In eleventh grade, I signed up for a two-semester course on web design. I imagined I’d learn how to build an actual website, but instead, we spent most of our time in Notepad creating pages littered with gifs from eBaum’s World and links to the only flash-game website our school hadn’t blocked yet.

Now, over two decades later, the world of web design has moved on from a specialized niche to a variety of vendors that allow you to get your site up and running within a couple of hours. Companies like Wix, HubSpot, and Squarespace utilize website builder technology that’s so simple to use that anyone with a bare-bones understanding of computers can create them.

But just because you can build your own website, should you? The most significant benefit to working with a web design company is that they understand what works and why. Modular web design is the backbone of many website builders, but you need to know how it works to save hours building new pages without a plan.

Our guide to modular web design helps you understand best practices and how to utilize them to build a streamlined, easy-to-maintain website.

What is Modular Web Design?

The easiest way to understand the concepts of modular web design is to imagine the parts that make up your website are LEGO bricks. 

animated gif of different color and shape lego blocks being arranged on a lego sheet to resemble a website layout

You’ve got the navigation which are the long single-row pieces, the hero sections are your 4×4 bricks, testimonials are the shorter single-row pieces, and content boxes are the 2×2 and 2×3 pieces, while your call to action buttons are those little tiny single LEGO bricks your kid leaves around the house that you keep stepping on. They might be annoying to try and get, but once you put them on a finished product, they make the whole thing pop.

Each section on a single page is a different brick, and with modular web design, you can move those bricks around whichever way you want. Then, you take those same bricks and build another page with a different layout on your website and another and another. Pages that would typically take days now take minutes, as every major section of your website only needs to be built once.

Changes made to one module (like color or font choice) can also be automatically applied across multiple pages, ensuring consistency and saving time in the maintenance process.

A Brief Note About WordPress

In 2018, the co-founder of WordPress introduced the Gutenberg editor. The block-based system was essentially WordPress’s version of modular website design and is the default content editor when initially building your site.

While meant to be intuitive for users, many quickly revolted against the new setup, begging WordPress to go back to the classic editor. As a result, they released a plugin called Classic Editor that rolled back the modular format and it instantly became the #1 downloaded plugin for WordPress and still is.

That being said, WordPress continues to push Gutenberg to its user base. The feature is constantly updated and is slowly getting closer to creating a full-site editing experience.

Gutenberg is still not as functional or easy to use as other page builders, but as time goes on, the company hopes its modular site builder becomes the go-to resource for web developers.

What is the Difference Between a Regular Website and a Modular Website?

The critical difference between a modular website and a standard website is flexibility and the ability to make changes. If building a modular website is like using LEGO bricks, then building a regular website would be like building with bricks and mortar.

With a regular website, changes to one web page may cause ripple effects to the other pages of your site. In addition, these types of websites often need more functionality and customization (aka coding), thus limiting your options.

A modular website, on the other hand, is fully customizable and flexible. By using different building blocks to put together your website, you can move different parts of your website around as needed. Each section of a modular website is designed from independent, reusable modules.

Additionally, modular websites are more responsive and adaptable, as the components can be rearranged or resized based on the device or screen size, ensuring a seamless browsing experience across various platforms.

Most website builders, like Elementor and Divi, use this functionality, as do Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace. As web design becomes more available to everyone, simplified modular websites will continue to grow.

What are the Key Components of Modular Web Design?

Several key building blocks within modular web design serve different purposes and provide further benefits.

Navigation

The navigation bar is usually at the top of your website, although it can be moved around slightly for creativity’s sake. More often than not, though, this is the anchor of your website, the north star that guides users precisely where they need to go.

Content Blocks

Content blocks are modular units that hold specific types of content, such as text, images, videos, or interactive elements. They can be stacked vertically or placed side by side to create visually appealing and informative web page sections.

Call to Action Buttons

CTA buttons are crucial for driving user engagement and conversions. These modules are strategically placed throughout the website to encourage visitors to take specific actions, such as signing up for a newsletter, requesting a quote, or purchasing.

Testimonials

For B2B and B2C websites, testimonials are the lifeblood of your business. Websites across industries utilize testimonials on their homepage, content pages, and everywhere else to build trust and credibility. With a modular website design, it’s easy to move a testimonial block to wherever it’ll best fit for that particular page.

How to Plan a Modular Website

Before building any website, there are two things you need to consider: the goal of the website and who the audience is. An eCommerce website is much different from a blog or portfolio. Your objectives are different and so are the people using your website.

Setting Clear Goals and Objectives

You need to begin by understanding your business’s objectives and how they fit within the website. Are you trying to drive traffic to your site for ad revenue, or are you trying to make sales?

Your website needs to be a strategic tool for your business. Once you’ve put together your goals and objectives, think about which sections of the modular website fit within those goals.

Understanding Target Audience

Different audiences expect different things from your website.

The website’s layout, navigation, and overall structure should be intuitive and aligned with the target audience’s expectations. 

For example, if the target audience consists of tech-savvy individuals, incorporating advanced features and interactive elements may enhance the user experience. 

On the other hand, if the audience comprises older adults, emphasizing simplicity, readability, and easy navigation would be more appropriate.

