Best WordPress WYSIWYG Editor – 7 Page Builders Compared

What is the best WYSIWYG editor for WordPress?

That’s a good question. And if you found this article in Google search, it’s most likely a question you’re asking yourself.

But first of all, what is a WordPress WYSIWYG editor?

Simply put, a WYSIWYG editor is a drag-and-drop application that allows you to drop rows, columns, text blocks, headers, images and a multitude of other elements into the WordPress page or post that you are editing.

So why do you need a WYSIWYG editor for WordPress?

After all, WordPress already comes bundled with an editor called TinyMCE, which is technically a WYSIWYG editor.

I should clarify here, that what I mean by WYSIWYG editor is an editor where you see exactly what you’re getting as you create your page or post.

With TinyMCE you don’t know exactly what the output is going to look like until you hit ‘save’ and then preview it.

The WYSIWYG editors reviewed here all allow live front-end editing (with the exception of Site Origin’s Page Builder – more about that below). That means you see the final output, exactly as it appears on the page, as you edit the page or post.

And that’s why a proper WYSIWYG editor, aka drag-and-drop editor or visual editor, is a must for busy bloggers who need to quickly upload their articles or blog posts.

I recently changed the visual editor I use from Site Origin’s Page Builder Premium to Thrive Architect. Before making the move, I did quite a bit of research: these were the contenders I considered.

What is the Best WordPress WYSIWYG Editor?

1. Visual Composer

Visual Composer is one of the top-selling drag and drop page builders for WordPress. It's definitely a contender for best WordPress WYSIWYG editor.

It has a fully functioning back-end and front-end editor and works with any WordPress theme.

Visual Composer comes with over 45 content modules including:

  • post grids
  • media support
  • charts
  • slideshow background
  • carousel slideshow
  • YouTube
  • Vimeo
  • self-hosted video

Some of Visual Composer’s other features are:

  • Easy-to-apply parallax background effect for sections, rows and columns
  • CSS gradient background with alpha channel support
  • Supports posts, pages, and custom posts
  • Supports WordPress shortcodes
  • Templating system allows you to save your customized design elements as templates
  • Optimized for SEO so your content is off to a good start in terms of ranking for your keywords
  • Fully responsive on mobile devices
  • Full revision history allows you to quickly revert to previous versions of your work
  • Supports default WordPress widgets
  • Sidebar editor
  • Header editor
  • Footer editor
  • Migrate your Visual Composer templates from site to site in seconds
  • Compatible with Gutenberg - add Gutenberg blocks anywhere in your page layout

In a Nutshell

Works well for basic layouts. The layout and UI are not very intuitive. Not a great selection of content elements compared to other page builders.

Pricing

  • Free
  • One-time fee of $59 for one website (includes 1 year of updates and support).

2. Site Origin Page Builder

With over a million active installs, Site Origin’s Page Builder is one of the most popular WordPress page builders. Its popularity is partly due to the fact that its free (though you can purchase a premium widget bundle).

Here are some of the features:

  • works with any WordPress theme
  • choose the exact number of rows for each column you add
  • Use all the existing WordPress widgets
  • Responsive design
  • Posts, pages, and custom post types are supported
  • Revision history tool lets you undo changes

Although Site Origin's Page Builder is free, there is a Premium Widget Bundle ($29) which includes add-ons such as:

  • Accordion
  • Block Animations
  • Contact Form
  • Call-To-Action widgets
  • Lightbox
  • Parallax Sliders
  • Testimonials

Site Origin Page Builder integrates with any WP theme, so it doesn't commit you to a particular theme.

It doesn’t have as many styling options as other WordPress visual editors. For advanced styling, you would need to be familiar with CSS.

Site Origin has both back-end and front-end editors. But the frontend editor is not as advanced as the other wysiwyg editors reviewed here.

best wordpress wysiwyg editor

Site Origin Page Builder - backend

The changes you make in the front-end editor are not instantly visible – you have to wait several seconds while the page reloads.

This makes it feel clunky compared to other editors and slows down the process of creating a new blog post.

best wordpress wysiwyg editor

Site Origin Page Builder - Live Editor

Another problem I have found with Site Origin Page Builder is that it is difficult to find the right spot for inserting an element, like a new paragraph, a new heading, or a new image.

In the Live Editor, you can only add an element (or module) in the left-side panel. But it's very difficult to know where you are in the left-side panel.

What would be great is if they added a feature like this: when you mouse over an element in the right-side panel, it automatically scrolls down the left-side panel and highlights the relevant block in the left-side panel. This way you would know where to insert your new element or module.

I wrote to Site Origin Page Builder about this a little over a year ago. But they obviously didn't take it on board.

One final consideration:

If you uninstall Site Origin Page Builder, it leaves a mixture of clean HTML and shortcodes. This means that the pages you created with Site Origin may not be editable in another page builder.

In a Nutshell

Site Origin’s Page Builder is not in the same league as Elementor and Thrive Architect. In my opinion, it is not in the running for 'best WordPress WYSIWYG editor'.

