Before the block editor if you wanted to have any type of custom layout on a WordPress page your options were limited. You could write HTML in the WYSIWYG editor. You could use shortcodes for layout elements, or you could build a custom page template. All viable solutions within the correct context. For many though this way of developing pages wasn’t enough and drag and drop page builders become the norm for many projects. Some page builders have fallen out of development as a result of the block editor, some have continued business as usual. I do believe that those that stopped development of their page builders at the first mention of the block editor were a bit shortsighted as there is still a place for page builders and I think that there will be for some time to come.
I want to take a look at some of the page builders I currently use on projects and have used in the past. Which one you use will depend on your site needs and goals.
One of the points mentioned at the announcement of the gutenberg editor revolved around giving WordPress site creators a common editing experience. Many theme shops had their own preferred site builder, or had built there own. Owners could by a theme with beautiful template pictures and had a hard time replicating the look they thought they were buying. The editing structure from one site to the next could also be vastly different. The block editor in part was to give theme developers a common tool for building sites. This would in theory overall give site owners a better WordPress experience from site to site.
The advantage to using the block editor is it’s free. It comes default with WordPress and no license is needed. With the existing blocks, block patterns the block editor is a great option for building out pages in WordPress.
When it comes to traditional page builder options, Elementor has hands down become my favorite. Elementor comes in a free version that offers a limited experience but sufficient for many sites. It also offers levels of paid versions with a variety of features.
From a user perspective it’s very easy to use. From a developers perspective, the documentation is great and the ability to build custom widgets is very useful.
If you’re looking for a builder to use, this one is it.
At one point in the builder game, beaver builder was my go to. Like elementor it offers both free and paid versions. The documentation and developer tools are both great. This is a tool that if someone had a preference for, it would be an absolute great choice.
When divi first hit my radar I thought it was amazing. It’s by far one of the most, if not the most beautifully designed builders. With Divi though you typically have a better experience using the theme and builder combo vs the builders we’ve looked at previously which can generally be used on the theme of your choice.
I’m not sure if it’s just an over familiarity with it, but most of the time if I visit a website if it uses divi I can generally tell it right away. Unless a site owner/developer spends some quality time developing with it, its quickly recognizable. One of the reasons for this is recognition is it’s a popular builder and a lot of sites use it. Once you know what you’re looking at it’s easy to spot.
Divi is an extremely popular option. I’ve built a dozen or so sites with it, and you can come away with some great results. I do feel though that it has become a little bloated and lost a bit of performance over the years. I would use it again, but it wouldn’t be my first choice.
Early on in my WordPress career if a page needed a custom layout you would add a custom page template, and meta fields. This allowed a unique look, and a place for clients to edit the pages content without the need to know any code. Some developers I know did just straight up put custom HTML in place in the editor and while that can achieve the desired look, and in some cases is a viable option, it can tend to be a disservice to and cause pain points for clients wanting to edit their content themselves.
The company I was working for had a request to build them a site using a drag and drop builder so they could manage the template look themselves. After doing some research, we landed on using SiteOrigin. This is a simple, easy to approach page builder for both users and developers. The down side to it, depending on the view you have it in, you may not have a full visual editor experience when using it.
There are many page builders out there. I’ve only covered a few. Even though you can tell which I prefer I would use all of the builders I’ve listed above. I hope to do a deep dive into these builders in upcoming individual posts, so be on the look out for those.
So, which builder do you currently use? Let me know in the comments!