There's no doubt about it. Getting a WordPress website to look exactly how you want can be difficult.
Plenty of advanced customization requires changes to theme files, editing source code or even the help of a professional designer. Sometimes, even small changes can be challenging and time-consuming if you're using a theme with a complex dashboard layout or simply don't know where to look to make the exact change you want.
This can be really frustrating and make using WordPress a troublesome experience.
But there is a way to create a well-designed WordPress site without having to write a line of code or search the backend admin panel far and wide for the change you want to make.
Use a free or premium drag-and-drop page builder or theme editor.
In this article, we'll review my top WordPress drag-and-drop page builders. But first, let's discuss exactly what a page builder is and how they can help anybody trying to build a beautiful WordPress website while staying code-free.
The choice of the top page builders is based on my personal research. There are more page builders for WordPress, but I tried to choose the most popular and used ones that seemed to bring users the most value. I've been designing WordPress websites since 2007, but since 2014 I've been using a WordPress page builder (one listed below) and it makes my work a lot easier. I no longer need a programmer to code my designs, as I'm able to create fully-functional websites myself.
What Are Page Builders
A WordPress page builder is a system (a WordPress plugin or a theme) which allows you to build your website using user-friendly drag-and-drop functionality. Instead of creating WordPress pages and posts manually, you can design and build them faster with a page builder.
Most page builders consist of sections, rows and modules. These modules have different functions and exist for every feature that you will need. For example, there are text modules, image modules and many others.
Some WordPress page builders even have a contact form module, so you do not need to use a contact form plugin. A contact form module is just an example. There are many more interesting ones!
For example, most page builders include a gallery, slider or CTA button modules. You even don't need to install any additional plugins to add these to your website. Most page builders have a video module, too, so you can display a video as the full-width background in certain sections of your website.
Why Are Page Builders Helpful
The functionality of a page builder sounds great, but why would you want to use one?
- Because they are so easy to use, it's a great way to build a beautiful website fast. You are able to build a complete website using a page builder in a fraction of the time it would take you to use traditional WordPress functionality.
- You don't need to mess with any code! That means you don't need to know programming or be highly technical to use them.
- There are many other people using them, so it is easy to seek help if you need assistance with something. There are, for example, Facebook groups in which you can find help really quickly. Or, there are many developers who use page builders as well and create premium extensions for them. They create child themes or layouts and then sell them so they're available to you as WordPress resources.
Now, let's go over my choice of the best page builders available to WordPress users.
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1. Visual Composer
If you are a fan of ThemeForest, Envato or CodeCanyon, you should be familiar with the Visual Composer plugin from WPBakery. It's being sold at the Envato's marketplace, CodeCanyon.net. You can use it with any WordPress theme and it is already included within most premium WordPress themes sold on ThemeForest.
The plugin features include an intuitive inline frontend editor, custom post type support, custom CSS support, social plugin support and many others. It is 100% WooCommerce compatible and compatible with Yoast SEO plugin as well.
It also includes a template library that you can use to save your layouts. This library is also regularly updated with premium templates.
A big advantage of Visual Composer is its price. Its license costs just $34. It is available at CodeCanyon.net. It is also the #1 selling plugin at CodeCanyon. It powers over 1.5 million websites and has 200,000+ direct sales.
2. Beaver Builder
Beaver Builder has also a lite version that is available for free at the WordPress plugin repository, but that one does not include all its features. I will discuss the premium version here.
Standard content modules of this plugin include typical modules like HTML, text editor, photo, audio, video, etc. You can use photos, set color or add a video to your background. It is also completely mobile-friendly and responsive.
Premium features include the following modules: sliders, pricing tables, map, social icons or contact form. You also get access to some nice pre-made layouts. You can save, export & import your layouts. And you can also build your own custom modules. This is a feature that other WordPress page builders don't have.
If you're a developer, read about Beaver Builder form a developers perspective.
Beaver Builder is available for purchase on their website for $99 (Standard license), $199 (Pro license) or $399 (Agency license).
3. Themify Builder
Themify Builder is another WordPress page builder on my list. It comes with over 40 professional pre-made layouts (and this list is growing). You can create beautiful landing pages using them in minutes.
The builder features both a backend and a frontend builder. It comes with all features typical for a page builder like copy & paste, import & export or undo & redo functionality.
An interesting feature of the Themify builder is that it includes over 60 animation effects. Those include bounce, flash, pulse, rubber band, shake, swing, tada, flip, light speed in, zoom in and others.
And you can also style your layouts with Google fonts (these are included), slider background, video background, parallax scrolling, color picker and row overlay.
