As you might know, Divi has always been my favorite page builder. However, there are a lot of other builders out there, and some of those have some cool features that Divi doesn’t have yet. Normally, Elegant Themes, the company behind Divi, doesn’t disclose their plans for the future, but in the past few weeks, Nick Roach, founder and CEO of Elegant Themes, did share some of their plans for Divi 🙂 So let’s talk about what updates and features we can expect from the most popular WordPress theme ever in the near future!
Eighteen months ago, I wrote the article below about the future of Divi. In the 12 months that followed, all the aforementioned updates were released 1 by 1, but since then it has been eerily quiet around Divi.
Some freemium services were launched, such as Divi Cloud and Divi Teams. With Divi Cloud, you can store all your Divi layouts in the cloud for an annually recurring fee and access them from any website, and Divi Teams lets you collaborate better with team members and customers.
However, no new features were launched for the Divi builder itself, and Nick Roach has finally clarified why.
As I wrote below, Divi currently uses shortcodes to build a layout, and that’s not the most efficient way. That’s why Elegant Themes is completely reprogramming the foundation of the Divi builder, so that everything will be stored in the same way as Gutenberg (the default WordPress builder) does. This makes Divi completely ready for the future.
However, this is of course a huge project, on which all the developers of Divi have been deployed. All modules and features of Divi have to be converted to the new Divi 5.0 format, so everything that they would add to Divi 4 now has to be rebuilt for Divi 5.0. For these reasons, the development of new Divi features has been temporarily paused, until after the launch of Divi 5.0.
When is Divi 5.0 expected?
Unfortunately, that will still take a while. Divi 5.0 will (fortunately) be released in different phases. First comes a raw alpha version for Divi plugin developers. This is an unfinished version of Divi 5.0, that will allow developers to adapt their plugins to the new Divi format well before the official launch of 5.0. Moreover, because of their programming knowledge, they can make an important contribution to finding – and solving – bugs and suggesting other improvements.
Later, an Alpha version will also be available for regular users. This will also be a version of Divi 5.0 that is not yet completely finished, but is kind of a “lite” version of the current Divi builder where some of the current modules and features are not yet available. The main purpose of this version is to collect user feedback and fix as many bugs as possible before the official launch.
When all modules and features that are already in Divi now are added to Divi 5.0 as well, there will be a public Beta version. The final version of Divi 5.0 will be almost the same as this beta version, but again the goal is to fix as many bugs as possible before the official release.
Elegant Themes hopes to be able to release this Beta version – so not the final version of Divi 5.0 yet – sometime in 2023.
The final version of Divi 5.0 probably won’t be available before 2024.
So a lot of patience is being asked from the community, but working with different alpha and beta versions is a necessary evil with these kinds of major releases.
After all, Divi is the foundation of millions of sites and of course, Elegant Themes wants to prevent existing websites from breaking after the 5.0 update at all costs.
In addition to the fact that this update must be compatible with older Divi versions, with so many users you also have to deal with a lot of different plugins and themes (Divi is also available as a plugin with which you can use the Divi builder with a different theme), so a lot of testing is very important. The time between the different Alpha, Beta and final versions will mainly depend on the amount of bugs that emerge.
What new features can we expect in Divi 5.0?
Well, I can be brief about that: there will probably be no new features at all in Divi 5.0. This update is purely focused on the way Divi stores the content and generates layouts, not on new features. The focus is on speed, stability, scalability and extensibility. Divi will be much faster both in the back and in the front, annoying bugs like loading the builder twice will no longer occur.
In addition, Divi will be more compatible with Gutenberg. Since Divi will use the same storage method as Gutenberg, Divi will actually become a block based theme, just like the standard Twenty Twenty Three theme. It should even be possible at a later stage to use Gutenberg blocks in a Divi layout, with all the (styling) options that normal Divi modules also have.
Divi 5.0 will also make developers’ lives much easier. They will be given much more capabilities than they have now, allowing third-party developers to build anything they want without all the restrictions they have now. In addition, the new format also ensures that developers can code much faster, so that after the launch of Divi 5.0, we can expect new features more often than in the past. Since the new format is the same as Gutenberg, it should also be very easy for Gutenberg addon developers to convert their blocks into Divi modules.
