A Comparison of The Best Drag and Drop WordPress Plugins

A review of the best drag and drop builder plugins that are available online, including Visual Composer, and Elegant Builder and more.

Drag and drag page builders allow you to control how your website pages look by simply moving elements within a visual interface. One of the reasons they have become so popular is because they require no technical knowledge to use. Even a novice can create professional looking pages in seconds using a drag and drop builder.

The first page builder I remember testing extensively was Visual Composer in 2011. Developed by WPBakery, I was really impressed with what the plugin could do.

Page builders have become so popular that a large percentage of themes released on ThemeForest come packaged with drag and drop builder plugins so that users can create complex layouts on their own.

In this article, I would like to walk through you ten of the best drag and drop page builders that are available for WordPress today.

All plugins have been tested. Please also note that the content elements that can be inserted into layouts are named differently by developers. Some plugins refer to them as blocks, some as widgets, and others as modules. For the sake of consistency, I have referred to all of them as elements throughout this article.

1. Visual Composer

Visual Composer

Since I first checked out Visual Composer in 2011, the plugin has went on to become the fourth most popular plugin on CodeCanyon with over seventeen thousand sales.

The plugin has around forty content elements to choose from including social media sharing buttons, post grids, tables, sliders, image carousels and more. All elements are optimised for mobile devices.

Visual Composer Content Elements
There are over 40 content elements to choose from.

What I love about Visual Composer is how easy it is to create cool layouts quickly. There are several custom layouts available that split content into multiple columns and new rows can be added by dragging and dropping them into other areas of the page.

Visual Composer Layout
The visual layout editor looks great and is very easy to use.

Layouts can be saved as templates so that you can reuse them on other areas of your website. This makes it easy to create unique styles and duplicate them on similar pages. For example, you could create a unique layout for reviews and another for news.

[vimeo 64482230 w=630 h=354]

Another great thing about Visual Composer is its visual query builder. What in the world is that, you might ask? Well, it’s a really easy way to build custom queries and display them in a grid. A quick example where this might be useful. Lets say you want to create a Pinterest-style page with the Masonry layout. You also want only content from a particular post type (maybe you set up a portfolio custom post type) to show up on this page. So you’d need to create a custom query that fetches the latest posts from the portfolio custom post type and displays them with the Masonry layout with three columns. The visual query builder lets you do just that, you’ll have the page up and running in two minutes.

Visual query builder
Visual query builder

I still believe Visual Composer is one of the best drag and drop page builders available online as it gets the right balance between ease of use and number of features.

2. Awesome Builder

Awesome Builder

Launched in January 2014, Awesome Builder is one of the latest drag and drop builders to hit the market.

It allows you to build pages using a visual editor or using shortcodes. There are over twenty five elements to choose from including pricing tables, videos, sliders, boxes and more.

Awesome Builder Widgets
Over 25 elements are included with Awesome Builder.

Awesome Builder works in a similar way to Visual Composer, however the interface is a little cleaner and tidier. One of my favourite things about the layout editor is the ability to switch between the layout for desktop, tablet and mobiles. This allows you to cater the experience for every each type of visitor.

Awesome Builder Layout
Awesome Builder has a clean user-friendly interface.

Once I got used to how Awesome Builder worked, I was able to create some interesting page designs quickly. The plugin features an import and export system too, therefore duplicating layouts is straight forward.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPoO527BBNk?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

Despite Awesome Builder only been launched a few weeks, it looks like a serious contender in the page builder plugin market.

3. Elegant Builder

Elegant Builder

Elegant Builder is one of the more simpler drag and drop builder plugins available.

Seventeen elements are available including a pricing table, image slider and widget area. Whereas most builder plugins will take you at least ten or fifteen minutes to familiarise yourself with their interface; Elegant Builder is refreshingly easy right from the start.

Elegant Themes Builder
Elegant Themes Builder has a user-friendly interface.

To create a layout, all you do is drag columns down to the layout editor and then drag your chosen element into the appropriate box. Clicking on the element will allow you to customise it.

Elegant Builder Configure Element
Configuring elements is incredibly easy with Elegant Builder.

The simplicity of Elegant Builder is both its greatest feature and its greatest flaw. It lacks many features that other plugins have such as social media sharing buttons (though additional functionality can be added by utilising widgets in your layout).

If you are simply looking for a simple way of organising your content, Elegant Builder could be your best option. Those of you who are looking for more customisation options may want to choose something else.

