Visual Composer

- pros and cons from designers' point of view

WP Bakery Page Bulider (Visual Composer) is one of the most popular WordPress plugins. It provides highly advanced tools for building websites and, at the same time, makes the whole process easy.
In this flexible plugin you create pages by dragging and dropping, putting the elements into the right columns and lines. You can edit photos and texts, and use the plugin's prebuit elements, which makes creating websites nice and relatively quick.

Visual Composer is based on WordPress' shortcodes. This is the page after tuning off the VC.

VC has a lot of fans and critiques. One of its flows is that it creates countless divs. Some classes are nested so deep in the code, that finding the element we want to stylize might take quite some time. You just have to get used to it. Was it possible to get rid of these flows maintaining the plugin's flexibility at the same level? I don't think so.

However, that's not what I wanted to write about today. I'll try to present Visual Composer's pros and cons from the point of view of a designer — someone who wishes to create a website using this tool, but know neither PHP nor JS. I think that understanding CSS is a key to designing and building a page with VC. Editing the content and managing it later doesn't require this knowledge, but if you want to build something really unique, CSS is indispensable.

Let's start with pros.

1. Time is money. Visual Composer saves it

As I mentioned at the beginning, this page builder saves us a lot of time. Setting the proper number of columns, dividing them into sections, adding texts and photos is a really short process. We also save some time while applying changes, e.g. when the client wants us to swap the order of two or three sections of the home page. Moving them up or down and changing the order of the columns sometimes take only a few dozens of seconds. Fans of fixed templates written using ACF don't have such options at their disposal. 😉

In addition, Visual Composer provides us with loads of predefined templates and demos which we can use to build individual elements. I have never used them, because I prefer to set everything my way, but I'm sure that many designer will appreciate them.

2. Useful elements for content building

One grate advantage of WP Bakery is a set of built-in elements, which allow us to create visually attractive websites. When I work on a webpage I often use such components as separators, tabs, accordions, image galleries, single blocks with a photo (with various action enabled), buttons, google maps or modules for embedding videos. Just correct the styles and you have a nicely looking module or section.

3. Full control

“Design options” is a really useful element of this editor. From a single location we can control paddings, margins, framing and background of every line, column and even text boxes. All that without using CSS! Of course, we can also add our own class to every line and column. It really gives us good control over the website's appearance.

4. CSS animations

WP Bakery Page Bulider has a built-in CSS animation library. It allows us to present the elements in an interesting way without any effort. From an easy dropdown you can choose simple animations (e.g. “appear” or “fly in from left”) or fancier effects.

5. Undo / redo changes

With only one click VC allows us to undo the changes and mistakes made, which is very useful.

6. Saving our own templates

While creating a website there certainly are going to be some recurring elements or sections that we would like to duplicate on chosen subpages. In Visual Composer we can save views to our library and load them on a different subpage.

7. Visual editor on front-end side

Visual Composer allows us also to edit websites in a life view, thus instantly seeing all the changes made. Developers constantly expand its front-end editor. It's true, that it doesn't work perfectly on slower computers or while working on larger websites, but it's getting better and better. Undoubtedly, this solution will certainly find its fans. It should also be noted that not every theme powered by Visual Composer supports this solution. If you want to use life view feature, check if your template has it (sometimes you need to turn it on in the template's code).

Let's have a look at a few cons now.

I'm not going to talk about strictly programistic cons. We'll focus only on the important ones — at least from a designer's point of view.

1. Visual Composer is unsuitable for small screens

Do you have a Mac with a tiny screen? Well, first of all, it's a waste of money. Besides that, working with this page builder is going to be uncomfortable. Editing extended website with many columns and nestings is much easier on big screens. Dragging the columns or text blocks on smaller screens can sometimes cause problems. Although there is a mobile version of VC, I have no idea who would want to use it.

2. Too many editing options may cause some trouble with clients or overzealous account managers

Yes, too many editing options might be problematic for the clients receiving the website.
It might happen that they will accidentally delete some columns, won't add the special class that we've prepared, or they will put the elements in the wrong space. All that might make them stressed, confused and anxious. 😉

Luckily, in VC's settings we can decide what the user with specific authorization can or cannot do (e.g. we can turn off drag and drop).

3. Don't overdo it

When designing websites in VC you should work smart, but don't overdo it. Overnesting, putting columns into each other or dividing the columns into more columns may sometimes lead us to a dead end. It may turn out that one change made by the client will force us to rebuild the given section, because the seemingly simple change doesn't work well in our layout. The more experience in working in Visual Composer, the less such situations. 😉

To sum up:

In my opinion WP Bakery Page Bulider (Visual Composer) is an excellent tool for designing WordPress websites. I use it for building both simple things, like landing pages, and more complex websites. Extended options, low price and large Internet community (youtube videos, free courses, advice, forums packed with knowledge and ready solutions) are the reasons why VC is worth trying out.

If you are a designer who wants to start making pages in WordPress, Visual Composer is a perfect option.
More advanced programmers will also appreciate all of its pros.

There is a lot of additional extensions and modifications of this page builder, and in my opinion its limits lie only within our imagination.

Good luck!

author: Piotr WordPress developer/Web designer

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