Nick also said on Facebook that in addition to complete page layouts, Divi will soon also add section layouts to the library. These are, for example, standard designs for template parts such as headers, footers, testimonials, blog posts and so on, like parties as Divi.express and Elementor already offer.
The future of Divi seems very promising, but for new modules or other features such as a popup builder or a decent mobile menu or mega menu, you will have to keep using plugins such as Divi Supreme , Divi Toolbox and Divi Life for a while. More flexible layout options such as CSS grid, flexbox and nestable elements (for example placing a row in another row) will also not be introduced until 2024 at the earliest.
Is Divi a good choice right now?
new services around Divi will still be launched in the meantime, such as Divi Cloud and Divi Teams, since those kinds of things can be developed outside the Divi builder itself.
Those will probably be freemium services, so with a limited free version and a paid annual subscription for the full functionality. So they’re not included in your membership,
but that kind of annual recurring income ensures that a company like Elegant Themes can survive in the long term and continue to invest.
The lifetime Divi membership has turned out to be one of my best investments ever for me personally, and I still recommend it to everyone.
Nevertheless, I also have licenses for a number of other builders, of which Bricks and Greenshift are most interesting.
These are promising new WordPress builders whose development is very fast, while the developers listen carefully to the wishes of their users.
Divi Speed & Performance update
If you’re a bit serious about SEO, you’ve probably heard about the upcoming Google Core Web Vitals update. That basically means Google is going to take the speed of a website into account to determine its position in the search results. They do that because they want the websites that offer the best user experience at the top of the search results, and nobody likes a slow website.
Divi has a bad reputation when it comes to speed; it’s known to be quite slow and scores bad in speed tests. Nick pointed out that Divi’s poor performance also has to do with other things like cheap hosting and the lack of caching – which is true, but I and others have tested Divi against other themes and builders on the same hosting, with the same caching and other plugins, and those tests show that Divi is often a lot slower than others.
One of the main reasons for that is the large number of features and modules in Divi, that all have to be loaded on every page. However, on most pages, only a few of those features and modules are used. For example, on this page, I only use about 4 modules: text, image, video and menu. But still, the code for the 40+ modules I don’t use is loaded as well…
That also goes for the code that’s needed for things like box shadow, animations, sticky options, and not to mention WooCommerce… all really cool features, but not needed on most websites.
Loading code that’s not needed on the page is called bloat, and Divi has a lot of that…
Thankfully, that’s all about to change!
On April 8th, Nick announced a number of upcoming speed and performance updates for Divi they’re working on, which should be released in the next few weeks to months.
The first update we can expect is called “Dynamic Module Framework”. That update will solve the problem described above; Divi will be able to see which modules and features that are used on a certain page, and will only load the code that’s needed for those modules – thus not the code that’s needed for those other 40 modules. The same goes for features; if you don’t use box shadows, animations of sticky options, the code for that won’t be loaded.
The Dynamic Module Framework is already built and it’s going through Quality assurance (QA) testing now.
The next update is in line with this, and called “Dynamic Assets”. That means they’re taking the main CSS and JS file from Divi and cutting it up in small chunks, so they can only load the CSS and JS that’s necessary for the modules and features you’re using on any given page.
When this update is live, Elegant Themes can add as many modules and features as they want to Divi – if you don’t use them, they won’t slow down your website. No more bloat!
Next, there will be a Critical CSS update. That means only the CSS code that’s needed for the content a user sees immediately (above the fold content) is loaded at first, and the CSS for the rest of the page will not be loaded until the rest of the page is rendered. That way, the CSS code isn’t render blocking anymore, which will make your site pass another Google PageSpeed test.
The last speed update that’s in the works for Divi is a big one. At the moment, Divi uses shortcodes to build a layout. If you deactivate Divi, those shortcodes will become visible all through your content. Now that’s not as big of a problem as some would have you believe; a simple $20 plugin will remove all those shortcodes for you with a click of a button.
However, shortcodes also aren’t the most efficient way to render content, so Divi is switching to the same HTML format Gutenberg uses (the native WordPress page builder).
