WordPress has seen an explosion of no-coding, drag and drop Visual Page/Post Builders. These Visual Page/Post Builders bring 5 major benefits to the WordPress design world:
1)They are truly drag and drop, no coding Visual Designers;
2)They should work for both pages and posts but not all do;
3)Most work with any theme which allows for multiple page and post types and layouts depending on the theme chosen [a very small set of themes – see our review here];
4)they support responsive, mobile ready layouts with sticky menus, auto-stacking of blocks and provision for block hiding;
5)Many have Frontend editors that allow designers and developers to edit the post or page right on the live front page – so users get definitive WYSIWYG results.
Some of the Visual Page Builders are versatile enough so that they can do simple content block resizings so a Visual Layout Designer is not required. And as we shall see in the table below, the Visual Page Builders vary in the modules, styling and responsive design features they offer. But first, let us look at the three Visual Page Builders chosen for review here. Each has a unique and distinctively attractive characteristic.
Beaver Page Builder
Beaver Builder is a Page/Post/Widget Builder which delivers responsive page designs using a drag and drop editor. Beaver Builder works with its own theme but also any other WordPress theme. The distinctive feature of Beaver Builder is its template systems that allows users to import complete page/post designs for Pricing Tables, Portfolio Layout, ECommerce Landing page, plus 18 more designs. These templates can be easily edited and customized in the Beaver Builder editor. Users can change not just images and text, but layout, styling, and content.
For free, Beaver Builder Lite gives users a substantial chunk of plugins features. For $99/year, one gets Beaver Builder Plugin plus the premium modules and one year of support & updates plus use of Beaver Builder on unlimited sites. Those sites do not have to renew unless they want to use the latest Beaver Builder updated features. For $199/year, add the Beaver theme, WP MU support, and custom module creation API and support.
SiteOrgins Page/Post Builder
SiteOrgins Page Builder is a free plugin that sets the standard for all the WordPress premium Page Builders. SiteOrigins is misnamed because it is a Page/Post/Widget Builder that supports Live Frontend Editing. Thus you get WYSIWYG results while editing a Page, Widget or Post.It works with any theme but also has a collection of its own quirky themes which take advantage of its Page Builder. SiteOrigins works with Ultimate Shortcodes plugin to instantly add 55 more modules. SiteOrigins Page Builder is one of the best ways to get comfortable with the Visual Design revolution that is sweeping WordPress development.
Visual Composer is one of the pioneers in Page/Post/Custom Post Type Building. many of it UI innovations have been incorporated by other vendors. But with support for custom post types plus new Post & Media Grid and Slider components, and general Shortcode adapter, Visual Composer assures its position at the head of a very competititive market. At $28 per copy with unlimited future updates, multisite and responsive design support, templating Live frontend Post/page editing/creating – this is the Post/Page Builder plugin you have to consider for WordPress design and development work. The designer requires a computer with oomph – 8GB, Core I5, and 1600 x 750 or better screen.
The following table compares the key features of the “Page” Builders. Page is in quotes because unlike other Page Builders, all 3 of the reviewed tools support Post, Page, Widget and in the case of Visual Composer extensive CPT-Custom Post Types.
|Builder Feature||Beaver Builder||SiteOrigins||Visual Composer|
|WP Blocks editable||page, post, widget||page, post, widget||page, post, widget, CPT|
|Responsive Design Options||Depends largely on theme used||resize, stack, hide||resize, stack, hide,offset|
|Theme support||Any + own theme||Any + own theme||Any|
|Back/Frontend Editing||Live Edit/Create||Back, Live Edit||Back, Live Edit/Create|
|Element/Module Count||24 user modules||48 + 55 addons||46 + 100+ addons|
|Templates||Yes – 21||Yes – user created||Yes – 5 + user created|
|Drag & Drop options||copy, edit, move, delete||copy, edit, move, delete||copy, edit, move, delete|
|Row wrapper column splits||1,2,3,4,5,6||Multiple, drag column divider, no row resizing||1,2,3,4,5,6 no row resizing|
|Tabs, Accordion||Horiz, Vertical||From free add-ons||Horiz+Vertical, Vertical|
|Gallery,Grid||Post/General, Post/General||General, simple grid||Post/General, Superior Post/ Media|
|Image+ add-ons; captions simple animations||Post, Image, Carousel; layering, animations|
|CSS Styling||Box, Colors, Background, Border||Box, Colors, CSS Control, Background||Box, Colors, CSS Control, Background|
|Icons||No||Font awesome||5 libraries|
|Shortcode support||Simple||Yes||Yes + Adapter routine|
|Undo/Redo||Simple||History of revisions||Simple|
|Price||Free, Pro – $99 to $399||Free||$34|
As you can see from the chart all three tools cover the basic page layout with row/column insertion being at the core of the tools. SiteOrigins has the best tool for column design because users and just drag the dividers to where they want. Its History button for revision control echoes WP capabilities. Beaver Builder has the most templates but all 3 tools support template reuse. Visual Composer leads the way with the sophistication of its Post/Media Galleries, Grids and Sliders; though none of the tools has truly sophisticated animations and layering available from top end plugins like Media Grid or Meta Slider. All three tools provide good WooCommerce and eCommerce support.
So what is missing in the tools? Well table or grid support for forms and data are a continuing WordPress plugin gap here too. TablePress plugin is a start for data grids and the premium forms plugins from Gravity etc will help fill the forms needs. New sophisticated WordPress scrolling and popup or flyout UI components are not to be found either. But the biggest missing component is support for CSS3, Less/SCSS and fine-tune CSS editing. Users will have to look to Headway Themes for its outstanding Live CSS Styling Editor and get a great Visual Wireframe & Block Layout Editor in the bargain.
WordPress Designers and Developers have been brought kicking and screaming into the drag and drop WordPress Visual Design era over the last 3-5 years. See the wave of tools appearing on the market[this reviewer expects that no premium theme will be sold without a customizing Page Builder]. Yet, the same epithets shot at WordPress in the recent past are now hurled at Visual Design and Page/Post Builder tools: “Slow runtime performance due to bloated code!” “No artistic finesse and flexibility” . “Geared to the lowest common denominator Web developer lacking full stack developer skills.” “Appealing to esthetically crippled users who lack any design sense.”
Ignore all the nay sayers [unless you are of the GOP persuasion]. Download the free Beaver Builder and SiteOrigins plugins or splurge $28 on Visual Composer. Yes, I am suggesting that you will be very pleased that you did so.