The history of themes and why they are used explains why WordPress Elementor users still have a Theme Obsession. Similarly, the history of themes and page builders play a role.
The last several years have seen the rise of many solid Page Builders that help people realize the look that theme authors use to sell their themes. Similarly, many of them, like the Avada theme come with free “demos”, pre-built websites, that have driven their sales. Avada advertises itself proudly as “#1 Selling Theme of All Time” with “No Coding Required” because of its built in shortcode based Page Builder. I’ve never like it nor Divi nor Beaver Builder nor Kreisi nor any of the many Visual Composer embedded Themes. It’s not that I don’t like the business I get from customers who can’t figure out how to use those Page Builders. It’s the fact that I get that business because those page builders are hard to use. And, in general, make it very difficult to to change to a different theme. Of course that is the point! They want to lock you into a theme and then up-sell options to the theme.
Themes were developed to create the View of the data in the WordPress Database. During the first decade of the 21st Century, many “frameworks” were developed using the MVC, Model View Controller, architecture. The first one that comes to my mind is Ruby on Rails. The View is pretty much what the application or website visitor sees. WordPress doesn’t use an MVC framework but it is helpful to think about the View in terms of why themes.
The WordPress Codex defines themes as “a collection of files that work together to produce a graphical interface with an underlying unifying design for a weblog. These files are called template files. A Theme modifies the way the site is displayed, without modifying the underlying software.”
A theme is almost always divided into a header template, a content template and a footer template and then into variations in the way all three of those look on the webpage.
In my opinion, Elementor and Elementor Pro eliminate the need/usefulness of most of the content template variations. They also make it much easier to create many different page “looks” within the same site by saving whole content pages as templates, saving sections as templates and creating global widgets that can be used throughout the site but edited only once for any change. I find that they are also easy for non technical users to understand because they work more like a Word template.
And now for the point of this post. In spite of this, Elementor users are obsessed with themes! Some examples from the Elementor Group on Facebook: “I’m having a problem with a conflict between elementor and the unyson theme framework.” “as anyone tried the new Element theme for Elementor?” “It seems that using a theme such as GeneratePress is the historical way to do it.” “which of the Genesis Framework child themes[paid] work best with Elementor or is it better to go with OceanWp[free] ?” etc.
In my experience, any theme that has a full width template works fine with Elementor. However, since you have to add additional plugins to easily use Elementor in the Header and Footer, theme choice for easy changes to the header and footer is important. But that makes it pretty simple.
As a result, I’m using GeneratePress and both Shaped Pixels Free and Shaped Pixels Premium themes. I prefer Shaped Pixels for header options and Generate Press for footer options. All of the sites that I build for clients are built with a Premium Shaped Pixels theme at no cost to the user because I’m a lifetime subscriber.