Are you looking to escape the restrictive customization experience offered by most WordPress themes?
But without learning how to code and design websites from scratch?
You need a WordPress theme builder.
By now, you’re probably familiar with page builder plugins. These plugins allow you to create a completely custom designed page using a drag & drop interface.
But, what most people don’t know is that there are dedicated theme builder solutions available for WordPress.
Some of these are page builders with theme building functionality. And others will replace your theme entirely.
In this post, I’ll introduce you to the best WordPress theme builders on the market. So, you can find the ideal plugin (or theme) to design the website you’ve always dreamed of.
Ready? Let’s get started…
1. Thrive Theme Builder
Thrive Theme Builder is a powerful new theme builder from the team at Thrive Themes.
While most theme builders are tedious to use and involve jumping around between different menu’s to edit individual elements such as footers, headers, etc – Thrive Theme Builder is different.
The included site wizard will help you customize your entire website fast. You simply upload your logo, and choose which of the included templates you want to use for each area of your site.
Then, you can edit them individually with a drag & drop editor. But, what if you’re editing your homepage and you want to edit your header? You can do it on the same page.
The Thrive Theme Builder also comes with a companion theme to get you started called Shapeshift.
This theme includes a selection of templates for all different page types (e.g. homepage, 404 page, blog index, etc.) as well as headers & footers.
One of the great things about this theme is that it’s designed with conversions in mind.
- Extremely easy to use
- Shapeshift theme comes with multiple templates for each page type/theme element
- Site wizard makes it fast to build websites
- Edit all site elements without jumping through multiple menus
- Revolutionary software in theme editing
- Global colors for customization
- Form element supports large range of email marketing services
- Only available for Thrive Theme members
- Only one theme available
- Mainly designed for content creators and publishers
Who is it for? Bloggers, entrepreneurs and personal brands who want to create a conversion-focused website fast.
Plugin or Theme: Theme
Price: Available for those with a Thrive Themes membership plan which includes all of their products (Thrive Leads, Thrive Architect, etc). This will be available as a stand-alone product but there’s not currently an ETA.
The Divi Builder is an incredibly popular premium page builder from Elegant Themes. Although you usually access Divi Builder with the Divi Theme, there’s a separate plugin version available that you can use to access other themes too.
The great thing about Divi is that it allows users to edit content using both a back-end and visual front-end interface. There’s also full theme building support, which means that you can adjust everything from your header and footer to your page templates and more.
One of the best things about Divi is the community and availability of design templates. Elegant Themes regularly release new design sets.
There are also more than 46 content modules that you can add to anywhere on your website. Or you can create the custom page layouts that are ideal for your needs.
Despite being wonderfully feature-rich, Divi is also very affordable. You get everything you need from a low-cost membership plan. Including the Divi page builder plugin, the Divi theme, and various other products from Elegant Theme. It’s a great high-value bundle.
You can also use Divi to save your own unique layouts for future use, and export layouts from one Divi installation into another. The amount of control that you get with Divi, from configuring a range of settings like spacing and controls, to adding custom CSS to your pages.
- Excellent amount of customizable features
- Plenty of ready-made layouts and modules
- Drag-and-drop functionality
- Plugin and theme available
- Access support for up to 32 languages
- Use Elegant Themes products on unlimited websites
- Can be complicated for beginners to get used to
- It will leave shortcodes behind in your content if you ever delete it
Who is it for? Divi is ideal for those who want an extremely affordable but highly customizable theme builder. The membership price is low and offers access to other products, while allowing usage on unlimited websites.
Plugin or Theme: Theme but with an external plugin available.
Price: $89 as part of the membership for Elegant Themes with all other themes & products.
3. Elementor Pro
Elementor Pro is another popular theme builder for WordPress. At it’s core, Elementor is a page builder that has expanded into theme building territory.
While there is a limited free version available, you’ll need the pro version to access the theme building functionality.
They offer a drag & drop visual editor with the ability to create theme elements such as headers, footers, etc.
One of the great things about Elementor Pro is the level of control you have. Dynamic content is supported and you can set inclusion/exclusion rules for further customization.
For example, every WordPress website needs archive page templates. With Elementor, you can specify a different template to be used for the blog index page and the author page.
The page builder itself includes a large selection of design elements such as table of contents, forms, recent posts, call to action boxes, etc. And it has it’s own popover builder.
But, the great thing about Elementor is how many third-party plugins are available. There are entire brands that are being built around the Elementor ecosystem. This means you get access to more elements to add to your pages and more templates to choose from.
