WordPress Page Builders, Reviewed: Beaver Builder, Divi Builder, WPBakery Page Builder, Elementor

wordpress page builders reviewed

 This article reviews the four biggest WordPress page builders: WPBakery Page Builder, Divi Builder, Beaver Builder, and Elementor.

This article reviews the four biggest WordPress page builder plugins: WPBakery Page Builder (formerly Visual Composer), Divi Builder, Beaver Builder, and Elementor. The question is simple: What is the best WordPress page builder on the market today?

If you simply want to know the best page builder and nothing else, here it is:

Our Top Recommendation

Best WordPress Page Builder

Beaver Builder

Reliability is everything in a page builder, and Beaver Builder is the most technically solid of the major options.

WordPress Page Builder Comparison Table

And if you’d like to see a comparison table of the reviewed builders, we happen to have one handy:

BuilderUser-Friendly?Feature-Rich?Well-Built?Reliable?Overall
Beaver Builder
beaver builder | best wordpress page builder
4.54.25.04.84.7

Buy It »
Elementor
elementor | wordpress page builder review
4.44.94.34.34.4

Buy It »
Divi Builder
divi builder | wordpress page builder review
4.14.62.52.23.1

Buy It »
WPBakery Page Builder
wpbakery page builder | wordpress page builder review
3.24.61.51.32.4

Buy It »

Table key:

  • User-Friendly? Is this WordPress page builder smart, thoughtful, logical, and consistent in its user interfaces?
  • Feature-Rich? Is this WordPress page builder well-outfitted with an abundance of the right features (well-designed, useful, appropriate to a page builder)?
  • Well-Built? Is this WordPress page builder built in a way that’s thoughtful, stable, and appropriate to WordPress as a system? (For example: is it easy to use in combination with other plugins? What happens if you turn it off?)
  • Reliable? Is this WordPress page builder consistent and bug-free across sites, devices, browsers, and use cases?
  • Overall: A composite score that is the average of all individual scores, with the weight of “Reliable?” doubled.

With those quick summaries under our belts, let’s get on with the full review!

Contents

Introduction: Good WordPress Page Builders, Now a Thing

Before about three years ago, all WordPress page builder plugins were so bad that I refused to use them.

Before about three years ago, all WordPress page builder plugins were so bad that I refused to use them. I carried this bias for a while, but eventually I took a second look and found that WordPress page builders are getting good, and are now the correct choice—more than widgetized homepages, column shortcodes, page template custom fields, and other half-measures—for getting layouts into your WordPress content.

However, when I wrote that “WordPress page builders are getting good,” I specifically meant one page builder: Beaver Builder, the first builder that I ever found to be a help and not a burden. I’d worked with both the Divi Builder and the WPBakery Page Builder (previously called Visual Composer) through numerous clients who’d installed them on their own sites, and I found that both builders reliably made doing good work almost impossible.

So, how is it now? Are WordPress’s other largest, best-selling page builders improving in quality too? How is Beaver Builder doing today? What’s up with Elementor? Which one is the best WordPress page builder, and is even that one worth using? Let’s find out in our review and comparison of Beaver Builder, Elementor, Divi Builder, and WPBakery Page Builder.

Why You Can Trust Me on WordPress Page Builders

Before we get rolling, here’s a quick personal introduction, why you should trust me, and full disclosure.

Hi! I’m Fred Meyer. I’ve been writing about WordPress nearly every week for five years here on WPShout. I’m also co-founder of boutique web agency Press Up, where my day job is making WordPress websites for people, especially small businesses.

Getting an accurate picture of any paid-for digital product can be notoriously difficult, because reviews are often informed by whichever company pays out the biggest commissions. The four products we review here are reviewed on the basis of being the largest and best-known builders in WordPress. All four have affiliate programs, so links to each of those products, including those we do not recommend, are affiliate links. The content of this article has not been affected in any way by affiliate payout comparisons (as I write this, I have no idea which affiliate program pays out what), as the substance and thoroughness of the content itself should clearly demonstrate.

This WordPress page builder comparison review was not commissioned by or edited by any third party, and is the product of my experience as a professional WordPress developer who both works with and writes about WordPress every day.

Beaver Builder vs. Elementor vs. Divi Builder vs. WPBakery Page Builder: Which WordPress Page Builder is Best

Here’s the executive summary of each of our four reviews.

Beaver Builder Review Summary

Beaver Builder is the best WordPress page builder on the market. Of the four builders reviewed, it’s one of only two (Elementor being the second) that helps, rather than hinders, a WordPress developer’s work.

I enthusiastically recommend Beaver Builder, and I use it as an indispensable tool in my day-to-day development work. It continues to redefine upward what WordPress development can be, and I urge you to try it now:

Try Beaver Builder Now

Elementor Review Summary

Elementor is extremely ambitious and very high-quality overall. It’s arguably the most feature-rich of the four WordPress builder plugins, and only some UI issues and some bugginess at the edges keep it from being my choice for the best WordPress page builder.

