WordPress page builders are tools that people either love or hate.
WordPress users love page builders – also known as content editors – because they allow average mortals to create an attractively designed page without resorting to code.
WordPress developers hate page builders because they think the tools load sites with crappy code that slows them down and makes them harder to optimize.
Possibly, they also hate page builders because they preclude the need to hire said developers, but that’s another theory.
What is a page builder
Page builders are plugins you can install – or they come built into a theme – that let you structure a page into a grid view, broken down by rows. Each row can have various numbers and widths of columns and within those columns you can place widgets.
In fact, think of a WordPress page builder as one big widget page.
For most page builder plugins, you will drag and drop widgets into the rows and columns and customize each with content, backgrounds, padding, margins – the works.
Page Builders use either drag and drop widgets or shortcodes – or a combination of both – to fuel their power.
Page Builder Pros
- Allow non-techie users to easily create sophisticated-looking web pages without knowing code
- Are responsive and behave in accordance with your responsive theme
- Act independent of the theme which can be changed anytime, while the plugin remains
Page Builder Cons
- Can be too complex for casual WordPress users
- Most use their own shortcode and structure that doesn’t translate to another page builder
- Yoast will not analyze page builder content
- Techies say they combine presentation with content, which slows down your site, ruins seo, and makes the site difficult to maintain.
Still keen on using a page builder on your site?
If so, here are the top page builders available in the free, freemium, and pro categories, and listed in that order.
These suggestions came from the Advanced WordPress Facebook Group as well as other sources.
Descriptions of each are distilled straight from the plugin’s websites and edited for hyperbole.
9 Top WordPress Page Builders
Elementor is a live and free page builder that’s open source. Use Elementor with your favorite or customized theme. Change themes and still keep all your designs. Landing pages, homepages, posts, portfolios, products, Elementor can be used to design any page or custom post type.
You have complete control over the height and width of your columns. Grab one of the corners and drag it until the column layout is just right. You can also choose from default settings and easily add more columns to the row.
You can decide to position the column to the top, center and bottom of a section, or stretch it out to the whole section. You can also position the content within the column in the same manner. This unique feature gives you the freedom to create a design that is much more customized.
Set the padding and margin for sections, columns and widgets, using px, EM or %. This feature is unique to Elementor. Without using % or EM, the heading you set may end up looking huge in mobile. The dynamic size settings lets you take full advantage of the various scaling possibilities.
Change the gaps between columns in order to let your design breathe. By changing the gaps at once, you can try out different column layouts, and visually decide which one has the best fit. This setting is amazingly simple to alter, but makes a huge difference on the ending result.
SiteOrigin is a free plugin that makes it easy to build responsive grid-based page content that adapts to mobile devices with pixel perfect accuracy. It’s a whole new dimension to content creation that’ll help you create your home, contact, about us or any other page where a linear layout won’t convey your message.
A simple drag and drop interface means allows Page Builder to do what it does best – all the difficult work, generating light-weight, SEO friendly code.
Page Builder integrates with any theme so your content will always come along with you, even when your design tastes change.
Page Builder uses the widgets you love, and we’ve integrated with some incredible plugins to give you even more.
Give your layouts a personal feel with row and widget styles. Change paddings, spacings and borders with simple input fields. If you need something advanced, there are custom CSS and class fields.
The History Browser lets you roll forward and back through your changes. Preview changes, then roll back to that version without skipping a beat.
The live editor gives you an exact preview of your content, that you can edit in real-time. You can use this to pin-point the sections and widgets you want to edit, then see those edits without leaving the page.
A free front-end page builder for WordPress with drag and drop editing. Build PRO responsive websites and landing pages. Visually customize any page element.
Unlike other page builders, Live Composer is 100% free and open source with full functionality out of the box. There is no premium version of the page builder to up-sell, no hidden ads or annoying notices trying to sell something.
Live Composer is open source page builder. You can use it to build any free or premium theme. It’s easy to ship your designs with Live Composer and create new additional modules.
Create stunning custom page designs in real-time right on your page with drag and drop front-end editing.
Works with any standard compliant WordPress theme and is compatible with other plugins like Yoast WP SEO or contact form builders.
Live Composer doesn’t leave behind horrible amount of shortcodes when the plugin deactivated. It’s easy to start using any other page builder without a need to remove all the custom shortcodes before implementing a new solution.
Previously a premium plugin, Live Composer page builder is now a FREE fully functional plugin.
Live Composer comes with free one-to-one email support.
You can Export/Import Sections, Layouts or use Pages/ Reuse layout or the page design you created.
Customize responsive presentation of any page element to make it look perfect on all mobile devices.
KingComposer is a freemium Back-End and Front-End WordPress page builder plugin.
If you are WordPress theme author, you can use and include this plugin free to build themes for sale.
The Front-End Editor and Addons are only available on the Pro version.
KingComposer utilizes native HTML5’s Drag and Drop in it’s own unique UI core to bring you high performance, and smoother Drag and Drop experience. Includes sortable, resizing, droppable, movable and so on.
KingComposer doesn’t use Ajax in the backend and less in the frontend.
