You’ve more than likely heard of WordPress page builders, but what is a theme builder? More importantly, how does it differ from a page builder?
In this post, we’re going to go over six of the best theme builders available for WordPress. Let’s kick things off by defining each.
Theme builders vs page builders explained
If you’ve ever used page builders, you know they’re separate editors for WordPress that make it possible to create stunning page and blog post designs without needing to know how to code. The customizations you’re allowed to make are limited to the content or “body” areas of the posts and pages you customize.
What you aren’t allowed to customize are the headers and footers of the pages you create nor can you customize your blog post layout, 404 page, search page, archive pages and similar page templates.
Sure, some themes come with a wide selection of theme options to configure, but if you truly want to customize these parts of your website without knowing how to code, you’re going to need a theme builder.
It’s pretty simple to explain from there: a page builder lets you customize individual pages and posts while a theme builder lets you customize various components of your theme.
One final thing you need to understand before we get into our list is how each type of builder comes packaged in the WordPress ecosystem. It should come as no surprise to you that some are available as WordPress plugins while others are available as complete WordPress themes.
Some page builders do include theme building functionality (e.g. Elementor Pro). This allows you to customize third-party themes. Then, there are theme builders that are built as themes – so they would replace your existing theme.
These are a nice option because they’re more efficient due to not having to use an extra plugin.
Now, let’s dive into the list:
6 best WordPress theme builders for 2020
1. Thrive Theme Builder
Thrive Theme Builder is Thrive Themes’ most flexible product yet. It’s a standalone WordPress theme that allows you to build your own custom theme without touching a lick of code.
While many themes allow you to choose custom fonts and colors, Thrive Theme Builder goes several steps further by allowing you to build custom headers, footers, sidebars and templates for blog posts, your 404 page, archive pages and more.
A few of Thrive Theme Builder’s key features:
- Customize Key Theme Elements – Customize your site’s headers, footers, sidebars, 404 page, archive pages, blog post templates, page layouts, search pages and more. Your options in this regard are much more extensive than the average theme, which typically allows you to adjust a few theme options and choose from a small handful of pre-made header and footer layouts. Theme Builder’s user interface has a wide range of theme options and a long list of pre-designed layouts for you to choose from to truly give your site a unique look.
- Friendly UI – This theme uses an intuitive UI that’s user friendly and well laid out. It’s part of what makes this theme so powerful as it makes it possible for the average blogger or marketer to build their own theme without needing to know how to code.
- Shapeshift – This is the first theme available for Thrive Theme Builder. It’s a “skin” made with the builder itself. It’s meant to give you a starting point if you don’t have the time or eye for design to build your own theme. It’s just as customizable as the base theme itself, so you won’t need to stick with the layouts and styles it has by default. Multiple templates are included for each aspect of your theme.
- Thrive Themes Membership Bundle – Thrive Theme Builder is available for free but exclusively for Thrive Themes members. If you join Thrive Themes to gain access to the theme, you’ll also receive access to some of the finest marketing tools available for WordPress, including Thrive Leads, Thrive Architect and Thrive Optimize.
Thrive Theme Builder pricing
Plans for the standalone Theme Builder start at $67. Alternatively, it comes bundled for free with a Thrive Themes membership. This membership is available for as low as $90 quarterly or $228 annually. These tiers allow you to use all Thrive Themes products on up to 25 websites.
Learn more in our Thrive Theme Builder Review.
2. Elementor Pro
Elementor is a leading page builder plugin for WordPress. The free version integrates with the majority of WordPress themes seamlessly and allows you to build custom posts and pages.
While an official Elementor theme, the Hello theme, is available for free to give you more control over the way your site looks with Elementor, this version of the plugin cannot customize key theme elements.
That feature is reserved for Elementor Pro, the premium version of Elementor. With the Theme Builder tool built into Elementor Pro, you can customize various parts of almost any WordPress theme. These include your header, footer, 404 page, search page, archive pages, blog post layouts and more.