I recommend Elementor for anyone who wants a lot of very high-quality layout elements and innovative features, and can tolerate a slightly less rock-solid builder than the sturdier but blander Beaver Builder:

Try Elementor Now

Divi Builder Review Summary

Divi Builder has some flashy and downright cool UI innovations, but because its technical core is shaky it ultimately gets in the way rather than helping.

I don’t recommend Divi Builder, but I don’t think using it is necessarily an enormous mistake—you’ll get some very cool functionality, but you’ll lose a fair amount of control over how your final product comes out. If you do want to try it out, then:

Try Divi Builder Now

WPBakery Page Builder Review Summary

WPBakery Page Builder is a burning train wreck of elaborately broken features, bafflingly careless UI decisions, and astonishingly fragile hacks. It makes simple tasks difficult; difficult tasks hellishly frustrating; and good, thoughtful WordPress development a literal impossibility. I beg you to stay as far away from it as possible, and hope that you’ll tell everyone you meet to do the same.

I’m serious, don’t do this, but:

Try WPBakery Page Builder Now

Brief Explanation of the Results

This review confirmed that relatively little has changed in terms of quality among the three most prominent page builders in WordPress that I’d previously used extensively. Of the three, Beaver Builder is still the only one that I would ever use—and, in fact, do use, on almost every WordPress project I work on.

Beaver Builder’s and Elementor’s biggest advantage over Divi Builder and WPBakery Page Builder is simply that they don’t get in the way of the precise, accurate work that a developer needs to do.

Beaver Builder’s and Elementor’s biggest advantage over Divi Builder and WPBakery Page Builder is simply that they don’t get in the way of the precise, accurate work that a developer needs to do to get a site actually displaying and working properly. By default, a given page builder is just one more piece of bad third-party software in a WordPress developer’s way—but Beaver Builder and Elementor are actually an aid, not an impediment.

The other two plugins simply can’t say the same. Although Divi Builder has some real strengths (WPBakery Page Builder honestly doesn’t), both are still, fundamentally, in the way.

The various ways in which both Divi Builder and WPBakery Page Builder hamper a developer’s ability to work are the key reasons why I would never use either page builder myself. They include:

  • Dumping huge amounts of hard-to-override CSS onto the page.
  • Hiding real layout elements (margins, padding, max-width) in favor of abstract ideas like “Buffers” and “Stretch” that may appeal to nontechnical people but make working with precision impossible.
  • Hardcoding important layout decisions into their modules, such as the number of columns in an image gallery.
  • Generating serious bugs that take developer time to fix, such as introducing layout errors on the live site that disappear in the builder view, or causing pages to develop horizontal scroll bars.
  • Making page content fragile, buggy, and forever tied to the page builder itself by wrapping it in dozens of nested shortcodes.

Both Divi Builder and WPBakery Page Builder are guilty of each of these problems. Beaver Builder, by contrast—and please understand this as the miracle it is, because page builders are hard to write—is guilty of none of them, and is instead actually an aid to a serious WordPress developer who needs a robust, powerful way to create layouts. Elementor is ever-so-slightly more fragile, but not enough to push it into “unusable” territory—and its powerful feature set is arguably worth the tradeoff.

Beaver Builder is an enthusiastic yes. Elementor is a cheerful sure! Divi Builder is a thoughtful, reflective no. WPBakery Page Builder is NOPE through a megaphone.

But that doesn’t mean that Divi Builder and WPBakery Page Builder are created equal. Divi Builder is quite good at what it’s good at: appealing to nontechnical people while sweeping technical messiness under the rug. WPBakery Page Builder is elaborately bad at everything, except, seemingly, at making sales. Beaver Builder is an enthusiastic yes: it’s the best page builder in WordPress. Elementor is a cheerful sure! Divi Builder is a thoughtful, reflective no. WPBakery Page Builder is NOPE through a megaphone.

Methodology: How We Reviewed the Builders

Rather than looking at the builders’ prices, page load speeds (which was recently done well), PHP version compatibility, and so on, we wanted to see what it’s like to try to do WordPress development with each builder.

In other words, this article asks: How are these page builders to actually use?

The Main Task: Copy a Real-Life Landing Page

To me, the best test of a WordPress page builder plugin is whether it can efficiently create real-life page layouts—especially for homepages and landing pages, the most layout-intensive parts of most WordPress sites.

For the main task of this review, I chose an existing homepage/landing page to copy: the relatively simple, center-of-the-road landing page of Tile, a startup for finding lost items that I’ve used and liked in the past. To be specific, I set to work copying the first half of that page, as that was more than enough to get a feel for each builder:

To look only at the capabilities of the page builder plugins themselves, and not at how they interact with the specifics of any particular theme, I did my landing page demos on a test site running a clean, default, no-customizations version of the WordPress starter theme Understrap, on a blank page using the theme’s “Empty” page template.

