WordPress sells itself with its quick install and its reputation as being one of the easiest to use open source CMS (content management systems.) However, new users of WordPress quickly soon get frustrated with WordPress’s limited layout abilities compared to its leading fully hosted proprietary online competitors like Squarespace, WIX and Weebly. See if you don’t know how to code using CSS and PHP these proprietary systems can seem to be very attractive and semi easier to use then WordPress.
Most of these proprietary systems are great but compared to WordPress offer limited functionality and extensiblity, compared to the number of fantastically designed themes, plugins and widgets plus the ongoing support of a very active and powerful development community which you get with WordPress. The proprietary systems, to my mind, stand no chance of really competing against WordPress.
However, in one area, they do seem to effetely compete and to some extent out shine compared to WordPress this is in the area of offering easily to use and flexible page building layout tools. That allows none-coders to build pages.
However, over the past year we have seen a number of new WordPress page building plugins that are changing this situation.
I’m going to look at what I consider to be the leading five of these WordPress page building plugins.
Almost all these particular WordPress plugins will allow you to use them on almost all well coded WordPress themes from all the major WordPress themes shops.
SiteOrigin Price Free
SiteOrigin looks to be one of the best of the free WordPress page building plugins on the market, with a nicely developed interface that really balances the need of ease of use with power.
The plugin has been developed by Greg Priday who is based in Cape-Town South Africa. However with all free plugins you are facing some major questions connected to how long is this plugin going to be developed and supported and what level of support you are going to get? Greg answers these questions by offering the plugin for free but if you want professional support you have to pay for it. This seems to be an excellent arrangement i.e. you get the full power of the plugin but if you need additional good quality support above the excellent free forum support that is offed you can get it at a very fair price.
Watch this video and be impressed.
Visual Composer is one of the more established plugin in this area and is sold on Codecanyon for $28 which for what it can do is great value. They claim that its #1 best selling page builder plugin for WordPress with 100.000 sales.
I’ve personally have used this plugin a couple of times over the past year where I have taken over the maintenance of a website or been hired to finish of the development of a WordPress project.
One of it strengths is that it has a number of additional sub plugins that will increase it base functionality which are developed by third party develops. This means that it does have a quite large development community compared to other free or similar priced plugins and you also get ongoing support included in the price. Here’s a video that shows you how the basic core plugin works.
However, I personally found the interface and how the plugin works connected to layout to be a little bit fiddly and semi frustrating. However, one of the strengths of this particular plugin is that there’s a lot of good quality supporting documentation. But I think compared to some of its newer competitors it showing its age.
Themify Builder Price $39 plugin only
Themify Builder looks like a really nicely thought out very visual WordPress page builder from a company that been in business for over 4 years . The plugin is developed by a parent company Themify Me. which, is a small WordPress theme shop that produces some excellent WordPress themes.
It seem that you can buy the builder with either a purpose built theme or separate. How well the plugin on its own works with out’s Themify theme I personally cannot comment on. The main problem Themify Build has is from SiteOrigin, which seems to me to have a very similar functionality but is totally free. Here’s a video that shows you some of the key functionality of the plugin.
CobaltApps Price single site $89.00 plus you have to buy the Genesis framework $50
I was in two-minds to discuss this plugin being that you can only use it with the Genesis framework. However, Genesis framework from StudioPress. is extremely popular in the WordPress community so this plugin has become a big seller.
This is an extremely powerful but also semi complicated plugin with a lot of possible adjustments on offer. You also need to remember you are limited to using this plugin on themes that have been developed on top the Genesis’s framework which is produced by the very respected and popular theme shop StudioPress. If you have decided that you are going to be using only StudioPress’s Genesis and themes that have been designed and developed to work on this framework.
Slocum Themes Conductor Price one site $97
Matt was my first guest on my WordPress weekly podcast, WP-Tonic and is basically a really intelligent and great guy.
This plugin is really amazing. Just watch this video, which gives you an great insight into the power of this plugin. I truly feel that is one of the best new WordPress plugins of 2014.
I think this tool will be bought by a lot of WordPress professional designer and developer who are looking for a tool that will allow them to develop prototype websites very quickly without investing a large amount of time in the initial I’m thinking of buying the development version of this plugin. I really feel that the team at have to be congratulated at build such a powerful and will design WordPress plugin. Its just unfortunately that a initial marketing strategy was chosen which I feel damage the launch of this plugin.
I feel that all these plugins are great. However if I was starting-out and I was looking for a tool to just play around with. I probably look at SiteOrigin it’s free and it looks feature rich.
However, if you have more WordPress experience in the areas of basic development and are looking a flexible and very powerful page building and layout took I would give Conductor a go. However you like the look of the great Genesis framework. The CobaltApps offers real value and power.[gview file=”http://www.wp-tonic.info/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/WordPress-September-2014.pdf”]