How often have you felt the need to make improvements to your website? Perhaps you want to give it a brand-new look or feel? Ever felt like trying it out on your own? Is programming not on the list of your skill sets? If your answer to all these questions is yes, then it is time for you to consider drag-and-drop page builder plugins.
If you are a WordPress user, you must be familiar with Pages. You can adjust how a page appears using the settings in the Pages Editor. A page builder helps you to do this visually by dragging and dropping content elements in the front-end.
Start with a blank page. By moving around modules and content elements, you can come up with a totally new page. You can save this page and reuse it whenever you want. You need not restrict yourself to pages, and you can do all this with your posts.
There are many items that make up the pages of your website, and they are commonly called content elements. Page builder plugins contain a number of content elements that form the building blocks of your page. You can have an idea or a mental blueprint of how your pages should appear. You can then go about dragging and dropping these content elements into the columns, rows, and spaces that you have created.
Some of the things that you can do with a page builder include adding rows and columns, adding countdown timers, adjusting margins and spaces between rows and columns, and adding social share or call to action buttons to give your page the functionality and appearance that you want.
One of the earliest plugins in this category is Visual Composer. However, there are many more available in the market today, and the competition is intense. Most of the plugins do a decent job.
So, how should you pick the one you want? You should check whether the interface is user-friendly and if you are comfortable working with it. Also consider if you can become adept at it in a short while. Many page builders offer a demo or a trial version, and you really should make good use of it.
Next, the content element library should be up to your requirement. If a countdown timer is important to you, it should be available in the content library. The pages you build should look as good as that built using the code and must be totally responsive and appear good on all devices.
What should you watch out for while investing in a page builder? Sometimes, with an uninstalled plugin, all the pages built using that plugin will go blank. You wouldn’t want this to happen, so ensure that when you remove the plugin, you can port all the content into WordPress.
One more thing, with the plugin uninstalled, it can leave behind a lot of junk code. This may take a bit of cleaning up. This should not really deter you from installing the plugin, just that you should make the purchase with your eyes open and should be prepared for the cleanup after uninstallation.
I’ve gathered a few of the more popular plugins available, and most likely, you may find the one you like from this list.
With over 85,000 users, Beaver Builder is popular with the WordPress community. With this plugin, you can see your website taking shape even as you build it using the live interface. A helpful demo will help you get familiar with the interface in a matter of minutes.
Pick a blank template, and start from scratch. Or choose a pre-made layout and go ahead and customize it. Make columns, adjust spacing, and add backgrounds by dragging and dropping into the layout. Choose which modules you need from among the basic modules: text editor, video, separator, heading, HTML, audio, and buttons.
Edit the rows and columns with the help of the action buttons. The action buttons can help you do a lot of things, like duplicating a layout, editing the settings for any particular layout, or adjusting global settings. You can add additional content from the content panel.
Users can save a great deal of time working with this plugin. Developers can hit the ground running with projects and leave some flexibility for clients to change pages the way they want.
The plugin supports shortcodes and widgets, so you can work comfortably with other plugins. New templates can be appended to appear at the end of the existing ones. Save your work and use it immediately or keep it for future use.
If you discontinue the plugin, your content will be saved in the WordPress Editor.
Beaver Builder is a full fledged design system that packs a plugin for page building and a theme framework. It comes bundled with the Beaver Builder theme in the Pro and Agency Pack which are tagged at $199 and $399. The Standard Pack at $99 will not include the theme or multisite capability. The Builder can be used on any number of sites. For updates and support, you will have to renew the license after a year (at discounted rates). If you think that is steep, you can try the Lite version from the WordPress repository before you make up your mind.
Page Builder by SiteOrigin
Page Builder by SiteOrigin is a free plugin that has over 800,000 active installs. Is your website accessed more from mobile devices ? No matter, the columns and rows you add using this page builder will size down perfectly to mobile devices. The interface will be familiar to WordPress users, as it is fashioned to appear just like WordPress. So, you are in a familiar environment. You can access the plugin from under Settings in WordPress.
I tried the plugin, and installation and activation were completed in a jiffy. Open a New Page and you will see an additional tab, Page Builder. Click on it and the Page Builder interface will open up. You can continue building as the interface is intuitive, but if you need help, access the documentation on SiteOrigin. The Live Editor made it possible for me to see the rows and columns appear right before my eyes even as I added them.
Besides allowing you to use WordPress widgets, a great number of widgets is available to you from the Widgets Bundle. This page builder works with all standard themes. This means that even if you change themes, all your content will be ported into your new theme. In case you are nervous about making changes, you can take comfort from the history browser, which will allows you to scroll through the changes you made. You can then make your way back or change track, clicking Undo and Redo at will.
All the themes from Themify have the built-in Themify Builder. You can purchase Themify Builder as a standalone plugin for $39, and it works well with all standard WordPress themes. Building your pages visually by simple selection and drag-and-drop without any code is quite satisfying with this plugin.
The building is possible both from the front-end and the back-end. The plugin is optimized for performance, with the resources being loaded only if called into action. It is responsive, SEO-friendly, and translatable and supports multisite. Purchase add-ons like Pricing Tables and Tiles separately.
If you do not feel up to building a page, you can import a pre-designed layout, replace text and images, preview, save and be done. But if you are willing to experiment a bit, you can start with a blank template and build as you go. Whichever you choose, you can have your fully designed page in minutes. And if you like it a lot, you can simply copy/ paste the modules to create another layout, without having to do the whole work all over again. Themify Builder is one of the few plugins that allows you to nest a column within a sub column.