There’s nothing unusual going on on the Tile homepage, but there are lots of standard page builder-y layout elements: a full-width slider, boxed text content, a video embed, and so on. Building toward implementing this template is the general “project” that I put each page builder to work on.

Front-End Editors Only

We’re only using the front-end component of each builder, because it’s a massively better experience: WYSIWYG versus nothing of the sort. Having a good front-end editing experience is what being a “good WordPress page builder” means in 2018. (See our discussion of where Gutenberg would fit on this list for more on the topic.)

Plugin Versions Used

We based this review off the lates commercially available version of each plugin, which at publication was:

  • Beaver Builder Standard 2.0.6.4
  • Elementor 2.0.8, Elementor Pro 2.0.3
  • Divi Builder 2.0.68
  • WPBakery Page Builder 5.4.7

We’ll update this review as major changes come out, but one thing we’ve learned through the review itself is that most page builders’ overall quality is relatively steady over time, because both their core technical choices and their strategic, philosophical, and marketing foundations are relatively static.

So I’d say don’t worry too much about version changes in this review, unless you’re either aware of really earth-shattering changes to one or another builder, or are reading this after about October 2020 and I haven’t come back in and changed that date to a new one.

Additional Tasks

Gravity Forms Embed

I wanted to test how each page builder worked with a well-supported, well-coded third-party plugin. I used each builder to add a Gravity Forms form onto the landing page, either through the builder’s own methods or using a shortcode. The main question is how similar it looks to the no-page-builder default:

gravity form embed wordpress page builders

Restrict Content Pro not_logged_in Shortcode

As an admirer of Pippin Williamson’s excellent 2016 survey of WordPress page builder plugins, I wanted to investigate two specific technical issues he brought up. The first is a shortcode that spans multiple page builder elements. The example I used is [not_logged_in], a shortcode from Pippin’s own Restrict Content Pro.

The question is: can the page builder have standalone elements inside, and therefore separating, the [not_logged_in] and [/not_logged_in] shortcode tags? Builders often struggle with this if they themselves use shortcodes for layouts—which is a bit of a spoiler alert if you know how Divi Builder or WPBakery Page Builder mark up their post content.

the_content Filters

Also following Pippin, I wanted to test whether each builder would incorporate a the_content filter properly. I wrote a very simple plugin to filter the text “Problem String” to instead return “Filtered String” and tested whether the filter came through on each page builder.

Screen-Capture GIFs, Screen-Capture GIFs Everywhere

For this article, it felt important to be able to show, not tell, the various interface features and bugs I found in these page builders.

Three 90-minute YouTube “Builder Review” videos was feeling likely to be unwatchable, so I’ve broken out interesting moments for all four builders into screen-capture GIFs. I’ve set them to load once you click on them, so that this page isn’t 200MB of data all at once.

If you can play this GIF, you should be good on the rest:

carl sagan mind blown gif

I’m hoping this approach will give you real visibility into exactly what I’m talking about when I praise or criticize an aspect of a builder.

Let’s get into the reviews!

Divi Builder Review: “Elegant” in Places, but Missing Fundamentals

Divi Builder is significantly better than I expected, but it’s still stunted by Elegant Themes’ usual focus on style over substance.

I’ve had a lot of bad experiences with client websites that use Divi, the theme that is the Divi Builder’s native home. I’ve also have a lot of bad experiences with everything ever created by Elegant Themes. I find, across the board, that its products look really shiny and attractive until you try to use them, like a brightly painted sports car shell that turns out to have no doors (you climb in through the window), no seats (you squat in place), and an electric engine that only runs on an extension cord.

Overall, Divi Builder is significantly better than I expected, but it’s still stunted by Elegant Themes’ usual laser focus on style and consumer perception over substance. If I squint, I can almost see using the Divi Builder myself, for some of its genuinely cool features—but then I look at the details, and it’s out of the question.

Let’s examine those details:

Divi Builder Review: A WordPress Developer’s Perspective

WPBakery Page Builder Review: This is All Wrong

I’ve worked with WPBakery Page Builder (previously called Visual Composer) on numerous client sites, and I’ve absolutely hated the experience every time. Coming into this review, I definitely had one eyebrow pre-arched.

I knew it was possible, though, that the underlying software is actually decent, but it’s been getting embedded in horribly coded themes by people who don’t want to pay a developer until they’ve already broken everything themselves—which is, after all, WPBakery’s target market. So I was curious to look at the page builder plugin itself in detail, alone and with fresh eyes.

WPBakery Page Builder is either badly designed or broken at almost every level imaginable.

Welp, I understand the problem now. WPBakery Page Builder is badly designed, broken, or both at almost every level imaginable. As you read the review below, please keep in mind that the details I pick out to criticize are more examples to convey an overall environment in which nothing works properly, rather than a concrete list of specific complaints about an overall-decent piece of software.