Key features of Elementor Pro’s theme builder
- Customize Key Theme Elements – Edit and build your own custom headers, footers, single post templates, archive pages, 404 pages, search pages and WooCommerce pages. You’ll also be able to create page templates with dynamic content. The builder itself even uses the same UI as the Elementor editor, giving the plugin a uniform design overall.
- Pre-made Layouts – Elementor’s Theme Builder has numerous pre-designed layouts you can use as a starting point.
- Customize Third-Party Themes – Elementor’s Theme Builder is more of a theme editor than a builder as it’s a plugin that requires a theme to edit. Still, it’s a powerfully unique product as it gives anyone the ability to customize parts of themes you would normally need code to change.
- Display Conditions – Choose which templates display where with the Theme Builder’s include/exclude display conditions.
- Drag-and-Drop Editor – Elementor itself uses a frontend editor that allows you to build beautiful web pages with simple drag-and-drop actions. It’s easy to use and requires no code, though developer options are available.
- Additional Tools – Elementor Pro comes with a long list of features you can use to build fully-fledged landing and product pages, including dozens of content modules, hundreds of pre-made templates, a pop-up builder and WooCommerce modules.
Elementor Pro pricing
The Theme Builder feature is integrated into Elementor Pro, which is available for as low as $49/year for a single site license. A 30-day, money-back guarantee is available for new purchases.
Divi is Elegant Themes’ premier WordPress theme. It’s a WordPress theme that has a proprietary frontend page builder integrated into it, which is available as a standalone plugin called the Divi Builder if your site is already built with a third-party theme.
However, a tool the Divi Builder doesn’t offer is a theme builder. That feature is available exclusively for the Divi theme. It gives you extensive customization options for Divi’s headers and footers and allows you to build your own page templates.
What are some of Divi’s best features?
- Customize Key Theme Components – Using the same intuitive frontend editor the Divi Builder itself uses, you’ll be able to build your own custom headers, footers, post templates, category pages, 404 pages, search pages and product templates. You’ll even be able to create templates with dynamic content.
- Pre-made Theme Builder Packs – Build your own templates quicker with Divi Theme Builder’s pre-made templates, which are available in packs.
- Intuitive Page Builder – The Divi theme has one of the most innovative page builders available for WordPress. This frontend editor has enough content modules and pre-designed page layouts for you to build several well-designed, unique landing pages in no time at all. It also has split testing you can use to compare two different page or module designs as well as modules for WooCommerce.
- Additional Marketing Tools – The Divi theme is part of Elegant Themes’ membership club, which comes bundled with every product Elegant Themes offers for WordPress. These include Bloom, an email opt-in plugin, and Monarch, a social sharing plugin.
The Divi theme is bundled into Elegant Themes’ membership club. You can join the club for $89/year or purchase a lifetime membership for $249. All purchases are backed by a 30-day, money-back guarantee.
4. Brizy Pro
Brizy is a WordPress page builder plugin that’s much newer than the builders mentioned above, but it’s still a powerful option. It’s made and managed by the same development team behind ThemeFuse.
Like Elementor, Brizy has a free version you can find in WordPress’ official plugin directory, but its theme building features can only be found in Brizy Pro.
It’s worth noting that Brizy’s theme building functionality is currently limited to header and footer design. While that may be an issue if you’re creating a blog, it will be enough for simple websites.
What features does Brizy offer?
- Create Custom Templates – Use the same editor you use in Brizy’s page builder to create custom templates and styles for headers, footers and layouts for single posts, category pages, 404 pages, search pages, archive pages and more. You can even create templates for author, product and shop pages (WooCommerce) as well.
- Display Conditions – Choose which templates get displayed as well as when to display them with the Brizy theme builder’s built-in display conditions.
- Drag-and-Drop Page Builder – Brizy’s primary feature is page building, and you can do this with its drag-and-drop editor, which has the cleanest UI of any page builder available for WordPress. Pre-made templates and page layouts are included as well.
Theme building elements are only available in Brizy Pro, which you can grab for as low as $49/year for up to three site licenses. Your purchase is backed by a 30-day, money-back guarantee.