That doesn’t mean Divi will be part of – or depending on – Gutenberg, it’s just a better and future proof way of storing data, which will bring a huge performance boost too.
As you can imagine, this last one will take a while. Not in the last place because Divi powers millions of websites, that will all have to be transitioned to the new format.
There will be an automated tool for that, but the testing process for that will take a really long time because they want to make sure they won’t break any websites.
According to Nick, all of these speed improvements will take Divi from being one of the slowest builders at the moment to become one of the fastest builders soon!
WooCommerce Cart & Checkout builder
That’s all about to change for Divi users 🙂 They’re close to releasing a new version of their WooCommerce builder, that offers new modules to build your cart and checkout pages exactly the way you want to!
Nick talked about this in the 200th episode of Divi Chat, a weekly talkshow about Divi on YouTube.
And he mentioned a few other things there as well…
Divi Conditional Logic
This is a cool feature too, which some other builders (and Divi plugins) already offer; you will be able to show or hide certain content based on certain conditions. Nick mentioned some examples, like displaying a sale banner during a certain period or showing a certain section only to logged-in users with a certain user role, so you can build a membership site. And there are a lot more possibilities, as the premium Hide & Show Pro plugin already proves.
Access all theme parts from within the page builder
Right now, if you want to edit parts like your header or footer, you’ll have to leave the page you’re working on, go to the theme builder in the backend, find out which template you need to edit.. in the near future, you’ll just be able to access every part you see from right there, so you won’t even have to leave the current page anymore!
Nick also mentioned there will be more icons in Divi soon, and a way to filter / search those icons. He said they will probably use an existing icon library, which I expect to be
Font Awesome and/or Google’s Material Icons since they are the most used libraries and they’re already included in some other builders.
Background masks and patterns and better gradients
Next, he talked about some more design options, like background masks (which will allow you to add shapes to your backgrounds), background patterns and better gradients (more than just 2 colors with adjustable stops).
What about more plugins like Bloom and Monarch, or new themes like Extra?
Nick made it clear their focus is 100% on Divi for the foreseeable future, so we shouldn’t expect new plugins or themes anytime soon.
So there are some exiting things coming to Divi 🙂 Nick said most of the above should be ready in the next 1 to 3 months, but I’d advise you to take that timeline with a grain of salt –
or a whole can 😉 Divi isn’t exactly known for their speedy updates. That’s to be expected when your software runs on millions of websites, all with different server configurations and different plugins. The last thing you want is thousands of websites breaking because you released something too fast.
Anyway, us Divi fans have something to look forward too!
Let me know what you think about these updates, or what you would like to see in a future version of Divi, in the comments below!
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Thanks for the insight in a really good article. I have been contemplating moving away from Divi just based on performance but you have stopped me pulling the trigger for a few months longer – hopefully, the enhancements outlined above will land soon!
Thanks Simon 🙂
The performance update landed a month ago already, but with mixed results. I personally didn’t see much improvement and had some problems with CSS not loading. Others report really good results though.
The problem is Divi’s performance enhancements only affect Divi itself of course, not the plugins you use. With all plugins disabled, the results are okay but still less impressive than I expected.
I’ve built a few websites with Bricks lately, and must say that was a very pleasant experience as well.
Best regards from Bob
After writing the comment I did go and check with ET and discovered they had released the changes. I promptly upgraded all my sites. I confess the results have been pretty positive for me on desktop – anything from low 90s through to 98. Mobile less impressive with nothing over 90. That might be a bit more me rather than Divi though so will investigate further. At least it doesn’t look like a hopeless cause now. Interesting what Elegant Themes said about presets on blocks as from a design perspective I was a real fan of this. Typically, I set up a hidden styling page with all the components I need and style them here and then reuse throughout the site to ensure consistency.
Thanks for the tip on Bricks, I will check that out. In the work I had done in evaluating a new way forwards I was leaning towards GeneratePress or creating my own theme using Underscores to start and sourcing a good block library.
Thanks for sharing your experience Simon. I’m a big fan of presets as well 🙂 Good idea to set up a hidden page for those!
