Is Robust Themes Worth It?

Is Robust Themes Worth It?

It's been more than two years since I made the complete switch to using the Robust Themes Framework for all my client projects. Clients often inquire about its value, questioning whether the extra cost is justified. In response to this frequently asked question, I've written the following article.

The early epoch

Kajabi, as a platform, has undergone a remarkable evolution. For those who have been part of its journey from the beginning, reminiscing about Kajabi's original page-building experience may bring forth vivid memories. In stark contrast to the current robust page builder, the initial version was characterized by its simplicity, limited functionality, and a propensity for occasional glitches.

The Premier Era

However, the transformation of Kajabi is evident when we fast forward to the release of the Premier templates. This marked a pivotal moment as Kajabi, for the first time, empowered users with a real page-building capacity. With a decent selection of sections and a handful of customization options for each, Kajabi users found themselves equipped to craft modern, visually appealing, and cleaner-looking web sections.

Nonetheless, many constraints remained in place. The layout of each section remained fixed, relying predominantly on background images and Canva banners for any unique customization. While creativity could still yield visually appealing websites, these limitations cast a shadow over the creative process, introducing notable constraints into the design process.

The Encore Era

In late 2019, Kajabi introduced the Encore templates, ushering in a newfound era of creative freedom for users. This release allowed users to craft their website layouts and infuse their unique visions into their online presence. In my perspective, this transition to a block-based architecture through Encore marked a pivotal moment in Kajabi's evolution, elevating its page builder to a powerful platform suitable for crafting professional-grade websites.

In late 2019, Kajabi introduced something called Encore templates. These templates allowed users to have more control over how their websites looked. This was a big change and made Kajabi's website builder much better.

Before Encore, making special, custom web pages for my clients was tricky. I had to use custom code or use images with text, which didn't always work well on all devices and in search engines. But with Encore, I could create impressive websites right inside Kajabi. It had different building blocks, each with its own settings. This made it flexible, like more advanced website builders such as Wix or Elementor, while still being easy to use like Kajabi is known for.

Distinguished from platforms like Wix and Elementor, Kajabi stands as an all-in-one solution. Considering the wide array of functionalities encompassed within the Kajabi ecosystem, Encore emerges as a robust choice that meets the needs of many users.

So, here's the resounding verdict: Encore is indeed capable of producing great-looking sites, and if you're working within a tight budget, it's a worthwhile option, and you can forgo the investment in Robust Themes.

Along came Robust

My journey with Robust began in early 2020, right after they released their new framework version, which forms the foundation of their current offerings. I must admit that before that, I never had the opportunity to explore their earlier, more basic framework.

It didn't take long for me to realize that transitioning all my clients' sites to Robust was a prudent decision. As a designer and web developer, I often walk the fine line between offering more options and flexibility versus keeping things simple for clients who want to make further customizations themselves.

When it comes to options and flexibility, Robust shines brightly in comparison to Encore. First and foremost, Robust offers a proper column system, a feature notably absent in Encore. This column system provides precise control over section layouts, transforming the page-building experience into a mature, responsive, and bootstrap-style layout system.

Robust also introduces a Style widget that unlocks the full potential of CSS-based design within the builder. This widget eliminates the constraints of basic styling, allowing for limitless creativity. The combination of layout control and the Style widget is reason enough for me, and many other professional designers, to prefer Robust for our projects.

However, one question remains: Is Robust user-friendly enough for clients to take over? It appears that the Robust team followed a "Begin with the essentials, then unlock the extraordinary" approach when designing the framework.

Take the Style widget as an example. Each block or section contains predefined style properties, which are commonly the ones most users would like to customize. Clicking on the "add property" button reveals a list of the most common properties like font size, color, and margins, making it easy for the average Kajabi user to customize these elements. But here's the secret: there are actually over 100 style properties available, providing immense flexibility for designers like myself.

Furthermore, Robust offers a selection of premade pages and sections, along with dozens of user-friendly features that benefit the average user as much as, if not more than, professional designers. In this respect, the scales undoubtedly tip in favor of Robust.

So, in conclusion, I wholeheartedly recommend Robust Themes for all my clients' projects. The combination of robust features, advanced customization options, and user-friendly elements make it a compelling choice for anyone seeking to elevate their Kajabi website to the next level. While Encore may suffice for those on a budget, Robust Themes is the key to unlocking the full potential of your Kajabi site, offering a world of possibilities for both beginners and experienced designers alike.