SiteOrigin Page Builder Review
By Sean Ondes | Last updated: November 24, 2020
As one of the older page builders available for WordPress, SiteOrigin has a relatively long history of delivering a very stable product with some innovative features. However, compared to some of their competition, their page builder can look a bit classic.
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Well Integrated UI But No Live Editing
SiteOrigin Page Builder uses or at least emulates the standard WordPress theme customization interface. This is great for consistency in the admin user interface but not necessarily so good for the page builder’s usability. What SiteOrigin offers is a persistent sidebar on the left that shows a skeleton view of the page’s structure. This sidebar is effectively the same interface as the backend editor except now it’s very cramped. The main section shows a preview of the rendered page.
When a widget is clicked either in the main section or the sidebar, a popup with that widget’s settings appears and covers the entire screen including the preview area. It’s impossible to see the effects of any changes made until this popup is closed.
On large screens, the row and widget settings popup stretches across the screen. This is way too wide since options on the left and right side of the settings popup are spaced very far apart. Changing settings and navigating to a different section on the popup requires a lot of mousing around.
A very nice feature is the history setting that allows you to revert changes made in the editor back to a previous state.
Tightly Integrated With WordPress Widgets
In contrast to other page builders that I’ve used, SiteOrigin Page Builder doesn’t create its own modules. Instead, it connects directly to WordPress’s native widgets. This means that any widgets added by WordPress core, plugins, or the active theme are available to the page builder. There is an additional SiteOrigin Widgets Bundle plugin that adds additional widgets available to both SiteOrigin Page Builder and the active theme’s widget areas.
Layouts and Templates
SiteOrigin Page Builder includes a library of 26 full-page and page section templates. They look pretty good but aren’t very exciting.
SiteOrigin makes more than just a page builder. In addition to their collection of WordPress plugins and widgets, they’ve developed a library of free and paid themes that they guarantee are compatible with SiteOrigin Page Builder.
For my review, I tested SiteOrigin Page Builder Premium using the Astra theme and didn’t have any theme related issues or conflicts.
Installation and Removal
A free version of the SiteOrigin Page Builder is available to download from the WordPress plugin repository. SiteOrgin Premium extends the free version and the Widgets Bundle. It is available to download after purchase.
Be Aware of the Shortcode Lock In
As is, unfortunately, the case with many page builders, the bad part is that when Site Origin Page Builder is deactivated the content on my test page was totally gone. All that remained on the page was a stack of SiteOrigin shortcodes. Umm?
There is a feature (disabled by default) that allows you to copy the page style before deactivating the SiteOrigin plugins. This allows you to save your page layout even after the plugin is deactivated.
It’s possible to copy a lot of Page Builder styles to the page if you intend of deactivating the plugin. The setting which is default disabled is located at Settings > Page Builder > Content > Copy Styles (Include styles into your Post Content. This keeps page layouts, even when Page Builder is deactivated.)
Performance and Updates
There doesn’t seem to be much if any performance impact from using this page builder. However, there are some reports of plugin conflicts resulting in slow performance found in their support forum.
Previously, I experienced what seemed to be an entirely broken plugin updating process. That error might have been an anomaly. It looks resolved and hasn’t reoccurred.
Updates to SiteOrigin mostly consist mostly of minor bug fixes and adding support for other WordPress plugins. The UI of the page builder hasn’t received much love in quite a while. SiteOrigin publishes release notes for their page builder and the Widgets Bundle.
Customer Support and Documentation
SiteOrigin provides a free community support forum that is publicly available. Premium support is available with the purchase of a license.
Free Support Forum with Premium Email Support
SiteOrigin free customer support typically responds to support requests within hours at the soonest and a day or so at the latest.
There is dedicated documentation for the page builder that covers installation and widget settings as well as developer information for integrating the page builder into themes. They seem to also have a good deal of information in their blog. However, the blog isn’t well organized. It could take some time to find what you’re looking for.
SiteOrigin’s basic page builder is available as a free download on their main website as well as in WordPress’s plugin repository. Support for the free plugin is only provided through their community forum. They offer a premium package that includes priority support as well as a rather large collection of add-ons. If you’re going to use SiteOrigin Page Builder, then you’ll quickly realize that you’re going to need these premium add-ons.
The available row and column customization options are more than satisfactory. The user interface appears dated compared to other page builders. The selection of widgets is adequate but not exceptional. Building a page couldn’t be called joyful and building complex designs could be a challenge.
There are some very good aspects to SiteOrigin Page Builder and it absolutely still has potential. Considering that the plugin has been around for quite a while, it doesn’t seem likely that any major improvements should be expected.
My name is Sean. I've been building websites for more than 15 years. For the last 8 years, I've been working almost exclusively with WordPress and Shopify.
I've read all the blog posts that review the "Best WordPress Page Builders" or the "Top 5 WordPress Page Builders". They can be helpful but after I finished all that reading, I still didn't know which one to choose.
The only thing left to do was try them all. I've spent my own money and hundreds of hours testing every WordPress page builder that I can get my hands on. I'm putting all this together because I personally have needed a resource exactly like this for a long time!
I' don't favor any single page builder over another. I'm not really even promoting WordPress. This guide is for people who have already decided that WordPress is the right fit for them and need the flexibility of using a page builder.