3 WordPress Page Builder Plugins for Constructing Unique-Looking Pages

WordPress Pages rock. Don’t get me wrong — Posts are cool too. But to me, Pages are the heart and soul of “WordPress as a CMS.”

For most people, unless you’re dealing with post formats, Posts are going to be pretty much all alike. Of course the content may make them different, but when you boil it down, they’re usually going to be fairly similar. And that’s the way it should be.

For Posts, there should probably be some sort of predictability. You don’t want to make your visitors constantly reorient themselves when they’re reading through your posts.

Pages, on the other hand, perform such a wide variety of duties that having them all look the same is probably passing on an opportunity to make them as effective as possible.

And so in this post we’re going to go over three free “page builder” plugins that can help you “construct” unique-looking pages.

Making unique-looking pages requires a little hammering and sawing.
Making unique-looking pages requires a little hammering and sawing.

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1. Siteorigin Panels Page Builder

The Siteorigin Panels Page Builder adds a new “Page Builder” tab on your editor (top right). From there you can add columns, add widgets (this is how you insert content), or insert a pre-built template. It is responsive.

siteorigin-editor

As mentioned, the only way to add content is via widgets. Clicking on the widget button in the upper-left will bring up a light box with all the widgets you have on your site.

siteorigin-widgets

Clicking on the row/column button will let you add rows for content and divide the rows into however many columns you like. You can also move the position of the rows around by dragging and dropping, and you can drag the widths of the columns to make them larger or smaller.

In the example below, I’ve dragged the first column to be just over 25%.

siteorigin-drag-columns

Here’s a quick page I made up. The first row has two columns – one with an image and the other with a text box. On the second column, I’ve inserted a YouTube video with the video widget that comes built-in.

siteorigin-displayed

Here’s an overview video of plugin in action from the plugin author.

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2. Aqua Page Builder

The Aqua Page Builder lets you create content areas for your pages by dragging and dropping building blocks into a backend template section. Templates can then be placed into a page by inserting the automatically created shortcode or by using the “Add Template” button that appears on the visual editor.

Blocks in the page builder can be moved around at will and also resized by dragging. Here’s a look at the settings page where templates are built.

aqua-page-builder-settings

As you can see, there aren’t many default blocks that can be used for building. (Note: While the widget block seems promising, it simply brings in whatever widgets are already in place on widget areas on your site. It doesn’t allow you to choose and use individual widgets.) More blocks are available with a few certain themes that have specially built blocks, and you can make your own blocks by following instructions provided by the plugin author. Building blocks requires rather involved code, however, and so it isn’t really meant for the average users.

Here’s a quick page I built with the plugin. Because of the lack of building blocks, there’s isn’t really a lot you can put together in an easy way.

aqua-page-builder-displayed

One nice aspect about this page builder is that because templates are inserted with shortcodes, other content can be placed into a Page in the normal way via the editor, and then the template can be added to that.

3. Plug & Edit JavaScript Visual Editor

The Plug & Edit JavaScript Visual Editor is a different animal from the other two plugins here. In fact, it’s something of a different animal from most things you see connected to WordPress.

Essentially, it provides an HTML Visual Editor with drag and drop capabilities. You drag and drop both images and text boxes, with the added ability to do things such as layer one image on top of another or layer text on top of an image.

Perhaps the easiest way to get an idea of how this plugin works is to look at a video provided by the plugin author.

The user interface is somewhat messy looking, and that might be a turn off for many from the beginning. That said, in the right hands, because of the ability to layer elements, the results could be interesting. In the wrong hands, however, things could get ugly fast.

Here’s a static look at the P&E work area when you first get it going.

p-and-e-work-area

And here’s a look at a page in the middle of being built (taken from the plugin page).

p-and-e-building

This plugin come with over 600 Google fonts, and it also lets you build HTML pages that reside outside of your site’s WordPress structure. While it’s not for everyone, and as mentioned, seems like something quite different for WordPress, it does appear to offer a lot of control over the look of the page you build.

Which Should You Pick

Unless you have an immediate connection with the Plug & Edit plugin, the Siteorigin Panels Page Builder seems like the clear winner here. It’s one drawback seems to be that you can’t insert content in the regular editor AND use the “Page Builder” at the same time, but whatever effects you could achieve with a regular editor you can achieve with the “Page Builder” as well. (*Edit – seems it can do that; see comments)

There were a few more page builder plugins out there, but for one reason or another, they weren’t completely working for me. If you happen to know of other free options that you’ve had success with, let us know in the comments.

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Photo credit: Jordanhill School D&T Dept

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Comments (25)

  1. i use WPBakery Visual Composer. I like SiteOrigin because you can manually adjust column widths but it doesn’t offer a very good visual feel for whats in each cell. Visual Composer does a better job of this. I can see better how the page looks. The column width adjustment would be nice in visual composer but for now I have to do it the hard way and create a custom class in my CSS if I want to adjust it. They’re both good…tough choice.

  2. @imfastrnu2, I too use Visual Composer. I’ve never heard of the others listed above until now. Oh well, that’s why wpmu.org is around I guess…to educate us on cool schtuff!

      • Ovidiu, yes, the first MotoPress version works only with themes made specially for the plugin, but the further one will suit to all WordPress themes. The next MotoPress version is a drag and drop content editor, which will be available in a month.

  3. I tested and purchased what I thought was a great, easy, fast page builder called “GoGet Builder” from CodeCanyon. The next day the plugin, its website and anything else I could find about it simply vanished from the Internet. Also like “Content Builder” from CodeCanyon because it is simple and fast, but there are limited components (no accordion) and no template options. Tried “SiteOrigin” but thought it could not show actual content, but will try it again after seeing above comment.

    I am looking for a page builder that would be very easy to use and visual for non-technical business owners who want to learn to add content to their own sites. Some page builders have template options which is great because I can build in template options. The page builder should show content in the columns, not just a widget label.

    But my main question is this—if I incorporate or recommend a page builder plugin for client and student sites, what happens in the future if they want to change to another page builder, or if the plugin is not supported? Is not the code generated completely specific to the plugin? If I create 100 pages in specific page builder plugin, must I recreate every page if I switch page builders, or even worse, switch back to the WordPress Visual Editor?

  4. I have tried several payed pagebuilders / contentbuilders… But they where not succesfull on my website
    I have tried Siteorigin Panels Page Builder and I already know after 10 minutes use this is for me the most elegant page builder without strange sideeffects on my website !!

  5. I decided to use SiteOrigin Page Builder, but found out it’s not compatible with the theme due to the lack of media queries. (smartphone in portrait mode) Is there any page-builder-plugin with built in media-query support?

    • Page Builder is responsive. To prevent it from being incompatible with non-responsive themes, unless the theme specifically states it’s responsive, you need to manually enable it.

      Just navigate to Settings > Page Builder and make sure the “Responsive” setting is enabled.

  6. Thanks for writing this. I do a lot of responsive WordPress design for clients and one thing I’ve struggled with is finding a good way to make columns. Shortcodes are not user friendly. Another column builder I found is good, but too volatile. Visual Composer just wasn’t that easy to use (when I tried it). I’ll be taking a look at Page Builder. Hoping for the best!

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