered their strategy since 2014. And the difference is significant: they use professional bloggers to flesh out their editorial line.
While previously they almost only communicated about the themes they released, they then started talking about all WordPress issues.
They talked about security, speed optimization, spam management… In short, everything that can help beginners.
They even go further: they release a lot of CSS tutorials to deeply modify the display of some Divi Builder modules. It’s really become an interesting blog.
They bring value to their customers, beyond their themes and plugins, and also attract curious web users, who may not know their theme shop.
At the same time, they come to seriously compete with the American media who talk about WordPress.
To conclude, since the very end of 2013 (which coincides with the release of Divi), they have been able to question themselves and totally change their strategy. No more volume, they want to make memorable themes or plugins.
They also want to rule the international WordPress blogosphere.
So it’s time for me to get out my crystal ball and give you my vision of their company for the future.
What will happen to Elegant Themes next?
I already made some predictions in the first version of this article in August 2015. And I was right:
- You can make any showcase site with Divi.
- Also with Extra and blogs/webzines.
- Monarch and Bloom are present on many sites under Divi/Extra (even if their development has slowed down a lot).
- And the Divi Builder is compatible with all themes (but CSS adaptations are still needed).
But I didn’t anticipate that they would make a front-end page builder.
Now, what will happen?
My guess is that they will eventually remove their previous themes. They are already graphically outdated and it costs them a lot of time to keep them updated.
Once Divi Builder is even more powerful, will they go back to creating themes? No, they won’t. Ever.
The Theme Builder removes the need to use a theme anymore. In fact, the difference between Divi and Extra is almost meaningless.
And obviously, they will continue to offer new demos (layout kits) forever. I’m surprised by their ability to release 1 per week to cover each field.
However, I find it hard to believe that they will keep their prices so low forever.
It’s so cheap when you do multiple sites that they will eventually raise their prices.
They are still one of the few publishers to offer completely unlimited lifetime licenses. The temptation to better value their customer base might make them change their mind some day.
But these are just my predictions. I could very well be wrong. In any case, I’d be curious to hear your vision.
Let me know what you think in the comments!
Who hasn’t heard of #ElegantThemes and #Divi on #WordPress? Check out their story, their products and our thoughts!
And to finish this article, I have to answer the most important question:
Is Elegant Themes right for you?
I could easily make a big distinction: you are a beginner = it’s for you. If not, then move on.
But that wouldn’t be true.
It’s rather the developer/non-developer distinction that will be important. And that’s regardless of the WordPress background one has behind them.
I don’t consider myself a developer but only an “assembler” of themes and plugins, for example.
I’m not ashamed to make all my sites with the same premium theme and various plugins.
So for all those who swear by the beauty and lightness of the code and customization, Elegant Themes will be their pet peeve.
Some criticize it for adding a lot of code in the pages which is impossible to get rid of if you want to change your theme.
With the Divi Builder as a plugin it’s a little less true but the code cleanup is still annoying.
But if like me you are here to release a site that will be beautiful, functional and fast, the products offered by Elegant Themes will be perfect.
Divi is probably even one of the best solutions today to launch your site. Or all the following sites.
It will however require a learning period.
Maxime Bernard-Jacquet, co-founder of WPChef, got comments on this subject in October 2014 and the opinions are unanimous: “it is a little heavy in approach at the beginning”, “the grip a little long for the customer”.
Anyway, I can tell you: if you take a subscription to Elegant Themes you will get your money’s worth. Especially if you plan to make several sites, it will be quickly cheaper than Elementor Pro.
I even think that the lifetime license at $249 (excluding discounts) is the deal of the century.
But it’s better to take a yearly license before, to be sure that their themes and plugins are suitable for you.
So if this article convinced you, I’m happy to announce that we have some discounts to offer you.
The annual license is thus reduced to $70 (excluding VAT) and the lifetime license to $199 (excluding VAT), with the following link:
And if you are not convinced by their products, you can use the “money back guarantee” which is valid for 30 days.
So, what do you think? How do you see the future of Elegant Themes?
Let’s continue the conversation in the comments!
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