SiteOrigin Premium Page Builder Review

By Sean Ondes | Last updated: July 20, 2019

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SiteOrigin WordPress Page Builder Review
Overall Rating

2.9/5

SiteOrigin Page Builder compared to other page builders

SiteOrigin WordPress Page Builder Review

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Overall Rating

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Usability

2/5

Is live editing possible?

No. 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 so good for the page builder’s usability. What Site Origin 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. This is not live editing.

SiteOrigin Page Builder - Live editing screen
SiteOrigin Page Builder – Live editing screen

Does the interface make sense?

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 different section on the popup require 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.

Are modules well organized into recognizable categories?

Elements or modules are called widgets in the SiteOrigin Page Builder. This seems confusing at first since WordPress core also uses the term widgets. At least it seems confusing until you realize that SiteOrigin’s widgets are also available in the global Widgets area found in WordPress admin. This is a pretty nice bonus.

Overall, usability in SiteOrigin Page Builder is confusing and awkward.

SiteOrigin Page Builder Features

3/5

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 different sections on the popup require 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.

SiteOrigin Page Builder - Widget options
SiteOrigin Page Builder - Widget options

As I wrote earlier, Elements or modules are called widgets in the SiteOrigin Page Builder. This seems confusing at first since WordPress core also uses the term widgets. At least it seems confusing until you realize that SiteOrigin’s widgets are also available in the global Widgets area found in WordPress admin.

This would be a pretty nice bonus if your site building process involves adding a lot of widgetized areas to your theme. In reality, it represents a slightly dated approach to adding functionality to a WordPress site.

Special Integrations

SiteOrigin Page Builder includes all the usual integrations with WooCommerce. These widgets are a handy way to display WooCommerce products based on attributes like categories, tags, and price.

Will the plugin work directly with email list managers?

A dedicated MailChimp widget is included.

How does the plugin work with Gutenberg?

Directly from SiteOrigin:

“We’re making our Layout widget available as a Gutenberg block. The SiteOrigin Layout block gives you the full power of SiteOrigin Page Builder, so you’ll be able to create fully nested, columnized, widgetized content, with advanced row, column and widget styling right inside Gutenberg.”

SiteOrigin Page Builder

Overall Rating
2.9/5

Layouts and Templates

3/5

SiteOrigin Page Builder includes a library of 16 full page and page section templates. They don’t look too bad but they could hardly be considered modern looking.

SiteOrigin Page Builder - Layouts Directory
SiteOrigin Page Builder – Layouts Directory

Theme Compatibility

4/5

SiteOrigin Page Builder’s developers make more than just a page builder. In addition to their collection of WordPress plugins and widgets, they’ve developed a library of of free and paid themes that they guarantee are compatible with SiteOrigin Page Builder.

SiteOrigin Page Builder - Theme Library
SiteOrigin Page Builder – Theme Library

For my review, I tested SiteOrigin Page Builder using the OceanWP theme and didn’t have any theme related issues or conflicts.

Installation and Removal

1/5

How easy/hard is it to install?

A free version of the SiteOrigin Page Builder is available to download from the WordPress plugin repository. The premium version is available to download after purchase. Both versions install normally just like any other plugin.

It gets a little confusing when trying to use SiteOrigin’s widgets. That’s what they call the elements or modules that can be added to a page. There is a separate, free plugin available on the developer’s website that must also be downloaded. Nothing about that was obvious. I had to follow a link from the page builder settings screen to get information about installing “missing widgets”. This was an unnecessarily complicated process should be streamlined.

Lock in

The really bad part is that when Site Origin Page Builder is deactivated the content on my test page was totally mangled. The text was completely gone and the images are spread around the page. Further investigation on the page editing screen showed that even though the plugin had been deactivated, the back end user interface was still showing in the main content section. Umm?

SiteOrigin Page Builder - Plugin Active
SiteOrigin Page Builder – Plugin Active
SiteOrigin Page Builder - Plugin Deactivated Backend
SiteOrigin Page Builder – Plugin Deactivated Backend

I found a small button called “Revert to editor” but clicking that didn’t improve anything. After reverting to the classic WordPress editor, I found that all my content was gone. The only thing remaining was a bunch of HTML left behind by SiteOrigin.

Performance and Updates

4/5

Does the plugin slow down page loading?

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.

Update Frequency

While using SiteOrigin Page Builder on my test site during the Fall/Winter of 2018, automatic plugin updates did not function at all. The failed update error message was not helpful. I manually downloaded the newer version of the plugin from my account at SiteOrigin and uploaded it through FTP. I didn’t have any trouble after that. But then again there haven’t been any update notifications since then so the verdict is still out about whether or not I’ll have future problems.

Customer Support and Documentation

4/5

SiteOrigin provides a free community support forum that is publicly available. Premium support is available with the purchase of a license.

SiteOrigin Page Builder - Support Forum
SiteOrigin Page Builder – Support Forum

How to contact support (email, phone, chat, slack, ticketing system, etc?)

Free community support response time varies from hours to multiple days and in at least one case over a month.

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 has very little organization.

Cost

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.

Conclusion

The available row and column customization options are more than satisfactory. The user interface seems dated compared to other page builders. The selection of widgets is adequate but not exceptional. Building a page could not be called joyful and building complex designs seems like a challenge.

There are some very good aspects to SiteOrigin Page Builder and it absolutely has potential. Though, considering that the plugin has been around for quite a while, it doesn’t seem likely that any major improvements should be expected.

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About Me

Sean Ondes

My name is Sean. I've been building websites for more than 15 years. For the last 6 or 7 years, I've been working almost exclusively with WordPress (and some Shopify).

I've read 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 reading, I still didn't know which one to choose.

The only thing left to do is try them all. I've spent hundreds of dollars and almost as many 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'm not really pushing any one page builder over another. I'm not really even pushing WordPress. This guide is for people who have already decided that WordPress is the right fit for them and also want the flexibility of using a page builder.

If you're not quite ready to take the plunge and buy a new page builder, you can still support this project by buying me a cup of coffee (or a beer).