WordPress Page Builders (Visual Composers)
WordPress comes with a versatile Customizer for tweaking page elements, although it does have limitations. If you want to drag-and-drop page elements into place, bypass time-consuming coding, and see your website come to life in real time, you’ll need a WordPress page builder.
This is an intuitive interface that lets you add and rearrange page elements with a minimum of coding. You can resize and organize the appearance of virtually every aspect of your page. As such, page builders excellent time savers for developers and marketers alike.
In this article, we’ll look at why you might want to use a page builder. We’ll also explore some of the top WordPress page builder plugin options. Let’s dive in!
Why Use a Page Builder?
If you value a streamlined toolbox of customization options that eliminate the need to go plugin hunting, a page builder is highly recommended.
In addition to being flexible and offering a dedicated variety of customization resources, page builders tend to be extremely beginner friendly. They are also useful if you want to alter the layout of your pages and posts on a regular basis.
How Page Builders Work
Most page builders let you add, customize, and arrange page elements via an intuitive control panel.
For example, you can add new modules to your page via a drop-down menu::
You can also customize and delete content modules directly via a pop-up menu:
In short, page builders offer a simple and immediate method for designing the layout of your website.
Pros and Cons of Page Builders
There are numerous advantages to using a page builder. In addition to presenting an easy, code-free method for creating pages, page builders offer greater flexibility when it comes to styling your website. They also speed up the development process, and gear your pages towards generating more conversions (such as by adding Call To Action (CTA) buttons) without being bound by theme restrictions).
However, there are several drawbacks to using page builders. For example, ‘lock in’ is a legitimate concern to be mindful of. Also, you’ll also need to be wary that feature-heavy page builder plugins run the risk of slowing down your website.
WordPress Page Builder Plugins
While choosing one page builder plugin as the ‘best’ is futile, there are a number of different options at your disposal. We’ll explore a few of these now.
Page Builder by SiteOrigin
This powerful, versatile, and user-friendly plugin lets you use widgets as your primary content building blocks. In addition to offering standard content widgets (text, images, etc.), SiteOrigin Page Builder also has options for adding maps, social link buttons, and much more.
The plugin gives you nearly total control over the way your pages are structured. You can drag and drop widgets, which can then be resized and organized to meet your needs. However, there’s also a ‘row builder’, which can help you ensure your site elements are evenly proportioned.
- Functions well with virtually any WordPress theme.
- It’s lightweight for a page builder, and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) friendly.
- Lets you restore previous versions of your layout with ease.
- Not as beginner friendly as other page builders.
- Only includes a back end editor.
Although Page Builder is free, premium SiteOrigin plans (offering additional widgets, theme enhancements, block animations, and more) are available – starting at $29 for one site.
WPBakery Page Builder
Certainly one of the most feature-heavy, popular, and flexible page builders, WPBakery Page Builder is ideal if you want to create a unique layout. It comes with an advanced grid builder (ideal for portfolios), a vast template library, and a drag-and-drop builder panel.
The plugin is also a great choice for ensuring your site is responsive. No extra programming or plugins are required to ensure your site will look great on mobile devices.
- Simple and powerful back end editor.
- A raft of effects, animations, image filters, and element presets.
- Reliable customer support
- There’s no free version of the plugin.
- May add additional strain to your site’s loading times (due to its large amount of features).
In addition to the standard version (available for $45), there’s also an Extended version of the plugin dedicated to Software as a Service (SaaS) applications.
One of the most user-friendly page builders available, Beaver Builder comes with a wide array of templates that can be styled and customized to a ‘T’. It’s front end drag-and-drop interface also lets you make changes to your site in real time.
Though, while lock in isn’t a major issue, there are some proprietary components that will affect you if you decide to switch page builder. Though, if you do decide to delete Beaver Builder, the majority of your content will still be accessible within the WordPress editor.
- Extremely intuitive and versatile interface.
- Lets you create responsive layouts.
- Plenty of customizable templates to choose from.
- The free version is extremely light on features.
- The premium versions are relatively expensive.
While there’s a free plugin with very limited features, the premium plans start from $99.
An excellent choice for developers, Elementor gives you total control over the layout of your site. With a few clicks of the mouse, you can set the width, height, and size of your columns, as well as add a variety of content modules.
Elementor makes it easy to restore previous layouts should you encounter problems with a current design too. It is also fast-loading and well-suited for building responsive sites.
- Provides a great range of customizable widgets and templates.
- Is highly extendable and compatible with custom Cascading Style Sheets (CSS).
- Lacks lifetime updates.
The free version of Elementor is jam-packed with features, and is arguably the best solution on the market. However, Elementor Pro begins at $49 per year, and is superb value for money.
The Gutenberg Editor
Finally, we have one of the hottest WordPress topics of 2018. Gutenberg is an Automattic-developed page builder scheduled to be incorporated into WordPress in the very near future. Essentially, Gutenberg focuses on adding ‘blocks’ of content directly to a page (rather than restricting you to a single visual editor).
These blocks can be edited and customized as needed, eliminating the need for a third-party page builder. As such, Gutenberg could be a welcome solution if you don’t wish to burden your site with additional plugins.
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