For one thing the ‘Live Editor’ is not a true front-end editor. You don’t see the changes instantly, as you edit – there’s a time delay as the page reloads after each edit. This really slows you down.

Pricing

  • Site Origin Page Builder is free to download
  • Site Origin Premium is $29 (one-time fee)

3. Divi Builder

The Divi Builder was originally part of the Divi theme by Elegant Themes. But it’s now a stand-alone page builder that works with any WordPress theme.

Some of the features are:

  • both front- and back-end editing
  • Fully responsive design
  • Support for posts, pages, and custom posts
  • Come with 46 page-builder modules
  • Fast and easy to use
  • Allows you to A/B test different layouts
  • support custom CSS

In a Nutshell

With over 500,000 customers, Divi Builder is one of the most popular WordPress editors available. It comes with over 20 different layouts and templates for different kinds of websites

However, Divi Builder relies heavily on shortcodes. This means you can’t switch to another page builder. In effect, you are locked in to using the Divi Builder. This is a serious drawback and in my opinion removes it from the race for best WordPress WYSIWYG editor.

Pricing

  • To download the Divi Builder you have to become a member of Elegant Themes, which is $89 per year.
  • That also gives you access to every theme and plugin created by Elegant themes – not a bad deal!

4. Elementor Page Builder

Elementor Page Builder is a relatively new WordPress visual editor (launched in 2016) but it already has over 1,000,000 active installations.

It describes itself as the ‘World's Leading WordPress Page Builder’.

As far as I know, it’s the only open-source WordPress page builder. Thousands of developers have extended Elementor's core functionality by building themes, add-ons, and other products.

Here are some of the features:

  • Templating system lets you save your layouts and re-use them elsewhere on your website
  • Lets you add widgets created by other WordPress plugins
  • Comes with over 300 templates, designed to fit every industry and need
  • True frontend editing - see your page live as you edit it
  • Leaves behind clean code (if you deactivate Elementor)
  • Design an entire landing page with Elementor’s Canvas
  • Over 80 Design Elements, including basic image and text widgets to advanced accordions, sliders, testimonials, icons, social media, tabs, etc
  • Works With Any WordPress Theme & Plugin
  • Revision History allows you to quickly undo any mistakes with a simple keystroke
  • Embed Facebook posts and videos within your pages
  • Supports responsive mobile-friendly design
best wordpress wysiwyg editor

Elementor Front-end Editing

In a Nutshell

This is one of the most advanced page builders out there. With a commitment to be the best WordPress visual editor, you can be certain of constant improvements.

A big plus is that the free version gives you access to about 90% of what the paid version does. However, Elementor lacks any kind of focus on conversion, so not the best choice for marketers.

Some people no doubt consider Elementor to be the best WordPress WYSIWYG editor. But if your focus is maximizing conversions from your website, then I believe that title belongs to Thrive Architect.

Pricing

  • Free
  • One-time fee of $49

5. Thrive Architect

This is where I may lose a bit of objectivity, as I’ve just moved to Thrive Architect (from Site Origin Page Builder) and I’m veeery impressed with it!

Thrive Architect is based on Thrive’s previous page builder, Thrive Content Builder, which was given a major overhaul and lots of new features.

Where Thrive Architect stands out from other visual editors is its focus on conversion. And that’s why it’s become a favourite of bloggers and marketers.

Thrive Architect comes with customizable buttons, testimonials, countdown timers and lead generation forms that integrate with the all major email marketing tools.

If you already use Thrive Leads, you’ll be able to add your opt-in forms with a click of a button.

One aspect of Thrive Architect that I absolutely love is the ability to scale an image with a slider (in my previous page builder, you just had 5 or 6 fixed dimensions):

Another cool option in Thrive Architect is the ability to place a tinted layer on top of an image.

And if you really want to grab people’s attention, you can add animated headings (I’ve used both techniques in the gif below):

best wordpress wysiwyg editor

Thrive Architect's Type Focus Automation

The front-end editing is an absolute delight – probably the best front-end editing experience of any visual editor:

best wp editor

Another thing I appreciate about Thrive Architect is the advanced drop shadow controls.

I like placing drop shadows around my screenshots so that they stand out from the text. In my previous editor, there was no way to do this, so I would add the drop shadows in a graphics application - very time consuming.

With Thrive Architect it just takes one click!

best wordpress wysiwyg editor

Thrive Architect's Drop Shadow controls

Remember I said that Thrive Architect specializes in conversion?

It comes as no surprise that Thrive Architect contains a powerful landing page builder.

