Elegant Themes is one of the leading WordPress theme shops, and its flagship theme, Divi, has been a runaway success — thanks largely to its drag-and-drop page builder tool.
Now, for the first time, the very same Divi page builder tool has been made available (by Elegant Themes) as a standalone WordPress plugin, which means you’ll be able to add Divi’s impressive drag-and-drop post and page editing features to any WordPress-powered website — no matter what theme you’re using!
If you want more control over how your WordPress website looks, then this plugin could be what you’re looking for. Read on to find out exactly what it has to offer and how easy it is to use.
The Divi Builder is now available as a standalone plugin and will work with any WordPress theme — not just those from Elegant Themes.
During testing, I used it with a child theme for the Genesis framework and almost everything worked as expected. This is a pretty big deal, as being able to add even basic page layout editing to WordPress can really help you enhance the homepage and inner content of your website.
Sure, there are other standalone page builders available for WordPress, but, as we’re about to see, the Divi Builder has several features that separate it from the competition.
This is the core feature of this plugin. Divi Builder will work with posts and pages, so, no matter what type of content you’re creating on your website, you can add custom layouts to it and populate these with an impressive number of content modules.
To get started, all you need to do is click on the appropriate button on the post or page editor screen, and then start interacting with the builder.
Divi Builder follows the columns and rows layout system. This means you can add as many sections or rows as you like to your post or page, and then divide them into as many columns as you need before adding your custom content.
It’s a back-end builder tool, rather than a front-end editor, so you’ll have to do a fair amount of switching between tabs to see how the back-end view will look to visitors when it goes live. This isn’t ideal, but Elegant Themes has done a good job of making the process as frustration-free as possible.
If you want to get a better idea of how the back-end interface of the Divi Builder relates to the front-end view of a post, this image from the Elegant Themes blog does a great job of comparing the two views:
While there may not seem to be much correlation between the two at first glance, once you have a grasp of the builder interface, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding your way around and establishing which module relates to which element on the front end of your site.
Some might say that the simplicity of the fast-loading back-end representation of your posts and pages could even speed up the design process. There is certainly an element of truth to this, and while front-end builders such as VelocityPage or Upfront are impressive, they aren’t without their own quirks and limitations.
Divi Builder gives non-web designers the power to create their own advanced page designs without the need for any coding skills.
Don’t worry if design isn’t your strong point, though, this plugin also comes with a great selection of pre-made layouts that can be used as they are, or as the foundation for your own custom designs. At the time of writing, there were more than 30 prebuilt layouts to choose from — covering everything from multiple homepage designs and landing pages to coming soon pages, splash pages, blog post templates, and even eCommerce layouts.
This means that, no matter what type of website you’re building, or what pages you want to add to your existing site, it’s likely the Divi Builder has a suitable premade layout you can import easily and customise to meet your requirements. You can also save your own layouts, add them to the library and export them for use on other sites running the Divi Builder or Divi theme, speeding up the design and creation process.
The Divi Builder includes 40 content modules that can be easily inserted into your custom column and row layout. That’s an impressive number, but are they actually useful?
Some of the highlights from the content module library include call to action buttons, countdown timers, email opt-in forms, maps, pricing tables, testimonials, video sliders, and a whole lot more.
By activating Divi Builder on your site, you’ll instantly replace the functionality of countless other free and commercial plugins in one go. This should not only reduce the load on your website but could save you money too.
Most of the modules come with a number of variations, so you’re not stuck with the default configuration, and almost all of them have an impressive number of settings so you can customise them to match your site and vision.
If you want an all-purpose toolkit for building almost any type of website, the content modules from Divi Builder are about as close as you can get.
Divi ships with a role editor that makes it easy to control which level of user can access which elements of the builder. If you have co-authors writing for your blog and you don’t want them to start creating custom layouts for their posts, then you’ll surely appreciate this feature.
Alternatively, you may want your co-authors to use certain modules from the builder, such as full-width headers and images. Either way, with the role editor you can control exactly who can do what.
If you’re a web designer and are worried about a client breaking the custom designs you’ve built with Divi after handing over their site, the role editor will help to reduce the chances of this happening.
The settings of the role editor are highly granular, so it’s not an all-or-nothing approach. By selecting a WordPress user role, such as author, you can define which elements of the plugin, if any, they can make use of.
If you’re already using the Divi theme — which includes the Divi Builder functionality — then the good news is this plugin gives you an easy way to switch themes without breaking all of your custom designs and page layouts.
By activating the Divi Builder plugin on your site, but switching from the Divi theme, you now have an exit strategy for leaving the Divi theme behind (not that there’s any reason to stop using the Divi theme, but it’s nice to have options).
