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Have You Used a Visual Page Builder to Structure Your Home Page?

Discussion in 'WordPress Plugins' started by Kevin Muldoon, Feb 9, 2016.

  1. I am looking to change my home page up and link to different areas of my website. The best way for me to get the home page the way I want to is to use a visual page builder such as Visual Composer.

    I have tested every major page builder on the market, however I am curious as to whether others have used them to develop their home page.

    If so, did your home page still load as quickly?

    Did your home page still look good when viewed in mobile devices (most page builders are responsive, but the tend to force all blocks to be displayed vertically)?

    Did you run into any unforseen problems?

    My hope is that if I use a page builder I can get the home page the way I want it. I can then easily change theme later and retain the same look and feel on the home page.

    :)

    Kevin
     
  2. I have used Visual Composer, in fact, I still have a licence active. I had major issues with it, regarding JS conflicts and the settings not loading, and reaching their support returned to absolutely nothing, since then I have dropped the use of it. Lately, I have built two sites using WP Layers and I find it quite of a stronghold, and more friendly to use.

    Visual Composer made my homepage load slow, and did not look good on devices. If you want to try something good, go for WP Layers, I am quite impressed with it.
     
  3. That's disappointing that support was not up to scratch. It is unfortunately quite common to hear that with products sold on Envato marketplaces. I had a couple of simple issues to address with a theme I purchased on behalf of a friend and they take several days to respond to each question and then do not answer every question asked. Very frustrating.

    I was one of the first to test Visual Composer. They were pioneers of the page building plugin niche, but they have a lot of competition now.

    How do you think WP Layers compares to other solutions on the market?
     
    Alex de Borba likes this.
  4. Support wise and to be quite honest with you, left much to desire, they ended left me hanging for weeks until they released a new version with the bug fixed. Envato Marketplace products have declined in support, not only regarding plugins but as well for themes.

    I have tried a couple of composers, actually, more than a few. I find WP Layers to be the best because they provide a template easier to setup, and the customization options as much in hand this not to compare that their plugin is free and has addons for practically every needs. I usually do sites using it in 1 to 2 days, so you can say it is straightforward. When I mention that I have tried plenty, I am also including Divi, which unfortunately for Elegant Themes, it is something I did not found interesting.

    WP Layers is also extremely light-weight, and you have on the plugin the option to chat or contact their support team anytime you need, they also don't enforce their logo and allow you to have if remove it for free.
     
    Kevin Muldoon likes this.
  5. I will need to take a closer look at WP Layers. It's a free download so I can download and play around with it and upgrade to the pro version if I like it.

    I am hoping to create a unique home page that displays a lot of relevant information in boxes. The idea being that I will channel visitors to certain areas of my website that are currently being neglected in the current design.

    It will be some sort of variation of the following

    First Row: About box that explains who I am, links to my about page etc with a newsletter sign up form underneath
    Second Row: Latest blog article spanning two thirds of the page and recent blog posts on the right hand column
    Third Row: Webmaster Resources box that links to all the useful resource pages I have
    Fourth Row: This row will heavily promote the guides published on my website over multiple boxes and columns etc
    Fifth Row: An explanation about what my YouTube channel focuses on and the latest video from my YouTube Channel will be embedded
    Sixth Row: A large advertisement for Rise Forums and the latest video from the Rise Forums YouTube channel will be embedded
    Seventh Row: Featured blog posts that readers will enjoy reading

    The blog will continue to be updated semi-regularly, but there will be less focus on it and more of a push towards guides, YouTube, Rise Forums etc. I will hopefully use different colour schemes for each row to make everything stand out.

    Also, I am unsure as to whether the above information will be displayed over seven rows or whether some rows will be put together and displayed that way. I will need some time playing around with things to get everything how I want it.

    Even if I am not 100% happy with a particular page builder, at the very least I can get the right structure and then use it as a template to create a duplicate version using another solution. I'll try and get this done over the next few days if possible. If I am really struggling with it, I could always hire a designer, though I am sure I will be ok with it.
     
  6. Yes, WP Layers is free, and some extras are paid, but usually around $ 12 USD, not that much.

    It allows you to build up the page with blocks as you want, with different content, as well as landing pages. But you have to keep in mind that WP Layers comes with its own template, you cannot use it over another theme that does not support it.

    Well, I am guessing you are talking about horizontal rows without sidebars? If so I would use a different schematic from the one you have got there to call the attention in a more organized manner, such as last row on bottom prior to footer, be full width with just the newsletter form to sign up, as an example.

    If you are going for WP Layers, let me collaborate, and if you want, we can even split the tab and buy addons together. I am about to organize the things to build up AVA theme from scratch and WP Layers will be its foundation. The rows can be adjusted as you please using WP Layers, or you can use slideshows or random rows if you want.

    If you need help, I'll be free after tomorrow as I will get back to writing content and fewer development tasks will be ongoing, leaving me time to assist anyone. Also, I would love to test my skills and improve it using WP Layers, and it seems like a good challenge. Besides coding, my girl is a professional designer as well, certified, and she can jump in and make it worthwhile.
     
