MotoPress Content Editor vs Visual Composer vs SiteOrigin Page Builder vs Beaver Builder vs Live Composer

The standard structure of WordPress content is just boring. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but that’s the case.

And don’t get me wrong, please, I still love WordPress. It’s the most awesome content management system for the web in the history of ever!

That being said, there’s only limited joy you can draw from putting one paragraph after another with some images in between (and an option to align them to left, right or center).

Good content presentation is often about a lot more. Just take a look at Medium. Those guys have the content presentation part of their platform pretty figured out. Or, you know, a more humble example, what we’re trying to do here at CodeinWP with those full-width posts of ours (like this).

Anyway, WordPress is not entirely fit to let you build this kind of content easily. To make it a possibility, you need yourself a plugin. More specifically, you need a drag-and-drop page content builder plugin.

So today, we take a closer look at 4 popular solutions and point out which is best. The lineup is: MotoPress Content Editor vs Visual Composer vs SiteOrigin Page Builder vs Beaver Builder. We discuss the features, the pros and cons, what makes each of them different and which is going to be the best choice for you individually.

Full review comparison of the top drag-and-drop page content builders for WordPress

Overview
MotoPress Content Editor is a WordPress plugin that hooks up to whatever theme you’re currently using, and then lets you add some flare to your blog posts and pages.

It’s a drag-and-drop content editor, which means that you don’t need any source code or web dev skills to use it. Because of this, it saves you a ton of time while you’re working on your website content.

The plugin integrates with the standard editor screen in WordPress, and it can be enabled for every post or page that you already have on the site.

On top of that, MotoPress (the parent company) also offers custom WordPress themes that come with even more integration for the MotoPress Content Editor plugin.

Main features
  • Drag-and-drop content building.
  • Works with existing posts, pages and also custom post types.
  • Compatible with all WordPress themes.
  • Built-in elements to create complex layouts (columns, rows).
  • A big set of content blocks (such as text, buttons, images, videos, quotes, lists, etc.).
    • Also, content blocks that aren’t as obvious, like service boxes, calls to action, splash screens, charts, countdown timers and more.
  • The possibility to lock parts of the content and make it members only.
  • Responsive and mobile-ready layouts.
  • WPML compatibility.
Price
  • $29 – 1 website license,
  • $79 – 5 websites,
  • $139 – unlimited websites.

There’s also a “lite” version of the plugin available through WordPress.org.

Pros
  • Can be enabled for any existing post or page. (That isn’t always the case with the other plugins on the list.)
  • Intuitive drag-and-drop interface. It recognizes where you want to put each block, and it snaps right in the right place. It also lets you create multi-column layouts easily (you just drop a new element next to an existing element).
  • No website dev skills required.
  • There’s full support.
  • The cheapest premium solution on this list.
Cons
  • It’s shortcodes based. If you uninstall the plugin, the content you’ve built will stop working. Also, to edit your posts using the plugin, you have to click the MotoPress Content Editor button every time you go to the editing screen (not a big deal but can be confusing for newbie users).
Who’s MotoPress Content Editor best suited for?
Get MotoPress Content Editor if you:
  • want a drag-and-drop content builder that has no learning curve and just works properly,
  • want to use it with your current WordPress theme,
  • want access to a set of not-so-obvious content blocks (like charts, countdown timers, etc.).
Overview
Visual Composer is currently the bestselling WordPress plugin over at CodeCanyon, and it powers more than 1 million sites.

Like the name suggests, it’s a visual content builder with an easy to grasp interface, a ton of features and some drag-and-drop functionality (just for aligning the elements that you’ve already placed on your page).

In a sentence, Visual Composer offers everything you’d need from a visual builder, and it works with your current WordPress theme. Plus, everything’s at an affordable price.

Visual Composer also doesn’t have much of a learning curve. You can add new elements to a page by clicking the plus button and then picking what you need from a wizard.

