There are countless page building plugins available out there for WordPress, and when it comes to us selecting which one to use for a site there are many factors that come into play before making a final decision. The main factor would be the level of the client’s technical ability and ensuring they’re able to use a page builders’ interface without a problem. A lot of WordPress themes often come with a page builder pre-built in which is great as it is both time and cost effective. However, these builders may not be the easiest to use for both the developer and the client. In which case we’d go out and search for a more reliable and user-friendly plugin that’s suitable for the job.
Two of the most commonly used page builder plugins, and ones that we would recommend, are the industry heavyweight “Visual Composer” by WP Bakery and “Divi Builder” from Elegant Themes. Both of these builders have excellent support and feature sets, but have their advantages and disadvantages which we will be looking through below:
The interface of a page builder can often be the sole reason why it is purchased. If we go to preview a page builder and notice straight off the bat that it is hard to navigate around and doesn’t catch our eye then we won’t use it.
Divi Builder’s module interface is brilliant, being both very well designed and easy on the eye. If there are areas of the builder that aren’t necessary for a specific site then they can be hidden, which is great for customer usability. Once a module has been selected for use we can start inputting content. This is another area where the Divi Builder is fantastic as the interface is very easy to navigate around and it provides clear labelling for every option – I’d go as far as saying it’s nearly perfect!
Divi has recently incorporated a front-end visual builder into their page builder to make in-page editing even easier, which can be a great asset if it gets more clients using it. I have tried using the front-end builder several times to see if it has any benefits over using the standard Divi editor and have not seen real reason to use it.
I personally found that when viewing a page on the front end the layout would look perfect, however, if I were to view the page in the front-end visual builder, the layout would look different to how it should do. If you were a novice using this method then you would struggle to use the front-end builder effectively. The save button is almost hidden and you practically have to search around the page for an area to edit or add modules too. The standard builder contains more than enough documentation and is also very powerful.
Whilst working on a project recently, I’d noticed that the capabilities of the gallery module in the Divi Builder wouldn’t give me all the functionality I needed it to. After searching around I found a solution which involved creating a custom Divi module. This workaround actually came from the Divi developers themselves and is a proven method of overriding the Builders’ own modules to extend their functionality. I ended up creating a custom gallery module, which changed the dimensions of the thumbnails to exactly what was needed – This meant that when the theme gets updated everything will work as intended with none of the files being changed and most likely overwritten by the update.
This is a huge advantage of using the Divi Builder as the developers have truly thought out ways in which the user can maximise their Builders’ potential. You can perform this override on any of the native Divi modules, which, as I stated before gives an amazing amount of flexibility when developing websites.
Visual Composer is without doubt the heavyweight of the visual editor world and for good reason. It’s so simple to navigate around and any change that you make is instantaneous, giving you an idea of what you can accomplish on the page. A separate Visual Composer-specific toolbar at the top of the page contains all the settings, saving, previews, etc. It could be argued that this editor is better use than the main Visual Composer editor!
As stated previously, Visual Composer has a great user interface and it could be argued that there is more functionality and layout options over Divi Builder, where you only get the option to choose the row layout in halves, thirds, quarters, etc. which is standard and easy to use.
However, in Visual Composer you get the option to have rows within rows. This means you have much more versatility when creating and designing page layout. If you were looking for more advanced design layouts, which are often needed for client designs, then Visual Composer’s page builder would be one of the recommended builders to use.
That being said, both Divi and Visual Composer have incredible layouts and each have their own advantages and disadvantages. Divi potentially has the more user-friendly interface whilst Visual Composer can offer more functionality if needed. Both builders have different modules and work in different ways, however the outcome is effectively the same. It generally comes down to user preference on which builder we would use, as both are very powerful, have plenty of features and are very intuitive to use.
I have had countless experiences with both Visual Composer and Divi Builder so in order to give a more personal view, I will share some details of my favourite encounters with them below.
As I have stated numerous times, they each have their own benefits however some areas shine above their rivals, like the Divi custom module section mentioned above. In my opinion, an example of an area that Visual Composer excels in would be visual usability. When I first started out as an Apprentice Web Developer here at Teapot I had no prior knowledge of using any sort of page builder. The first one I used turned out to be Visual Composer on my first site The Sugarcube Gallery which was a great place to start!
As you can see from the images above, the visual side is very simple and repetitive which was perfect for a beginner. I would never have thought about using the front-end editor as it would’ve been too complicated and unnecessary for what we I needed. However, now that my skills have increased and I’m very familiar with Visual Composer, I freely use the front end editor to move and re-organise content when needed.
Like Visual Composer, Divi has many areas in which it excels and a few have been mentioned above. An area that I have used multiple times would be the ability to create custom modules to override core functionality – an amazingly powerful tool.
Before finding out about the extra things that Divi could do, I attempted to achieve my goals by using a lot of workarounds and also a lot of CSS code, especially when creating something like an image hover. An example of the extra functionality that I incorporate with Divi on a regular basis would be external plugins which can give the Divi Builder more modules to work with and overall more versatility and power.
I have used a plugin called Image Intense on several occasions. This particular plugin offers a new module for Divi which allows you to insert an image, but customises it for rollover and hover effects. It saves me so much time by already having several effects to choose from and it even gives the options to customise the effects!
That is my view and experiences with two of the more common page builders used in WordPress, however I am sure that there are other ones out there that we are yet to discover!