- Large selection of design elements
- Advanced visual editor with support for dynamic content.
- Constantly pushes out new features
- Pop-up builder included.
- Conditional targeting for pages created with theme builder.
- Lots of third-party plugins available.
- Can be complicated for beginners to get used to.
- You can only get theme building tools on the Elementor Pro version.
Who is it for? Elementor Pro is great for those who want an all-purpose page builder with theme customization functionality. Ideal for web designers and developers who want to simplify their workflow. Included templates are more geared to businesses than content publishers.
Plugin or Theme: Plugin
Price: $49 for Elementor Pro on a single site
4. Beaver Builder & Beaver Themer
Beaver Builder has been one of the most popular page building tools in the marketplace for some time now. It’s great for delivering clean code and is popular with a lot of designers and end-users alike.
With the help of an add-on called Beaver Themer, you can now create theme elements such as headers and footers.
While it’s not the most flashy way of building a theme, it gets the job done efficiently and in a straightforward way.
The Beaver Builder and Beaver Themer combination comes with access to 56-page templates and more than 30 modules. You can also save your own designs as future templates. Styling is easy with the option to use either an editing side-bar or popup windows.
Additionally, one of the other benefits of Beaver Themer is the ability to use conditions. So, if you just want a header to be used on a specific taxonomy – you can make it happen. This unlocks a lot of possibilities.
- Visual builder that’s easy to use
- Good selection of templates and modules
- Clean code
- Great for agencies thanks to white-label options
- Development can feel clunky at times
- Beaver Themer costs extra
- Development is slower than other theme builders on this list
Who is it for? Those who are mainly looking for a solid page builder with the option to design theme elements when needed.
Plugin or Theme: Plugin with an add-on that is sold separately.
Price: Beaver Builder starts from $99 with Beaver Themer at a flat pricing of $147 for unlimited sites.
Like most on this list, Brizy is a page builder that has basic theme building functionality. It’s backed by a popular theme company called ThemeFuse and it’s user base has grown extremely fast.
This front-end visual page builder has one of the best page builder experiences we’ve tested so far. Brizy offers support for 26 elements, and there are over 150 blocks or template sections to use to get in deep when you’re adjusting the appearance of your pages.
And, while it’s true that Brizy has one of the best page builder experiences, the theme builder component is incomplete and not as straightforward to use. It only supports headers/footers currently.
It’s also worth noting that Brizy includes a popup builder, global content and integrations for popular email marketing tools. There’s also a cloud hosted version of the page builder.
- Straightforward visual editor
- Pop-up form editing included
- Support for WooCommerce
- Integrations with various leading tools
- Lots of block-style modules to explore
- Theme building functionality only supports headers/footers
- Theme building functionality isn’t as user friendly as others on this list
Who is it for? Given that Brizy currently only supports headers & footers, it’s best for those looking to build a more static based website, or those who mainly want a page builder with the addition of header/footer design options.
Plugin or Theme: Plugin
Price: The pro version starts at $49.
Which WordPress theme builder is right for you?
Most theme builders on this list are page builder plugins that are replacing theme elements. This isn’t always the most efficient way of doing things. This is because your theme’s code is loaded and then more code is loaded to replace what’s there.
Sure, you can offset this by using smart optimization techniques, but not everyone has the technical know-how for this. Or, the budget to hire someone to do the work.
This is why Thrive Theme Builder gets the number one spot on our list – it’s the only fully visual drag & drop theme builder that is installed as a theme and easy to use.
Divi does offer a theme version but it’s more clunky to use and is somewhat slower.
However, the best WordPress theme builder does depend on your exact needs. Now, let’s explore some recommendations for various use cases:
If you’re a blogger or entrepreneur who wants to create a conversion-focused website fast – Thrive Theme Builder is the best choice.
If you work with web design clients and need the ability to build a lot of different types of websites, Divi offers incredible value for money. However, Elementor Pro is another strong option due to it’s pricing.
What about if you’re a small business owner that wants to create a simple website to promote your services? Brizy offers one of the best user interfaces and makes page design easy. However, they only support header/footer design so can’t be used as a full theme builder like others on this list.
If you primarily want a page builder plugin that can do theme building functionality – Elementor Pro is a great fit given it’s level of functionality. But, Thrive Themes membership also offers access to their page builder plugin – Thrive Architect, and A/B split-testing add-on.
Finally, if you’re looking to create landing pages with WordPress, be sure to checkout our dedicated article on WordPress landing page plugins.