Main features
  • Works with existing posts and pages.
  • Compatible with all WordPress themes.
  • More than 40 built-in content blocks (rows, columns, text blocks, buttons, charts, social media icons and more).
  • Responsive and mobile-ready layouts.
  • Front-end and back-end content editors available.
  • 60+ predefined layouts built-in.
  • SEO-friendly.
  • Comprehensive knowledge base and video tutorials.
  • Multisite support.
  • Compatible with qTranslate, mqTranslate and WPML.
Price
  • $34 (CodeCanyon Regular License)
Pros
  • Can be enabled for any existing post or page.
  • There’s front-end editing, so you can see what your content is going to look like on the website exactly.
  • There’s also back-end editing – through the standard editing screen in WordPress – if you prefer to keep things in one place.
  • No web development skills required.
  • The customer support has a very good reputation.
  • Works with WooCommerce.
Cons
  • Creating rows and columns is a bit more manual than with MotoPress Content Editor. That being said, for some users this might be an advantage.
  • It’s shortcodes based. If you uninstall the plugin, the content you’ve built will stop working.
Who’s Visual Composer best suited for?
Get Visual Composer if you:
  • want to use a plugin that’s been tested by hundreds of thousands of users and has great reviews all through the web,
  • want something that allows you to edit your content both in the wp-admin and on the front-end (while looking at your live site),
  • want to use the plugin with your current WordPress theme.
Overview
SiteOrigin Page Builder is an interesting visual content builder plugin that delivers a load of features and is quite easy to use at the same time.

However, by far the most interesting characteristic of it is that it’s completely free. There’s not one locked feature and nothing behind a freemium gate.

SiteOrigin Page Builder integrates with your current WordPress theme and lets you use the plugin for your posts and pages. The editing happens on the back-end (through the standard editing screen in WordPress). You add new blocks by clicking either the “Add Row” or “Add Widget” button. There’s also some drag-and-drop functionality for realigning the blocks.

In a nutshell, SiteOrigin Page Builder will give you a possibility to build your site’s content in a visual way and for free.

Main features
  • Can work with your existing posts and pages.
  • Compatible with all WordPress themes.
  • Has version control.
  • Responsive and mobile-ready output.
  • Can use WordPress widgets as content blocks.
  • There’s a set of built-in content blocks, and an additional set of blocks you can get from an add-on plugin (also free).
  • Back-end content editing (from wp-admin).
  • Available in 17 languages out the box.
Price
  • free
Pros
  • It’s 100% free.
  • It allows you to use the widgets you already have on your WordPress site (including widgets from other plugins).
  • Works on any post or page.
  • No coding skills required.
Cons
  • It’s only slightly more difficult to use than the others on this list. And that’s very slightly. For instance, to add any element to your page, first you need to create a new row and only then pick a block/widget to place in it.
  • You can’t import layouts from pages you built previously (at least it didn’t work for me).
Who’s SiteOrigin Page Builder best suited for?
Get SiteOrigin Page Builder if you:
  • want something that’s free,
  • want something that will allow you to use widgets as content blocks (this means you can display recent posts, popular posts, the search field, etc.),
  • want to use the plugin with your current WordPress theme.
Overview
Beaver Builder is an advanced visual content builder with full drag-and-drop support. What sets this plugin apart is its custom content editing interface. It’s on the front-end, and it gives you an exact representation of what your page is going to look like when you publish it.

Beaver Builder also delivers a set of built-in templates for various pages. For example: landing pages, services page, “about” page and more.

Everything you build with the plugin is going to be mobile-friendly, and it’ll work with your current theme. Also, you get to reuse your designs by exporting them.

