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What To Look For In A PageBuilder

Page builders; they cause fierce debate between developers, designers, business owners and anyone else that has stumbled across them on their internet travels. Whatever your opinion of them, they are useful for many and can help speed up the site creation or allow beginners to actually create something half decent without looking like a Geo Cities website from the late 90's (you know who you are!). Luckily none including marquee scrolling text (yet).

What should you look for, though, in a page builder? The market is flooded from all in ones that do everything to page builders focused around specific niches and then page builders that eat your content if you don't stick with them.

 

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Picking a Page Builder

Before you can pick a page builder you need to decide on what you need from one. Specific requirements will vary from individual to individual, however, there are some common aspects that you may want to consider when searching for your dream page builder.

 

1. Community

How import is the community aspect of plugins and themes you use? Many of the popular premium WordPress themes, such as Genesis, X, and Avada all have strong and vibrant Facebook groups often community run with no direct input from the creators. As does Divi, a popular page builder from Elegant Themes.

Having a strong community is most important if you aren't confident of working on your own and figuring stuff out.

If you like to be able to approach a group of people experienced with using specific software, then you should make sure the page builder you decide to use has such a community behind it; whether that be owner ran forums, community run Facebook groups, etc.

 

2. Plugin or Theme?

While many don't consider it at first, a vital decision about the page builder you're using is if you want to go with a plugin or theme. Both have their negatives and positives. Often a theme with a built in page builder will restrict you to using that theme for life with next to no data portability. Whereas a plugin will give you the freedom to use any theme you want. Most of the time though page builder plugins have specific integrations with themes to ensure optimum compatibility out the box.

 

3. To Shortcode or not to Shortcode? That is the question.

Most, ok 99.9% of page builders use shortcodes to output content.

This is all fine until that moment when something new comes out, you switch to that fancy new theme, and your content is left as a pile of garbled shortcodes and incoherent drunk-ness. Luckily some awesome folks like the guys at ThemeFoundry who make Make (meta or what?) included a custom page builder in their theme that works using pure HTML. Meaning that, though you may lose some styling on a theme switch, you won't be left with a mess to clean up. The only downside? Make is currently only available as a theme and not a separate plugin for us all to enjoy 🙁

 

4. Live editing or admin editing?

Various page builders have very different interfaces. Namely either building the page/post in the admin side of your website. For example, until a recent release of Divi, everything was built on the admin side with no front-end live preview interface, though that did recently change with the release of the front-end live builder.

Like most things, there are pitfalls to both aspects.

Though not all, some front-end live previews/builders can provide a skewed look of what the website will look like due to stripping other output in the preview so the builder can work, but not on the actual live site causing differences. While on the other hand admin side builders can rapidly become annoying when you need to keep checking the draft live and refreshing after every save to get updates. Whichever way you go, make sure the interface suits you.

 

5. Eco-system?

The eco system of any page builder is most probably more important than you think. If a page builder is popular enough, there's usually a team of developers, designers and other talented folk toiling away building new elements, modules and add-ons for your favorite page builder. This brings in more features and means you can find developers and designers who are familiar with the page builder to help you out.

If, however, the page builder you are using is relatively niche, that'll prove to be more difficult, often relying on the developers who built the plugin/theme with little to no third party help being available.

 

Niche or mass market?

Do you really need a "specific" page builder? The answer is quite simply - no. No, you don't.

There are many specific page builders for things like landing pages. One such example being ThriveThemes. Any page builder should be capable of producing a landing page. Still got an annoying header and footer? Most page builders come with "blank" templates that remove both the header and footer. Ultimately by not going for a niche page builder you'll give yourself more options in the long run with building your website and tweaking it down the line.

 

Try it for free?

A large majority such as Site Origin, Beaver Builder, and others are available for free on WordPress.org. This will allow you to evaluate them before forking out your hard earned dollars. The best part being that, if you like them, the experience will only get better when you go Pro and have even more elements and features to play with!

 

Conclusion

Ultimately, this article isn't about which page builder you should use, rather about picking one that suits you. There are many page builders, too many to mention in one article without becoming a listicle (and who likes those?), but whichever page builder you go for with some sensible thinking and pre-planning of your site you should be on the road to a better page building future.

Jack Kitterhing is a WordPress developer from England. His love of WordPress began at age 11 when he set up his first blog. After a stint as WPMU DEV's Project and Quality Assurance Manager, he's now a Software Developer at Themeco.