WPBakery Page Builder Review: The Good

Nice Gesture Toward Mobile-First Inheritance

I like WPBakery’s way of dictating responsive behavior where the default is that things inherit their properties from the next smallest size. This dovetails nicely with the idea of “mobile-first” development, which assumes people are on a phone, and changes things as devices get larger, rather than vice-versa.

wpbakery inherit from smaller

Niceish Integrations

Because of its market power, WPBakery Page Builder has integrations with almost any sizeable plugin on the market. Below is a niceish integration with Gravity Forms that beats the shortcode embed I ended up doing in Divi Builder:

wpbakery gravity forms

WPBakery Page Builder Review: The Bad

Slow and Labor-Intensive

Watch me try to save a change in WPBakery Page Builder:

wpbakery save flow

Notice:

  • The one-second or so pause after I set the background image, before it fills in the empty gray square.
  • How my changes will not live-preview without me clicking “Save changes,” and the moderate pause even after the button click.
  • The three-second or so pause after I click “Update” before the green save bar gradually filters in.
  • The final one-second or so pause when I click to exit the builder.

Some of the issues above are because the plugin is simply slow—presumably because it dumps vast amounts of CSS, JavaScript, and markup onto the page.

The most serious source of UI drag is the clunky, awkward, everything-by-hand previewing and updating process.

However, the most serious single source of UI drag is not slow, bulky code, but rather the clunky, awkward, everything-by-hand previewing and updating process. In the WPBakery page builder, absolutely nothing—changes to content, formatting, or layout, changes to modules, rows, or pages—live-previews or live-updates. You have to push everything through yourself with a button press (or more than one), and wait anywhere from one to several seconds for an updated version to come back. This gives the entire user experience a draining, laborious, rotary-telephone feel.

This is presumably because the WPBakery front-end builder is actually doing the equivalent of pressing “Update” on the post and then redrawing an iframe to show your changes, rather than doing any sort of more intelligent JavaScript previewing. That also carries other consequences, such as making text filters very slow to apply (more on that later).

Using the WPBakery Page Builder feels like trying to run underwater.

The sum of this and numerous other UI slowdowns is that using the WPBakery Page Builder feels like trying to run underwater.

Awkward, Unintuitive, and Clunky

The WPBakery page builder is not just slow, it’s also awkward and unintuitive on almost every level imaginable.

Quick, tell me what each of the “pluses” down the middle do. Bonus points if you can explain the yellow one that’s mostly hidden by WPBakery’s own layout elements.
wpbakery review user interface

Using the WPBakery page builder, I frequently feel annoyed and hemmed-in in a way that is very different from all of the other builders reviewed.

Using the WPBakery Page Builder, I frequently feel annoyed and hemmed-in in a way that is very different from Divi Builder, Beaver Builder, and Elementor, all of which have invested strongly in intuitive, coordinated user interfaces. I feel like I’m using MS Word ’95.

Let’s take another example of bad UI: in WPBakery’s (mostly rather sensible) “Image Gallery” module, you have a chance to choose image sizes for your gallery images. How do you choose? A dropdown of available image sizes, right?

No:

Yes, it’s a text field, for you to type in the slug-ized name of the image size you’re looking for—that is, assuming you know what image sizes are registered in your theme, and how to use WordPress’s slug conventions for size names like “Medium Large.”

Of course, since WordPress’s existing PHP functions make it easy to access a list of registered image sizes, the choice to make this a text field rather than a dropdown of size options is as nonsensical as a “Date of Birth” field that expects a MIDI file. By itself, this single design choice won’t break anything (unless the user typos), but the accumulated weight of it and dozens of similarly careless choices make the WPBakery page builder a gnat swarm of frustration even in those instances in which it technically “works.”

Speaking of which:

Everything Is Broken

To use WPBakery Page Builder is to immediately invite baffling bugs and errors into your workflow and website.

To use WPBakery Page Builder is to immediately invite baffling bugs and errors into your workflow and website—even an environment as clean as, in this case, a stock, customization-free starter theme and no other running plugins.

The first thing I noticed was that my page developed a horizontal scrollbar. This means that something’s pushing the page out to be wider than it wants to be, and so you have to scroll left and right on every device to see the full content. This is ugly anywhere, but it’s an especially efficient way to ruin the user experience on mobile devices.

It turns out that the step to get this bug on your site is, simply, to use WPBakery’s stock “Pageable Container” module:

For the record, this bug isn’t confined to full-width page templates (not that that would excuse the problem). You can get horizontal scrollbars in a boxed layout as well, by using a pageable container in a “stretched” row:

It may seem like I’m making a big deal of this, but you have to understand that “My site has a horizontal scrollbar all of a sudden” is not a small misstep by the plugin developers. It’s the exact kind of problem that people spend hundreds of dollars having WordPress developers like me debug.