Main features
  • Works with any WordPress theme.
  • Works with posts and pages.
  • Responsive and mobile-ready layouts.
  • Good customer support.
  • Full drag-and-drop functionality.
  • Front-end editing.
  • Multisite capable.
  • SEO-friendly.
  • Compatible with WooCommerce.
  • Import/export features.
  • A nice set of built-in content modules (headings, text, photos, icons, maps, videos and more).
  • Built-in page templates.
  • WPML compatibility.
Price
  • $99 – Standard,
  • $199 – Pro,
  • $399 – Agency.
Pros
  • No coding skills required.
  • Lets you work with WordPress widgets as content blocks.
  • Very easy-to-use interface.
  • Works with any theme.
Cons
  • Expensive compared to the other plugins on the list. The cheapest license is $99.
Who’s Beaver Builder best suited for?
Get Beaver Builder if you:

  • want a tool that’s truly easy to use,
  • want a full drag-and-drop support,
  • want a set of built-in page templates,
  • want something that allows you to edit your content both in the wp-admin and on the front-end,
  • want to be able to import/export your layouts.
 UPDATE (March 2016).  There’s a new player in the game:
Overview
We’ve decided to include Live Composer here simply because it’s a really cool solution.

First off, it’s a front-end page builder, so you get to see the changes you’re making in real time. Secondly, it’s completely free.

If you prefer to work on the front-end, rather than on the wp-admin side, this makes it a viable alternative to SiteOrigin.


Conclusion

The world of drag-and-drop visual content builders for WordPress has surely grown a lot in the last couple of years. And, to be honest, I’m really amazed at what’s possible these days vs. how reasonable the price is.

That being said, I do have my winners. Please pick the persona that describes you best:

A)

  • I want a great content editor that just works properly.
  • I want to be able to just use it without having to spend hours learning all the ins and outs.
  • I want to get access to a complete set of content modules/blocks (including the standard ones, such as text or images, but also less obvious things, like charts, counters, etc.).
Click Here to Reveal

B)

  • I want something that’s free.
 
What do you think? Have you experimented with any of the plugins from this list? Which is the best one in your opinion: MotoPress Content Editor, Visual Composer, SiteOrigin Page Builder, or Beaver Builder?

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by MotoPress and contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own, and I’d still recommend these tools every day of the week if I wasn’t affiliated. Remember that it’s always important to ensure that any tool is a good fit for you before hitting the buy button.

 

Karol K

Creates content, manages CodeinWP's team of writers and makes sure that every piece of content you see on this blog looks great! / Author of "WordPress Complete" / Professional yerba mate drinker / @carlosinho
  • Hey Karol! Great review. Thanks so much for the nice words about Beaver Builder!

    Hope you don’t mind if I make a minor addition, Beaver Builder also has a very capable free version in the WordPress repo:

    https://wordpress.org/plugins/beaver-builder-lite-version/

    It’s the exact same front end building interface, but it doesn’t include templates or as many content “modules.” You can use native WordPress widgets and shortcodes, though, so it’s extremely flexible. Definitely worth a look if you’re hunting for a free page builder.

    Thanks again! 😀

    • Thanks for sharing, Robby!

      Do you have a side-by-side comparison of any kind, the free vs. paid version?

      • We’re working on one, but not yet. The free version is missing template features and our advanced modules. With the free version, you get text, image, video, heading, and HTML modules. It also supports short codes and WordPress widgets! 🙂

  • Manuel Vicedo

    Nice comparison!

    I’d have loved to get our own page builder into the list, although sadly the premium version is not even released yet. Its name is Forge, and it’s a front-end builder:
    https://wordpress.org/plugins/forge/

    Other than that, I just want to mention that Beaver Builder is my preferred tool from the list above. Shortcodes are very flimsy when integrating them into page builders, and I have had Visual Composer break on me quite a few times– it’s also the reason why we started developing our own tool.

    • Thanks for sharing, Manuel!

      What’s going to be the difference between the free version and the pro?

      • Manuel Vicedo

        Mainly, a lot more elements. The free version has the bare essentials (images and text blocks), and the idea is to provide 40+ design items in the paid plugin. It’s worth noting that Forge does not use shortcodes, but it’s made to integrate fairly well with the way shortcodes are implemented.

        Basically, if you have a shortcode you can add a few lines of code to integrate it into the builder. 🙂

  • Raitis

    Hi, Raitis from WPBakery – Visual Composer here. Wanted to thank you for including Visual Composer in your list. As for cons – we do have predefined templates which lowers time to spent on row/column (layout) building if users do not wish to mess with it and of course looking into extending list of templates in the future. And for shortcodes – even this is native WP way of displaying content we are looking into this as well. Thank you for pushing us – best regards.