About GeneratePress, I’m not a Gutenberg fan. First of all because it’s still a backend builder, but it also offers very little styling options. Core Gutenberg blocks don’t even offer simple things like padding / margin, let alone things like max-height and max-width.
The only time I use Gutenberg is when I’m building a site with custom post types. I use Toolset for those, and Toolset has it’s own Gutenberg blocks that do offer decent styling options.
Great article, Bob. Like you, I believe Divi has been one of my best investments. More than 90% of the sites I host are Divi. The odd exception, generally ‘inherited’ sites from other developers cause me more grief than all the Divi sites. This is primarily ‘learning curve’ related. We get good at what we use. I, for example, have a few X theme sites. I absolutely detest Cornerstone but I know developers who love it. I’m also looking forward to Divi 5.0 but also have some apprehension about this. I think they need to do it but a year of downtime to ‘catch up’ on the plumbing is a big hit, and hopefully the transition will be relatively seamless but I doubt it will be with various sites using various child themes and a multitude of plugins. It’s going to be interesting.
Thanks for your comment. Yeah, it’s definitly going to be interesting. I just wonder if people will bear with Divi for so long. As I wrote, the final version of Divi 5.0 will probably not be released before 2024, and Divi 5.0 won’t even bring any shiny new features.
Meanwhile, builders like Bricks or Greenshift add new features almost every week – features their users asked for. Other established competitors like Elementor keep pushing updates as well, like their new loop builder.
Even though I still think Divi is the most user-friendly builder out there, it certainly isn’t the most feature-rich one and it’s falling behind fast…
Best regards from Bob
One saving grace, perhaps, with regard to the lack of on-going features for the next year…the Divi developer community is HUGE! There are all kinds of companies that build products to support Divi. You’ve reviewed some of them here e.g. Divi Supreme. There are a tons of Divi-specific plug-ins available and new features, at least for the next year or so can continue to come from that avenue.
That said, it’s worth keeping an eye out with regard to other solutions. If there’s something substantially better out there, it’s worth knowing about it, and good to see that you are monitoring this kind of thing and posting on it. Keep up the good work!
Yes, there are some great third-party Divi developers, but at the moment, they are quite limited in what they can do. Which is one of the things Divi 5.0 will change, so when that drops, really exciting times are coming 🙂
On the other hand, if it takes too long or users will move on to the next big thing, so might they… look at what happened with Oxygen. A lot of their users ran away to Bricks, and a lot of third party developers followed the herd.
At the moment, I’m building a quite complex site with Greenshift and Toolset. Couldn’t do that one with Divi at the moment. Things like flexbox, CSS grid, custom breakpoints, choosing the amount of columns on smaller screens… Divi is just not at the moment flexible enough. And then there are things like popups, slide out panels, custom loops, nested elements…
I’ve combined Toolset with Divi a few times in the past years already, when I needed custom post types, custom fields and custom loops, but Greenshift makes it so I don’t need Divi at all anymore and it offers a lot more flexibility as well.
However, Greenshift is still Gutenberg, which is STILL a backend builder – for now. But if that’s still the case in 1 or 2 years from now, when Divi 5.0 and 6.0 drop… we’ll see. If Gutenberg is a true front-end builder by then, just like Divi is right now, I’m not sure if I’ll still use Divi…
I am a beginner in WordPress, and I did not buy or build websites with Divi or others. In this case, should I go with Divi? Or go with other solutions like Greenshift, or others,
Well, as I said before, Divi has been my favorite builder for years (and I’ve tried a lot of them 😉 ). Even now, I still think it’s one of the most user-friendly page builders out there, but it’s not the most flexible one at the moment.
Greenshift is an addon for the default WordPress editor Gutenberg, and like WordPress, Greenshift’s core version is free so I’d recommend to start with that and see how it goes. Or Stackable, which is also a Gutenberg addon. It has less features and options than Greenshift, but that probably makes it a bit clearer for a beginner.
If you don’t like Gutenberg, you can always try Elementor which also has a free version, or Divi (they don’t have a free version, but they do offer a demo environment on their website where you can play around with the builder for free).
Best regards from Bob