It’s also the type of work that I absolutely hate doing: writing inherently hacky, fragile custom code to wrench very bad but deeply embedded commercial software back into place. Giving WPBakery’s page builder a close examination was very much an experience of staring into the dark heart of a huge percentage of these dismal debugging jobs.

On the same subject, the WPBakery Page Builder’s previewing is consistently, persisently different from how the actual page ends up looking to users, even on very simple layouts:

Again, you may not realize how significant a problem faulty previewing like this is—until you have someone (say, a client) who wants her design implemented actually correctly. Then you’re stuck trying to compensate for a tool that’s broken for obscure and unfixable reasons.

While we’re discussing inaccurate previewing, let’s mention the WPBakery page builder’s strange habit of hiding the nav menu on some—but not all—page templates:

wpbakery inaccurate previewing

We want a slider section that runs up right against the nav menu. How are we going to get that, when the preview not only lies to us about the amount of margin there actually is, but also hides the menu itself? Mysteries of the WPBakery page builder.

If it needs saying, no, multi-part shortcode embeds like the Restrict Content Pro shortcode don’t work.
wpbakery multiple shortcode test

And text filters don’t apply until after you’ve exited the editor mode—because of WPBakery’s thoroughly awkwardly updating flow—causing potential confusion.
wpbakery text filters

You simply cannot assume that any piece of the WPBakery Page Builder will work as it should.

Also, as with the Divi builder, deactivating the WPBakery Page Builder plugin is a one-way trip to Shortcode Hell, where you get to see exactly why the builder is as fragile as it is.

These examples aside, the broader trend is that you simply cannot assume that any piece of the WPBakery Page Builder, used for any purpose, will work as it should.

Nonsense

In reviewing this plugin, it can be difficult to get across the crucial distinction between defensible shortcomings and plain, actual nonsense.

It’s actually hard to review the WPBakery plugin, because so much of it is broken so badly that it’s hard to explain. Specifically, it can be difficult to get across the crucial distinction between defensible shortcomings—“rough edges,” “questionable design choices,” and so on—and plain, actual nonsense. So much of WPBakery Page Builder is, quite simply, nonsense.

I could give so many examples here, so I’ll confine myself to a few that are representative. The first is a detail about WPBakery’s front-end interface. Do you know what the single largest UI item on the page is? It isn’t something like a “Save and View Changes” button (which is actually a small “Update” button and, separately, a plain X), or any other piece of useful UI.

No. It’s a hat that links you to the WPBakery purchase page. Not to documentation, tutorial videos, or tech support: to the purchase page, for a paid-only commercial plugin that you logically must have already purchased to be seeing this interface.

wp bakery is bad

This single design choice itself doesn’t do much to break the WPBakery user experience—but it is a great, simple illustration of the thoughtlessness that runs throughout the entire project.

Here’s another example: the WPBakery page builder plugin has no boxed layouts. Without using external CSS, there is no way to, for example, create a full-width row with a light gray background, which contains an 800px-wide centered text box. If you look at the Tile homepage, about half the content is boxed text in a fullwidth layout, and this is simply impossible with WPBakery by default.

wpbakery no boxed layout

What you see in the GIF above is all the places where some notion of “boxed layout” should be, and isn’t. What WPBakery does have is a way to “stretch” (with JavaScript) either rows or columns outside a boxed page template. So if your page template’s content area was 800px wide, you could have a few 800px text modules, plus a full-width “stretching” image. This is handy and actually an advantage of WPBakery over other builders.

But in simply assuming that we’re dealing with a boxed page template, and then giving no fallback for actual full-screen layout creation like you’d use to build almost any landing page in the world, WPBakery is shipping a bizarrely incomplete product that puts what builders should find easiest—having the full screen to work with and only using part of it—out of reach.

I’ll give a few more examples. The way WPBakery lets you save “Templates”—full pages of content—but not modules, columns, or rows. Or the decision to let you add new “Deprecated” modules (rather than just continuing to support them if they’re there already)—but only if you use the “Add New Element” dialogue from the big white plus in the top left. The handling of widgets, which lets you add some kinds of widgets as modules (like “Recent Posts”) but not others (like “Audio”) for unclear reasons.

The identical “If checked, video will be used as row background.” helper text on both Rows and Columns:

I’ll close with a final example that, to me, summarizes the whole plugin. The “Separator” element (for creating <hr>s) lets you pick colors not with a color picker, but with a dropdown of around 16 color options with obviously custom-defined names like “Peacoc,” “Mulled Wine,” and “Juicy pink” (yes, with irregular spelling and capitalization)—including one color, “Vista Blue,” that is in fact a light sea-green—plus a “Custom color” option at the bottom that opens up a new option, “Custom Border Color,” that is the color picker that the entire interface should have been all along.

Again, these are just examples, chosen more or less at random from within a piece of software that simply does not make sense. If you’re not convinced of that at this point, you’re beyond my power to persuade, and may want to try the product for yourself.

