The days of web design where it was about creating static pages in HTML and CSS are gone. They are being replaced by a series of tools that seek to put web design capabilities into the hands of business owners and those who are not web developers.
The market has made it easier for people to design websites through a series of tools, plugins and themes. Even though the access to design has become easier, this does not mean creating effective designs has become easier.
Just like knowing how to write does not make you an effective writer. Just like owning a dog does not make you a veterinarian or a dog trainer. Effective web design still takes a series of skills like psychology, design and marketing.
Despite that fact, we know business owners need to keep their costs down and it is sometimes a more effective decision based on the business’ stage. This results in a lot of entrepreneurs and small-business owners needing drag-and-drop tools.
We have compiled a list of Page Builder Themes that can help make your design efforts easier and more fruitful. We will examine some of the themes along with their advantages and disadvantages. These themes are in no particular order, but I will tell you that our favorite theme is Visual Composer.
Themify is used right in the WordPress page editor, so the layout design is very familiar.
The other advantage is the ability to design the site in both front-end and back-end. This allows for greater design and functionality, but it can be a bit more confusing. It also requires a lot of server resources — meaning if you are on slower shared hosting like GoDaddy, forget about using the front-end designer.
Themify Builder comes with any Themify theme that you purchase. The disadvantage is that the themes are simple and have similar styles. The overall themes are not anything great, and they may not fit your business needs. The pricing is modest and you can get access to all of the themes for $79.
We list this option because of its easier use for beginners. However, just because it’s easier doesn’t mean it’s easy. Common problem with MOST builders: they have a very specific style, and changing that style can be quite a fight.
Some of them allow you to set specific colors, but once you set those, any customization to colors has to be done in HTML/CSS (because heaven forbid you want TWO colors for buttons). In general, the more focused to one style a builder is, the faster it is to produce that style of layout.
However, you can get very stuck as soon as you want anything to look slightly different. The more multipurpose it is, generally it requires setting more things per item, but you can change things much more easily.
OptimizePress is both a plugin and a theme. The advantage of OptimizePress is that they offer an extensive database of landing pages, sales pages and membership portals that rival LeadPages. Their templates are easy to use – changing colors, fonts and text is easy.
The main disadvantage to the theme focuses on landing pages and sales pages. The theme has full blogging template functionality, but it is not built out as extensively as other pages. If you cannot find a template that fits your exact needs, you will need to make your own using the drag-and-drop.
They have done a good job removing a lot of the technical hurdles. You do not need to be an internet Einstein to design their sites, but this makes it challenging to do further customizing outside of what they allow.
If your website is going to focus on landing pages and sales pages, then this is a decent theme. Otherwise, there are themes that offer more value and better design options.
Elegant Themes (Divi)
Elegant Themes is a hit or miss theme. The standard page builder that Elegant Themes has been shipping for a while is useless. However, with Divi 3.0 they have made huge improvements in their builder.
The builder is now easier to use than before. It is easier to get the design results you desire. The builder is an easy drag-and-drop, so it is one of the easiest builders to use for entrepreneurs or non-designers.
The builder takes place in the backend, which means you are going through WordPress. The builder uses elements as building blocks that you can arrange and resize. You can give the blocks custom names.
Despite the ease of use, the builder is not as robust as some other themes. When editing element text and content you have to open the modules. This can become a hassle if you create too many elements because you will forget which element your content is in.
X Theme is a very powerful theme with a powerful page builder. The theme comes with several different extensions to help you build a powerful website. Some of the extensions are Disqus commenting, Mailchimp forms, editorial calendars and visual composer.
They recommend using Cornerstone Page Builder since it integrates better with the theme, but you can use Visual Composer, which is one of our favorite plugins. Between Cornerstone or Visual Composer you will be able to produce powerful and beautiful websites.
When designing, your content is shown on the builder so that you do not get lost like you would with Elegant Themes. The functionality of X Theme makes it one of the most powerful, but as my Uncle Ben always said, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
Since the X Theme is powerful and has a lot of extensions, navigating and designing the website can be a challenge. There are many different options, buttons and extensions. I love this theme, but is very difficult to use for a beginner.
Headway is probably my least recommended theme. Headway has a complete lack of useful documentation. You have to design your site in back-end and front-end – the back-end shows you a mix of modules and actual content.
This theme includes two different viewers: one for structure and one for design. The structure viewer is not intuitive and is difficult for novices to use, and it only shows modules. The only plus this theme has going is its saved templates. This can save you time creating and designing pages if you use a template.
RT Themes (RT Theme 18)
RT Themes is similar to X Theme. It has a powerful builder that offers a lot of options and allows small-business owners and non-designers to create stunning layouts. This theme comes with several extension options to make your site more powerful.
It is a little easier to use than Theme X, but it still requires at least some familiarity with WordPress and the admin panel. From the panel, you can customize a lot of aspects about your site such as the styling, the header and the blog.
The only disadvantage to this theme is that it can be difficult for beginners. It can be challenging navigating the panel and finding what button changes what on your website.
This list is not complete of all page builder themes, but I included some of the most popular themes. There tends to be, though not always, an inverse relationship between the ease of use and the power of a theme.
The more robust a theme is, the more complicated it is to use. The less robust a theme is, the less likely you need to be an internet Einstein. Basic themes are easy to use, but cannot usually build powerful enough websites that will attract and keep visitors.
I recommend going with a more robust theme. Try to learn on your own and if you get stuck, then seek some help. We are always here to help. If you need any design or page builder help, give us a call at (570) 360 – 9320.
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