Why we chose Oxygen
There’s a lot of chatter about Oxygen on socials and for good reason. But we did our homework and researched options and asked around for advice too
Gutenberg – The Block Editor isn’t quite there yet, IMHO. More people are starting to rave about it but there always seems to be a major limitation stopping users from embracing it in full. The 2 / 5 rating on WordPress.org doesn’t instill confidence either. I’ve tried it out a couple of times but I never make it past the 5-minute mark before installing Elementor.
Divi – No one in our team is a fan, to be honest. I’ve used it recently on a project and didn’t find it particularly intuitive. That said, they have a significant user base and it’s a tried and tested product. Without an ‘internal champion,’ it had no chance.
Elementor – This was my #1 choice and it’s hard to make a case against it. Some like to point out its Inception-style div nesting, but in my experience, that has little impact on performance. I didn’t push hard for it for a non-technical reason: Elementor is used by 5 million people and has a ton of cash in the bank. I thought it would be good to work with and promote a page builder that, like us, is still relatively new in the market.
So why Oxygen? With three solid options off the table, here’s the reason why we chose Oxygen: Nate Fineberg of Group6 Interactive suggested take a close look at it.
Nate is an agency partner/speed demon. I featured him in my Page Speed: What We Learned By Analyzing 1,500 Agency Websites piece last year and he’s been using and advocating Oxygen for a while now.
Here’s what we said that convinced us to go with it.
Our agency moved exclusively to Oxygen Builder in the beginning of 2020, it first caught our attention with its impressive performance, speed and unique themeless building system. Unlike other page builders, Oxygen is optimized out of box and only loads assets as needed, reducing page requests and bloat. The power and flexibility of Oxygen allows us to build highly custom WordPress websites, without the use of multiple plugins. With Oxygen, anything is possible.
Yep, he’s definitely a fan.
Oxygen’s own waxing lyrical – here’s why Oxygen websites load so quickly post – makes a compelling case.
Also, the UX is not too dissimilar from Elementor, which helps.
Before and after the Oxygen diet
We did make some minor changes during the re-build, admittedly. Removing unnecessary plugins, rationalizing our fonts, and making better use of Google Tag Manager for third-party scripts. So we’re comparing apples with… lighter apples.
I should also mention that we disabled caching and optimization plugins to be able to measure the performance of code freshly generated from the page builder.
On this note, we used NitroPack very effectively on our old site. Nitro is very fast. A word of warning, though: it’s brutally effective. We’ve seen it break styles and layouts on some customer websites. It’s not exactly cheap either.
Now that I’ve set the context let’s look at some GTMetrix data. If you’re not familiar with GTMetrix best if you jump on our Understanding the New GTmetrix Report post first to learn about their grading system.
Here are the KPIs of our WPBakery-powered website:
And here’s the same for our new, Oxygen-built version.
Now, let’s look at a breakdown of the homepage’s various components and see how they compare.
|Total Page Size||3.08 MB||2.03 MB
|Total Page Requests||237||152
(32.9% of total page requests)
(28.2% of total page requests)
(26.2% of total page requests)
(38.5% of total page requests)
(13.9% of total page requests)
(13.5% of total page requests)
(7.2% of total page requests)
(6.4% of total page requests)
(4.1% of total page requests)
(3.2% of total page requests)
(0.8% of total page requests)
(1.2% of total page requests)
(0.9% of total page requests)
(0.8% of total page requests)
Looking at Browser Timings you get a sense of how much quicker assets render too:
|Time to First Byte||384 ms||114 ms
|First Contentful Paint|
|1,000 ms||655 ms
|DOM Interactive Time||1,900 ms||987 ms
|Onload Time||4,800 ms||2,100 ms
Oxygen’s performance gain here is more evident, starting with a much faster TTFB and getting to the Onload Time goalpost in half the time.
Our blog performs even better
Another reason we chose Oxygen Page Builder is that it makes it easy to design and manage templates, which is why our blog looks different from the rest of the site.
Let’s have a quick look at how the Blog’s homepage performs:
That’s marginally better. The page is less heavy and has fewer external requests too, which explains the slightly better performance.
The big win wasn’t the faster page load speed but the quick turnaround in getting it built.
Is Oxygen the right page builder for you?
As I mentioned earlier, I would have built it in Elementor. Primarily because I would have been able to rebuild the site myself.
If you’re looking for a page builder for a personal project, look at the new kids on the block: Bricks and Live Canvas. They both perform very well but I feel they aren’t mature enough to underpin a website like ours.
Workflow matters too, so try them out to get a sense of how easy they are to use. Including WP Bakery — we might have moved away but it remains a solid product used by millions of people.
Coming soon: the Page Builder Summit
It’s going to be held between 10th – 14th May 2021 and is a good opportunity to learn more about the major page builders. Oxygen is one of the sponsors so they’ll be around if you have any questions. Sign up for it here.