WPBakery Page Builder Review: Summing Up

Avoid.

I came into this review believing WPBakery Page Builder was badly broken and an enormous source of badness in WordPress overall. After working closely and attentively with the plugin, now I know it. Avoid.

Beaver Builder Review: The Best WordPress Page Builder

Beaver Builder was the first WordPress page builder plugin I tried on purpose, rather than being forced into using it on a client project. My first use of it was in mid-2017, and I loved it. I wrote the experience up in a standalone Beaver Builder review, which I’ve since revised and expanded to cover the new features in Beaver Builder 2.x. (The main thing that’s changed is that the Beaver Builder interface is now much more seamless and intuitive than the 1.x versions were.)

As you’ll see, what hasn’t changed is that Beaver Builder, alone among the WordPress page builder plugins I’ve tried, works really well: you can use it for stuff, and the stuff gets done properly. It’s with that sense of general celebration that I’ll point you to our full review of Beaver Builder’s performance on our test.

Beaver Builder Review: A WordPress Developer’s Perspective

Elementor Review: Extremely Ambitious, A Bit Buggy, Very Good Overall

Look closely at Elementor, and you’ll find an exceedingly ambitious and very high-quality page builder.

I’ve tried Elementor once or twice on past projects, and somehow it never “stuck.” It always felt just a little buggier than Beaver Builder, and I always felt a little out-of-place in the user interface.

As it turns out, those issues remain unchanged. But I’m really glad for the deep-dive I took into Elementor: past those immediate irritations lies a shockingly ambitious and overall excellent WordPress page builder. It may not be good enough (specifically, seamless enough UI-wise and bug-free enough) to take the “Best WordPress Page Builder” title away from Beaver Builder, but there’s a lot that only Elementor does that I really, really want now, and I’d happily recommend the plugin. Lots of details in our full review below.

Elementor Review: A WordPress Developer’s Perspective

Additional Thoughts

What About Other Builders?

Most smaller WordPress page builders have all the problems we’ve identified in these builders, and many more.

There are a ton of WordPress page builder plugins out there, but speaking from experience: if you haven’t heard of them, they’re unlikely to be very good. WordPress page builders, like airplane manufacturers, tend to benefit from economies of scale, and from time to refine themselves in the marketplace. So just like it’s unlikely there’s a “garage Boeing” lying out there somewhere to discover, most smaller WordPress page builders have all the problems we’ve identified in these builders, and many more.

Having said that, I do want to point out two other builders that are worth examining and which I’d eventually like to work into this article:

  1. Site Origin Page Builder, which I’ve been encouraged a few times to review following the original publication of this article. It’s on my to-do list.
  2. Offsprout, which markets itself as “WordPress’s first drag-and-drop builder for design agencies and freelancers.” It’s run by Sam Brodie, a very passionate WordPress architect who I met at WordCamp US and whose vision and approach I really admire. Its Pro version just launched, and I’d like very much to check out and review it soon. In the meantime, I urge you to have a look—I’d love to hear your feedback on it, and I know Sam would too.

What About Gutenberg?

Wait, why are we still talking about WordPress page builder plugins? Isn’t Gutenberg—the official layout solution slowly making its way into WordPress core—just going to kill all builders off really soon?

In a word, no.

The just-launched Third Edition of our “learn WordPress development” course Up and Running contains around 10,000 words on exactly what Gutenberg is and isn’t, and what it means and doesn’t mean for WordPress. I encourage you to learn that material from the source, and I don’t want to try too hard to summarize a very complex and interesting topic here; but here’s, very briefly, what I’d like you to understand:

Gutenberg is nowhere near to being a layout builder in the same sense as any of the plugins we just reviewed.

Gutenberg is nowhere near to being a layout builder in the same sense as any of the plugins we just reviewed. It’s not that it has yet to match the best WordPress builder plugin out there: Gutenberg couldn’t even begin to put together the layouts we assembled using any of the reviewed plugins, even one as flawed as the WPBakery Page Builder.

How is Gutenberg right now as a layout builder? Well, Gutenberg has columns, sort of, but they’re utterly primitive and there’s no way to style them. Nor is there currently any notion of the “Rows” layout element that is extremely important and useful in every major layout builder plugin. Gutenberg is also not on the front end—and won’t be, in its official implementation—meaning you’re building your website’s pages in a wp-admin environment that, at the end of the day, doesn’t look much like them.

So for layout-intensive tasks, Gutenberg is not a page builder competitor right now, and it won’t be in the near future—although it does certainly carry a lot of longer-term possibility for disrupting dynamics in the WordPress page builder space (and in WordPress as a whole). For more details, I urge you to read Up and Running: the Core version is just $67, and that’s an immense amount of WordPress wisdom, including Gutenberg wisdom, for the price of only six $11 cups of coffee.

tl;dr: Get Beaver Builder Now

If you’re in the market for a WordPress page builder, my top choice, and my clear vote for “Best WordPress Page Builder 2018,” is definitely Beaver Builder. If that’s all you take away from these 12,000 words and 50 GIFs, that’s enough.

