In this review, we introduce you to a new feature of the popular TheGem WordPress…
BoldGrid is a tool that has been built to help you design your very own custom website in just three steps. As we’ll see in this BoldGrid review, this tool is actually a combination of WordPress plugins and themes, which gives you the ability to take control of the design and appearance of your website, regardless of your level of web design or development experience.
Another trick that BoldGrid has up its selves is its partnership with well-known web host, InMotion Hosting. This hosting and website builder combination makes a BoldGrid a potential Squarespace alternative and competitor to services like Weebly and Wix.
So, let’s find out how this WordPress website builder squares up to the completion in our hands-on BoldGrid review.
Who Should Choose the BoldGrid WordPress Website Builder?
BoldGrid is for those who crave a personalized website, but either don’t have the design and development skills to achieve their goal, or don’t want to use a hosted website builder service like Squarespace.
By harnessing the flexibility of WordPress, along with its open source nature, choosing BoldGrid gives you the ability to design and build a website that truly matches your creative vision, while also ensuring that you retain full ownership of the site.
Even if you are a proficient coder, BoldGrid could still appeal to you. Thanks to the fact that this website builder tool has the potential to greatly speed up your development process and make you more efficient when creating websites for yourself or clients, it could be just the tool you’ve been looking for.
Sounds interesting? Let’s find out more about what this tool can do in our BoldGrid review.
BoldGrid is packed with features, including a selection of website templates, a wealth of customization options, and a page builder tool. Let’s take a look at those features in more detail in this section of the BoldGrid review.
BoldGrid provides you a number of inspirations, or themes when creating your custom WordPress website. Just like regular WordPress themes, with the templates from BoldGrid, you get unrestricted access to the underlying source code.
However, the BoldGrid team have been working on a partnership with Envato, which will see the number of themes available for BolidGrid expand massively. There will soon be a section on ThemeForest – the largest WordPress theme marketplace – dedicated to BoldGrid themes.
Thanks to this level of access, coders and developers can then go in and edit the source code to make as many changes as they need. However, even if you are not a coder, as you’ll soon see in this BoldGrid review, you still get a great deal of freedom over how your WordPress website will look.
To give you even more options, the customization and page builder features of BoldGrid should work with any well-coded WordPress theme.
To help non-developers and non-coders create a personalized website, the BoldGrid website builder tool makes good use of the WordPress Customizer. With the Customizer, you’ll be able to personalize many aspects of your website, all through a front-end user interface. This means that as you make your changes, you can see exactly what effect they are having, without the need to switch browser tabs and windows.
While the BoldGrid Customizer settings give you a good amount of control over the appearance of your site at the global level, if you want to modify the individual pieces of content that make up your site, the BoldGrid Editor is on hand to assist you.
The BoldGrid Editor allows you to add GridBlocks to your WordPress pages, which are prebuilt page modules. The library of GridBlocks covers useful elements, such as testimonials, a selection of image and text configurations, photo galleries, header sections, and a range of other layouts and content elements.
Once you’ve added a GridBlock to your page, you can simply click on it to start editing its content. You can also easily drag-and-drop it into a new position.
BoldGrid Staging Service
Another really useful feature of the BoldGrid WordPress builder is the staging tool. By using the optional staging feature, you can create a private version of your website that isn’t available to your visitors. This then gives you a development environment to work in. Here you can experiment and work on your website without having to worry about anyone seeing it until you are ready to publish it.
The active version of your site remains publically visible, while you work on the staging version. Then, when you are ready, you can set the staging version live.
Although this feature is useful, it’s entirely optional. Therefore, if you are happy to work on the active version of your site directory, you are free to do so.
Creating a Custom WordPress Website with BoldGrid
On paper, BoldGrid has an impressive set of features. So, let’s put them to the test to find out how easy it is to create a custom WordPress website with this website builder in the next section of our hands-on BoldGrid review.
Choose a Template
The first step in creating your custom WordPress website is to choose from one of the available BoldGrid inspirations. To get started, you can select a category that matches your project. After that you can choose from the corresponding templates.
The templates that will make up the base of your website are free to use, providing you are willing to supply your own content. Alternatively, you can pay to get access to the copyrighted content used in the templates, such as any stock images or similar content.
With BoldGrid, there’s a good selection of base designs to choose from for your projects. When making a selection you can preview how the template will look on your website before making a decision. This template preview mode comes complete with tablet and smartphone preview viewports.
Create Demo Content
After you’ve selected your template of choice, you can then decide how many pages to create. The options include creating a basic set of pages, the five most popular website pages, or the kitchen sink option. This last option adds a whole host of useful pages to your site.
If you do choose the kitchen sink option, the demo pages that are created for your new website may include clients, testimonials, and gallery pages, as well as the standard pages, such as the about us and contact us pages. The page creation option is a useful feature of BoldGrid as it can help you quickly lay down the framework of your new website.
Once you’ve completed those three steps, your website is ready for you to add your own content. Alternatively, you can load up the Customizer and start personalizing the template for a more bespoke look and feel.
Commission a Custom Template
If you find there isn’t the right template for your project, you can enter a request for additional themes for a particular category. Those who submit a paid request can expect a turnaround time of around 4-6 weeks. Alternatively, free requests are added to the queue, with no time guarantees in place.
