Part 2 of this series can be found here.
In the last two years, page builders have exploded onto the WordPress scene, with no signs of stopping.
For a long time, we’ve been exposed to the horrors of such products as Visual Composer, which despite not having many fans in the development community, is so pervasive, mostly thanks to being bundled into to ThemeForest themes.
Purist developers are perhaps still wary of any page builders, Visual Composer aside – I was too, despite trying my hardest to like them.
I had tried Thesis, Headway, Visual Composer, Layouts from Toolset, Page Builder by Site Origin, as well as ‘rolling my own’ Advanced Custom Fields solution using their flexible layouts field.
I mean, I could muddle through and create ‘something’, but there was always BIG limitations and an awful user experience for my clients.
I’ve even spoken to the CEOs & CEOs of some of these companies at WordCamps and expressed what I believed to be big limiting factors:
- bloated, complex UIs with too many options
- no front-end support and users having to flick back and forth between WordPress admin and the front end after making changes
- catering for the end user only, and not thinking about what a strong development community can offer
- slow support (and I mean weeks or months for responses)
- trying to run a page builder almost as a separate entity – almost trying to pretend WordPress didn’t exist
Enter Beaver Builder.
It has been around since ~2014 – a lifetime in the WP page builder world.
Even in Beaver Builder’s earlier days, it was still a front-runner in the bid to be the best page builder, but it was lacking in a few areas (such as differing spacing for various screen sizes), which made it a non-starter for me to use on client projects.
However, the development team behind Beaver Builder have been excellent – they’ve listened to the community and iterated rapidly.
They have a good selection of built-in themes and modules, and also a growing ecosystem of others developing plugins, add-ons and themes.
From speaking to numerous people at WordPress events here in London, or on the Slack channel about how they use Beaver Builder, it seems as if they’ve struck the perfect balance between end-user friendliness, and extensibility for developers.
The latter is where I think Beaver Builder will shine (although Elementor and Tailor seem to be not far behind – a little competition will keep everyone on their toes!).
For me, Beaver Builder is a platform for which I can build page elements in my own way, with my own code, and provide an easy to use, snappy interface for my clients.
While I have to sacrifice 10 – 15% of my workflow, the upsides are enormous (which I’ll talk about in more detail over time).
With all that said, I think the biggest draw to Beaver Builder is the inclusive, helpful community – of which the core team remain a big part of. A lot of plugins reach a certain size, the team hires some support staff, and then keep their community at arm’s length.
It’s no surprise to see any of the crew popping up in the Beaver Builder Slack channel to discuss things that are probably very low on their priority list.
In the coming weeks, I’m going to publish a series of screencasts and ‘how to’s’ for development ‘dabblers’; for those who know a very little bit about CSS, HTML, jQuery and PHP want to get a little bit more out of Beaver Builder.
Topics that I plan on covering:
- Developing with Beaver Builder with modularity in mind
- Developing with your client in mind
- Creating your own custom modules
- Creating custom fields and module settings forms
- Useful code snippets to add, remove and modify core functionality safely
- How I use Beaver Builder to create awesome commercially-focused sites (eg. lead capture & sales pages, and sales funnels)
I’ll walk you through exactly how I’ve built a number of my custom modules, providing code samples, entire modules and fields and much much more.
In the meantime, I’d love to hear your opinions on other page builders you’ve tried, and what experience level you are. What are/were your “bugbears”, and does Beaver Builder solve them?
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Bye for now!