Many people who find themselves wanting to build a website for the first time or a way to lower the cost of entry try to find the best WordPress page builder as a way to do it themselves. However, because there are literally dozens of page builders, it can be hard to find the best WordPress page builder per say.
While one option would be to invest in a premium WordPress theme, the advantage of which is that they often come with a couple of different variations but can be hard to customize. So, if you can’t tell the difference between CSS and HTML, then customizing themes can be a nightmare. That’s why most people end up stuck with what is, at best, a limiting theme that they have no idea how to update. Themes that are locked in have always been one of the main limitations of WordPress as a platform which page builders promise to rectify.
We get many people who ask, which are the leading WordPress page builders? To us, that’s a very difficult question to answer because it varies from one person to the next. It depends on your experience with using page builders, how comfortable you are with coding, and if you have the willingness to take the time out to work around the nuances of a WordPress page builder. However, as it turns out unlike the old days WordPress page builders are a dime a dozen, which can make finding one that works for you a little tricky.
So, instead of coming right out and telling you, which is the best WordPress page builder, we’ve gone through the top 5, in our opinion. To us, these are the best in terms of flexibility, ease of use, and design output. Make sure to read the description for each page builder and our opinion on who we think it is best for before making up your mind.
5 Best WordPress Page Builders
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How Do We Evaluate Each WordPress Builder for WordPress?
Now before we go into our opinion about each WordPress page builder, it is important to go into how we are evaluating each one. Our evaluation is based on the following:
How easy to use and feature-filled is the page builder’s interface? It goes without saying that there are quite a few WordPress page builders’ interface types. Some people prefer more clean interfaces while for others the drawer type interface is more efficient.
- Widgets or Templates are Included
The widget or elements as they are called available to build a WordPress page can help determine how good the page ends up looking or functions, so this is an important one to consider. However, there isn’t any single page builder that offers all the options in one neat package.
- Styling Options
How can the elements on the page be styled using the page builder? Obviously, the more, the better here. But if you have loads of features like some page builders, things can become very complex. So, there is no such thing as the best balance. That’s why mentioning this when talking about page builders is so important.
- Miscellaneous Features
What other unique or notable features does the WordPress page builder offer? All WordPress page builders want to stand out from the crowd, so they try bringing something different to the table.Knowing this means you understand their unique proposition to users.
- The Lock-in
Is everything locked in with that given page builder only? What happens when you uninstall or disable the plugin, does that mean that your page is sent to aesthetic hell? We all want a WordPress page builder that leaves behind clean code, but few ever do!
Launched originally in 2016, Elementor is one of the latest WordPress page builders to be added to our line up of the best. However, despite its comparatively late start Elementor racked up a whopping 3,000,000 installs, making it one of the most popular page builders around. That’s at least according to WordPress.org’s figures.
So, what’s so great about Elementor as a page builder? Well, for one, most people like the fact that it offers a glitch-free interface, numerous styling options, and theme building capabilities. So, a project that initially started as a page editor is now a full-blown drag and drop page builder in the form of Elementor Pro. The ‘Pro’ version is more than just a page builder; it is a theme builder!
Quick Glance at the Features:
Build a Theme, not a Page – This is one of the things we like best about Elementor. You can build an entire WordPress theme using the same interface, which includes footer, header, single post pages, archives, etc. There is also support for widgets like WooCommerce and custom post templates. Plus, there are dedicated page builder widgets for all the common elements and the option to insert content dynamically.
Popup Builder – Most people don’t know that they need a popup builder until they have one. You can include things like a popup opt-in email, log-in popup, contact form popup, etc.
To us, the above two additions to Elementor page builder make it stand out from the competition. However, we are seeing theme builders become more popular its fair to say that their offering like from other developers will evolve, but right now, Elementor is ahead of the pack as far as page builder features go.
The interface can be looked at as being two different parts of the same core with a third area, which we define as minor settings tweaks.
Live Preview – The first part of the page builder is being able to preview your design live. That way, you know exactly what visitors to the website are seeing. You can also type text directly into the interface and change the fonts in real-time to see how they will look.