5. Beaver Builder
Beaver Builder is another WordPress page builder plugin available in free and premium versions. The plugin works with almost any WordPress theme, but the second tier of the premium version gives you access to the Beaver Builder Theme, which unlocks numerous ways for you to ensure your site’s design and style are uniform with the pages you build.
However, there’s an extension you can purchase for the premium version of Beaver Builder that makes it possible for you to customize various theme elements in third-party themes. It’s called Beaver Themer.
- Customize Theme Components – Create custom headers and footers and templates for blog posts, archive pages, 404 pages, search pages and custom post types. This works with the Beaver Builder theme along with numerous third-party WordPress themes.
- Display Conditions & Dynamic Content – Choose the conditions during which templates are displayed, and utilize dynamic content in templates.
- Frontend Page Builder – The Beaver Builder itself uses a frontend editor in its page and theme builders. The editor is easy for non-developers to navigate, and it comes with dozens of modules and page layouts.
Beaver Builder pricing
Beaver Themer is an add-on of the premium version of the Beaver Builder WordPress plugin, so you’ll need to purchase a license for the Standard version at the very least. This costs $99 for your first year with a 40% discount available for automatic renewals.
Beaver Themer costs an additional $147 for your first year, and it also renews at a 40% discount. All products are eligible for refunds within 30 days of purchase.
Oxygen is a theme builder available as a WordPress theme exclusively, even though it’s not advertised as a theme directly. It’s not an extension of a page builder plugin (since it’s not a plugin at all) nor can you use it to customize theme components of third-party themes.
The theme primarily allows you to customize a business or blog site’s design, but numerous WooCommerce capabilities are present as well. The developer even has tutorials on how to use the builder with third-party plugins to build membership sites and online schools.
The tool uses drag-and-drop editing and an intuitive UI overall, but it’s still the most technical way to go when compared to other options on this list. This makes it most suitable for developers or marketers who have the time and patience to deal with the builder’s steep learning curve.
Oxygen’s key features
- Site & WooCommerce Builder – The tool has a frontend editor for page building that’s well designed, but its right-hand panel consists of the page’s structure, which contains words non-developers aren’t likely familiar with, such as “div.” This is part of what makes this tool much more technical than its competitors. Still, you can build custom headers and footers as well as custom designs for 404 pages, search pages, blog post templates and more. Dynamic data can be integrated into designs as well.
- Familiar Page Building Elements – Despite its technical approach to site and page building, Oxygen still has plenty of familiar page building elements for you to use. They include text styles, animations, pre-made layouts and website packs filled with pre-made designs.
- Custom Gutenberg Blocks – A unique feature Oxygen offers is the ability to create your own blocks for the Gutenberg editor. This is especially useful for users who aren’t comfortable with using page builders on blog posts.
Oxygen has a unique pricing structure. A lifetime license for unlimited sites is only $99. However, this tier has no WooCommerce or Gutenberg integration. You’ll need to purchase the WooCommerce tier at $179 or the Agency tier at $199 for those privileges.
A 60-day, money-back guarantee is available on all purchases.
Choosing the best WordPress theme builder for your site
The theme builder you decide to go with will depend on what stage you’re at with your site. If you haven’t built it, yet, consider Thrive Theme Builder, Divi or Oxygen. These builders work with their own themes, so you’ll only be able to use them for new site builds and rebuilds.
If your site is already built with another theme, consider Elementor Pro, Beaver Builder or Brizy. These options work with third-party themes, and they all have lax refund policies if your theme winds up being incompatible with them.
It’s also worth mentioning that Brizy doesn’t have full theme building functionality yet. It can handle headers & footers, but not archive pages or blog posts. So, if you want to build a website with a blog, Brizy isn’t a good fit. However, it’s great for simple ‘brochure’ style websites.
What if you’re looking for the easiest theme builder to use? Thrive Theme Builder is the best option.
Oxygen is at the other end of the scale – it’s quite complex but the benefit to that is that it’s extremely flexible. This is why it has become popular with developers.
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