Best WordPress Page Builder

Beaver Builder

Reliability is everything in a page builder, and Beaver Builder is the most technically solid of the major options.

I can also happily recommend Elementor:

Try Elementor Now

What experiences have you had with WordPress page builders? Let us know in the comments below!


28 Responses

Comments

  • Great article Fred Meyer, I gained a bad taste in my mouth for page builders after dealing with MotoPress, Cherry Framework, and Visual Composer. But Beaver Builder looks like it would be a nice choice for the non-tech savvy secretaries at my church! Thanks for all the comparisons… Great article…

  • Thanks for the mention, Fred! Like you say in the article, Beaver Builder is no doubt a great product for building your own website. But I hope that freelancers and agencies that are looking for some more powerful features for building and managing client websites check out Offsprout as well :). And I look forward to your feedback, Fred!

  • Excellent 7000 word article, Fred, and – just like painting the Golden Gate Bridge – now that you’re finished it’s time to start over again reviewing the latest & greatest including Elementor 2.0, the soon-to-be-released Oxygen 2.0 & whatever else is out there.

  • FOTINI says:

    Hello!
    I agree with your verdict in this great article but I think that Elementor had to be included in this comparison, not only because of its 700.000 installations but because it is a great plugin in many aspects. I use Elementor the last 10 months and I am amazed. But!…I am really interested in your opinion since I am not a coder like you are. I have build 11 websites so far with Elementor and I will never look back to Visual Composer.
    Looking forward for related articles!
    Thank you for your in-depth review and hard work in this article

  • Sebastian says:

    Big thx for this detailed review!

    I know these divi bads…

    I’m very curious, what you think of the surprisingly same-day update of divi 3.1 (incl. divi-builder version 2.1.1 updated 04-19-2018), cause I don’t have the time to test it time-closely.

    https://www.elegantthemes.com/blog/theme-releases/divi-3-1-has-arrived-introducing-the-new-divi-developer-api

  • Vijay says:

    Hi,
    Would request you to have a look at oxygenbuilder it is running her 2.0 alpha and is remarkably different
    Vijay

  • Congrats on the great article, Fred. I appreciate your work and your sense of humor!

    I’ve been a Divi devotee for a few years now, but I have always had that one, small caveat. If you NEED to create a pixel-perfect design (like, say from a real designer), then using a page builder is simply not the answer. Divi and Jupiter have been my 2 main experiences and they can both shine with their pre-built templates/layouts. But as soon as you need to adjust something to match up with a pre-defined layout (or a client’s request) the hair-pulling begins.

    I would also agree with you that the WP Bakery builder is significantly more non-intuitive than Divi. I have had numerous tickets into their support department with comments like “Why on earth would you hard-code CSS like that??” Typically with some all-caps thrown in for good measure. My frustration levels soaring at the time.

    I’m looking forward to giving BB a shot. I will say that the lack of a full-width row is a bit of a bummer, but I’m guessing once you figure that out with your own CSS, you can simply use that “trick” on any site moving forward. I also can’t begin to tell you how nice it would be to have actual, real HTML and CSS to work with. The piles and piles of embedded garbage with both Divi and WPB make it nearly impossible to target the element you’re after (only to discover that they have added some javascript-embedded-inline CSS.

    Thanks for all this hard work. It is truly appreciated!!

  • You’ve already created an epic, but given the increasing popularity of Elementor (700,000+ active installs of the free version), I think it would have made sense to talk about it rather than waste any time on Visual Decomposer. I’m sure you’d have enjoyed the testing process much more.

  • Tracy says:

    Great article. Over the past year I have used both Divi and Beaver Builder, and I always go back to Beaver Builder. Divi does have some nice features, being able to edit text inline being one of them, but it always seems to manage to mess up other parts of my site. Complete pages will go blank on mobile. I don’t have time to get to the bottom of the issue so I back to Beaver Builder I go.

  • Scott says:

    What an incredibly detailed and candid review of WordPress page builders. Not enough so-called reviews point out the flaws of WordPress or its plug-ins. They apparently care more about clicks and affiliate commissions than providing sincerely helpful reviews and articles.

    Unfortunately, by omitting Elementor, your article is also frustrating. I understand your reason, but disagree that it justified leaving out a page builder with over 700,000 installs.

  • Leo Koo says:

    Thanks for the detailed review. I’m also keen to find out how Elementor 2.0 fares vs Beaver Builder. Perhaps an upcoming article?

  • Steve says:

    Hey Fred! Have you ever worked with MotoPress builder on client websites? Your thoughts?

  • dave says:

    Great writing – always love these in depth page builder review articles.

