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Advanced Custom Fields or Visual Composer: Which is better?

Guide
by James Holloway Agency Partnership Director

Advanced Custom Fields (ACF) and Visual Composer can both be used as website builders. While they have similarities, they serve two different audiences with varying requirements.

What is Advanced Custom Fields (ACF)?

ACF allows you to create dynamic fields for each element of your site that admins can easily use to make updates on pages (or even build new pages on pre-built templates) without having any coding knowledge.

While ACF appears minimal in that it only shows you the functions that you actually need, don’t mistake this to mean that it is not capable of building complex and powerful websites. ACF has more flexibility and backend customisation than Visual Composer does, and gives you complete control over the site that you build.

With close to a million active installations, its popularity is well-earned.

What is Visual Composer?

Visual Composer is a website builder that prioritises making it as easy as possible to build websites. To benefit from Visual Composer, users don’t need to have any coding knowledge whatsoever (although it is beneficial to have some knowledge in order to better understand it), so your average Marketing Exec should pick it up fairly quickly.

Visual Composer gives users more control over how web pages look without having to consult a developer. With it, users can create pages and alter layouts by using a drag-and-drop functionality and can edit pages using a backend editor or a frontend editor.

The Verdict?

ACF is aimed more towards developers, whereas Visual Composer targets people with less development knowledge. However, neither require the user to have extensive coding skills.

While ACF allows users to make updates to content and pages, Visual Composer actually allows users to make changes to the layout and structure without coding knowledge. It uses shortcodes to achieve this however, so if you ever decide to migrate away from Visual Composer, you will be left with unusable/unreadable shortcodes.

The sheer scale and number of functions available (which most maybe redundant for your needs) in Visual Composer also means it can be very slow at times.

In our opinion the winner is ACF as it allows complete flexibility, based on pre-defined designs, and is not bloated with features that specific sites may never need.

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