4. Views

Views

Designed by the same team that developed The WordPress Multilingual Plugin (WPML), Views allows you to add complex functionality to your website.

When you first activate Views, you quickly realise that it works very differently to all other page and builder plugins in this list. It predominately uses a templating and shortcode system; however a layout wizard is available for beginners. Technically, it should not be considered as a drag and drop builder as their is no drag and drop interface (but it sneaks into the list as it is a feature packed page builder!).

Views utilises three custom post types:

  • Views – Allows you to create content such as lists, sliders, images and more. These can be inserted into content templates and archives.
  • Content Templates – Content templates can be created for posts, pages, media and any other custom post type you use. It can replace the default template for those post types.
  • WordPress Archives – Allows you to customise archive pages such as your home page, category archives, search results and more.

Most other page builder plugins are designed to work with only posts and pages, however Views can be used with any archive page or custom post type. This gives you more freedom over how the rest of your website is designed (i.e. not just posts and pages).

Views Content Editor
The plugin is divided into three different sections: Views, Content Templates and WordPress Archives.

Although there is no drag and drop interface, there is a layout wizard that lets you add grids, tables and lists. You can then choose the field ID that is inserted into the layout.

Insert Layout Using Views
The Views post type allows you to choose the style of your layout.

Media can also be inserted into layouts and you can connect an existing content template into your view. The code for your layout is shown too.

Views Layout Code
The layout editor shows the code for your layout.

There are dozens of shortcodes available. There are so many that the insert views box includes a search box and splits shortcodes into categories.

Views Content Editor Template System

Views is probably the least user-friendly plugin in our list. Developers will love the vast number of WordPress functions that it supports and its ability to import and export settings. However, beginners will get lost in a sea of shortcodes and technical terminology and you need to assign a page or post to a template before you can see the layout you created. Due to this, absolute beginners might struggle to get anything from Views and design the kind of layouts that the plugin is capable of.

Views query builder
Views query builder

Perhaps the best feature of Views when compared to the rest of the plugins in this post is its Query builder. You can build fairly complex queries without any code, and that’s a very powerful feature, one that is not easily found in other WordPress plugins.

All in all, Views is a very good plugin. If you have experience with editing WordPress themes for yourself or for clients, you will find that Views will save you a lot of time designing custom layouts.

Update: Toolset now contains a drag and drop component named Layouts.

5. Live Composer

Live Composer

Most page builders place the layout editor directly underneath the main WordPress post editor. Live Composer is different. It lets you design pages directly on your live website so that you can see the changes that you make.

Over thirty elements are on offer including galleries, projects and the slider revolution plugin. You can also add blog posts directly onto a page. All elements are responsive so look great on mobile devices too.

Live Composer Example Layout
An example of the professional layouts that can be created using Live Composer.

Those of you who have used the Headway WordPress framework will feel right at home with Live Composer. It works in a very similar way with the edit area for elements being placed at the bottom of each page.

The plugin also includes a templating system that lets you export layouts page to page or website to website.

Live Composer Edit Module
Elements can be edited and styled at the bottom of the page.

Editing your page design on the front end saves you from having to switch back and fourth from the layout editor and your live website. In this respect, Live Composer has an advantage over other builder plugins.

Be warned, however, that Live Composer has a steeper learning curve than other options available. It is probably going to take you thirty minutes to an hour to you start understanding how the interface works. Once you do, you should be able to design complex layouts comfortably.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HD2wn2d4Frw?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

To get a better idea of how Live Composer works, I encourage you to check out their interactive tutorial. It walks you through how the plugin works and shows you how it can be used to create professional layouts. If you feel comfortable with its interface, you may want to give Live Composer a try as it has a lot of unique elements to choose from.

6. Aqua Page Builder

Aqua Page Builder

Aqua Page Builder is a free plugin that lets you create custom page layouts.

Its interface can be found in the “Appearance” section of your WordPress admin area. It works exactly in the same way as the WordPress widget interface; therefore you should feel comfortable using it very quickly.

Aqua Page Builder
Aqua Page Builder takes advantage of the existing WordPress interface.

Six elements (blocks) are included with the plugin: Text, column, clear, widgets, alerts and tabs & toggles. Developers can also add custom elements if they wish. Several theme developers on ThemeForest have done this and used Aqua Page Builder to enhance own themes.

I found Aqua Page Builder very easy to use, however it is quite limited in features compared to plugins such as Visual Composer and Live Composer. The plugin is free to download so there is no risk in trying it out.