    • Thanks for chipping in, Raitis!

    • Jasmin Chang

      Hello, i know it’s a post while ago but I still wish to comment about VC. We’ve been using VC and it is well made BUT bcuse it is all done with shortcodes and it will break our sites once it turn off… we are thinking about changing… Hope it will be improved soon. Thanks.

  • Daniel

    For me, Cornerstone blows anything I’ve used away. It allows you to make fantastic looking pages easily. Thanks for educating us about alternatives though; I’ll be sure to check them out.

    • Just like I asked above: Is Cornerstone available as a standalone plugin? As far as I know, you can only get it when you buy X. 🙂

      • Daniel

        Very soon it will be available as a standalone plugin. Give it a a month or two.

      • Just came to this page looking for a pro/con comparison of some of the big page builders. Figured I’d comment that now Cornerstone is available standalone. 🙂

  • John Barousse

    Divi from Elegant Themes is my builder of choice. Worth a hard look!

    • I was going to mention this too. Glad I skimmed the comments first. 🙂

    • Divi’s installed as a theme, that’s why it didn’t make the list. 🙂

      • John Barousse

        Divi has actually been available as a standalone plugin for a couple of months.

        • Chris Powell

          Wondering why the author of a site like this and a current, just-now-published article wasn’t aware of such a plug-in. It is, after all, very current, yet talked about for over a year, well-established for months, from a top-notch developer, and equally if not more so robust and comparable. Kind of slacking on keeping up with the trends :-/

          • Jim Conzelman

            Divi’s shortcuts don’t change the code though, so when you switch to a new theme or uninstall Divi, your site is damaged.

  • Jeff Potts

    Great article, I think content builders are a welcome addition to the WordPress world. I still have not found my perfect choice and to be fair I have not tried Beaver Builder yet, but it is on my list. So far I really like Cornerstone, I would love to see a follow up article of how it might fit into your review.

    • Is Cornerstone available as a standalone plugin? As far as I know, you can only get it when you buy X.

      • Jeff Potts

        Since I am also interested in the official answer to that question. I have emailed ThemeCo and will let you know what I find out when I hear back from them.

      • Jeff Potts

        ThemeCo got back to me within minutes of my email (also the sign of a good company). Here is there reply:

        Thanks for reaching out, my friend! We are thrilled to know you are enjoying your time with Cornerstone, and it will definitely be available very soon (within the next couple months) as a standalone option. We published a blog about if a couple months ago here: http://theme.co/blog/cornerstone-page-builder-coming-soon-to-a-theme-near-you/

        We are very excited about the future of Cornerstone as there are some very exciting things going on behind the scenes that we can’t disclose just yet but will be incredible! If there is anything else I can do for you in the meantime, feel free to let me know.

        All my best,
        Kyle
        Your Themeco Team

        • Thanks for sharing this! I’m happy to include Cornerstone here when it gets released.

  • Martin Fuller

    I agree with the comment in support of Elegant Themes Divi product. I use this for the majority of my builds but am starting to move towards the Avada theme with the Fusion builder which has really good optimisation

  • Juliette

    Beaver Builder + CSS Hero: amazing combo!

  • Thanks for commenting, Emily!

    That’s a good point about shortcodes.

    • Karol, I’m happy to let you know that there is no issue with shortcodes anymore, as MotoPress WordPress builder won’t leave any shortcodes in a standard WordPress TinyMCE. Users are able to switch to a plain Text Editor any time without losing any content. The most amazing detail is that content from the Visual Builder will be duplicated to WordPress text editor, so it’s easy to continue editing it without shortcodes even if the MotoPress Page Builder plugin is deactivated!

  • Martijn Pieffers

    hoi,

    nice compact comparison. I only use SiteOrigin because it’s free. I like it a lot and it does everything for me. It has live preview and lots of example templates, some of those I actually did use.

  • And SEO?