Copy any element you want and paste it anywhere you need, even copy and paste on between different browser tabs.
There is no limit to the amount of rows and containers KingComposer allows.
Support 5 columns layout, plus the ability of doubling the last column’s content and sorting columns in a row. It allows you to re-size the column width by a mouse click and mouse drag.
All in One Element: This special element appeals to both End User and Developer since it helps you to build any complex page at ease. Thanks to it, you will be able to design static elements, drag and drop nodes, set attribute, import and export HTML code, visualize CSS properties for each node, and more.
KingComposer is compatible with all default WordPress widgets as well as 3rd party plugins.
Access to developer forum
Access documents, videos tutorials, articles tutorials
All features from free version
Front-End and Back-End editors
Support to convert any existing element to Front-End usability
Premium support, chat with our developers
Access our free bundle add-on package
Commerce license and support to integrate with WordPress theme for sale
White Labelling and support to rename plugin to your brand
Forge uses a drag and drop interface. You work on the front-end of your website, seeing every change you make in real time.
This plugin is designed to work with any WordPress theme without shortcodes.
Forge is made to be highly customizable, and you can create new elements on your own thanks to its multiple APIs.
Drag and Drop Page Builder
Create Full-screen landing pages
Fully responsive layouts and designs
Action History – Revert any changes and see your progress
Import and Export – Migrate content between websites and pages
Lightning fast to use, with shortcuts and keyboard actions
Use the content of your posts along with builder layouts
Forge Advanced Elements – Single Site $24
Forge Templates – Single Site $19
Forge Layout Library – Single Site $29
Forge Conditional Logic – Single Site $24
Beaver Builder is a complete design system that includes a page builder plugin and a framework theme. Beaver Builder’s page builder plugin can be used with any theme and you can switch themes without losing your content.
Even if you decide to stop using Beaver Builder, your content gets ported right back into the WordPress editor.
You can save your own designs as templates and reuse them all over your site, or export them to use on a different site.
Child themes should be used for your customizations. Choose from a variety of styles using their settings presets, then modify them with the native WordPress Customizer.
In Thrive Content Builder, the page you are editing looks exactly like the page your visitor sees. You don’t need to load a preview in a new tab and switch back and forth between your editor and the preview.
Thrive Content Builder gives you dozens of elements that you can add to your posts and pages. Each element is also made with a specific purpose in mind, such as increasing conversions or social shares.
All columns and layouts you create are fully mobile responsive so that your site looks amazing on any device!
As long as you use Content Builder in combination with a responsive theme, all of the content you create with it is also 100% responsive and carefully designed to look great on any screen size.
With the Content Builder, you can add animations to images, buttons and more.
Using the Event Manager feature, you can create animations, trigger lightboxes and more!
Styled Bullet Point Lists
Customizable Content Boxes
Responsive Video Embeds
Visual HTML Table Builder
Feature Grids (with Images or Icons)
Content Tabs and Toggles
Responsive Google Maps Embeds
Star Ratings for Reviews
Dynamic Countdown Timers
Easy Table of Contents Builder
Custom HTML and CSS
MotoPress enhances the standard WordPress editor and enables you to build websites visually. It’s a complete solution for building responsive pages without coding, simply by dragging and dropping content elements.
MotoPress plugin is easily extendable, fully responsive and works with all WordPress themes.
MotoPress is also shortcodes based. If you uninstall the plugin, the content you’ve built will stop working.
30+ built-in content elements
Compatible with all themes
Opportunity to extend functionality with MotoPress Addons
Responsive and mobile ready layouts
Available in 11 languages
Visual Composer page builder comes with two types of intuitive content editors – frontend and backend.
Create your WordPress website with backend style editor or move your page building process to frontend and instantly see any changes you make.
With inbuilt preview options it takes only one click to instantly check how your website looks on mobile or tablets.
Choose from over 40+ predefined content elements (or extend Visual Composer with 200+ unique addons).
Quickly adjust your element settings with the help of intuitive UI offering multiple options and variations.
Includes 60+ predefined layout templates to build your page or post layout.
A comprehensive knowledge base describes the developer API so you can extend Visual Composer.
Visual Composer offers Shortcode Mapper allowing you to add 3rd party shortcodes to your content elements.
Work on new or existing websites as it will recognize your existing content and adapt to any WordPress website.
Visual Composer works with any WordPress theme.
One price – $34
Of these nine page builder plugins, I have personally used only three – SiteOrigin, Thrive, and Visual Composer – all of which I have liked. But now that I’ve written this post, I’m going to be broadening my layout horizons.
What page builder do you like and why? What plugins have I neglected? Please, do tell!
Hey, if you live in Vancouver, BC and want to learn about how to optimize your WordPress site for search engines, you owe it to yourself to attend our WordPress Workshop on Monday, July 11th for a special presentation, The Art of SEO with Daniel Moscovitch. In it, you’ll learn SEO basics, What Google looks for, Proper On-Page Optimization and Setup, Schema Markup, and Basic Offpage Linkbuilding from this mastermind of internet marketing – all while enjoying a nice IPA at Big Rock Brewery. Get more info and RSVP now!