You may have heard some buzz about the new Tilda website builder. I have to admit I’d kind of written it of as just another builder that promises the world and takes a few too many shortcuts in the process.
That said, I’m slowly coming around to the idea of website builders. Divi was the first to make me believe there’s a future in all of this and I’m hearing good things from people about Tilda. It’s not a Divi wanabee by any means; it’s something entirely different and, after trying it out, I think a lot of people are going to like this.
So let’s take a closer look at the new Tilda website builder to see how it stacks up against the competition.
Getting started with Tilda
All you have to do to get started with Tilda is sign up for a free account – and boy do they make it easy. First, though, let’s have a quick look at the prices:
Yep, that’s right. You can get started and build your own website without spending a thing. Okay, you don’t get much storage to work with, or a custom domain and you’re limited to 50 pages. But you can have a good play around to get an idea of what it’s like – and that’s good enough for me.
Getting back to the signup process (and a little bit of a nerd moment), these guys know how to design their forms! All you do is type the username you want, your email address (only once) and your password (also only once). Hit the enter and bang, you’re in and ready to go.
So well done, whoever designed the Tilda signup process. There isn’t even so much as a confirmation email you have to wait for. Hit that sign up button and you’re taken straight to the online editor, ready to start using the platform.
Building your first site on Tilda
After signing up, the first thing you’ll see is the template page. You can choose a blank page to get started with or choose from roughly 80 templates.
As you can see there are three categories: Business, Editorial and Cover page. Business is by far the biggest category with 48 templates (at the time of writing). So we’re not talking a WordPress sized library of templates here, but they’re all modern designs in keeping with the latest design trends.
It will be interesting to see how many templates are added over the coming years, as the current crop of trends age. For now, though, the business templates are a pretty good starting point for most corporate gigs.
Okay then, let’s have a play!
Building pages with Tilda
Tilda’s big selling point is the editor, which relies on a series of “blocks” that allow you to edit the key components of a page. We’ll take a closer look at these in a moment but, if you’re sick of me rambling on, you can check out this video instead:
If you watched that video, you’ll have seen loads of drag-and-drop magic, editable text galore and a whole bunch of tabs offering bundles of customization. I’ve got to say I was impressed/intrigued when I first saw this and surprisingly excited to try it out for myself.
Oh yeah, I should also mention that very video pops up as soon as you open the editor. So you get a quick visual demonstration if you need it – a nice touch.
With the editor open, you click the object (eg: text) you want to edit and make your changes. So this is s pure WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor – and one that seems to actually work.
To edit the text above I just double clicked to highlight the lot, typed in what I wanted to and that was that. There’s a tab running across the top of the window that brings your style options up but I’m not the kind of mug that uses a mouse for no reason. So I let out a little squeal when pressing COMMAND+I put the highlighted text in italics for me. That’s right, shortcut support is in full effect.
Now let’s get talking about those blocks that are so fundamental to Tilda.
Using Tilda blocks to build your pages
Tilda blocks are basically the main divs or sections making up each page. On the template I chose they’re all full-width divs, which is the way I prefer to go about things these days. However, when I tried to put two blocks side-by-side (just to see if it’s possible), I failed.
One of the other templates seemed to have two stacked next to each other when I was looking earlier. So I quickly changed my theme and there they were: two blocks (divs) stacked next to each other. When I hit the settings, there’s even an option for the number of blocks in a row – so you can stack three or four blocks, if you want.
When I go back to my original theme, though, I can’t find this option to stack blocks. I assume it’s possible on any template, but I can’t find the option and I’m bored looking now.
Time to move on!
At the top of each block you have tabs where you can edit the name, settings and content. In the settings menu, you can choose the width (in columns), the height, padding, background position and alignment of the content. So there’s a good selection of CSS styling options right there.
You can see the settings menu there on the left and on the right you have what’s called the Blocks Map. This handy little devil lets you navigate to any block on the page by clicking its tab in the map and you can also drag and drop blocks using the map, too.
Changing visual elements in Tilda
To change images, backgrounds and other visuals in Tilda you just have to click the element you want to change. You’ll get a prompt box asking you to drag and drop your file into the box, upload a file by hitting the peachy button or linking to a file source online.
So you don’t get any library of icons or other visuals like you do with Divi or some of the other leading builders. We can’t really complain about this but it’s worth noting – especially if you rely on Divi’s icon set for a lot of projects.
What about performance with Tilda?
My main concern with any website builder is always performance. A quick look under the hood and Tilda packs some chunky code, just like all the other editors I’ve used. Here’s a quick shot of the markup from the preview of my theme:
As expected, there’s a lot of inline CSS coded into the HTML and countless nested divs. This certainly isn’t ideal but it’s the norm for CMS platforms and website builders so I can’t exactly criticize. What I will say is Tilda seems to perform incredibly well, regardless of how the coding structure looks.
I’m using the editor in a cafe, using their open WiFi, and it hasn’t stuttered even once.
I should point out all sites built on Tilda are hosted through them, not a provider of your choice. This is more convenient for setup, there’s no doubt about that, but there’s no knowing how well their servers perform as time goes by.
So what’s the overall verdict on Tilda?
I have to say I’m quite impressed by what Tilda brings to the table. It’s not as flexible as Divi or some of the other WordPress builders, but that’s not the selling point it’s going for. Tilda is all about speed; getting your site up and running in as few clicks as possible.
Even the signup process has been designed so you’re editing within seconds, not minutes – and this speed seems consistent throughout the entire experience. The visual editor is probably one of the best I’ve used and I don’t think anyone will have trouble using it.
So, in comparison to the big names in website builders, Tilda won’t rival them for power or features. However, it beats them all for speed and ease of use, which is what the none-designers out there need most. I even think the fewer options/features thing works in Tilda’s favor because giving people too much choice can be a disaster. Just look at the garbage people make on Wix, for example.