Finally discovering WordPress page builders was a bit of a revelation. I’d heard of them many times before but dismissed them as I assumed they were a bit of gimmick. Claims of being able to build custom page layouts without touching any code left me non-plussed. As you can do so much with WordPress without ever needing to edit any code, I was left wondering what these tools could really offer.
Once I finally spent some time with these tools, it become clear I had misunderstood them completely. What these page builder plugins can offer the user is far beyond the realms of what is possible for your average blogger, in terms of their coding ability or available time.
What Page Builders Offer
With some of the best WordPress page builders you can very easily build page and post layouts that combine your content with widgets to make interesting and engaging homepages for your blog or inner posts and pages. Things you can do with a good page builder include:
- Create image and post sliders
- Insert multicolumn layouts
- Add Facebook, Twitter and other social widgets
- Quickly build image galleries
- Choose from a range of buttons and alert boxes
- Insert accordions, tab boxes and responsive grids
All the above and more can be easily added to pages and posts with a simple to use drag and drop builder plugin. The new builder is added to the familiar new post and new page area in WordPress and elements are dragged onto the page.
To help you decide which one of these plugins is the right choice for you and the needs of your site, here is a list of some of best options available.
Live Compose is 100% free drag and drop page builder for WordPress. It has no PRO version and includes for free all the features you have to pay for in the other page builders. Live Composer team focused on providing extensive design/styling options for web designers and marketers who don’t want to write a single line of CSS to get the page look needed. Killer feature of the plugin is a possibility to create custom headers and footers right in the page builder.
Velocity Page Builder
With VelocityPage you can add your content, pictures, and videos to your webpage and instantly see what they look like, right on the page. VelocityPage takes your WordPress experience out of your admin panel and puts it onto your webpage. You will never again play with your page in your admin panel. No more clicking preview ten times, bouncing back and forth from your admin panel to your webpage, only to see your content completely out of place.
Velocity starts at $97 for us on one website.
This is a very popular page builder plugin over at Code Canyon with 9,000 purchases and counting as well as a healthy 4.4 out of 5 rating from users.
The things you can do with Visual Composer are frankly quite amazing. It is bursting at the seams with features and the pages that can be created, simply by dragging and dropping, clicking on buttons and filling out a few fields are very impressive.
Some of the 44 built in content block elements that can easily be added to pages with this plugin include:
- Post/page sliders for letting your readers scroll through your best content
- Twitter widgets and Facebook like buttons
- Tabs for switching between multiple chunks of content in one area
- Expandable FAQs for making the most of the space on your page
- Flickr widgets for showcasing images from a Flickr account
- Creative image galleries
- Buttons and other calls to action
You can do so much with this plugin but for those who find there aren’t enough features, it is possible to add your own shortcodes and then insert your own page elements using Visual Composer.
Using Visual Composer was pretty easy and once installed it adds a ‘Visual Composer’ button to the ‘Add New Page’ screen in WordPress. When clicked, this turns on the new features and you can begin building impressive pages for your blog.
Each element that can be added to a page has many options which is great as it gives you lots of control over what you are working with. However, with so many options, this page builder could become a real time killer for the inquisitive and undisciplined. With that being said, it wasn’t necessary to touch most of the options so if you can ignore the temptation to play around, you can still quickly add impressive elements to your pages without the need to explore the settings too thoroughly.
The plugin has been updated many times and at the time of writing was on version 3.6.8 showing it is being well maintained and looked after.
Visual Composer would be perfect for someone wanting to create a homepage for their website that makes an impact by adding many advanced features and elements while also having the ability to tweak and customise to their heart’s content.
Elegant Themes Builder
The Drag and Drop Builder Plugin from Elegant Themes is another tool that can be used on any theme and not just those from the Elegant Themes catalogue.
Once installed, the plugin adds a range of buttons to the page editor, with each button corresponding to elements that can now be featured on your page. These buttons can be dragged and dropped onto the page editor making the whole process very simple.
Once on the page, the elements can be edited and configured to work in the way you want. The sizes can be changed too by dragging and dropping the representation of the element on your page.
Some of the elements that can be quickly added to your site with this plugin include:
- Columns to divide and split up your page vertically
- Image and post sliders to showcase your best work
- Tabbed areas for managing your page real estate better
- Attractive buttons to improve click through rates and engagement
- Alert and message boxes to help important text standout
This plugin is ideal for those who want to create homepages that can make an impact and take your WordPress layouts to new levels. It can also be used on inner pages and posts allowing you to revamp your whole site and not just the homepage.
Visual Composer: Page Builder for WordPress
Visual Composer for WordPress is drag and drop frontend and backend page builder plugin that will save you tons of time working on the site content. You will be able to take full control over your WordPress site, build any layout you can imagine – no programming knowledge required. Moreover, now you can choose either work on a backend or move your page building process to frontend and instantly see changes you make.
MotoPress Content Editor is a revolutionary plugin that replaces the default WordPress editor and facilitates the editing of content, articles and custom post types. Its drag and drop functionality allows users to manage text right in the working area, add built-in content elements and without any tags customize the post. MotoPress Content Editor is suitable for any WP theme, so you can install it in a few minutes.
Content Builder is a good value premium plugin that adds a drag and drop page builder to your WordPress site.