A-List of Elements – The second part is a complete list of all the elements that can be used. You can just drag and then drop them where required. When an element is selected, that’s when you’re able to style it.
Responsiveness – The third part is arguably another important bit since you can see how the design will look in real-time on mobile devices. That way, you can make changes like, for instance, if the text box cut off or the header looks cropped on an iPhone, then it can be moved to the left or right slightly so that it is in full view.
Widgets and Templates Included
The free version of the WordPress page builder has just around 28 widgets. Plus, you have access to all the default WordPress widgets. However, the ‘Pro’ version is where you get 30 additional widgets. The pro version also gives you additional templates.
Speaking of templates, there are two types, i.e.:
Pages – These are complete WordPress page layouts which are obviously editable and customizable
Blocks – These are individual sections like CTAs, pricing boxes, etc.
Once you are happy with the layout, it can be saved as a template that can later be reused across other pages.
Elementor will give you three styling options when you click on any section or widget. The options will depend on the element in question. However, in our experience, these are the most styling options you’ll find in a WordPress page builder at the moment.
Apart from the basic settings like background, color, and topography you can also tweak aspects of your page like:
Padding and margins
- Add custom CSS classes. The ‘Pro’ version allows you to add direct CSS styling for each element.
- Responsiveness control of this page builder allows you to hide and show device-specific elements.
- We also like the custom positioning system, which allows you to place widgets in just about any part of your page with drag and drop ease.
Apart from all of the above we discussed, here are a couple of other things we like about Elementor Pro:
Easy Form Integration – You can connect the form widget using any popular email marketing service.
Global Widgets Feature – The feature allows you to reuse common elements across the entirety of your website easily. Also, all instances of those elements can be edited at the same time. So, one update to the color will change the colors across all the widgets.
Does Uninstalling it Break Your Site?
No, it does not! That’s a good thing because if you deactivate Elementor or decide to uninstall it, it does not break your website. You can also just switch to another page builder because Elementor leaves behind clean HTML code. Furthermore that means whatever theme you install next will pick up at least in terms of HTML from where Elementor left off.
Who is Elementor for?
Anyone who wants a complete WordPress page building plugin, that’s easy to use. However, while you can build a complete theme with it, and there is a wide selection of templates, advanced users with commercial intent may not find it useful.
You can’t build a template and reuse it across multiple websites. It is also not possible to sell the template you designed.
Thrive Architect is the second incarnation of what used to be called Thrive Content Builder. While a lot like its previous version, Thrive Architect builder plugins now sport an updated interface, which looks and feels a lot like Elementor.
While anyone can use the Thrive Architect page builder plugin, it appears as though it is slightly angled towards bloggers and those who build affiliate businesses. One reason for that is the builder’s focus on conversion related elements, of which there are many. Plus, the default styling is good right out of the box. Many people will happily stick with it after a couple of tweaks.
In our opinion, it can be hard to tell the difference between Thrive Architect’s interface apart from Elementor’s page builder plugin interface. Now in case, you were wondering, Elementor was the first to come up with this interface. But that does not mean that Thrive Architect’s interface is inferior, far from it actually.
The interface includes:
Live Preview – A live preview of the design, so you see how the page is being designed in real-time. Text can also be typed directly into the page. It is also possible to change colors, fonts, size of the text, and text boxes in real-time.
The Element Drawer – Located on the right of the screen, the page builder plugin has icons of all the elements you’ll need to design a page layout. Just drag the element or click on it. When an element is selected, you can still select it from the styling options on the right.
Responsive Previews – Once again, this is a leaf taken out of Elementor page builder responsive preview feature. This means that you can change things around so that they look good in mobile and tablet view. You can also hide certain elements for devices like mobile and tablets.
Breadcrumbs – Now, this feature is unique to Thrive Architect page builder. When you click on a nested element, you can see its entire layer. For instance, if you clicked on a picture, you’ll see that the picture is within a content box, and the content box is contained within the background. Breadcrumbs make it very easy to jump between nested elements on page templates.