    Kevin Muldoon likes this.
  7. I'm heavy user of Visual Composer and Divi Builder plugin. In the which one is better (easier to use) I'd say Divi Builder, functionality and extra add-ons - VC.
    But... both suck in terms of performance, both load tons and tons of queries and external files.

    My call is to create custom front-page.php file and DIY :) you can use extra widget areas or code everything - better solution, but it also depends of what you need :)
    If you're still on Genesis - email me.
     
    Heather and Kevin Muldoon like this.
  8. Thanks for the offer Alex.

    I have around a dozen different page builders still available on my test website. I am going to spend a day familiarising myself with the interface and testing all the plugins and seeing what the best solution is.

    @Kris Hoja No I'm not using Genesis anymore. Do you know which page builder is good from performance?
     
    Alex de Borba likes this.
  9. @Kevin Muldoon here's a small comparison http://www.dataroots.com/wordpress-page-builders-and-the-impact-on-page-speed/

    If you really want to use page builder, test them only for speed, how many files are requested on page load and number of request to database (try script below)
    PHP:
    <?php  echo 'Total '.get_num_queries().' queries in '.timer_stop(0).' seconds. -->'.PHP_EOL?>
    Paste it in the last line of footer.php ;)

    Anyway, if you'll see poor performance of any builder, call me on skype / email me. We'll figure something out.
     
  10. Looking at those comparisons, even 1 extra server request (and that doesn't mention db requests) is absurd...isn't there a plug-in which will customize the home page on the initial server request?

    Sent from my SM-T560NU using Tapatalk
     
  11. Thanks Kris.

    Even if a page builder plugin did add additional requests, it shouldn't be a major issue anyways if you are using a content delivery network as 99% of visitors would be downloading a static HTML file and not making requests to the database.

    I will do some tests when I do get time to check out page building plugins again, but I don't imagine there being too many more requests being added if I'm using a CDN.
     
  12. I haven't used any page builder other than Divi, but just curious - how many page builders are there in all and which ones have you tried?

    I had initially created my site somewhat like you mentioned - the modern style which we find on many sites today. But, that doesn't make your visitors into readers/subscribers.

    I'm reading info on this from Sean D'Souza's ebook on creating home pages. He mentions with screenshots how Apple and some other high traffic websites have one clear, bold contrast image on their home pages, and a few other small images with links if the visitors want to check those out. So, have one primary goal for the homepage. Too many colors and too many distractions confuse visitors decide what to do. Our homepages should help/guide them decide what to do next.

    I'm trying to use Sean's strategy for my new home page but am also reading Neil Patel's infographic on homepage copy - how much to include. Had created a simple sales page-like home page a while ago.

    Sean also suggests not to have more than 5 elements in the menu, and no drop-downs at all, unless it's a mega menu like Amazon's.

    P.S.: Have you tried Thrive content builder? Review from our Adam Connell. They say on their sales page that it's the fastest.
     
    Kevin Muldoon and Sanjay Ojha like this.
  13. There was a dozen or so last time I did a big page builder round up article, but I am sure more are on the market now.

    No drop down menus at all? Interesting. I guess there are some plus points to doing it that way, but it does bring up the question as to how you link so many pages and make them quick to visit etc.
     
  14. I'm using Thrive Visual Editor, but not for my home page.... just for my opt in landing pages.
     
  15. Thanks for the feedback guys.

    I have tested lots of page builders over the years and over the last week I have been messing about with different options whenever I had time.

    In the end I have decided to go with Visual Composer. It is not perfect, but its biggest selling point is the number of add ons that are available. You can literally add hundreds of different content elements through the add-on plugins that are available for Visual Composer. There are a lot of enhancement plugins such as Templatera and there is a great YouTube add on that will help me display the latest videos from my YouTube channel

    I'll be sure to show you the finished product once I make the time to get the home page I want it.
     
    Raspal likes this.
  16. How is your experience with it? What's it good at?
     
  17. Didn't you yet do a review post showing the pros and cons of all the ones you tried?

    How do you link so many pages? One option is to have two different menus. Maybe one at the top of the header, other one below it. Or, two menus on each side of a centered logo. One primary menu with important items and links, other one with secondary items and links. Rest of the links in the footer. Just a suggestion.

    Sean says that there are many "homepages" on sites like Apple.com. Each link takes you to a page dedicated to something.
     
  18. I have published lots of articles about page builders in the past. Those type of posts become less relevant after, say, six months, since the developers add new features and address bugs. Plus new solutions come onto the market.

    I don't think it's too difficult to organise many pages on your website if you use a hierarchal structure (i.e. directory structure). Content is more easily lost in blog post archives as good content could be on page fifty of the archives.

    I am planning on using Visual Composer to spice up the guides and webmaster resources area of my website so it looks more professional. It's a work in progress. I am going to just work on it all a bit at a time.
     
    Heather and Raspal like this.
  19. There is one more thing, if you'll decide to stop using page builder you'll have load of shortcodes on your pages :)
     
    Raspal and Kevin Muldoon like this.

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