There is no doubt that WordPress has become one of the most, if not the most, popular Content Management System. More than 50 million posts and 48 million comments are produced by WordPress users each month.
And it’s easy to see why. Besides being extendible and easy to use, building and managing a WordPress site is straight-forward, especially if you opt for a readily available theme and customise it according to your needs or those of your clients’. You can have a new WordPress site up and running within a few days.
Whilst themes do make it easy to create and launch new sites, they do bind you to the layout provided – which could be an issue if you would like to differentiate your design or you need to make alterations as your site grows.
Enter page builder plugins, which have been created specifically to address this issue. They provide you with control over your theme design, in the process allowing you to create beautiful looking websites, whilst delivering additional functionality.
One of the most popular page builders is Beaver Builder, which we will be reviewing here.
An Introduction to Beaver Builder
In a nutshell, Beaver Builder allows you to produce beautiful layouts and landing pages for your WordPress site without having to write any code. It is front-end editor, which means that you can build your pages in a very visual format and once happy with the result, changes will take place immediately after having hit the publish button.
This is brilliant if you are a beginner with not much coding experience or you are after creating rich content pages quickly and easily, saving considerable time in the process.
Beaver Builder was created to work with almost any WordPress theme under the sun, so it should be pretty plain sailing in terms of compatibility. It also comes with a comprehensive set of content and homepage modules, which we will go into shortly, to help you build striking layouts and landing pages through the intuitive drag and drop system. Every part of a Beaver Builder layout or landing page is fully responsive and adapts to any screen size, so as long as you are using a responsive theme, any page built with Beaver Builder will be totally responsive.
For additional functionality, Beaver Builder also supports core and third party WordPress widgets and shortcodes.
Installing and Using Beaver Builder
Installing Beaver Builder is very straightforward. Just download the plugin, install and activate.
Once this process is complete, you will notice that within your WordPress Admin Bar, you now have a ‘Page Builder’ link.
Within the backend you will see that a ‘Page Builder’ link appears as soon as you hover over any of your pages.
Alternatively you can also access the Page Builder tab in the post editing admin panel to launch the Page Builder.
Before starting to use Beaver Builder, it’s worth noting that you can use the plugin to design pages as well as posts, a great feature that isn’t always available with competing plugins.
To enable this function go to Settings > Page Builder > Post Types and tick the ‘Posts’ check box.
Once you are ready to create a new page or post, you will be prompted to choose an appropriate layout as your starting point. The Beaver Builder plugin contains numerous pre-built layouts – 14 striking home page layouts (plus a blank canvas if needed) as well as 13 content layouts.
There is a wide selection of Home Page layouts (which can be setup to be full width), with each layout designed for a specific purpose – from Business and eCommerce to App Development and Agency templates.
The Content Page layouts are also very useful and practical and include templates for About Us, Contact Us, FAQs, Pricing and Portfolio.
You will always have the option to choose a layout template upon accessing the Beaver Builder plugin in any page and you can always change your template at any given time using the Templates button available in the top menu. Once you have decided on a template, just confirm it and it will be added to your page or post.
Layouts are fully customisable – you can duplicate, delete, add and edit modules as you see fit. To edit a module, simply click on it and make all the necessary changes. You can change images (as shown in the example below), text, alignment, call-to-actions, margins or links.
It is worth highlighting that the Beaver Builder Page Builder plugin is intended to affect the content of your site and not the theme. As we’ve seen above, page layout and design can be customised in many ways through the plugin, however the header, footer and menu will still need to be configured through the theme.
For fuller control you can opt for the Beaver Builder theme (available with the Pro and Agency packages, more on this below), which is a very versatile and easy to customise theme framework.
The Beaver Builder Page Builder also offers a comprehensive set of modules, divided into three categories: Basic Modules, Advanced Modules and WordPress Widgets.
The Basic category offers the most essential modules to get started and includes: Heading, Photo, Separator, Text Editor and Video.
The Advanced category includes some very useful and nifty modules that distinguish Beaver Builder from the competition. One of my favourite modules is the Callout module which provides a powerful way of highlighting specific content. The Callout can be managed through a number of settings that control alignment, style, image and call-to-action.
Some of the other noteworthy Advanced Modules include the Posts Carousel and the Posts Slider, which allow you to insert a group of posts into a carousel or a slider. The modules are packed with numerous different settings that allow you to create different carousel/slider options for your posts.
For example, you can have the post text overlaying the featured image or appearing beside the featured image. In the example below we have created a Posts Slider showcasing all the automated feeds that are being pulled in through the WP RSS Aggregator plugin.
At the time of writing the Beaver Builder Page Builder offers 23 Advanced Modules, which are listed below:
- Call to Action
- Contact Form
- Content Slider
- Icon Group
- Number Counter
- Posts Carousel
- Posts Slider
- Pricing Table
- Social Buttons
- Subscribe Form
Using the final set of modules, WordPress Widgets, you can also add any of the widgets supported by your other WordPress plugins to your page. This is a very valuable feature as it allows you to integrate the functionality of existing widgets within a custom design.
To purchase Beaver Builder you can opt for one of the three packages on offer: Agency, Pro and Standard.
The Standard package is suitable if you already have a theme and would like to add Page Builder to your existing site. If you would like additional control and functionality, the Pro package might be more suitable as it offers the Beaver Builder WordPress theme on top of the Page Builder, as well as custom module support and multi-site capability.
The Agency package is ideal for running a network of sites or if you’re interested in starting a website publishing business as it offers white labelling on top of the Pro package, which allows you to change the branding of the plugin in the WordPress dashboard.
Purchasing any of the packages allows you to use Beaver Builder on an unlimited number of sites for an unlimited period of time, however to have access to support and updates, licences must be renewed on an annual basis. Renewal discounts of 40% are available.
Documentation and Support
The Beaver Builder Page Builder is very easy and intuitive to use. Implementing changes and customisations is also straightforward as settings are well described and laid out.
Having said that, if you would like to have access to documentation, Beaver Builder offers quite a comprehensive knowledge base that includes articles from the initial ‘Getting Started’ stage to ‘Plugin CSS’ and ‘Plugin Developer’ documentation.
For any issues or support queries, you can access the Support Forums. Beaver Builder promises to answer questions within a few hours and generally all questions are answered by the next business day. Support is limited on weekends and holidays.
The only thing to point out with regards to Documentation and Support is that the Knowledge Base and the Support Forums are not accessible through the main Beaver Builder website, but a simple Google Search will take you to the relevant sections straight away.
Overall, Beaver Builder is a great plugin to have. One of its highlights is the front-end drag and drop interface that provides total control over the design and layout of your pages in real-time. If you’re after speeding up the design process, this will provide significant time savings as you no longer need to switch between browser windows and wait for pages to reload to be able to see your changes.
Additionally, it’s a feature-packed tool that offers dozens of well-designed and most importantly, fully mobile responsive templates to spur your creativity. Within the tool, the numerous modules available provide some powerful functionality while also allowing you to use shortcodes and widgets from other plugins.
You also have complete control of your content. If you ever disable the plugin, the content will be ported back into the default WordPress editor, so you don’t end up with a mess once the plugin is switched off.
If you’re after a Page Builder that is easy-to-use and full of relevant functionality without breaking the bank, then this is a plugin that you can add to your site with confidence.