Divi is one of the most popular drag-and-drop WordPress builder themes out there today. As a long time Divi user myself, I was super excited (and envious) when I learned about some of the killer features of Oxygen, a newer WordPress builder that claims to create fast bloat-free code.
After building a couple of sites in Oxygen, I’m still gung-ho about it, but I have a better understanding of its pros and cons compared to Divi, and let’s just say that I’m not ready to abandon Divi yet by any means.
I compared Divi and Oxygen in some important areas and tried to determine a winner in each category. Here are my results:
1. Fastest Development Time: Divi
If you’re talking about creating a website from scratch using these two builders, then Divi will get you a finished product quicker in most cases. One reason is that Divi provides many website elements, such as usable menus, footers, and archive pages for you right out of the box, whereas in Oxygen, you have to create each of these. In Oxygen, you even need to create a 404 page.
Now, there’s a big caveat here. Both Divi and Oxygen provide pre-made templates that you can use to get you going so that you don’t have to start from scratch. If one of Oxygen’s templates does the job for you, that reduces Divi’s advantage in this area, but not completely.
The other caveat is that Oxygen can do some things that Divi can’t without creating a child theme or shortcode plugin. If you need some of these special features, then Oxygen will get you to the finish line faster. More on this later.
But, for most clients who want a “standard” website, Divi will usually get that done faster, so I’m giving this category to Divi.
2. Best Out-of-the-Box Design Polish: Divi
I don’t think I’m going out on a limb by saying that Divi’s default elements look better and are more refined than Oxygen’s.
One of the areas where this is most apparent is in the menus, especially the mobile menus. Divi’s mobile menus open with refined animation, whereas Oxygen’s mobile menus seem clunky. Oxygen’s menus are also not accessibility-friendly, by the way. Many Oxygen users use the Max Mega Menu plugin for menus instead.
Another example is Divi’s search form. If you want search in your menu, you check a box and a magnifying glass appears in the menu. If you press it, the menu animates away and a search form appears.
Oxygen doesn’t provide any slick animation like that; they just give you a search form that you can put in the main menu if you want. I made my own slide-out search form in Oxygen, but it took a bit of time; certainly more than checking a box!
I’m not saying that you cannot make nice sites in Oxygen. Of course you can! But I believe it takes more work if you’re starting from scratch in Oxygen than it does with Divi, for most websites with a standard layout.
3. Most Flexibility / Customizability: Oxygen
Okay, here’s where Oxygen really shines. One of the first killer features I discovered with Oxygen is the ability to easily edit post feed templates. In Oxygen, you have access to blog feed PHP template right in the editor, so you can customize it however you want. This is just not possible with the Divi Blog module. To get around that, I’ve had to use complex CSS or create my own feed from scratch using a plugin.
In fact, you can add PHP or JS code almost anywhere in your Oxygen pages. Now, that could easily be abused, but it can come in handy.
Oxygen has an elegant templating system where one template can inherit from another. So, you might create a template containing just the header and footer. Then, create a page template that inherits from that and adds the page title. You could then create a post template which inherits from that and adds a sidebar. You get the picture.
Oxygen also lets you customize more of the CSS. A huge example is the ability to set your media query breakpoints, something I know folks would love to have in Divi. Oxygen also gives you access CSS flexbox settings and access to modifiers like “:after” right in the editor.
4. Ease of Modifying Content: Oxygen
If you’re building sites for non-techy clients who want to manage site content themselves, then ease of updating content is very important. For this item, I’m just talking about modifying text and images, not layout.
The highest-tier Oxygen product has a killer feature in the form of a plugin which lets admins edit the text and images on an Oxygen page without seeing the Oxygen builder. This is ideal for clients who might mess up the site structure if given access to Oxygen!
5. Ease of Modifying Structure: Divi
On the other hand, if your non-techy clients want to modify page structure, not just text and images, then the Divi Builder would be easier for them to swallow. The Divi editor is more intuitive and makes it less likely for your clients to really mess things up. I have non-techy clients who’ve embraced Divi and can update their own page structure.
6. Fastest Loading Speed: Oxygen
Oxygen is famous for producing code with minimal bloat, and it is true. An Oxygen site might be hundreds of KB smaller than an equivalent Divi site (or Elementor or other theme builder for that matter). It will also have fewer levels of divs (which even Oxygen admits won’t affect load time noticeably).
Good hosting, optimized images, and smart plugin usage can make Divi sites fast too. But, if you need the ultimate in speed, then Oxygen wins.
7. Best Documentation: Tie
When learning how to use a new WordPress builder, good documentation is super important.
Happily, both Divi and Oxygen have lots of excellent tutorials and videos to guide you along. Divi has more of them, but I’ve almost always been able to find documentation or a video on what I’m looking for in Oxygen. Kudos to both.
8. Fastest Editor: Tie
When you’re developing a site, nothing is worse than getting bogged down in a slow editor. WordPress builder editors can be slow because they need to do so much, like supporting drag-and-drop.
Neither Oxygen or Divi are perfect in this respect.
One of the first things I noticed about Oxygen is how long it takes to load the edit when you enter it. On Chrome, it takes me 11 seconds or more to enter the Oxygen page editor. Users online have reported similar or longer numbers (i.e., 15 seconds). The same type of page in Divi takes 5 seconds to edit in Chrome.
Users have said that using Firefox improves this. When I use Firefox to edit an Oxygen page, it takes 8 seconds, a significant improvement, but still not as fast as Divi.
The Oxygen editor has some other downsides. First, you are not allowed to have two Oxygen editor browser windows open at the same time, or else weird things could happen, even if you are editing completely different pages. This makes it a pain to manually copy content from one Oxygen page to another.
Another downside is that it loads content from the Internet, so you can’t use it offline. However, there is a plugin to get around this.
On the other hand, Oxygen does one thing that solves a huge pet peeve of mine. I like to save my work early and often. When you save in Oxygen, it does it using AJAX so the whole page does not refresh and you can keep working where you were.
In Divi, when you save, the whole page re-loads so, so your work is interrupted and you have to figure out where you were on the page again when it re-loads. Very annoying!
So, both editors have room for improvement, which is why I declared this category a tie.
So which is better? As you might guess, each builder excels in certain areas, so it depends on what is important to you.
If you need a highly-customized site (i.e., custom CSS breakpoints or custom feeds and repeaters) and the ultimate in fast page loading speed, Oxygen might be best.
If fast development time is important, and your client is going to be editing the structure of the pages, then Divi might be best.
When I first discovered some of the killer features of Oxygen, I thought it was going to totally replace Divi as my WordPress builder of choice.
But, after making a few sites with it, I’m probably going to stick with Divi for most of my clients. Still, I’m really glad to have the Oxygen Builder as another tool at my disposal which might be ideal in some cases. I’m already using it in my main blog.
What do you think of Divi or the Oxygen Builder? Please comment below. – Brian