  • Patrick Grünauer

    Does such a plugin also makes sense if I use Thesis? Or better, are the working with Thesis?

    • Although I haven’t tested them with Thesis, I assume they should work. Those plugins seem to work with all themes.

  • VC is still a very good plugin. As long as you use the full-width page template in any theme, the plugin should work just fine.

    • We are phasing out Visual Composer. Try SiteOrigin, its much better. Check out new home page built with Site Origin http://unified.vu. Next is to create components we could reuse. First one I’m thinking of is Contact Us form on home page.

  • Have you guys had time to test out CornerStone by the guys, Theme Co, that did Theme X?

    • Will do when the plugin is available as a standalone thing.

  • I feel like the most important questions don’t have to do with the design capability these plugins offer. Any decent designer can make a website or web page look good, regardless of the tools. An important question for me is which of these page builders creates the cleanest code? Which one is the most mobile responsive? Do any of these builders have SEO issues where Google’s algorithms don’t read their content correctly? Lastly, which of these builders adds the least amount of bloat to your site? Speed, clean code and SEO are what I think is important. I really appreciate this comparison, but perhaps it could have been a little more in-depth, it could of had a more technical lean.

    • The non-technical lean isn’t accidental here. Those plugins give the end user a great possibility to start publishing visual content without having to know how to code, or what source code even is. People who do know can handle most of the work manually, without the plugins. While clean code and other related things have their importance, I don’t believe that they sit on top of the list.

    • Hi Zach,
      Nice to see you here. Small world it is, isn’t it 🙂
      Having used BB and built custom modules for it https://wpbeaveraddons.com
      I can say that, it’s amazing! At our agency, we have built sites with BB that loads between 1-1.5 seconds with all images and videos.
      BB outputs valid code markup, has really good caching system to render CSS and JS for page layouts.
      Talking about the SEO, it also uses Schema Markup when you use modules like Post Carousel or Post Grid.
      Other modules are simply content blocks so you can pick what to be displayed and how without having to worry much about the SEO.
      One of the sites that we built at our agency for a client was used for their online promotion and the client has been super happy with it. We switched from Avada to BB + custom Genesis Theme. The loading time came down from 60+ seconds to 1.5 seconds.
      What more should I say? 🙂

      • 60+ seconds??? Damn… how could you guys live with that. I would be freakin’ embarrassed to deliver that to a client.

  • oxygensmith

    I also really appreciate this comparison article. I understand why there’s a non technical slant to it, but I’m really interested in speed more than anything else. I know that we can speed things up with W3 Cache, CloudFlare, and so on – but I’m still interested in the overhead for sites that have 10000, 100000 visitors.

    Also, in my experience, one of these plugins really encourages people to apply inline font sizes for things like headlines, which makes the site look terrible in mobile versions, so I’ve had to educate clients on using the builder responsibly.

    I guess reasons like these are the reasons I shy away from builders if possible, and just use a combination of a Bootstrap (or other) columns plugin, a shortcode builder plugin, and coding a basic raft of shortcodes into the finished site, so clients can accomplish decent layouts. I’m afraid of bloat. :/

    • Unfortunately, what you’re describing is basically the problem with every such builder plugin. Mastering the CSS/HTML game isn’t easy in scenarios like that, so coding things in-line becomes tempting … an easy solution. There’s always some form of compromise involved. How user-friendly we want things to be vs. how quality coded they need to be.

  • Emily Juice

    Actually you can clone any post or page that you have created by SiteOrigin Page Builder. So that is the solution for template that you not have found?

  • Danxe

    If my current template is already using Visual Composer, can i still use a Site Origin plugin like Page Builder?

  • claudiupopa

    Hey, I’m looking for a Bootstrap-powered composer – do you recommend one?

    I have developed WordPress themes for my clients, but especially on the homepage i would like to offer them a visual way of changing blocks.

    Thanks!

