find the best wordpress builder

Find The Best WordPress Builder

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Last updated 1/1/2020

Some page builders are better than others. It is not just a matter of quality because once you get to the top tier, it is also a matter of what you need, want, and value.  In the post I am going to look at the 11 popular options, compare them across a set of characteristics and features, and try to make the choices clear. 

Holy PHP Batman, will reading about 11 page builders really help me choose?

Yeah, I know. It can be overwhelming.  There are thousands of online discussions comparing page builders.  I’ve identified the most common characteristics that are important in the decision and created an interactive filter to help you find the best WordPress page builder (for you).  These are the filters you can use:

License

WordPress is GPL and many people think that themes and plugins should also be GPL.  In the past couple of years, a few of the page builders have adopted a commercial “closed source” license.  The GPL is an end-user focused license that is more permissive.  Commercial licenses are developer-focused and more restrictive.  In both cases, the developer holds the copyright and end-users have to respect that, but with a GPL license the end-user has the right to modify the code for their own use, share it unchanged, or fork it if they want to redistribute their changes.  Commercial licenses, on the other hand, try to stop people from sharing the code so that the developer’s work is more protected.  Some people feel strongly that WordPress themes and plugins should be GPL.  Other people don’t care much.  Does the page builder have to be GPL?

Cost

People sometimes don’t have any money and those that can afford it would like to maximize the benefit and minimize the cost.  There are three pricing options out there:  free, lifetime licenses, and annual subscriptions.  Each of these options have their proponents and detractors who make cost a pivotal consideration.  There is also a fourth class of customer, those who are OK with any of those options up to a reasonable threshold.  The costs are shown for 1 site for 5 years and for 10 sites for 5 years.  When there was more than one purchase option, the cheapest one was chosen.  What are you willing to pay?

Use

All page builders only allow you to “build” in the content area.  Some also let you create headers and footers, or even create theme templates with the builder, overriding the theme without any PHP.  There are a lot of tools out there that do “theming” and people have their preferences and often piece together a solution from more than one.  However you look at it, though, theming functions add a huge amount of flexibility and freedom.  Do you need just a content builder, or also full theming?

Portability

As page builders began to gain traction, one concern that arose was content portability.  That is because some builders, when disabled, left the content mixed into a shortcode soup that had to be manually sorted and others keep the content in the database in areas other than the content area.  When you disable these, the content appears to be “gone.”  This seems to be a major consideration for some, but others don’t think it is a big deal.  Is it important to you to have the content cleanly present in the content area when the builder is disabled, or do you not care?

Purpose

Some people have more affinity to the design side of site building while others like to work more closely with “code.”  When it comes to page builders, that is mostly HTML, CSS and JavaScript.  Not surprisingly, some builders appeal more to designers and others to developers.  What’s your preference?

Community and 3rd Party Addons

A large user community means that it is sometimes easier to get help and lots of 3rd party addons means that it might be easier to find an existing solution that matches your needs.  On the flip side, 3rd party addons may introduce instability during update cycles and the need to purchase extra premium addons ups the cost.  How important is a large community and 3rd party addons?

Stability

No one want to deal with bugs and issues, but some have more tolerance than others.  If you need to test new releases on a staging or development site before updating, it can take a lot of time, especially for people caring for lots of sites.  Sometimes people juxtapose stability with new features, but there are some products that have regular releases and maintain stability.  In any event, is the product known for being stable?

WordPress Builder Comparison Matrix

GPL
License
Purchase
Option
Full
Theming
PortabilityDeveloper
Focused
Designer
Focused
Addons
Available
StabilityCost 1 Site
5 Years
Cost 10 Sites
5 Years
Beaver Builder + ThemerYSubscriptionYYYYY$836.40$836.40
Brizy FreeYFreeCYYFreeFree
Brizy ProLifetimeYYY$245$299 lifetime
Divi BuilderYLifetimeYYY$249 lifetime$249 lifetime
Elementor ProYSubscriptionYYYYYY$245$995
OxygenYLifetimeYYY$169 lifetime$169 lifetime
SiteOrigin FreeYFreeYYFreeFree
SiteOrigin ProYSubscriptionCYY$145$495
Themify Post Type BuilderYLifetimeCY$249 lifetime$249 lifetime
Thrive ArchitectLifetimeYYY$67$194
Elementor FreeYFreeYYYYFreeFree

C = content template only
Table by WebTNG



beaver builder
What is it: Beaver Builder is a WordPress page builder. You can create templates for Custom Post Types with the Beaver Themer addon.

Visit Beaver Builder Site

Beaver Builder


Beaver Builder is a popular page builder and one of the first stand-alone builders that did not use shortcodes for laying out content. There is a lite version in the WordPress plugin directory, but it is so limited that it cannot be considered in a discussion of “best” builders. The premium version, however, has a robust feature set and is known for its stability.