7. Themify Builder

Themify Builder

Themify Builder is an easy to use page builder that comes packaged with eighteen elements. It lacks elements such as social media sharing buttons, however it has all the essentials such as maps, sliders and widget areas.

It looks and feels very similar to the Elegant Builder, which is a big plus in my eyes.

Themify Builder Layout
The Themify Builder layout interface is self-explanatory; which means you can create cool layouts in just a few minutes.

Custom layouts only take a few minutes. You simply need to decide on the number of columns and drag and drop the elements into the appropriate area. Elements can then be configured and saved into the layout.

The plugin settings page allows you to disable specific elements. This is useful for removing buttons for elements that you do not use.

Themify Builder Element Settings
Like all drag and drop builder plugins, each element should configured before it is placed on your page.

Themify Builder does not have a templating system or import and export functionality; however there is a duplication button available. Clicking on the “Duplicate this Page” button will create a brand new page with the same layout. It is a poor substitute for a good templating system as changes to one page do not alter others.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A0JrDX8tpks?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

Themify Builder is quick to use and has many great layout and multimedia elements. Since there is no import or export functionality, it is not suitable for creating layouts across multiple websites.

8. MotoPress Content Editor

MotoPress Content Editor

Last up in our list is MotoPress Content Editor. The plugin uses a visual interface that allows you to see exactly how your layout will look on your website. Whilst Live Composer allows you to do this on the front end of your website, the MotoPress editor works in the backend.

The interface is unlike any other drag an drop page builder out there. It displays your layout and content in the central column and elements on the left hand side. All you need to do is drag and drop your chosen element into the page.

Twenty five elements are available across six categories. Elements include sliders, images, video, social media sharing buttons and custom menus.

MotoPress Content Editor
The MotoPress Content Editor uses a visual interface that shows you exactly what your layout looks like.

Clicking on an element will make a settings box pop up on the right side of the page. This allows you to configure the element and change the margin that surrounds it.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0jFJmTDqno?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

MotoPress Content Editor does everything that you would expect from a drag and drop page builder including a wide variety of elements and an easy to use interface. Compared to plugins that let you create layouts through the post editor, I found MotoPress Content Editor to take a little longer to create layouts.

9. Conductor

pagebuilder-conductor-1

Using the Conductor plugin not only saves you from using any code to build your pages but also save you lots of time in building your WordPress site. It’s WordPress Customizer allows you to view all your changes in real-time, making sure you’re making the right changes to your site.

pagebuilder-conductor-2

All you have to do is select your layout and then drop in your Conductor widgets as you wish, incorporating pages, posts, custom post types and more as you wish and with relative ease. You can select from various custom page layouts for any look you want, be it full-width or a magazine-style blog.

There are also various options for how to display your content. You might want it to be displayed in a list, or a table or even a grid; it’s your choice. It’s drag-and-drop feature works great with the WordPress customizer and the plugin blends in well with WordPress itself.

pagebuilder-conductor-3

If you want to learn more about each of these features just go to the ‘How It Works?’ section on the plugin’s site and check out all the video explanations from there.

And the Winner is….

It is common for articles such as this to declare a winner at the end of the article. Alternatively, each plugin is given a rating out of five or ten using a pre-determined marking system that favours some plugins over others.

I do not believe that such a comparison is fair as it can give misleading results. For example, a rating system could unfairly penalise Elegant Builder for not offering as many elements as a plugin such as Live Composer. However, whilst Live Composer offers many great elements and features, its user interface means that simple layouts can take much longer to design.

At the end of the day, everyone’s needs are different. A plugin that is packed full of dozens of elements is not a better plugin if you do not need those additional features. You need to get the correct balance for you and your website.

Therefore, before you decide on a drag and drop page builder, I encourage you to step back and think of what is important to you.

  • Are there specific elements that you need?
  • Is the speed in which you can create custom layouts important?
  • Do you need a templating system or import/export functionality?

Most developers allow you to test their plugin before you buy. This is usually available through a public demo or a free trial. If neither are available, I recommend contacting the plugin developer directly and asking for access to a demonstration of the plugin.

If you enjoyed this post, make sure to subscribe to WP Mayor’s RSS feed or follow us on Facebook or Twitter. We have a lot of great content coming up that you do not want to miss 🙂

Kevin Muldoon
Kevin Muldoon
Kevin Muldoon is a professional blogger with a love of travel. He writes regularly about internet marketing on his personal blog and provides technical support at Rise Forums.