The option to undo and redo allows you to get a little adventurous with your page building. You can arrange rows, subrows, columns, and subcolumns any way you want, and they will all be responsive. You can bring 60+ animation effects into the viewing area. Further, you can style every aspect of your page: color, fonts, background, parallax scrolling, row overlay, and more. Text Editor supports HTML and shortcodes.
If you have any hesitation into taking the plunge with this plugin, you can take comfort from the fact that it comes backed by a 30 day money-back guarantee, no questions asked. The plugin does a great job, but it takes a bit of learning.
This plugin list would be totally incomplete if I did not include Divi Builder Premium plugin from Elegant Themes. You can join more than a quarter million customers who are Elegant Themes members and have access to the entire set of themes and plugins from them. The Personal Package will give you access to all the themes for $69. For all themes plus all plugins combo, you will have to choose from Developer or from Lifetime Access Packages for $89 and $249 respectively.
Divi Builder is a standalone drag-and-drop page builder that works with any WordPress theme. This plugin has 46 content modules or building blocks, and you can arrange them any way you like to build your website. The advanced design settings will give you complete control of every aspect of your layout. A great level of customization is possible. You can also choose from 20 ready-made layouts.
With Divi Library, you can save all your pre-made layouts and content builder elements. You can call upon this at any time and add it to new pages instantly. If you save an item as a global library item, you can add it easily to all your pages. Selective addition is also possible. Using CSS and the advanced design settings, building templates is much faster and more innovative. When you start on a new project, simply import from the library and make changes. This is easy because you can access the library from all pages.
With over a million purchases, Visual Composer is a top ranked page builder WordPress plugin. You can purchase the plugin for $34 from WP Bakery, but before you purchase, do check your theme. Many premium themes bundle this plugin as a built-in feature.
Sixty predefined layouts and over 40 unique grid design templates will help you start your page building. Over 40 content elements are at your disposal, and creating your own content elements is possible. You can use front-end and back-end editors and switch from one to the other with just a click of the mouse. You can also preview how your page will appear on different devices, copy the pages, and save templates for later use.
The plugin is developer-friendly, and you can use CSS to modify the layout wherever required. If you find it difficult working with code, attempt customizing with the Shortcode Mapper. A number of third-party add-ons that extend functionality are available for separate purchases. You can also add your own shortcodes by inserting them in the themes functions.php.
Life time free updates are provided.
Live Composer is an open source plugin and the fully functional version is available for free download in the WordPress directory. The team offers exceptional support, including free one-to-one email support. Fill up a form, and you can get free advice from the team as well. The plugin has been around for two years now, and the developers claim that they have fixed all the major bugs.
Use this plugin for front-end page building with a simple drag-and-drop. With hardly any technical skills, you can build beautiful WordPress pages and customize every element. Perfectly responsive modules are available for building. Once done, you can export any section of the page or the whole page. You can save it for future use as well.
Once downloaded and installed, the plugin will add a tab to your page. You can open the page using Live Composer and go about making your page. It takes some time to familiarize your self with the interface. Add multiple elements like images, social icons, buttons, notifications and more as you go about making your rows and columns.
You can deactivate this plugin without the fear of leaving behind a load of junk shortcodes.
MotoPress is a frontend page building plugin that replaces the default editor of your WordPress. Stylish websites are easy to build using the user friendly interface. Once installed, you can access it under Settings in WordPress. The plugin is fairly easy to use, but you can use the video tutorial and the demo to become familiar and even create a trial website, before you can decide to make a purchase.
MotoPress is compatible with all standard WordPress themes, and you can extend it with your own shortcodes. It is multisite and WPML compatible, and it includes files for easy translation. The content library includes text, buttons, image galleries, videos, and more, allowing you to build complex, engaging layouts with hardly any programming skills.
A personal license for one website, costs $29, a business license for use on five websites costs $47, and a developer license for unlimited websites costs $139. The license also offers one year of support and free updates. You can download a free lite version from the WordPress Directory as well.
Thrive Content Builder
This page builder will allow you to witness page building happening on an actual WYSIWYG basis. Not just outlines and representations of what your page will finally look like, but actually what it will look like – as your reader sees it. You do not have to click on any Preview button to see the progress your page is making.
To see how your pages and posts will appear minus the plugin controls, you will need to use the preview mode. However, for all other purposes, you pretty much see your pages and posts as they will finally appear. The Content elements in this plugin have clear business purposes. The plugin is fast, and page building becomes an enjoyable task.
With Thrive Builder, you can edit anything that is in the theme’s content area. However, you cannot edit your sidebar or header. To override your theme, you will have to use Thrive Landing Pages feature. What Thrive Builder helps you do is, create posts and pages with advanced content and layout.
The license packages vary between $49 per month to a one-time purchase cost of $67. Bundled with the plugin is a full suite of ready-made landing pages.
To Sum Up
Drag-and-drop page builder plugins kind of puts the joy back into page building for the amateur web designer. Almost anyone can take charge of their own website even if coding is not their forte. The discussion here may have given you an idea what plugins are there in the market and the possibilities that they open up for you.
If you think less is more, Page Builder by Site Origin may be a good choice for you. If you want feature-rich options, choose between Visual Composer and Divi. Visual Composer is good for the number of premium add-ons that can greatly extend its functions.
When you consider that most of the features come free in Page Builder by SiteOrigin, the free plugin seems to be better value for money. If you are looking for some specific features like animation effects (which I did not find in Page Builder), then Thrive Builder may be more suitable for you. Themify Builder is one of the few plugins that allows you to nest a column within a sub column.
Like I said earlier, do take advantage of the trial versions and the demos before you put your money down on anything. With a little bit of use, you may come to like a particular plugin enough to make a choice.