Inline text editing – Thrive Architect’s implementation of inline editing is far smoother than that of any other page builder on our list.
Thrive Architect Widgets/Templates
Thrive Architect page builder comes bundled with around 40 various widgets, also referred to as elements. We especially love the marketing-centric ones like the countdown timer.
In addition to the dozens of templates that Thrive Architect packs along that come standard with the plugin, you also get the option to save your own. You also have the option of saving the layout as a template.
Element Styling Options
Thrive Architect handles styling very differently from Elementor and other page builders. Instead of tabs, everything is within a single column. Also, the styling is highly detailed, and the controls are responsive.
People who are more technically inclined can add their own custom CSS at a page level. However, CSS classes or unique IDs can be assigned to individual page elements.
Other Features Worth Mentioning
The Page Events feature is a very handy part of this WordPress page builder plugin. Marketers can use it to place a lightbox popup that’s triggered by certain actions. The other thing about Thrive Architect is that it is part of an ecosystem of other products. The plugin integrates very well with other products like:
Thrive Optimize – This plugin helps you run A/B testing via Thrive Architect
Thrive Leads – It allows you to integrate Thrive Leads’ opt-ins functionality into Thrive Architect easily.
Does Uninstalling Thrive Architect Break Your Site?
No, it does not. Thrive Architect leaves behind clean code.
Who is Thrive Architect for?
Thrive Architect is for the same audience for which Elementor is geared towards. However, it probably offers more value to affiliate marketers looking for marketing feature packed page builders. Bottom line, the preference boils down to user as to which they’ll choose, either Elementor or Thrive Architect.
Divi Builder was one of the first drag-and-drop popular WordPress page builders and has fortunately survived to this day. Elegant Themes developed the Divi theme, and the standalone builder plugin that can be used with other non-Divi themes. So, you have the option for page templates by Elegant Themes too.
The one standout feature that you get with Divi Builder and the WordPress theme iis the ability to use both the front and back end interface. Also, with the update to Divi 4.0 and possibly beyond, there is now support for full theme building, which puts it on par with rivals Beaver Builder and Elementor. Now people can design footers, headers, and templates for their landing pages.
Divi Builder Interface
Most people who want to use it will be comfortable using the frontend visual interface. However, the backend interface makes certain tasks easier. Sure, people reading this may not be fans of WordPress’s geeky looking backend, but it does serve some purposes, and it is always good to have that option. In our opinion the best page builder needs to have features for people who want to use it.
Divi Builder’s interface is made up of floating buttons and popups, unlike the drawer or sidebar type interface that Elementor and Thrive Architect offers. While this popup and floating buttons combo do look enticing, it does not improve or speed up the page building experience.
Fortunately, inline editing makes editing text on the front end easy. However, that option is also available on the backend but will require that you preview the page to see how things are turning out.
Widgets and Templates
Divi Builder comes bundled with a whopping 46 modules that can be used to build stunning WordPress page layouts with full control. However, for those who don’t have the time or the creativity Divi Builder gives them access to a huge database of 316 pre-built templates that are spread across 40 packs. Plus, you have the option to save your own layouts as templates too if you want to use them later.
Divi Builder Styling Options
Divi Builder is a popular WordPress builder because it allows you to style elements via a popup that you can pin to either side of the screen. We like the fact that Divi offers a myriad of styling options and control over how individual elements look. You can also control things like responsiveness, custom spacing, etc which is imperative for a modern page builder for WordPress.
Similar to the above-mentioned WordPress page builders, you also have the option to add CSS to both before and after the main element. The CSS editor is pretty slick owing to the fact that it has some basic autocomplete and validation content elements. So, you’re not coding in the dark. Plus, you can open a color picker directly from the editor.
We think that Divi Builder is, in fact, the future of WordPress page builders.
Build a theme – You can build a complete theme for a website using Divi Builder.
WordPress Customizer – Every element’s look and feel.
Pair it with a Divi Theme – You can easily pair it with a Divi Builder theme, which gives you complete control over the sites’ look and feel.
