WordPress started out as a simple blogging software, and the limited frontend editor still reflects that. You can do basic content editing such as insert images, format text, or insert links, but unless you’re blogging like it’s 1999, that’s simply inadequate. To create more complex content layouts , such as organize your content into multiple columns or add specific CSS styles to your elements, WordPress by default forces you to switch to the dreaded Text (HTML) tab and manually insert the necessary markup yourself. Besides requiring you to become proficient in HTML/CSS, the entire process is just plain jittery and clumsy as you constantly switch between views and pray your markup doesn’t explode in your face.
Visual Page Builders to the Rescue
Where there is a need, in WordPress, there is a way to do it. And that’s the beauty of WordPress. When it comes to transforming the default WordPress editor into a true wysiwyg rich editor, that task is fullfilled by a handful of visual page builders on the market. With a WordPress page builder plugin, you can easily format and arrange content like a pro- present content in columns, add callout buttons, sign up forms, assign CSS classes and customize individual elements’ styles, all visually and intuitively.
Best Page Builders Compared
In this post we look at 5 of the best WordPress Page Builders plugins on the market to take the WordPress editor out of the dark ages and facilitate in the creation of beautiful, multi-dimensional layouts for your content and more.
Divi Theme Builder Review
- One of the smoothest drag and drop page builders we’ve tested
- Responsive editing makes it easy to create and check your layouts for mobile devices
- Works with any 3rd party theme
- Powerful split testing built in, with stats on which variation is best.
- Comes with over 88 professional templates and 3 premium plugins on top of the flagship Divi and Extra themes.
- Competitive pricing, with lifetime access plan.
Price: $89 for 1 yr updates / $249 for lifetime
Divi from Elegant Themes is both a themes bundle and a theme builder all rolled into one. Using Divi theme as a starting point, you can basically completely overhaul the look and functionality of the site, using any one of 46 elements included in the package and 20+ premade layouts. Add a countdown timer, counter, gallery, pricing table, and opt in box with a simple click of the button.
As a page builder, Divi is our favorite for its buttery smooth and intuitive user interface. Load up a page, and click on any element to instantly begin editing it. Everything is drag and drop, including column widths and heights that results in a continuous, smooth editing experience. The back end editor lets you make similar changes from the admin area of WordPress. The learning curve is very low, even for beginners.
For marketers, Divi is a dream come true with its built-in split testing abilities. Create variations of any part of a post, such as the headline, a call to action button, or any arbitrary content on the post, and get stats on which version performs best in terms of clicks or engagement. Many people go with Divi based on this powerful feature alone.
When you purchase the Divi Theme and Builder, you also get access to 88 professional themes, the most noteworthy being Extra, one of the best looking magazine themes out there.
Beaver Builder Review
- Powerful, intuitive drag and drop interface
- Over 40 modules to add common functionality to your page, such as columns, tabs, call out buttons, and pricing tables
- Works with any 3rd party theme
- Comes with over 30 landing page templates and 20 layout templates to quickly create the desired page and content layout.
- Optional theme builder on top of the page builder for those that want a completely unique site
Price: $99 for Page Builder / $199 adds Theme Builder
Beaver Builder is arguably the most well known of the visual page builders, and is also one of the most robust. At its core is the page builder plugin that works with any 3rd party theme to let you drag and drop elements and layouts into place to create the perfect post or page with ease. Over 40 modules are included to instantly add the most common elements to your page, such as columns, tabs, call out buttons, pricing tables, and more.
The optional Beaver Theme Builder extends the builder to encompass the entire site, so you can literally create an entire WordPress theme from scratch, using optional templates to jump start the process. This is great if you’re looking to fully customize not just your content presentation, but items such as the site’s header, footer, structure etc. All changes can be previewed live, using an enhanced version of WordPress Customizer. The builder uses the popular Bootstrap framework for a solid and familiar CSS foundation.
If you’re looking for the most powerful, robust page builder, Beaver Builder is your man, or animal.
