Unless you are using a well-featured premium theme or framework, such as the Genesis framework by StudioPress then you are probably limited in terms of page layout options. The range of WordPress themes available today allows your site to take pretty much any form. However in most cases the presentation of your actual post content will be limited by the constraints of the WordPress post editor itself.
If you want to really present your content in the best way possible and break free of the default page building and formatting options of a standard WordPress installation, then a plugin might be the answer. If you’ve not used a page builder plugin before, you might be surprised to know how easy they make it to add columns, rows and countless other design and layout elements to your site without the need to change theme or framework.
By using one of these page builder plugins for WordPress you can take your pages and posts to another level. Some are free while others are premium, but these are our pick of the best page builders for WordPress that work alongside your existing theme. If you are happy with the overall design of your theme but want to make your articles look less like blog posts and more like feature rich web pages then read on.
What You Can Do With WordPress Page Builders
To be considered a layout or page builder, a plugin must enable you to easily add columns and rows to your posts and pages without editing any code. As well as that, most of the options featured here allow you to do a lot more. Many of these plugins provide you with lots of visual elements which be instantly inserted into your posts. These can include things like:
- Sidebar widgets
- Image galleries & sliders
- Recent posts lists & post sliders
- Social media feeds
- Highlighted text areas
- Call to action panels
- Charts & graphs
If you want to enhance the post editor of WordPress then one of these plugins is the ideal place to start.
Page Builder by SiteOrigin
This is a free option and it’s a great introduction to the world of page builders. If you are still unsure of what these tools can offer then I recommend you quickly install this one on your test site and see what it can do and how easy it is to use.
Once installed a new tab is added to the post editor entitled ‘Page Builder’ and from there you can begin building your layout and inserting page elements into your posts and pages. This tool also allows you to also insert widgets into your posts and pages, making it a great way to add dynamic page elements to your site.
Page Builder will allow you to insert the standard WordPress widgets that you should be familiar with, such as recent posts, archives, categories and tag cloud widgets. However it also works with any widgets that are created by other plugins you have installed. This means you can insert pretty much anything into your posts and pages, including your latest posts on Facebook, photos from Flickr and newsletter optin forms, to name but a few. The Page Builder plugin also includes a few widgets of its own for adding attractive page elements to your posts, including:
- Gallery widget for inserting image galleries.
- Image widget for inserting standard images.
- Self-hosted video widget for embedding your own videos.
- Post Loop to display a list of posts. This requires that your theme supports it.
You can also easily clone and modify your existing page layouts in order to apply a uniform look to your site’s content. The layouts are all fully responsive so they will automatically resize to match the screen size they are being viewed on, from desktop to smartphone and everything in between.
As well as inserting rows, columns and widgets, you can also use this plugin to insert page elements such as the following:
- Call to Action
- Price Box
- Animated Image
These are all included in the plugin and give you some great options for helping important parts of your pages standout.
For a free option, you can’t go wrong with the Page Builder plugin by SiteOrigin. If you want to start giving your posts a better layout in order to present your content in a more personalised way, then this is a great choice.
This free plugin allows you to add many page elements to your posts and pages using WordPress shortcodes. While most of the functionality of this plugin covers things like inserting buttons, messages boxes and tabs, it can also be used to quickly insert multi-column layouts including the use of rows in WordPress.
The plugin includes a shortcode editor. This means that by editing the layouts provided, you can create your own column widths, as well as ratios of distribution in order to get the desired grid effect on your site. The visual representation of the layout, when editing a post isn’t as well delivered as the Page Builder plugin by SiteOrigin, but this one is still a good choice when looking for an easy to use way of inserting many different types of elements into your pages and not just columns and rows.
Aqua Page Builder
This is another free option for taking control over your WordPress post and page layouts. It uses a drag and drop interface so you can begin organising your page elements without touching any code. If you can use the WordPress menu builder and widget interface then you can use Aqua Page Builder.
One you’ve installed this free plugin you can begin using it by simply dragging the available elements or blocks onto your page template. The blocks include things like:
- Social Icons
- Pricing Tables
With this page layout tool for WordPress you can create unlimited reusable templates. As its compatible with the WordPress import/export functionality, you can take your creations out to other sites to quickly recreate your layouts. This makes it an ideal choice for budget conscious web designers who want an easy and time efficient way to port their designs over to client sites.
This is a great free tool that is easy to use and comes with a nice selection of elements that can be added to your posts and pages.
Page Layout Builder
Many of these free page layout plugins offer similar functionality so it’s really a matter of personal preference when it comes to picking one. Page Layout Builder is another free option, but it has a very easy to use interface for inserting the page elements into your site.
The plugin lets you insert modules, which are in fact widgets, into your posts with ease. It can also be used to create the page layouts so you can divide your content up nicely. Despite being one of the less popular options in this category, it’s definitely worth a look if you are interested in making an informed decision when deciding on a page layout tool to adopt.
The free options above are great for inserting columns into your posts and adding in other elements such as buttons, image sliders and text boxes. However, if you want even more power at your disposal when it comes to creating posts and pages with WordPress that don’t look like WordPress blog posts, then you will have to part with a few dollars.
Yes, Visual Composer is a premium page builder plugin, but it’s one that is well worth its price tag. If your current theme doesn’t come with a powerful page builder tool, or you aren’t happy with what you’ve currently got access to, then adding Visual Composer to your site is a cost and time efficient way to start taking your content presentation options to the next level.
The interface is easy to get to grips with and although it does replace the standard WordPress post editor when it use, it’s easy to switch back to the ‘classic’ editor. As you would expect, this premium page builder comes with a decent amount of elements which can be inserted into your pages without editing any code.
As well as adding rich elements and layout grids to your site, it also comes with a skin builder for creating your own colour schemes for your site, which override those of your chosen theme. Everything is covered and the colours can be changed in one place using a simple colour picker interface. If you want the colour scheme of your site to match that of your brand, then this is a great feature to have at your disposal.
The layouts and elements that this plugin brings to your site are all fully responsive so you won’t have to worry about them displaying incorrectly on small screen devices. With Visual Composer you can also create templates for using your designs on multiple pages on your site as well as on other WordPress blogs you are working on. If you want to use tables on your WordPress site then the official Easy Tables extension will be of interest to you too.
If you can afford the small price tag of this plugin, then it’s the best option for anyone seriously looking for a way to make their posts and pages standout from the crowd and unleash their site from the constraints of WordPress.
Moving beyond the limitations of the WordPress post area is easier than you might think with these page builder plugins. With some great free options to choose from, there is no reason why you can’t start dividing and organising your content with columns, rows and many other presentation elements without editing any code or HTML.
Most of these plugins include other elements that can be inserted into your posts making them very versatile tools. Whether you are looking to enhance your links using the button element, or add message boxes to help parts of your text stand out, these plugins can probably help you.
While the free options are perfectly adequate for building page layouts in WordPress, the premium but affordable Visual Composer plugin really needs to be seen in order to fully appreciate the enhancements it brings to the post creation process in WordPress.