Thanks to the ubiquity of the Internet, nearly every adult will at some point contemplate setting up a website. The site may be for business, for popularizing a cause, or for sharing their personal thoughts with the world. Setting up a website involves plenty of decisions.
Among these include choice of website host, the need for cloud storage and how to monitor such cloud servers. For more information here is a resource to read more about this. But perhaps your most important decision will be on what design your website will take.
The vast majority of internet users aren’t web developers or web designers and therefore lack the skills required to build web pages from scratch. Even those who do have the requisite coding knowledge do not always have the time.
Enter page builder plugins. They allow virtually anyone to create gorgeous, functional and navigable websites by just clicking, holding and dragging. Since WordPress is by far the world’s most popular CMS, we’ll look at the best page builders available for this platform.
Thrive Architect works almost seamlessly with any WordPress theme and allows you to build visually appealing pages and blog posts that combine a wide range of intelligent elements. For example, you can add pricing tables, call-to-action (CTA) buttons, social proof and more.
Its styling options are quite detailed and include custom spacing and responsive controls. You can add customized CSS at the page level (unfortunately, this isn’t possible for individual elements. You can only assign CSS IDs or classes).
See the video below to know how it works:
The breadcrumb selector is fairly unique among page builders. It comes in handy whenever you want to move quickly between a section and an element. The inline text editing feature is certainly among the best in the business. The ability to set up Page Events is pretty cool; predefined user actions would trigger the display of a lightbox popup.
Thrive Architect has 40 distinct widgets (including the pretty impressive countdown timer) and hundreds of built-in page templates all of which give you the ammo you need to hit the ground running. Each template is well-thought-out to facilitate intuitive sales funnels and visitor retention. You can save each custom design as a template for your future use.
As you would expect, Thrive Architect blends in fairly seamlessly with Thrive’s other suite of products. These include Thrive Optimize and Thrive Leads. If you ever decide to uninstall the plugin, it leaves behind clean code that’s easy to edit and work with.
With a committed team behind it, you can count on Thrive Architect not falling into obsolescence any time soon. There are regular updates that keep pace with changes to the WordPress environment.
Elementor is a relatively recent entrant to the WordPress page builder space having made its debut in mid-2016. But that has not curtailed its rise to become one of the leading players in the industry. Such quick success is of itself evidence of this plugin’s strengths over the competition. It has a fast, glitch-free interface, flexible options and full theme building features.
Elementor has a lot of similarities with Thrive Architect and gives you fairly detailed control over each page you build. It allows drag and drop page building, inline text editing and provides a live responsive preview of the design.
This builder has over two dozen widgets on the free version and nearly 60 on the paid version. The free version has 40 pre-built templates while the Pro release has hundreds of them. The templates come in full-page and individual section formats; this level of granularity ensures you can build a relatively unique website. You can also save your custom designs for use as templates later.
It also provides one of the most elaborate styling options of any builder plugin. Other than giving you great editing power over basic elements such as backgrounds, colors and typography, you also have the ability to control custom padding/margins, custom CSS IDs/classes, and responsive controls.
See how it works in the video below:
You can configure and reuse global widgets on multiple pages; the widgets need only be edited once for all instances to be updated. Elementor allows full theme building with great detail including specifying the design of singles, footers, headers and archives. It leaves behind clean code if you do deactivate it.
The powerful visual builder makes it easy to create both regular contact forms and mailing list opt-in forms that connect to MailPoet or MailChimp. It has grid widgets that give readable form to both standard and custom WordPress posts.
The embed feature allows you to integrate your chosen layouts wherever you’d like to on your website such as the footers and sidebars. It’s clear that Elementor is keen on not just being your average WordPress page builder plugin but rather providing a platform that is a class apart from the competition.
Beaver Builder has been a leading player in the page building market for a while now. That’s largely because it creates pages that appeal to both website owners and users. It is also regularly updated and combines well with the Beaver Builder theme and themer extension (though using these two is optional).
The Beaver Builder interface allows you to work from a sidebar on the right side of the screen that ensures you have a live preview of the page you are working on. You can also exit the sidebar for a full screen preview whenever you choose to do so.
There’s an inline text editing feature through which you can type text on the page directly or on the popup that appears. This may feel a little awkward to some but fortunately, you can always pin back the popup editor to the sidebar. You have substantial control over page elements such as responsive controls and custom spacing.
Beaver Builder’s free version provides access to 6 modules as well as general WordPress widgets. The premium version has 30 modules that you can enable or disable as needed, and more than 50 page templates. You can save your designs as templates.
See how it works in the video below:
Beaver Builder has a unique toggle through which you can opt to hide or show specified modules depending on whether a user is logged in or not. If you are a professional web developer or web designer, you can white label Beaver Builder. Uninstalling the plugin leaves behind coherent HTML code.
4. Divi Builder
Though it is often used in concert with the Divi Theme, Divi Builder is a standalone plugin that can work just as well with other WordPress themes too.
Unlike most other page builders, Divi Builder has both a visual frontend builder interface that is easy to use for just about anyone, and a backend interface that will appeal to the more tech-savvy user. Divi Builder’s frontend interface doesn’t rely on a sidebar but instead makes use of floating buttons and popups.
It has an inline editing feature so you can make changes to text directly on each page. Configure a wide range of settings such as custom spacing and responsive controls. The CSS editor is easy to use and has autocomplete and basic validation. You can add custom CSS after, within, or before the main element.
The video below shows how Divi works:
Divi has more than 40 modules and over 300 pre-built templates. You can also save your custom designs as templates for future use. The A/B testing feature is unique among major page builder plugins so you can split test different options and see which one works (you can do A/B testing on Thrive Architect too but you require Thrive Optimize). Divi Builder has robust role-based access controls.
Themify Builder is bundled in as part of Themify’s themes. It is however available for purchase as a standalone plugin for those who prefer to use it with other themes. The lightweight version is available for free while the cost of the paid version depends on the add-ons you choose.
Like Divi Builder, Themify has both a backend and frontend interface. The frontend has live previews, responsive previews and gives you the ability to insert additional modules. However, it lacks an inline editing feature so you’ll have to make use of a popup whenever you want to edit the text on your pages.
Themify Builder has more than 20 modules, over 140 full page templates, several pre-built sections, and of course the usual WordPress widgets. There are four styling tabs – animation, visibility, styling, and content.
One of the unique things about Themify Builder is that you can still use the standard WordPress Editor. This is different from other page builder plugins which force you to work exclusively from within their own interface.
The content from the Themify Builder is highlighted in the WordPress Editor so you can make changes without ruining the form of the Themify content. And if you eventually choose to deactivate the Themify plugin, it leaves your page with clean and readable HTML code.
See the Themify builder in the video below:
So what page builder should you choose? It depends. Do you prefer working with a frontend or backend interface? The majority of people will go with the frontend due to its ease of use. But if you really want to have great control over the nuts and bolts of your pages (and have the skill and patience to do so), the backend is your best bet.
What kind of elements or modules do you consider must-haves? The modules are your page’s building blocks. They include buttons, video, image, text, contact forms, and pricing tables. While all have certain core elements, different page builders will have different types of the more specific modules. Go for builders that come closest to satisfying your module requirement.
Your budget matters too. Many builders have a free and a paid up version. Note however that if you are looking for a certain degree of functionality, you have to be ready to incur a cost.
Note that you don’t necessarily have to go with just one builder. You can create your website with a mix of two or more builder plugins if you think none of them has everything you need.
Also published on Medium.