You can purchase Themify Builder on their website Themify.me for $39 or for $59 (plugin + all builder addons).
There are also some addons available to the Themify builder that further extend its functionality. I will mention, for example, the Pricing Table addon that you can get for $10 extra. Or, you can buy all addons in one bundle for $39.
4. Divi Builder
The next one on my list is my favorite page builder, the Divi Builder. It is available as a package in a premium WordPress theme, the Divi theme. Or, you can also use it solely just like a plugin with any WordPress theme of your choice.
The Divi builder features a responsive visual builder, besides its backend page builder. So you can visually preview what you build almost instantly.
To be able to use it, you will need an Elegant Themes license, which is $89 yearly or you can purchase the $249 lifetime membership (one-time payment) on their website.
We already mentioned Beaver Builder in this list, but here's a nice comparison between Beaver Builder and Divi.
Last but not least, I will mention the Elementor page builder. It is the newest page builder on my list.
With Elementor you can customize the width and height of your sections, as well as you can resize your columns. You can also position the column to the center, top or bottom of a section. These are features that other page builders are missing by default.
It comes with some pre-made templates, too. You can save and export & import your layouts. And it is also possible to include 3rd party plugins and insert them into your widgets. You will then also by able to style these widgets.
Elementor comes with 400+ beautiful icons and 800+ Google fonts to choose from.
The cost of the Elementor's pro version is $49 for one site, $99 for 3 sites or $199 for the unlimited plan.
By the way, Elementor has a lot of add-ons to ease your work. For instance, CrocoBlock Suite, what allows you to edit your website quicker and with more functionality.
6. MotoPress Content Editor
MotoPress Content Editor is a popular freemium WordPress Page Builder plugin that actually pioneered the market with the frontend editing and the WYSIWYG we all know. It’s suitable for any WordPress theme and lets you create well-balanced and rich posts and pages visually.
I can name at least 3 main reasons why people choose this plugin: it comes with a lot of content modules you can add to pages and posts with drag and drop (graphics, galleries, slider, charts, tabs, etc), it doesn’t lock you in with shortcodes keeping your site content safe even if the plugin is deactivated, and its premium version is most affordable even for tiny budgets.
In addition to that, this WordPress site builder plugin offers a very intuitive and flexible interface for building rows and columns, a style builder for applying your custom styles without any coding, some pre-made page layouts, built-in emulators for testing the pages across all modern devices, full integration with WooCommerce and a bunch of unique extensions for different purposes (e.g. simple contact form, countdown timer, etc.) If you are looking for a ready-made design, there are also popular WordPress themes like Emmet with the MotoPress Content Editor built in.
The premium version will cost $29 for one website and $47 for 5 websites. The unlimited developer’s package is $139.
7. WP Page Builder
The thing I like the most about WP Page Builder is, it specialized on frontend editing which allows you to see the changes you have made live in front of your eyes. Unlike designing a page blindly in the backend, this way you’ll never get lost on what you are designing.
All the typical features of a page builder like copy/paste, undo/redo are present in this one. But one feature worth mentioning is, all the pages you have created using this page builder can easily be reused with export/import functionality.
The library of WP Page Builder allows you to save your work as many times as you want. Which means you can save a row, a set of addons or even the current state of your work any time you need without any limitation. This is a great feature that lets you use your work so that you don’t have to do the same task over and over again.
The readymade layout pack of this page builder will provide you with a lot of ready to use pages that will not require almost any touch. These packs come with more than one pages but if you need to use just one page from a pack, you can do so. By using these layout packs designing any web page will feel like plain as water.
The addon collection currently provides a very useful set of addons, these addons are designed to execute their specific set of task with perfection. Along with the addons, the predesigned blocks will help you to minimize your work. These are very rich in content and offers splendid design. With drag and drop feature you can use these blocks and see the addons in action.
The good news is WP Page Builder has a free version which will take care most of your works and it will always be available to download from WordPress.org Plugin Directory.
These page builders are the most popular choices among WordPress users today. I hope I have helped you to decide on the right one for you.
Page builders are here to help us make our work much easier, so why not take advantage of them and use them to speed up our workflow.
I would say that each one of these page builders basically does the same job. Only the design of the page builders' particular elements, controls, user experience and some details very slightly between them. Pick the one you think will work best for you or ask others for advice!
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Nick Adams is a web developer and Lead Happiness Buff at WP Buffs. Before working at WP Buffs, Nick had his own business, Revault Media. He is also one of the founding members of The WP Crowd podcast and blog. Nick recently moved to Rochester, NY and is a big fan of exploring Rochester and other cities.