Visual editor is one of the conservative features in WordPress both from look and the functional perspective. Especially for those spending long time on editor screen to create content online, it will be tiresome task to complete and publish a beautiful web page. Shortcodes are the lifesavers for most of the WordPress users and there are plenty of shortcode plugins offer different set of features. But these plugins do not improve the usability or user experience on the editor screen and there is a definite scope for offering a packaged solution which attempts to improve the user interface as well as offer the shortcode features.
Visual Composer WordPress Plugin
Visual composer from WPBakery is drag and drop page builder plugin for WordPress offering a solution to solve the WordPress editor look with improved features using shortcodes. The plugin costs $64 and you can purchase it from codecanyon. There are also themes offering this plugin as a bundled pack which you can look out for better value.
As you can see in the screenshot, the developer sold the plugin for $33 around 2015 and doubled the price to $64 now. They also changed the name to WBakery Page Builder for WordPress and offer similar plugin on their own site. This is due to the guidelines of Envato marketplace that you can’t sell the same item outside the marketplace. Therefore, developers simply change the name with additional features and sell the same plugin outside.
Visual Composer Settings
Once installed the plugin will insert a menu named “Visual Composer” under which you can find useful settings you need to define before using the plugin. Some of the important settings under “General Settings” tab are:
- Choose post type for the visual composer to be available along with default WordPress editor. Since this is a heavyweight plugin take some time to load when opening the editor it is a good idea to enable only for the content types you need. For example, you can disable it for the posts and enable it for pages.
- Enable or disable mobile responsive of elements created with visual composer plugin.
- Set which type of users should have access to this plugin. For example, you can disable the access to authors and enable it only for editor and administrator.
Grid Element Builder
Grid element builder allows you to create a wonderful grid layout for portfolio, WooCommerce products and blog posts. After creating the grid, you can embed on any page/posts to showcase your work.
Visual Composer (VC) Editors
VC has two editors – backend and frontend which you can see when opening the WordPress editor as shown below.
When selecting a backend or frontend editor, you will see default page layouts for selection or you can just add elements to start creating your own page content and later save the page layout to use for future use.
VC Backend Editor
The backend editor shows added element as a text similar to default WordPress editor with improved usage. You can customize each element and save on the page itself. It loads faster and mostly works fine during long time content creation on the editor.
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VC Frontend Editor
The frontend editor opens the page in WYSIWYG mode and shows the actual preview of the elements as and when you save. Unfortunately frontend editor never loads most of the time and reduce the usage. This needs an improvement from WPBakery as the main purpose users buy this plugin is to use online frontend editor.
Visual Composer Elements
VC has more than 40 elements which can be inserted using backend editor or frontend editor or using direct shortcode.
Most of the shortcodes are generic ones available with other plugins as well but the advantage here is to use it as an element without thinking it of a shortcode. Both frontend and backend editors will not show the shortcodes so as a user you will not see any shortcodes in the editor unless you switch it classic WordPress editor view.
No doubt visual composer is one of the best in class plugin for WordPress page builder and saves lot of time. The price is also competitive compared to other shortcodes plugin offering similar features.
But the problem is that each element added using visual composer will add a shortcode in the backend. If you decide to deactivate the plugin for any reason then the page will be no more readable with junk of shortcodes showing to users. The real problem is to cleanup these shortcodes since you actually do not have any idea of what are these shortcodes. Again this is a generic issue with all shortcodes and page builder plugins and not specific to visual composer.
Once you decided to choose a page builder plugin for lifelong then visual composer is a best bet among the available and well-known plugins.
- Many add-ons and bundled themes are available.
- Offers backend and frontend editors with drag and drop elements.
- Developer offers similar plugin on their site.
- Plugin will drag the site speed if you use on all posts.
- High price.