Yesterday’s post was a highlight on WordPress page builders that I have developed with at some point or another. I want to dive a little bit deeper with each of those builders and first up is Page Builder by SiteOrigin.
Page Builder by SiteOrigin was the first true page builder plugin that I developed clients sites with. Before SiteOrigin I would use either custom fields within a custom template, custom HTML in the WYSIWYG, or using a plugin like Easy Foundation Shortcode to build a layout using at times an unwieldily amount of unreadable shortcodes. A client came to us with a request to have some sort of drag and drop builder on their site, so research began to meet the clients needs. To be honest, I don’t remember all of the page builder we were comparing at the time, I do however remember the reasons why we chose SiteOrigin then, and they are still compelling arguments today.
Page Builder by SiteOrigin is free to use, just download it from the WordPress repo or from their site and you’re good to go. SiteOrigin also has a free widgets bundle to help extend the main plugins options. They do have a premium add-on that at the time of this writing is $29. We found their premium options useful on a couple of sites, but because we were generally developing custom widgets with it usually found the free version sufficient. That brings me to my next point on why we chose SiteOrigin and that is the documentation.
SiteOrigin’s developer docs lay out a clear path to building your own custom widgets which was a must. Everything you needed to know about setting up your own library of custom widgets was laid out, easy enough to follow, and in a matter of no time we were up and running with a new tool in our toolkit. Now that’s not to say there wasn’t still a learning curve. The more we used and understood the builder, the better products we could build with it. While I believe it’s important to not pigeon hole yourself into one single way of developing, practice with a specific development tool over multiple projects can only make you better with it.
While SiteOrigin was a good start for us in the early stages of using page builders we eventually ran into some shortcomings and decided to move on to what we felt was a better option. I want to look at a few.
An issue that actually came later on was gutenberg support. We wanted a page builder that if need be could work in sync with the new editor. SiteOrigin can do that, but without a setting change it initially switches your site to using the Classic Editor. You can watch this video to see that in action.
The next reason for moving on from SiteOrigin was “Live Editing”. Enabeling a site owner to see exactly what they are laying out, as they interact with it is a must for some. SiteOrigin does offer this feature, but in a way that doesn’t feel as intuitive as others. Personally I don’t have a problem with the standard SiteOrigin form, but some of our clients did.
Would I Use It Again?
I’ve not built a site using this plugin in probably about 5 years. With that said, under the right circumstances I would have no problem in building or maintaining a site with SiteOrigin. I actually far prefer this builder to some (I may get into those in a later article). For now though it’s something I look back at as a useful tool, and a useful stepping stone.
If SiteOrigin looks like something you would want to try on your site go for it!