The Beaver Builder Team decided to add support for theming with a separate plugin. The Beaver Themer plugin adds full theming options allowing you to connect modules in your template to fields in your Custom Post Types.  You can create templates, headers and footers and set the conditions for use.  The header and footer features work with themes that have added support for Themer. Beaver Themer officially supports ACF, Pods, and Toolset.

Pros: Beaver Buider is easy to use and includes conditional logic features. The plugin is GPL, there is good support and an active community. Beaver tools are oft cited for their stability, which is a boon for those offering care plans.

Cons: Themer is an add-on to Beaver Builder, which means it is an additional purchase. Beaver Builder has a slow development cycle so new features are not released as often as they are for other plugins in this space. The product is under marketed.

Additional Information: The Beaver Builder team has said that they are focusing on the site developer community and agencies, as opposed to single users or designers.

Meta Box and Pods both have free companion plugins for use with Beaver Themer to make picking custom fields easier.

One Site for 5 Years: Beaver Builder Standard ($99 first year and $59.40 each year after) + Beaver Themer ($147 first year and $88.20 each year after) = $836.40

Ten Sites for 5 Years: Beaver Builder Standard ($99 first year and $59.40 each year after) + Beaver Themer ($147 first year and $88.20 each year after) = $836.40


brizy free
What is it: Brizy Free is a WordPress page builder with a robust set of blocks making it a viable option for content creation.

Visit Brizy Free Site

Brizy Free


Brizy is a new page builder that is easy to use and has a design focus. The user interface has some unique features and innovations. For example, global styles, inline editing, and advanced image options provides more control and faster building. Brizy includes a library of pre-designed blocks.

Usually reserved for premium versions, Brizy’s free version allows you to create content templates for posts and pages. It also allows you to create headers and footers. These theming features work with all standard WordPress themes.

Pros: Brizy Free is the only free page builder that allows you to create content templates for posts and pages (but not CPTs). It also allows you to create headers and footers.

Cons: Brizy is under active development and the frequent releases sometimes introduce instabilities. There are a few odd defaults, such as always starting with two columns and the default template that removes the header and footer.

Additional Information: While the Brizy builder is fairly new, Theme Fuse, the team behind it, has been around for a long time and also created the Unyson framework.

Free


brizy pro
What is it: Brizy Pro is a page builder that includes the ability to create theme templates.

Visit Brizy Pro Site

Brizy Pro


Brizy Pro is a new WordPress page builder from the team behind ThemeFuse themes. It is planned that Brizy Pro will have the ability to create templates for CPT single and archive displays.  The Brizy Pro “dynamic data” functionality includes support for ACF, Meta Box, Pods, and Toolset.

Pros: Brizy Pro is easy to use and there is an active Facebook community. Members of the Brizy team are active on social media and support is responsive (if the issue is one they can help with).

Cons: Active development of core features is still ongoing. They released some dynamic data functionality last September, but the dynamic data and templating functionality in Brizy Pro is currently incomplete and works inconsistently. The API for third party addons hasn't been released yet, so there isn't any ecosystem to fill in the gaps. The rendered code is very verbose and not as clean as some of the other options.

Additional Information: There is a $299 lifetime option which will eventually be discontinued. The license type for the Pro version is not yet known.

Not recommended for use on production sites at this time.

One Site for 5 Years: Brizy Pro Single Site Subscription ($49 a year) = $245

Ten Sites for 5 Years: Brizy Pro Lifetime = $299


divi builder
What is it: The Divi Builder is a page builder for the content area of your website. It now also has the ability to create theme templates.

Visit Divi Builder Site

Divi Builder


The Divi Builder is one of the first page builders. It is integrated with the Divi and Extra themes or available as a stand-alone plugin. In addition to an annual subscription model, Divi is also available as a lifetime purchase.

Divi started out as a back-end builder and later they added a front-end editor as well. The separate Divi Builder plugin was created as a counter to claims that using the Divi theme, with the built-in builder, resulted in theme lock in. Using the plugin, users can switch themes without losing content.

Divi added a Theme Builder component late 2019 which provides the ability to create the full range of theme templates, including headers and footers.

I have a walk-through and video on using the new Divi Theme Builder for creating single and archive templates.

Pros: Divi is the flagship product from Element Themes and even after a number of years is still under active development with frequent new features. Layout packs for Divi are released at an impressive rate of twice a week. Divi is GPL licensed.

Cons: When disabled, the Divi Builder leaves behind a bunch of shortcodes intermixed with the content. This needs to be cleaned out if discontinuing use of the builder. Also, Divi is one of the builders that adds a lot of extra HTML elements to support the builder features, which is not clean and performant as some of the other options.

