The WordPress community is running scared. Suddenly, Wix, Squarespace, Weebly, and others are becoming real threats to the WordPress empire as the general public becomes aware of them, and it’s way past time for WordPress to up its game in making the layout and design of WordPress sites easier and more intuitive.
We’ve long had companies vying for recognition in the WordPress Page Builder space, and some have been around for years. You might recognize some of them: Headway, Pagelines, iTheme Builder, etc. come to mind. Add Visual Composer, Siteorigin Page Builder, and Divi into the mix. There are plenty more, but I’d like to highlight a few of the newer entrants into the game as well as including my faves into a quick chart below. I hope these details help you find the perfect Page Builder for you and inspires developers everywhere to make WordPress Page Layout and Design as easy and intuitive as it can possibly be. We don’t want to be afraid of the competition. We want to beat the competition!
|Feature||SiteOrigin Page Builder||Visual Composer||Beaver Builder||Obox Layers||WPMU Upfront||Page Builder Sandwich|
|Cost||Free Get It||$28 Get It||Free, $99, $199, or $399 Get It||Free Get It||$300 – $1200 per year subscription Get It||Free Get It|
|Number of Sites||Unlimited||1||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Type||Plugin||Plugin||Plugin||Theme Framework||Theme Framework||Plugin|
|Front or Back End||Live Editor and Back End||Front End and Back End||Front End||Back End Customizer with Live Preview||Front End||Back End|
|Content Widget Elements||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Limited|
|Cool Stuff||Create rows and columns and drop any widget wherever needed. Live editing mode. Roll back to previous layout if needed. Pretty clean code.||Grid builder, extensive options, custom elements||Plugin and optional theme but works with any theme. 20+ preset page layouts. Lightweight, semantic code. Autoimports content to editor if you stop using plugin.||Preset layouts. Uses Customizer. Build pages using widgets. White label. Data is portable to other themes.||Attractive interface. Click to edit. Group elements together. Dynamic background regions can contain videos and maps.||See the columns you create right in the standard WP editor, and see the content within those columns right in the editor.|
|Comments||FAVE: My current goto favorite, and works with any theme.||MEH: Crowd favorite but I find it to be overly complex and confusing. Maybe it’s just me.||FAVE: Quickly becoming a favorite of mine, and works with any theme.||POSSIBLE FAVE: Looks interesting but it’s brand new. Still, this one might be a real contender. We’ll see.||ON THE FENCE: Looks interesting but it’s beta and pricey and I have my issues with WPMU quality historically.||POSSIBLE FAVE: Interesting concept for seeing layout in standard editor. Worth keeping an eye on.|
Faves and Mehs
Siteorigin Page Builder has been my goto builder for a while now, but Builder Beaver has a shot at overtaking it as my favorite. At the same time, Siteorigin has also been upping its game, and its builder is evolving as well, so it may hold on to the lead. I’ve tried many of the ones not listed here (Divi, Headway, etc.) and haven’t liked them enough to stick with them, but of course, many people love each of them, so what I think is “meh” might be something you love. Read my comments in the table above to see my initial reaction to the newcomers listed.
Not A Page Builder But This Is Cool For Designing Anyway
There’s another recent plugin that I find very interesting, but it doesn’t quite fit into the whole drag-and-drop page layout scenario. Nevertheless, it does fit into the design aspect and it’s pretty interesting, so I’ll add it as a side note here. CSS Hero is quickly becoming a favorite way to change the design of individual elements of any compatible theme (and Rocket Mode, while in beta still, promises to enable the process for nearly any theme). Check out a video of CSS Hero here.
Options, Options, But Which To Bet On?
I have two reasons for being so interested in how all of this is evolving. The first, of course, is that much of what I do to make my living involves helping clients create and maintain WordPress sites. I hate the part where I have to explain to them that creating an amazing page design in the out-of-the-box WordPress Visual Editor is a lot more complex than most are led to believe. They end up wondering why their images aren’t lining up next to the short paragraph, or why the extra line breaks they added have disappeared, or … well, you get the idea. Since I’m the one destined to guide them, I’ve tried various methods over the years to help them make this process easier.
So I’m happy to see more choices, but at the same time, I’m getting inundated with so many choices! What’s best? Should I stick with the tried-and-true or take the time that is so short in supply to try all the new options that are popping up almost daily? Will all of these options still be viable a year from now? With ever more horses in the race, it’s getting difficult to decide which to bet on.
Theme Support And Compatibility
The second reason I’m carefully watching all of this unfold is because I’ve been working on creating a premium theme for quite some time now. Although it’s not yet ready for release, it’s getting pretty close, and of course, I want it to be compatible with the most popular and/or best and/or up-and-coming page builder contenders. My goal for this theme is to make sure no one is trapped by the theme. I want users to have the freedom to use whatever works best in creating and designing their content, so that if they ever decide to use another theme, they won’t be left with missing content because the previous theme locked it in. So my goal is to offer a theme that does an outstanding job of creating and presenting content all on its own, but if a user chooses to use another system to make the job of creating awesome content even easier, I want to ensure my theme supports that choice. Many of those choices, however, require a theme to add additional “support” code to make that happen, so it’s vital that I ensure my theme’s code includes that support as needed.
Each time I add the latest support, I see a new one announced. That’s great and frustrating all at the same time!
How Will This All Play Out In The End?
Of course, some of the contenders are theme frameworks, some are themes, and some are plugins. Some of the plugins work with just about any theme, some don’t, some work with some widgets, some work with nearly all widgets. All are offered at different price points from free on up. All of these things – as well as how well they work and how easy they are to use – play into the decision for which to use, recommend, and support. What I’ve covered here is really just the tip of the iceberg.
I can’t help but wonder what the landscape will look like a year or two from now. What do you think?
UPDATE NOTE: Originally, I made a note about Page Builder Sandwich in the table above that it output tables for layout and that bothered me greatly. But that was cleared up in the comments (it’s only in the editor not the final code), so I’ve deleted that bit in the post. PB Sandwich now has a chance again of potentially being a fave of mine. Sorry for the misunderstanding.