Consider sharing this post so others can find it:

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on telegram
Share on whatsapp
Share on pocket
Share on email

Join thousands of people receiving real-world, genuine evaluations of WordPress products and services just like this one every week.

Our Sponsors
Prevent Direct Access
Contents

37 Responses

  1. You should include the SiteOrigin Page Builder, it works with yor widgets, lets you choose the exact with of each column, work in posts and CPT, free, GPL, updated and improving itself, fast light weight, lets wou chose the mobile with, if the css are laoded separately… it even lets you deactivate js animations if you (like me) have a really slow computer…

    1. your plugin seems so sweet and sexy! May be more options for the query and a parrallax optiond like drag abd drop shortcodes,,, and cataplum!

      PS: is no easy to be sweet and sexy at the same time.

      1. Hehe thanks 🙂

        There’s a ew module now called “Posts” where you can choose which post type to show, order, order by, posts per page, offset… so that should allow a custom query to be built.

        Parrallax BG on rows are available since the first version.

        Shortcodes can be called from the HTML module.

  2. Visual Composer is my Favorite WP quick site builder plug-in, It’s loaded with lot’s of amazing powerful features like adding Fanpage,G+,Drag and drop quick widgets,blocks,etc!

    1. Both of those are good, if I had to choose, I would say go for Headway. This post focuses purely on plugins, and that is the reason why they are not included here.

    2. they are theme builders or frameworks, so they let you make the hole theme. I own both, not used any of them very much, but I would try first ultimatum, is cheaper (check out migntydeals) the problem with headway is that you have to pay for many blocks.

      In the other side I dont think is the best architecture, but ultimatum includes a lot of thing even VisualComposer and they are “breaking” some geatures realising them as plugins, wich is cool.

      emm… by the way if you dont want super css3 effects (nor HW, nor UT made that for you) and you are not afraid to type a couple of shortcodes… or better a lot of them go without any doubt for the complete toolset… here is a review for views, a part of toolset… they even has a theme for customise (based on bootstrap)… go to their site, read the instructions and you will see… that gives you real POWER!

      (not owner, not affiliate, just a fan)

      1. I haven’t used Views, but Types, which is a (free) part of Toolset, is mindblowing potent. It really makes you feel like a true developer 🙂

          1. Thanks Jean. I’ve been wanting to do just that. Truth is I haven’t seen it working, which makes me a little resistant to invest in a $95 (or $149 for the Toolset bundle) plugin. But, trust me, it’s one of my priorities and I say to myself: “as soon OnTheGoSystems improves the UI, I’ll buy it the same day”.

    1. As I can tell from our users’ experience, nobody complained that the plugin affects the loading page speed. Concerning the compatibility with Genesis we didn’t test MotoPress Content Editor with this framework, but we also didn’t get the feedback about the collision with it. So, MotoPress has to work with Genesis.

  3. As the gap closes between Frameworks and Drag & Drop Page Builders like the ones you’ve featured here – for designers like me – does it really make sense to continue to learn to code — What I’m really asking is: With these page builders becoming so well developed & powerful – what is the benefit of using a Genesis or Builder or any of the Frameworks that take so much more learning to use? Is there a downside to using a Page Builder?

  4. Conclusion of why you should take Glucosamine Chondroitin MSM.
    These health supplements need to have to be taken in the approved doses only, due to the fact they can lead to aspect consequences.
    (5) Dog have required whimpers away when approached, or try pet.

  5. Hey!

    I´m very interested to use this new feature in the themes we made for our clients. What I don´t like of those plugin reviewed in this post is most all use shortcodes to do the “visual” edition. That´s why I found this other http://thrivethemes.com/contentbuilder/ and I love the idea, if the plugin does what they say I bet for this one over others.

    Any of you have try this plugin?

  6. Hello! This is kind of off topic but I need some help from an established blog.

    Is it very hard to set up your own blog? I’m not
    very techincal but I can figure things out pretty fast.
    I’m thinking about creating my own but I’m not sure where to begin. Do you have any points or suggestions?

    With thanks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The Beginner’s Handbook
From an introduction on how WordPress works to our recommendations on products and services.
👋 Hey there! We're Gaby and Mark
Every week we share tutorials and genuine reviews of WordPress products and services in our newsletter.
Thousands of people read it!
We’d love for you to join.
We’d love for you to join. Here’s what you’ll be getting:

A single weekly email directly to your inbox.