  • I played around with most of these builders on this list (and some others, too), and would like to offer my two cents:
    It all started with Visual Composer: I put it through many paces in effort to emulate pages I liked. It works beautifully, and will help you build your dream page/site, animated content, reusable templates and many other useful things. My peeve with VC is the time I spent staring at the cubes dancing while it loads (the back end for instance)… So, for one simple edit you have to wait for the load, then you have to click on the element to open it and THEN start editing (cubes dance at every step). Hit update and wait some more… The problem that is marvelously missing from Beaver Builder – you can start editing after one click on front end (test that Thrive builder also fails while boasting the directness of the approach).
    Another annoying thing about VC is new element placement: Let’s say we’re looking at the top of the page and hit “new row” that we want to place on the top. But the new row is invisible until you scroll down to the bottom of the page: more time consuming dragging ensues across all other content while they wiggle around every time our new row passes over them on its way to the top. Some basic functions should come with the builder instead of separately sold extensions (copy/paste for Pete’s sake?)
    Siteorigin builder came with a theme I bought, but I only used SO widgets and shortcodes before I realized it is full-blown builder. Free and intuitive is the way to go if you’re just getting into all this.
    If you want to go for the best and the fastest builder regardless of the price I would go for BB. Much less learning and waiting involved as compared to VC. If you go for VC make sure you customize your own templates for repeated use. That should cut down on production time.
    I haven’t seen Cornerstone in action yet, but I’m sure I’ll get to it some time.

    • Tim Helmer

      Have you tried a localhost like XAMPP? You will save a lot of time developing offline first then use a plugin like duplicator to load it on your server.

  • Jorge

    Great, although some points, Live Composer is weak compared to the other runners but a free option, also Visual Composer, does not work with every theme, in some themes it is just a nightmare to adjust the structure and also a lot of CSS to keep it aligned. in this case, Site builder works much better than VC, although of course has less features, I going to give a go now to Beaver Builder.

  • Mark Waterhouse

    Site Origin . your comment ‘You can’t import layouts from pages you built previously (at least it didn’t work for me)’ On a row, add widget ‘Layout Builder’
    edit the widget, and choose ‘pre built templates’ you can add Clone Pages or Post. I like this facility, although I would also welcome a way to edit the original clone page and then dynamically update the clone where it is used in other pages/posts.

  • Andrea Gandino

    If you’d like a different approach compared to Divi or Cornerstone, you might want to checkout the page builder we’ve created: it’s called Brix, and it’s drag & drop, responsive ready and really puts you in the driver seat when designing your website. Check out more at http://www.brixbuilder.com or simply jump to the free demo and try for yourself! http://www.brixbuilder.com/brixdemo/demo

  • huy le

    A lot of decent competitors has joint the battle recently fyi : KingComposer (free), Cornerstone (premium), Divi builder (premium)

  • Thank you for this article! I’ve tried 3 out of 4, and my personal choice is SiteOrigin. Best things in life are indeed free! 🙂

  • Antonio

    I’ve just read this article. I have found another huge difference between the FREE ones. Please, answer back if I am confused:

    – SiteOrigen Page Builder works only in the BACK-END >> “The editing happens on the back-end”
    – Live Composer works only in the FRONT-END >> it’s a front-end page builder.

    Is that correct? Does in this case BACK-END stands for “on the wp-admin side” like all the pluggins?

    Thank you.

  • I admit I’m new to Word Press, but I have to say that Site Origin’s FREE Page Builder is very difficult to use, customize, even when I’ve used their website themes. I spent the weekend with it, and I definitely want to try something else. Perhaps it’s true you get what you pay for (or don’t).

  • tbaxter

    Mobi Man, you hit the nail on the head with VC. Very frustrating to use.
    Just did a site that uses Live Composer built in… it is VERY slow (much to my chagrin as the designer). Speed tests of sites built with these builders would be hugely helpful.

  • VC1970

    It might take me more time to get my site fany but I prefer to have a better SEO ranking and speed, siteorigin and other composers/builders might have “easy to built” features but they have issues with SEO plugins ,cache plugins,minify plugins ,Java etc
    Also , Themes-builders plugins updates are not allways synchronized with WP or other plugins updates installed on your theme