These are some of the ready-made (but customizable) sections you can add to your landing pages:

  • Social Proof/Testimonial Section
  • Hero Image Section
  • CTA Section
  • Features Section
  • How It Works Section
  • Bonus Section
  • Guarantee Section
  • Sales Funnels

Here are some of the other features of Thrive Architect:

  • Mobile-friendly responsive design
  • Built-in template system lets you
  • Save and load layouts
  • Revision history and undo and
  • Redo buttons makes correcting
  • changes a breeze
  • Styled Bullet Point
  • Lists (like this one)
  • Feature Grids (with Images or Icons)
  • Dynamic Countdown Timers
  • Opt-in Forms
  • Page Events - display a lightbox popup based on certain triggers

In a Nutshell

Thrive Architect is the ideal page builder for marketers or anyone who’s trying to convert visitors into subscribers or customers. Thrive Architect specializes in conversion and it has more conversion tools than any other page builder I’m aware of. Thrive Architect is often compared to Elementor in terms of look and feel. But I prefer Thrive Architect’s UI to Elementor’s. In my opinion, Thrive Architect is the best WordPress WYSIWYG editor.

Pricing

  • One-time fee of $67

6. Beaver Builder

With over 500,000 active installations, Beaver Builder is one of the most popular WordPress page builders. It’s also one the easiest to use – so it’s a great choice for beginning bloggers.

Here are some of the features that Beaver Builder offers:

  • Works with any WordPress theme
  • Live front-end editing – see your changes as you make them
  • Support for WordPress widgets and shortcodes
  • Supports custom CSS classes and IDs
  • If you ever uninstall Beaver Builder, your content gets transferred to the native WP editor
  • Optimized for mobile devices
  • Comes with dozens of pre-made page templates
  • Offers modules for sliders, carousel, backgrounds, content blocks, buttons, and more

I have to say; Beaver Builder’s user interface looks a bit basic compared with either Elementor or Thrive Architect:

beaver builder

Beaver Builder's User Interface

In a Nutshell

Beaver Builder is a great option for beginners as there’s no great learning curve involved in getting the hang of it. It doesn’t offer as many modules as some of the other page builders. On the plus side, if you ever want to revert to the WordPress editor, Beaver Builder leaves behind 100% clean code. So, you’ll be able to edit your previous posts in the WordPress editor and most other page builders.

Pricing

  • One-time fee of $99

7. Gutenberg WordPress Editor

WordPress always came with its own pre-installed editor. But WordPress has recently released a brand new, and completely free, drag-and-drop editor called Gutenberg.

Gutenberg has a very clean, intuitive user interface:

best wordpress wysiwyg editor

Gutenberg Editor UI

Once you have Gutenberg installed, it becomes the default editor – you don’t have to choose it.

The Gutenberg editor operates on the basis of blocks that you insert into your page or post by clicking on the 'Plus' symbol:

best wordpress wysiwyg editor

Gutenberg Editor UI

While Gutenberg is a huge leap forward from the open source TinyMCE editor that comes pre-installed with WordPress, it still lacks some of the advanced features you get in the paid page builders.

Here’s a sample of the blocks that come with Gutenberg

  • Content Summary block
  • Advanced List block
  • Button block
  • Image block
  • Advanced video block
  • Table of contents block
  • Google Maps block
  • Advanced Table block
  • Accordion block
  • Testimonial block
  • Social Links block

Although I like the clean, uncluttered interface, I did notice some bugs (in the version I was using):

  • It was hard to edit the permalink from within Gutenberg
  • A bulleted list has to sit within its own block, otherwise the entire text within the block gets turned into bullet points

I should mention here that Gutenberg has not been well reviewed. On the official WordPress site, the Gutenberg editor has received 1791 reviews and averaged 2.2 stars out of 5.

In a Nutshell

Gutenberg is an elegant, uncluttered drag-and-drop page builder. But it definitely needs some more work before it comes close to competing with any of the page builders reviewed above. Admittedly, it’s free but Site Origin, Elementor, and Visual Composer all offer fully-functioning free versions.

Pricing

  • Free

Summary - the Best WordPress WYSIWYG Editor

When I was searching for a new WordPress page builder, these were the key features I was looking for:

  • Easy-to-use interface
  • True front-end editing (i.e. you see the changes instantly, as you edit the page)
  • Fully responsive on mobile devices
  • Works with any WordPress theme
  • Supports all the default WordPress widgets
  • Templating system so that you can save customized elements and layouts and re-use them
  • Revision history that allows you to quickly revert to previous versions
  • Table of Contents module
  • Supports custom CSS
  • Leaves behind clean code

Elementor and Thrive Architect seemed to be the two most advanced WordPress page builders and they both satisfied my list of minimum requirements.

I ended up opting for Thrive Architect for two reasons:

Reason #1

When you edit a page in Thrive Architect the modules are on one side of the screen and the controls for each module are on the other side of the screen.

But in Elementor,  the modules and the controls are on the same side of the screen.

This means you do a lot more clicking in Elementor than you do in Thrive Architect. In Elementor, once you have finished styling a paragraph, a heading, or an image, you then have to click back to get to the menu of modules.

Whereas in Thrive Architect, the modules are still there, on the other side of the screen.

Reason #2

Like most bloggers, I'm trying to convert visitors into subscribers (and ultimately into customers).

Thrive Architect's focus on conversion was the deciding factor for me. There are more conversion-related modules in Thrive Architect than in any other WordPress page builder.

This post was most recently updated on August 30th, 2020

Rob Powell
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