WordPress powers more than 20% of the sites on the web. Yet, there are no such real drag and drop builder for WordPress to publish pages with different layouts. It is difficult for people without coding knowledge to create customized page layouts. Most of the time, site owners rely on web developers to do this simple task. Premium drag and drop plugins like Visual Composer will cost you $45 which is costly and not affordable for many. Fortunately there are free plugins like Page Builder by SiteOrigin that can help to speed up the page building process.
Page Builder by SiteOrigin
Page Builder by SiteOrigin is one of the free WordPress plugins that allow website administrators to do various tasks, such as creating layout templates or breaking out the page into responsive columns. The plugin comes with drag and drop functionality that makes it easy to create complicated page layouts.
The Page Builder plugin comes with two parts – one is the page builder and other is bundled widgets. You need to install two separate plugins on your site to create custom drag and drop page layouts.
There are more than one million active sites using SiteOrigin Page Builder plugin. Besides the free plugins, you can purchase additional premium add-on bundle for $29.
Plugin User Interface
When you activate the Page Builder plugin, a new tab “Page Builder” appears on the WordPress editor interface. Click on the tab will allow users to add widgets, rows and pre-built layouts.
Creation of Grid Layouts
Page Builder plugin uses rows as the actual foundation of the layout. You can divide each row into multiple columns. Click on the edit row icon to customize the background color of the rows. The interface also allows you to change the row width easily and choose predefined column ratios.
After adjusting columns in the row, you can determine the appearance of the individual cells and rows. It is possible to add as many rows, depending on the design requirements. You can add custom CSS to any of the element of SiteOrigin Page Builder.
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Using Predefined Layouts
Creating custom layouts on your own needs lot of time. You can simply use one of the predefined layouts offered by the plugin. Click on the “Layouts” button to preview the list of layouts. You can choose any of the layouts, preview online with dummy content and then inert to use for your content.
Page Builder by SiteOrigin plugin comes with a good selection of pre-built design. As an example, if you want to create simple pages, such as Contact Us, About Us or product introduction, these pre-built layouts should work quite well. After importing a layout, you can use the back-end interface to edit it. A pre-built layout is usually consist of widget, rows and columns. It is easy to incorporate relevant images into the imported pre-built layout.
The plugin also allows importing or exporting the layouts and cloning the existing post and page layouts.
The site builder concept allows you to drag and drop widgets on the required area of the page content. Widgets are typically blocks of content like audio, gallery, slider, etc. Choose a column in a row and then click on the “Add Widget” button. You can choose any element to add to the existing page layout. Once you add a widget, you can customize its functions and appearance.
Page Builder by SiteOrigin allows both custom widgets as well the default WordPress widgets. The bundled widget plugin comes with 20+ custom widgets like tabs, price table, Google maps, contact form, etc. You can activate only the needed widgets for your site.
Live Editor Mode
With Live Editor, you will know how the page would look like when after publishing. It’s a good preview of your work and the side panel allows you to make necessary changes, although it may not be as interactive as more premium page building solutions. Page Builder doesn’t allow you to directly control the content. Instead, a pop-up window will show containing controls for making edits.
Today, it is more likely for people to access websites from their mobile devices. The Live Editor mode comes with a mobile preview features. You can have an idea on how mobile users read and experience your content. In most cases, pages you create using this plugin will appear equally well on both desktop and mobile devices.
Theme Compatibility and Add-ons
Page Builder by SiteOrigin is one of the free plugins updated frequently and actively developed on GitHub. The plugin is compatible with most of the WordPress themes, which makes switching to a different theme easier. The developer also offer premium themes integrated and compatible with the Page Builder plugin. You can buy 15+ bundled add-ons for $29 to enhance the features. The premium add-on bundle includes accordion, custom post type builder, lightbox, parallax sliders, testimonials, etc.
Support and Documentation
The developer supports both the Page Builder and Bundled Widgets plugins on free WordPress support forum. In addition, you can also post a thread on SiteOrigin forum to get answers to your query. Each premium add-on has a explanatory video and extensive support document is available for each component of the plugin.
Plugin Uses Shortcodes
One big question is what will happen if you deactivate the plugin. Fortunately, you won’t lose access to the content. After you remove the Page Builder plugin, you can still access the previously created content although without the formatting. It is still possible to edit these pages using standard WordPress editor interface.
As with any other page builder plugin, SiteOrigin also uses shortcodes for formatting the content. Every widget you add will insert a corresponding shortcode on your page. You can view the shortcodes by switching to live or text editor mode by clicking “Return to Editor” option. The plugin will prompt you to confirm before reverting to default editor.
Despite the relatively limited front-end interface, the Site Origin’s Page Builder is highly functional and easy to use. Anyone can quickly create custom page for their website by dragging and dropping required widgets. Prebuilt layouts are generally good starting point to create reusable pages. In our opinion, the overall experience when using Page Builder by SiteOrigin plugin should be satisfactory enough for free of cost. Small businesses that are on a tight budget can use the highly functional free version. Even the paid, premium add-ons bundle is affordable for many businesses.
- Free with multiple options for building beautiful layouts.
- Multiple add-ons needed when you want to additional features.