The front-end editor allows for in-place editing but the interface is somewhat confusing. You will need to use another tool for creating the CPTs and custom fields. While you can create archives for CPTs, the ability to use custom fields in archives isn't currently available.

Additional Information: Divi is very popular and has several large community groups on Facebook.

Divi has the ability to use dynamic data for custom fields and "theming" features. You can use the builder with CPTs. Divi has frequent updates which sometimes require attention. There is a lifetime unlimited plan available for $249.

One Site for 5 Years: Elegant Themes Lifetime = $249

Ten Sites for 5 Years: Elegant Themes Lifetime = $249


elementor free
What is it: The free version of the Elementor page builder has a large number of content widgets and can be used to build in the content area.

Visit Elementor Free Site

Elementor Free


The free version of the Elementor page builder includes an impressive number of widgets and is used on more than 2 million websites.  Additionally, there are a large number of addons for Elementor, many of which work with the free version.

Elementor is often cited as one of the easier builders for new comers to pick up.  It has a design focus and a large number of feature for enhancing the front-end.  The free version comes with more than 100 full page templates and more than 300 pre-designed blocks.  Small built-in features, like maintenance mode and the ability to set the front-end of the site to a coming soon page are additional touches.

Pros: The Elementor page builder has a huge community and there are a large number of third party addons that can be used with the free version, which extends its functionality.

Cons: The frequent release of new features sometimes introduces instabilities, if not in the builder itself, then in addons.

Additional Information: Elementor is aggressively marketed and new features are frequently released.

The free version of Elementor does not have any support for CPTs or theming. You would need to use the Pro version for those features.

Free


elementor pro
What is it: Elementor Pro is a WordPress page builder that includes the ability to create templates for Custom Post Types.

Visit Elementor Pro Site

Elementor Pro


Elementor is the most popular WordPress page builder, having more than 3 million users.  There is a free version and a premium Pro version.  Early 2019 Elementor Pro added support for creating theme templates that work with standard and Custom Post Types.

The theming features are easy to use and built in to the Pro plugin.  The widgets from Elementor allow you to connect fields in your template to fields in your Custom Post Types.  You can create templates, headers and footers and set the conditions for use.  The theming features work with all themes.

Elementor Pro officially supports ACF, Pods, and Toolset.

I have a walk-through and video on using Elementor Pro to create single and archive templates.

Pros: You can use Elementor Pro to create templates for built in post types, CPTs, create template parts, headers, footers, and custom 404 pages. The Elementor Pro theme template building features are easy to use and the support for dynamic content is good. It gets updates and new features regularly and has a huge community. Elementor Pro is GPL licensed.

Cons: Elementor Pro does not have support for conditional logic and display (other than for device types). It is not possible to use custom fields in archive templates. There are a number of 3rd party solutions to fill in these gaps.

Elementor is one of the builders that adds a lot of extra HTML elements to support the builder features, such as the advanced animations and style options. This results in page output which is not as clean and performant as some of the other options.

Additional Information: The lack of conditional logic reinforces my impression that Elementor targets the designer community more than the developer community. Meta Box has an extension for using Meta Box fields with Elementor Pro. The unlimited site license is $199 a year.

One Site for 5 Years: Personal License ($49 a year) $245

Ten Sites for 5 Years: 1,000 Sites License ($199 a year) $995


oxygen
What is it: Oxygen is a WordPress plugin that includes a page builder and theme template builder.

Visit Oxygen Site

Oxygen


Oxygen is a somewhat unique combination of theme template builder and page builder that takes over and replaces the theme.  The template building features have support for ACF and Toolset.  Of all of the plugins in the builder class, Oxygen is one of the most developer focused and includes a code block for custom PHP and a PHP callback function for working with advanced field types.  It has a loop builder and Gutenberg block builder.

I created a post about Oxygen if you are interested in it.

Pros: The template building features work well and are easy to use. Oxygen is actively developed, has a very active Facebook community, and good documentation. The builder is very flexible and it is possible to include custom fields in archive templates. Oxygen is GPL licensed.

Of all of the builders considered here, Oxygen is known for outputting straight HTML without a lot of the extra DIV elements that other builders use to support animations and more elaborate designs. Sights created with Oxygen generally score well on the various speed tests.

Cons: Requires more knowledge of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript than other page builders. Uses shortcodes when used for creating content, but not when creating templates. You will need another tool for creating CPTs.

Additional Information: Working with Oxygen is different than working with a theme and some builder / themer plugin. If you choose it as your themer option then I'd recommend ACF for simpler projects and Toolset for medium to complex ones. The plugin is currently priced at $169 as a lifetime one time purchase.

One Site for 5 Years: Lifetime = $169

Ten Sites for 5 Years: Lifetime = $169


siteorigin free
What is it: The free version of the SiteOrigin page builder can be used to build in the content area.