A/B Testing – Unlike Thrive Architect, you don’t need to buy a separate plugin for A/B testing a website because it is built into the core plugin.
Built-in UAC – User Access Controls built into Divi allows role-based access controls, which is one of the reasons why we’ve ranked it amongst the best WordPress page builders in terms of site security features.
Does Uninstalling Divi Builder Break Your Site?
Divi Builder is almost entirely shortcode based which has its fair share of drawbacks, one of which means that it leaves behind a bunch of shortcodes. However, you can use a plugin like Shortcode Cleaner to fix the issue. But still, you lose formatting like the <h3> tags, but the content will remain intact. So, yes, it will partially break your website. That’s why we may not consider it the best drag and drop builder as some other reviews may imply.
Who is Divi Builder for?
Divi Builder is one of the few WordPress page builders in our line up which is geared more towards agencies and people with some technical knowledge. If you intend to build themes for clients, then this is the best WordPress page builder out there. It also isn’t a plugin that offers the best drag and drop interface which once again means it is for advanced users.
Beaver Builder has been one of the leaders in the WordPress page building space for a while now evident from its active installs figures. One of the biggest selling points for this page builder is the fact that it outputs clean code, and happens to be a popular choice amongst seasoned internet marketers which is why it continues to be updated and talked about.
The website builder with WordPress’ functionality can be extended with a couple of add-ons officially by Beaver Builder, one of which is a theme builder and Themer extension features.
Beaver Builder Interface
Many people like us who have been using page builders for a while now will instantly spot the unique looking drag and drop interface offered by Beaver Builder. Most of the work is done via the sidebar located on the right of the screen similar to other builders. Though these options will only appear if you click on the button located in the top bar, which makes viewing your website in full screen at any time.
Inline text editing was recently added which is a welcome addition but they are late to the party so it is no longer amongst its unique features. It’s implementation isn’t also exactly smooth, so entering text directly into a text box for instance feels jittery.
Widgets and Templates
The free version of the plug-in gives users access to 6 of its 30 modules which are otherwise available with the premium version of this drag and drop page builder plugins. However, the standard WordPress widgets can still be used on any site. Furthermore the modules are modular that means they can be enabled and disabled whenever needed, like the email address module.
The premium version of the plugin also gives you access to around 56 templates, and the ability to save your own page layouts as templates to be reused on the site.
Beaver Builder Styling Options
- Styling using Beaver Builder is done in two ways:Use the popup window which is opened by default like themify builder.
- You can also pin that widow to the side of your screen which makes it easily accessible when building a site page.
How exactly you decide to use Beaver Builder is up to you, but we love the fact that it gives you some degree of freedom over the elements, spacing etc. Plus, the controls are all responsive so you don’t have to worry about how the page will look on mobile devices like some other builders. Furthermore, they recently added a unique toggle which allows you to show and hide modules which is based on if the person is logged in which is unique as far as page builder plugins go.
White Labelling – You can use Beaver Builder to build WordPress website for clients.
Beaver Builder Theme– While this is an optional plug-in, it does offer more control over how the website looks which is unique to this site builder plugin.
Even though the additional features are good, the fact that you have to pay more for them is a little disheartening especially when there are other builders offering it as part of the package. Plus unlike other best drag and drop page builders the additional page builder plugin can add a layer of complexity to the whole experience.
Does Uninstalling Beaver Builder Break Your Site?
No it does not! It leaves behind clean code with neat HTML formatting in place so the next theme builder or theme can take its place. However, in our experience once you start using Beaver Builder drag and drop builder, it is hard to switch over to anything else.
Who is Beaver Builder for?
It is for the advanced user, someone who is comfortable using CSS and editing code on their website. Also, someone who has used WordPress a great deal in the past. That said some advanced users will find this drag and drop builder to become overbearing with all the added plugins required. So, it can make building a WordPress website a lot more complex than it should be for most people.
Visual Composer is a totally different drag and drop builder plugin from what it used to be. In the past what was referred to as Visual Composer is now rebranded as WPBakery. So, in other words WPBakery is a totally different product and not to be confused with Visual Composer even though they are by the same team. We will discuss Visual Composer WordPress Website builder for this roundup.