Once installed, this plugin adds a new menu bar to the post editor replacing the ‘classic editor’ that comes as standard in WordPress, although it only takes one click to switch back to the original editor should the need arise.
Content Builder comes with nine easy to use and useful widgets that each add element to your page or change its appearance in some way. These include:
- Create tab widgets and divide your content into tabbed areas on your posts and pages
- Set the layout of the page choosing from four multi-column options
- Quickly add a Google Map to your page using the maps widget
- Easily insert videos into your page by pasting the address from Vimeo or YouTube and then setting the size and ratio
- Build image galleries by simply selecting the image you want to display and letting the plugin arrange them
This plugin is easy to use and certainly adds a few nice features to the standard WordPress post editor. I did feel that the interface could be improved by replacing the drop down menu with a standard menu bar that displayed all the icons. This would be preferred as having to activate the drop down menu each time, and then click on the icon was an extra step that wasn’t needed. Also, on small screens, the items at the bottom of the dropdown menu were often hidden from view.
For those that want a more basic and less feature packed page builder, perhaps to avoid being overwhelmed with too many options, this is a suitable choice. However, it can’t rival the powers of something like Visual Composer.
Ether Content Builder
This is another premium plugin that brings innovative page building abilities to the masses by using a drag and drop interface.
You can build standout pages for your site’s homepage or its inners pages, making this a great choice for those looking to break out of the constraints that can sometimes occur when designing for WordPress. The developers claim it works with any third party themes so whoever designed your WordPress site, you will be able to edit the standard page layout and create your own custom designs.
This plugin comes with over 20 widgets which can be dropped into your page designs and custom widgets can also be added to the list of options. Of the bundled widgets and items that can be inserted into your pages using the visual editor include:
- Up to six column layouts within one page
- A choice of six message boxes
- Post feeds to show a list of recent or related posts on your page
- Custom image galleries
- Pricing tables to compare services and their pricing plans
- The latest tweets from a Twitter feed
- Tabs to manage content better on-page
- Images from a Flickr feed
If your site is currently responsive in design, in order to work on a range of screen sizes, then the features of the Ether Content Builder will fit right into the design and layout as they are responsive too. Ether Content Builder is also integrated with the Grid Slider tool which can be used for adding post and image sliders straight into your pages.
Once installed the plugin adds another tab to the page and post editor in WordPress allowing you to easily switch between the standard visual editor, the HTML text editor and the Ether Content Builder.
Like the other plugins features, you can simply select widgets from the menu and then insert them into your content. Most widgets have lots of options so it will take a while to work your way through them and find out exactly what this tool is capable of but it works well in default mode too and can be used to dramatically liven up your WordPress pages.
If you want to build attractive and feature rich posts and pages as part of your WordPress site without getting into the code then this popular premium plugin is well worth a closer look.
This is a free page builder plugin for WordPress from Site Origin that allows you to create responsive page layouts and add elements to your pages without editing any code.
Once installed the Site Origin Page Builder adds a third tab to the post and page editor, located next to the Visual and Text tabs.
From then on you can add widgets to your pages such as recent posts, archives or any other you might have added from plugins and themes that have been installed. You can also use this plugin to add attractive buttons, calls to action and price boxes to your pages making it a good all round choice for taking the next step up from standard WordPress pages.
While this plugin can’t compete with the premium options in terms of features and functionality, it is very easy to use and its free status makes it well worth checking out for a no cost solution or getting a taste of what these page builders can do.
Aqua Page Builder
This is another free WordPress page builder and it quite a popular plugin on the WordPress.org directory. The user interface is based on the WordPress interface used for building menus and arranging the widgets so it should be familiar with anyone who has used the WordPress admin area before. This means you can install this free plugin and get up and running in no time at all.
The Aqua Page Builder uses the standard drag and drop interface of these tools and allows you to simply drag and drop page elements and layout options right into your posts and pages.
While it understandably lacks the punch of the premium plugins featured so far, for a free plugin it does a pretty good job of justifying its inclusion on this list. The templates feature is a nice touch which allows you to save your creations and use them again on other pages and posts. This is ideal for creating quick copies of pages you’ve built and then modifying them slightly to suit another page or post.
Of the widgets and blocks that can be dropped into your pages, there were some good choices including:
- Divide the content of your page vertically using columns
- Draw attention to your content with alerts
- Quickly add a Google Map to your page
- Add the area to your page to insert a slogan
- Easily add a slider to your page
- Hide and manage content with tabs and toggles
As you can see this is a pretty feature packed free plugin and is a good way to get acquainted with the power of this type of tool if you are yet to fully appreciate what they can do.
If I had to recommend just one tool from this list it would have to be Visual Composer simply for its sheer number of features, ease of use and great value price tag. While the others have their own highlights, it makes sense to go with the market leader and page builder that will give you the most options rather than picking one with less features and functionality.
But before you rush off and pick up one of these plugins it is worth pointing out that while you can do amazing things with them, you still need the content to populate your site with. Although these page builders add a lot of impressive functionality to WordPress they can’t work miracles. As tempting as it might be to purchase one of these items in the hope of producing something special and attention grabbing, without the quality images, videos and written content you will be left with a site packed full of all the latest bells and whistles without any of the substance required to engage readers.
However, if you’ve already got a WordPress site with plenty of quality content then adding one of these plugins can help take your site to the next level thanks to their impressive amounts of extra features and extremely easy to use interfaces.