Visit SiteOrigin Free Site

SiteOrigin Free


The SiteOrigin Page Builder is a free page builder that is available in the WordPress plugin directory.  It has more than a million installs, is actively developed, and is well reviewed by users. SiteOrigin makes a free widget addon package, also available in the directory, which is pretty much required to round out the features.  The builder can be used to edit the content area of posts, pages, and CPTs.  The free version has no templating features.

It is a back-end builder, though there is a  live preview option to see the content while you are working.  When working in live preview mode and adjusting the styling, the content is covered behind the slide out settings panel, so some of the value of that mode is lost.  It is very easy to add rows and columns and to adjust them.

There are a modest number of pre-designed pages, or layouts, that you can install from within the builder and a few third party widget packs to add new content display options.  It works with all themes.

Pros: The SiteOrigin page builder is a stable and mature plugin. It is well supported. Most WordPress widgets can be used with it.

Cons: This builder uses shortcodes which are left in the content area when the plugin is disabled. The SiteOrigin builder was one of the first builders in the WordPress directory and its widget architecture seems dated.

Additional Information: I found the SiteOrigin builder to be unintuitive and somewhat clumsy to use. There is an option to start new posts using the Classic Editor, but as soon as it is saved it reverts to Gutenberg, which was a surprise. This is easily fixed by installing the Classic Editor plugin.

Free


siteorigin premium
What is it: The premium version of the SiteOrigin page builder adds additional content widgets and a Custom Post Type Builder.

Visit SiteOrigin Premium Site

SiteOrigin Premium


SiteOrigin Premium is an addon to the free builder that adds 16 more widgets and a Custom Post Type Builder.  The CPT Builder not only allows you to create templates for CPTs, but also to create them from scratch.  Instead of adding custom fields of different types, as with most CPT plugins, you instead drag and drop widgets into the template for CPT.  This template is then used when creating CPT posts and cannot be altered, though you can add additional content widgets on the fly to individual entries.  This is a novel approach that seems to work well.

It is a back-end builder, though there is a  live preview option to see the content while you are working.  When working in live preview mode and adjusting the styling, the content is covered behind the slide out settings panel, so some of the value of that mode is lost.  It is very easy to add rows and columns and to adjust them.

Like the free version, SiteOrigin Premium is only used with the content area and there are no options to create headers and footers.  Oddly, the premium version does not include addition pre-built layouts.

Pros: The pricing is very reasonable and is the lowest cost premium builder. It is a stable and mature plugin.

Cons: This builder uses shortcodes which are left in the content area when the plugin is disabled. The SiteOrigin builder was one of the first builders in the WordPress directory and its widget architecture seems dated.

Additional Information: I found the SiteOrigin builder to be unintuitive and somewhat clumsy to use.

One Site for 5 Years: Single Site License ($29 a year) = $145

Ten Sites for 5 Years: Developer License ($99 a year) = $495


themify builder
What is it: The Themify Builder allows you to use the builder in the content area.

Visit Themify Builder Site

Themify Builder


The Themify Builder comes bundled with Themify themes and is also available as a stand-alone plugin.  It can be used on either the back-end or front-end. The front-editing is very fast and responsive. It is relatively easy to use.

The builder is for creating content for the content area.  There are a number of addons from Themify for advanced content options.  Although it does not have “theming” features, but you can save template parts for reuse.  There is a large library of pre-designed content. It works with regular post and pages as well as with CPTs.

Pros: The Themify Builder is relatively easy to use.

Cons: Instabilities on the release of new versions is common. There is no support for dynamic data.

Additional Information: The Themify builder uses the GPL license. and is available both as a subscription or as a one-time lifetime all-inclusive purchase.

One Site for 5 Years: Lifetime Club = $249

Ten Sites for 5 Years: Lifetime Club = $249


thrive architect
What is it: Thrive Architect is a builder for the content area.

Visit Thrive Architect Site

Thrive Architect


The Thrive Architect page builder, like all of the Thrive Themes products, is marketing focused, and a number of the included modules are geared towards increasing user engagement and conversion.  It has a very impressive number of integrations with third party services.

The builder is a front-end builder that is easy to use and supports inline content editing.  It supports global styles and works with all themes.  Thrive Architect comes with a large number of pre-designed templates and landing pages.

Thrive Architect is a builder for the content area of your posts and pages and does not have any “theming” features.

Pros: The builder is very easy to use and has a strong marketing / conversion focus. Support is very good.

Cons: The lack of a third party ecosystem of addons limits the functionality.

Additional Information: Thrive Architect uses a closed source commercial license.

One Site for 5 Years: Single License Lifetime = $67

Ten Sites for 5 Years: Five Site License (x2) = $194


 

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