However, once the Envato partnership launches and more WordPress theme developers are on board with BoldGrid, this turnaround time is expected to be reduced significantly.
After you’ve chosen a suitable inspiration for your project, you can set about customizing its overall appearance. As mentioned earlier in this BoldGrid review, the personalization work of your website takes place through the WordPress Customizer tool.
Thanks to the use of the WordPress Customizer tool, experienced WordPress users will find it very easy to switch to BoldGrid. On the other hand, new WordPress users shouldn’t have any trouble getting started with BoldGrid, thanks to the intuitive nature of the Customizer user interface.
Through the controls of the Customizer, you can change the fonts used by your chosen template. These controls extend to customizing the full typography settings, going beyond simply choosing a font.
You’re also free to choose from a selection of predefined color palettes. If the existing palettes don’t match your vision, it’s not a problem as creating your own custom color palettes is very easy too. You can even use the handy suggest feature to conjure up additional predefined color palettes.
Adding your own background images through the Customizer is very straightforward too. As well as uploading new background images, you can also choose a background effect, including parallax, scroll, or fixed. Other background image options cover sizing options, including cover page, scaled to fit, and full width, for example. If you don’t want to use a background image at all – perhaps in a bid to improve site loading times – you can choose from a selection of background patterns.
Among the other BoldGrid Customizer options, you’ll find the ability to setup the navigation menus, configure the widget areas, and define the header and footer sections. You can also add custom CSS through the appropriate section for even greater control over the appearance of your website.
Earlier in this BoldGrid review, we mentioned the Editor feature. The BoldGrid Editor is accessed at the individual post and page level. With the BoldGrid Editor, you can create custom designs for your content that wouldn’t be possible with the standard WordPress Editor.
If you chose to create the demo pages when setting up your site, then you can easily edit any of these templates with the BoldGrid Editor. Alternatively, you can create your own pages from scratch, and give them a custom layout by inserting any of the available GridBlocks. After that, you can begin adding your own content to the blocks.
By choosing an appropriate template, making site-wide changes with the Customizer, and then building custom page designs with the BoldGrid Editor, you really can create your own custom WordPress website.
As most of the website modification work takes place through the front-end Customizer tool, there’s only a minimal amount of settings on the back-end. This is good as it helps simplify the website creation process, making the experience more user-friendly and intuitive.
Among the settings, you’ll find the option to select an update channel. As the options suggest, choosing the Stable setting ensures you will always have access to the latest stable release of BoldGrid. However, more advetoarus or curious developers may want to use the Edge settins in order to use or preview the future releases of BoldGrid.
BoldGrid vs the Competition
Although BoldGrid is built on WordPress, its main competitors are the other hosted website builder platforms like Squarespace and Weebly.
Thankfully, BoldGrid shapes up well against its competitors in terms of features. However, its main advantage for some users will be the fact that you get full ownership of your website when using BoldGrid and WordPress.
Unlike hosted services such as Squarespace and Wix, you won’t need to pay a monthly fee to those companies to retain access to your website and keep it online. Yes, with a WordPress website and BoldGrid, you will need to pay your web host a recurring fee. However, you will have full ownership and control over the WordPress software, along with the ability to move your website and its content elsewhere, should you desire.
BoldGrid Pricing Options
BoldGrid is available for free to customers of InMotion Hosting who have signed up to one of their Business Hosting plans. However, unlike some other website builder services, if you do choose InMotion Hosting and BoldGrid to power your WordPress website, you are free to move your site to another host at any time, rather than being locked into one platform and service forever.
It’s also worth pointing out that the BoldGrid team is in talks with other well-known web hosts from around the world. The goal of this is to establish licensing deals that will see this website builder become more widely available.
To sign-up to InMotion Hosting on one of their Business Hosting plans and get access to BoldGrid free, you have three main pricing options:
- Launch Plan: hosting for 2 websites from $5.99 /mo.
- Power Plan: hosting for 6 websites from $7.99 /mo.
- Pro Plan: hosting for unlimited websites from $13.99 /mo.
You can view the full details of the InMotion Hosting plans here.
BoldGrid Review Final Thoughts
On the surface, BoldGrid might seem like just another WordPress page builder tool. However, as it’s closely integrated into the web hosting packages offered by InMotion Hosting, it is aiming to be an alternative to hosted tools like Squarespace and Wix.
This partnership and integration help to make BoldGrid a good option for anyone looking for an all-in-one solution that results in them getting a hosted WordPress website that they can also customize through an intuitive user interface.
While you could use a service like Squarespace, choosing WordPress and BoldGrid opens up a greater world of possibilities. With WordPress, you are free to install any of the thousands of plugins or add-ons available to add new features to your website. Furthermore, you’ll always own your website and its content, no matter who you pay your monthly hosting fees to.
Some might say that the BoldGrid set of features and user experience isn’t as polished as some of the other page builder plugins already available for WordPress. However, this view overlooks the fact that due to the close web hosting integration, BoldGrid makes it a lot easier for anyone to create their first website.
If you want an easy way to create your own custom website, while retaining full ownership of the design and content, BoldGrid, WordPress, and InMotion Hosting provide you with everything you need at a very reasonable price.