It’s worth pointing out that any work you do in the Divi Builder will be disrupted unless you keep the plugin active on your site. While this is to be expected with this type of tool, it’s worth mentioning as theme and plugin lock-in is a serious issue, and is something you should think about when choosing a new product.
Thankfully, with the pricing plans available for Divi Builder — which we’ll get to shortly — you won’t have to worry about being tied into expensive contracts to keep your site functioning as it should.
While there are many great features to be found in the Divi Builder plugin, there are a few aspects of this tool that are personal favourites of mine.
Being able to display full-width images and other types of content (that extend beyond the edges of the post container) is a design feature I’ve seen used to great effect on some well-known blogs.
Now, with Divi Builder, there’s no need to change themes or start hacking your template files to be able to add full-width content to your posts.
Simply insert a full-width section to the builder, then add a full-width module and the appropriate content to it, and you’re done. This can include images, videos, text, headers, menus and more.
How well this effect works will depend on your chosen theme, though. Breaking out of the post container isn’t easy, and, with some themes, it doesn’t work as well as it does when using the Divi theme.
Almost every module that you can add to your layouts can be fully configured to meet your own specific needs. Each module has countless settings that govern how it looks and functions, which gives you a great deal of control over your website’s appearance — from the overall design, right down to individual posts and pages.
If that isn’t enough, then you’re also free to add your own CSS to any module to really customise it to meet your needs. However, if you don’t need that level of control and you just want to get the job done as quickly as possible, Divi Builder doesn’t stand in your way. In most cases, simply using the default settings delivers great results.
As well as being able to save your layouts for reuse on any other site running Divi, you can also duplicate their elements. Simply clicking on the clone icon makes a copy of that element that you can then modify, saving time and effort.
Maybe you’ll be able to find a WordPress theme that doesn’t like the Divi Builder, but it seems that most well-coded mainstream themes will happily work alongside this drag-and-drop page builder plugin.
The only area where the Divi Builder didn’t work as expected when used with a third-party theme — Altitude Pro for Genesis in this case — was when working with full-width or full-screen layouts. As well as the full-width modules mentioned earlier, when creating a custom homepage with Divi Builder it wasn’t possible to create a full-width layout that filled the entire browser window.
However, if your theme has a full-width template that you can apply to your pages, or you’re able to create one yourself, then this shouldn’t be a problem.
Considering its ease of use and low price, Divi would be most suited someone who was new to WordPress and web design, but who still wanted the ability to create something unique without the need to hire a professional.
A look at its full set of features, however, shows that it would also be beneficial for freelance web designers and creative agencies.
It might seem like this tool would be beneath someone trained in web design, but its time-saving abilities — including the way Divi Builder makes it easy to export and import custom page layouts and designs between sites — would make it appealing to anyone looking to shorten the development time of a web design project.
The role editor also makes it attractive to anyone creating sites for others.
If you are already using the Divi theme, then you won’t find any new functionality in the Divi Builder plugin. However, if you are a Divi theme user but are thinking of changing themes, the Divi Builder should help you migrate to another theme without losing access to any custom layouts or content modules you might be using.
To get access to the Divi Builder plugin, you must join the Elegant Themes club: this is no bad thing, as there are plenty of benefits, and prices start from just $89 per year. As well as the Divi Builder plugin, you also get access to five other plugins, including powerful email opt-in form builder tool Bloom, and fully featured social media sharing plugin Monarch.
Not only that, but for your $89 you also get access to all 87 themes — including Divi — as well as any others released by Elegant Themes during your membership period. While Divi is the standout theme from this collection, a new theme is in development that is rumoured to be even more powerful.
If you aren’t a fan of yearly subscription plans, then you can sign up to the Lifetime Access plan and pay a one-time fee of $249 for access to all themes and plugins for life. There is a $69 option for joining Elegant Themes, but this doesn’t include access to Divi Builder or any of its other plugins.
If you’re a web designer, developer, or agency owner, you can use the Elegant Themes plugins and themes on any number of sites, fully supported, without having to buy additional licenses.
You can view the full details of the Elegant Themes pricing plans here.
As you can probably tell, I’m very impressed by the Divi Builder plugin. I’ve been using the Divi theme for a while, so I’m familiar with the builder tool, and how it’s improved over the past few years since its release.
Now that anyone can harness the powers of the Divi Builder on their WordPress website (no matter what theme they’re using), as well as allaying the fear of lock-in, this product is sure to be another huge success for the Elegant Themes club.
With more than 30 quality sample layouts to make use of, and 40 content modules that can be added to your posts and pages, Divi Builder is a truly flexible tool that can be used for any type of website project.
Using Divi’s new Builder Plugin yet? Thoughts?