Similar to Divi Builder, the WordPress website builder comes with both front and back end editing. Most people may choose to use the front end interface with a few people who are comfortable with WordPress’ bland backend choosing the latter.
Website page elements are inserted via the click of a button and customized via popups. Unlike Thrive Architect and Elementor there are no sidebar areas, and inline editing. Some people may like the fact that you need to preview how everything looks on the site while others may be turned off by the lack of inline editing.
Widgets and Templates
Visual Composer comes with 39 elements, and all the regular WordPress widgets that most people should already be familiar with on the interface. Even though 39 elements may not sound like a lot we assure you that it is more than enough to build a meaningful WordPress site layout.
You also get 86 templates for each website. Some of these templates are complete pages, others are sections like headers, and footers etc similar to themify builder. However, to get all the elements and templates you’ll need to connect with the Visual Composer hub.
Compared to the plug-ins we’ve talked about above, Visual Composer’s style options come across as limited. You still get access to custom spacing, parallax and shape dividers. However, you have some very fine-tuned control over the rows. On an individual level the use of the styling options are very limited for each element.
You can also choose to edit a page based on the user’s device. In addition to using a myriad of responsive options to preview you can also use sticky rows and columns as well as choose how they are stacked.
You can choose to use CSS to add custom CSS classes or a dedicated ID to each individual element. You can also add actual page level styles to a website. So, this may be worth considering for people who are comfortable coding.
The site builder does not have any standout features compared to the WordPress plugins we use and discussed above. However, the one selling point if you may is the massive third-party community which brings with it dozens of addons. You can also add dynamic content from custom and default fields. Over 250 plus add-ons is a significant figure, more than all of the ones we’ve reviewed and use above combined.
Does Uninstalling Beaver Builder Break Your Site?
Well the code left behind does not break your website but it certainly requires cleaning before you can use it. We are personally not fans of page builders that leave loads of shortcodes behind and Visual Composer fortunately not one of them. So, it does not break the frontend layout of a website in any way.
Who Should Use Visual Composer?
Visual Composer isn’t a site builder meant for a beginner, though beginners can learn to use it. However, it is for someone who has used WordPress in the past with various themes and are now looking to build their own site layout. The vast library of themes and plugins is more than enough to keep advanced users busy churning out creative layouts.
Frequently Asked Questions About WordPress Drag and Drop Page Builders
Q. Is Elementor The Best Page Builder?
No it isn’t the best site builder. But then again there is no one website builder for WordPress something we stated earlier in this roundup. Elementor will be the best choice for most people who are new to building WordPress sites and want a drag and drop interface though, followed closely behind Thrive Architect. But familiarize yourself with the limitations of each page builder before committing to one.
Q. How to Enable Page Builder in WordPress
Enabling a website builder WordPress page builder like Beaver Builder, Thrive Architect etc., is just like enabling any other plugin. You download from WordPress’ plugin archive to your site, and activate it. Then head over to create a new page, and you should see a button that says “Edit with Thrive Architect” or “Edit with Elementor” depending on what you’re using.
Q. What is the best free Page Builder for WordPress?
If you are looking for a free page builder or site builder, we think that Elementor offers the most features for its freebie offering. That’s followed closely behind by Visual Composer. However, if you determine that Elementor is right for you, make sure to upgrade so that you get more elements and themes.
As you have probably already figured out each type of WordPress page builder is meant for a certain type of person. So, there is no one size fits all recommendation here. That said the best WordPress page builder would be Elementor because there is a free version to try out, offers loads of options, is easy to use and leaves behind clean code to make it possible for people to experiment with it. In second place we’d recommend Thrive Architect, which does not have a free version, so there is no way of experimenting with it. Ideally, you’ll want to try out the free versions of all the WordPress page builders in this roundup and decide the best one for yourself. If you don’t have the time then start with our top rated page builder, 99% of the people reading this can’t go wrong with it.
Description: Want to find and use the best WordPress page builder for your website? We round up the best of the best in this showdown.