Themify Builder Review
- Easy to create nested columns and rows
- Works with any 3rd party theme
- Modular system that only loads page assets on demand
- Smart layouts lets you select from collection of headers and footers to customize site
- 40+ common page elements such as pricing form, restricted content etc
Price: $59 for builder/ $139 includes all themes
Themify Builder is a drag and drop page builder that works on any theme. Its strengths are the ease at creating complex reusable layouts such as nested columns/rows, and an efficient modular system that only loads page files and resources on demand, resulting in faster page loads. Smart layouts lets you preselect from a vast number of header and footer layouts to quickly modify the general look of the site. In addition, 40 add-ons spare you the hassle of installing separate plugins for common elements such as a slideshow, contact form, pricing table, and restricted content based on user roles.
We found Themify’s Builder to be feature-rich, though not quite as responsive as Elegant Theme’s Divi. Your mileage may vary, however.
Themify Builder can either be purchased separately to customize an existing theme, or as part of a package consisting of over 40 premium themes and plugins. All themes come with its own isolated version of the builder to let you modify it with ease.
- Robust drag and drop theme builder
- Built in custom post type support
- Live Edit CSS option
- Comes with additional layout plugins such as Visual Composer, Easy Table and Essential Grid.
- One click update
Price: $55 for single site/ $99 for unlimited sites
Ultimatum is a theme builder that turns the entire WordPress backend into an editable canvas. It’s uniquely versatile in that even the side bar area of your theme can be customized on a whim. 3rd party widgets and plugins can be dropped into any location within the layout.
For web developers, Ultimatum lets you edit the understanding CSS as either form field values, or directly as raw CSS, which can save a lot of time.
Ultimatum comes with a boat load of premium plugins with each package, such as Visual Composer, Slider Revolution, Easy Table, Essential Grid etc. A lot of these plugins further help you achieve specific types of layouts easily.
Elementor Page Builder Review
- Free version available for entry level users and to test out the plugin
- Smooth drag and drop columns and gutters to resize them
- Live CSS edit gives you complete control over the style of any element
- Ability to save your designs and export to other sites sharing a similar look
- Fluid, fast user interface based on a new code base
Price: Free/ $49 for Pro 1 site
Elementor is a relatively new comer to the page builder space, starting out as a free plugin before evolving to include a beefier, paid version. The free Elementor Builder provides a solid foundation for creating column layouts, by dragging and resizing column and gutter widths on the fly. It’s a fairly intuitive process. Common content blocks such as Tabs, Maps, and Accordions are also included.
The Pro version comes with a few niceties such as a live form builder, a handful of premium templates and content blocks, plus our favorite, the ability to live edit the underlining CSS of any element on the page. This makes Elementor cater to both novice designers and more seasoned web developers that still want fine grain control over the final output.
Elementor benefits from a relatively new code base, and this is reflected in the blazing fast speed of the UI. Dragging and dropping elements is seamless, and the live preview actually feels, live. If other page builders are weighing you down, Elementor is a good candidate to consider.
Visual Composer Review
- Low cost ($34 for lifetime updates for one site).
- Vast content block and layouts library to quickly prototype a page
- Advanced grid builder with over 40+ predefined grid element styles
- Works with any 3rd party theme
Visual Composer has risen to become one of the most popular Page Builder for WordPress (over 300k stand alone downloads). A good part of its success comes from its flexible extended licensing that allows 3rd party theme developers to bake in visual composer into a theme for sale.
Visual Composer comes with both a backend and frontend editor to build any page visually and via drag and drop. Over 50+ content blocks and a large layouts template library make it easy to quickly build up a page.
Our experience with Visual Composer has been a mixed bag. The plugin is extremely feature rich, benefiting from 3rd party endorsement and input, though the UI feels sluggish and cluttered, struggling to present all of its functionality in a clean, streamlined manner. It will take you longer to feel at home with Visual Builder than some of the other plugins reviewed here, though the low cost does provide a good entry point to transitioning to a page builder to customize your site.
WordPress has revolutionized the way sites are created, from its famous 5 minute installation to an unparalleled collection of plugins and themes that makes light work of creating virtually any kindof site. Coupled with managed WordPress hosting, even a complete novice can launch a WordPress site in no time.
As low as the barrier of entry is to creating a WordPress site, one area that the stock installation of WordPress still falters for many people is the frontend editor. Using a Page Builder plugin fills that void, and turns anyone into a designer. For many people, that’s as revolutionary as anything else WordPress has to offer.
Last Updated: Dec 1st, 2017