The whole WordPress ecosystem has matured a lot in recent years, and with it came better-and-better plugins that sit on top of WordPress’ default editor, allowing you to easily design your site using drag-and-drop.
These days, unless you’re a developer, page builder plugins are a fantastic way to create advanced page designs on your WordPress website.
How drag-and-drop page builders work
Page builders can sometimes be considered glorified shortcode editors.
Let’s say you build a simple 2-column layout with text on the left and an image on the right:
What this translates two, when you switch back to the regular WP editor, is a series of nested shortcodes in that particular order:
So page builders are basically abstraction layers, allowing you to create very complex layouts in a simpler way, without having to work directly with code.
If you think about it, WordPress’ default editor does the same thing: it converts the text you write (with formatting, images & links) to HTML syntax for displaying in the browser.
Drag-and-drop page builders simply take this one step further.
Do you need to purchase and install a page builder separately?
It all depends on whether your WordPress theme already comes included with it. That’s why choosing the right WP theme from the start is important.
For example, my favorite theme, The7, not only includes both WPBakery Page Builder (aka Visual Composer) and Ultimate Addons, but it also extends its functionality with custom stuff:
So simply double-check if your existing WP theme already comes with some sort of page-builder. If not, consider switching to a better WP theme (see my WP theme recommendations), or just purchasing a page-builder separately and using that with your existing WP theme (if you’re happy with it).
Learn how to use it
Page builders are powerful beasts. If you look at their demos, you can see that they can be used to create some truly complex layouts.
But until you reach that stage, there is indeed a learning curve. You start by working with simple layouts at first, trying out their columns and basic elements, and then slowly work your way to more advanced elements and design options.
To learn more, simply track your page builder’s official website and look for documentation/tutorials. A few hours of learning and experimenting on your own site should get you up to speed. It’s really not all that complicated once you get the hang of it.
Here are a couple of most popular ones:
WPBakery Page Builder (known as “Visual Composer”)
Official WPBakery Page Builder tutorials: https://wpbakery.com/video-tutorials/
Other tutorials from WPTuts (YouTube Playlist): https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLTbrc9HXDstrx7j3-ORkLpyUidGpOj3WQ
Divi Page Builder
Official Divi Builder tutorial: https://www.elegantthemes.com/documentation/divi/visual-builder/
WP page builder comparisons online
In my experience, WPBakery Page Builder (aka Visual Composer) is the most powerful. I prefer it because I have a ton of experience with it and I know where to find all the options. If you’re a beginner, I think that Divi Page Builder is better designed and a bit easier to use.
But generally speaking, this only applies when you already have a WP site and are just looking for a standalone page-builder plugin. When building a new site, the first decision is choosing a really good WordPress theme (which most likely already includes a page-builder of some sort).
Here are some page builder comparisons if you need to do more research:
- The 7 Best WordPress Page Builder Plugins Compared 2018
- 5 Best Drag and Drop WordPress Page Builders Compared (2018)
- 5 Top Page Builder Plugins For WordPress: Drag & Drop Page Building Made Easy
- 11 Awesome WordPress Page Builders to Cut Out Coding
- 7 Great Page Builder Plugins For WordPress: Design Made Easy
- Top Five Best Visual Composer (WPBakery Page Builder for WordPress) Alternatives – Compared
If you already have a good WP theme which a baked-in page builder, learn how to use it. You’ll be able to create better page and post layouts to improve your site’s design.
If you’re just redesigning or building your first site, or if you know that your existing WP isn’t that good, you don’t need to consider switching to a stronger WP theme which already includes a good page builder plugin, like the ones I mentioned above. And then learn how to use it. :-)