    Interested to find out why you left out Page Builder by Site Origin? It has by far the largest amount of active installations. I imagine its because its somewhat limited compared to Divi and Visual Composer but it has a feature set very similar to Beaver Builder and its front end editing seems similar.

    I never know which product to use these days. Visual Composer is slow and buggy like you say and I dread having to go back and look at sites I’ve built with it as one day I know its going to have to be replaced. I’d never heard of Divi until this article. I’ve built a couple of sites with Beaver but never enjoyed using it, a couple with Site Origin, and several with Tailor (which was easily the best of them all but is sadly now discontinued because of Gutenberg). I was hoping Gutenberg was going to be good but it’s utter cack to use.

  • Larry Woods says:

    As a Beaver Builder user you are missing the true competitor to BB: Elementor. It will soon be a “coin flip” as to which one you use.

  • Jon Brown says:

    Nice article! It reads like a WireCutter article which I really like. I loathe all those articles that just review 3 things with the conclusion “they’re all good, pick your own”.

    We settled on Beaver Builder as best in class a couple years ago and wholly concur with your conclusions above. The only competitor IMHO is Elementor which I think has better UI but not as good to building custom modules which we do a lot of.

  • WpBakery is one of the best page builder and goes with my client choices, thanks for the list

  • DesignerAndGeek says:

    Stellar article! I especially like the structure of it – getting the conclusion first and the details later.

  • Tony says:

    I checked out Offsprout, and while it’s no Beaver Builder, it’s actually remarkably good, and is one of the better page builders out there.

    • Bob says:

      Funny you say that…

      It’s one of the first GPL Beaver Builder forks, I’ve seen. I don’t like that they didn’t use the WP Customizer but instead went for their own UI. For those that are familiar with WP’s UI / UX at all this throws all that out. Training someone to use this means not being able to leverage anything they already know. This was true to some extent with Beaver (and worse in others like DIVI) but it’s really rampant in OffSprout.

      Otherwise though it’s a very interesting BB redux. Very different. Always good to have more options.

  • Thanks for adding the Elementor review!

  • Jay Okey says:

    I’m glad you decided to add Elementor to the mix!

    As a developer, I’ve come to a similar conclusion, despite how much I like Elementor, I’ve decided to stick with Beaver Builder on client websites going for stability over features. Having said that I’d like to see Beaver Builder step up there game and improve what you without additional modules and CSS.

  • Hi Fred

    Your take on Elementor is spot on! We agree whole heartedly, I love what Elementor is trying to do by I don’t think I could handle the friction of training a client how to get in and out of the front end which is as simple as anything in Beaver Builder.

    We’ve also noticed friction when creating pages not being able to drag modules or columns and just create a new row in the process of dragging. Drag and drop in general feels much more “finicky” than Beaver Builder.

    Another thing that I would add is that it’s weird for that for such a design focused tool as Elementor that you can’t upload your own icon fonts – the default icons feel a bit tacky for what is otherwise a super high quality design tool.

    But good on them and I hope they keep powering on and pushing everyone else forward.

    Thanks for the excellent write up.

  • Hi Fred! Thanks for the great article and the comparison and detailed overview of the strength and weaknesses of these page builders. As I am developing a visual builder too and it is very important to hear what peaople like, what admire of and what strongly dislike or find confusing in visual page builders, so it is a great opportunity for me to do things right 😉

    One note about you posible confusion of why Elementor’s builder mode works like it works and what is the secret of Beaver in this aspect. Well, it is worth to mention that Beaver is the only page builder in the list that does not use iframe for its builder mode. All others use iframes. Personally, I do not like an approach when using iframe and this is another one Beaver feature that I admire of. As you said, Beaver really works in front end and the only one which really works on the actual page.

  • Scott says:

    Hey Fred, correcting your surprise omission of Elementor made your page builder review probably the best ever such review. Now let’s see which page builders are best at addressing the problems you clearly and fairly pointed out. So hopefully you can do a follow-up article in a few months. Keep up the good work!

  • Monica Beckstrøm says:

    Interesting article. Thank You. I missed Avada and their builder in the comparison. It is connected to Avada thame(As Divi also can be) I know, but they have more than 420 000(!!) sales on Themforest, an da lot of people are using Avada and their builder.

  • Tony says:

    Thanks Fred, excellent article. BB now has inline editing, by the way.

    I have used Divi, BB, Elementor and WPBakery extensively, and also Avada and X.

    Now I use BB with Astra exclusively, and occasionally Elementor, if the client is locked to it.

    I count myself as blessed that I thankfully will never have to use Avada, WPBakery, Divi or X again! Interestingly, they are all shortcode-based.

    Tony

  • Mike says:

    I use Elementor a lot, in my opinion, the best page builder around at the moment. The only other page builder I use is beaver builder but this is only due to beaver themer the integration with custom post types is excellent. Elementor, however, do plan to release something similar if this happens I think Elementor will become my go-to page builder for every project.

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