The benefit of developing a modular website is that you have the ability to adjust on the fly based on audience feedback.

Why Use a Modular Website Builder

The most significant aspect of modular website design is the ability to enhance the user experience without needing to understand code or complicated tools. Modular websites provide you with all the tools you need to improve responsiveness, speed, and performance without completely rebuilding your work.

Easy to Build a Responsive and Mobile-Friendly Website

Mobile users often need more screen space, shorter attention spans, and different browsing patterns than desktop users. Identify and prioritize the core content and functionality for mobile users in your modular design.

Modular components are designed to be responsive and flexible. Each component should be able to adapt and rearrange its layout based on different screen sizes and orientations.

Cheaper and Faster to Build

Modular websites are cheaper and faster to build than traditional websites. Since every page on your site utilizes the same assets and modules as each other, you don’t have to worry about paying someone to build out each individual page, thus saving you money.

And at the same time, it’s faster to build. All the parts are there; you just need to assemble them into a functional webpage.

There’s a reason why modular websites are utilized more than ever for small businesses.

Editable and Scalable for Everyone

Here’s my personal favorite part about modular websites: because of their simplicity and ease of use, everyone has the ability to edit modules as needed. This allows copywriters and content producers to upload their content directly to the site without waiting for a web designer to do it.

If a major problem arises, you have the ability to fix it quickly (and correctly). There are many benefits to having a team of web designers on hand to assist in website development and maintenance. Still, the ability to clean up those little things means you can spend more time driving customers to your website and less time trying to clean up web design messes.

Cons of Using a Modular Website Builder

If using a modular website builder can be cost-effective, flexible, and easily editable, why would anyone build a website any other way? 

While yes, modular websites are a great and easy option to get a good-looking website quickly, there are reasons why they tend to be used by small businesses and creatives and not by high-earning, large companies.

SEO Concerns

While it is possible to use a website builder and achieve results from your SEO campaigns, the truth is that what you make up for in ease of access often costs you your ability to maximize SEO returns.

Website builders lack the complete control and customization options that you get from WordPress. In the simplest terms, website builders are capable, and that’s all. If you want something more and the best possible results from your SEO campaign, a modular website builder isn’t your best option.

Slower Speeds

A couple of years ago, Google introduced Lighthouse, a new algorithm for measuring the quality and speed of your website. Page speed affects your SEO rankings and how quickly someone gives up on your website.

Page builder plugins tend to bloat your website, causing massive slowdowns. These slowdowns wreak havoc on your Lighthouse scores and, more importantly, cause potential leads to move on to a faster website.

Beholden to Someone Else’s Platform

I’ve mentioned control a couple of times, but when using a modular website builder, you give up much control over your website. Updates that break your site, modifications to your templates, or even changes in company ownership affect how well your website works.

One of the worst things that can happen is putting hours of hard work into your website only for something out of your control to break it. While with WordPress, you may be accountable to your template, you can uninstall it and go with something else. Traditional modular website builders don’t afford you that.

Limited to the Grid

With a modular website, you are limited to a grid to create your web page. This means you cannot overlap modules to group or layout elements in a visually interesting or unique way.

Having a rigid grid can also lead to repetitive-looking if you’re not careful or intentional with your layout. User engagement feeds off of variety, and if your site is repetitive, it’s going to be a lot harder to get your visitors to stick around and convert.

Limited to Available Modules

A big knock against using a modular website builder is that it limits you to only the available modules to design your website. You may have a great idea for your hero section, but if the layout is not available as a module and you’re limited to a grid, you are stuck with the same options that everyone else using that modular builder has access to. This leads to the next con.

Lack of Uniqueness

Since you are limited to the available modules and the grid to design your site, most modular websites have a similar look and feel. If you’ve ever heard anyone say that your website “looks like a Wix site” or something similar, it’s likely because you’ve chosen similar modules, templates, or layouts as a lot of other sites created using a modular builder. 

Template Temptation

The temptation to use a template to build your modular website is understandable. The options are seemingly endless and the time you can save using a template is nothing to brush off. However, there is no template that was designed perfectly for your business. Your website should be designed intentionally for your business identity and needs.

Harder to Maintain Consistent Brand Identity

Your brand identity is more than your logo, colors, and font choices. Consistency is crucial to maintaining your brand identity, and the flexibility of modular web sites mean it’s a lot easier to deviate from your brand standards like font sizes, heading styles, spacing, etc. This is especially difficult when more people are updating the site who may not be familiar or as strict with your brand standards.

Need web design help? Contact The Loop Marketing today.

When it comes to building a website, you want it done right the first time. The Loop Marketing’s expert designers work with you to create fast, functional, and ADA-compliant websites that remain modern for as long as needed.

Contact us for a free website design consultation or schedule a one-on-one appointment with one of our expert website designers.

author avatar
Alaina Halsey
Our Projects and Creative Manager, Alaina Halsey, graduated from Ball State University where she studied journalism and telecommunication focusing heavily on advertising design and social media. After building influencer programs and working with social media and branding in a variety of capacities, she brings with her an extensive knowledge of social media, user experience, and design in addition to her brand design and project management expertise. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, spending hours on Instagram and TikTok, going to baseball games, exploring Chicago, and learning how to cook.