Since a few years, drag and drop builders have attracted significant attention in the world of WordPress website development.
Amongst them, Visual Composer is one of the most popular plugins of this type. But what exactly is Visual Composer, and how useful is it? Let’s have a look and find out.
What is Visual Composer?
Visual Composer is a WordPress plugin, which aims at providing users a way to create websites without any coding knowledge.
It provides you with a drag and drop builder, so users with zero to little coding knowledge have the opportunity to create beautiful websites.
Ease of use
Installing Visual Composer is easy and well documented, so it should go smoothly for anyone who has successfully installed WordPress.
The plugin features a very intuitive front-end editor, which allows you to modify your site content and design while seeing how your modifications will look. This is, indeed, a much easier way to create than using HTML/CSS if you do not have enough knowledge in front-end web development.
Although I was well aware of the existence of Visual Composer for at least a few years, I never had the chance to test it before writing this article. So I installed it on my test server, and simply created a page as a new user would do.
First thing I saw was the ability to create pages from a number of templates. Templates are ready-to-use designs, suitable for many different activities: Landing pages, blog posts, portfolios… I have been amazed by how the templates looked slick and professional, as well as how many different options were offered. Truly a strong point for Visual Composer here.
Needless to say, the templates can be fully customized to fits your needs. Titles and texts are fully editable, all colors can be changed easily, and you can add or remove sections as desired.
Once you are happy with your changes, just hit the Update button and your page (or post) will be published and available to your visitors.
Very easy, right? Unfortunately, I found out that the theme I was using (Twenty-Nineteen) was adding margins on top and bottom of my created pages. It was, happily, an easy issue to fix using Visual Composer’s Design Options. As shown below, the only thing I had to do was to adjust the margins values to fit my needs. Thanks to Visual Composer, I was able to preview the result instantly.
So now, my Visual Composer test page is online and you can view it here. Most people would stop right there, but as a web developer, I was interested in checking the page source code as well as its loading speed.
The source code, as I expected, is messier than what a quality front-end developer would code. That being said, it’s far from the worse I have seen.
Now let’s check the speed of the page. According to PageSpeed Insights, my page scored 85 on desktop and 69 on mobile, while not using any cache, nor having done any speed optimization on my test site. This is a fairly good score which would be enhanced easily by using a WordPress caching plugin like W3C Total Cache.
Visual Composer provides a free version with limited features, which allows you to test it and even build simple sites with it. The premium version costs $59 for a single website, which is a very affordable price compared to the cost of full website creation.
Visual composer provides an extensive documentation which contains everything you need to get started. The help center contains many videos with practical examples, showing how to complete tasks from installing the plugin on your WordPress site to creating various types of layouts.
Premium users also have the ability to open a support ticket and get help from the Visual Composer team. I haven’t tested it as I didn’t run into any critical issue when testing.
Let’s sum it up
In my humble opinion, your need for Visual Composer depends a lot on your coding skills. If you are an individual or small business owner with no or very little coding experience, you will benefit from using Visual Composer as it would save you a lot of time, hassle, and development costs.
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