Picking the right Drag and Drop WordPress Theme

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Let’s say that you’re a beginner with WordPress and you want to design your own site. But you’re not a developer. So there’s that. There are still a couple of ways you can do it, right?

Two Approaches to Drag and Drop WordPress Themes that Work

The first is that you focus on your content, determining how you want to structure the site, the page types, the layouts of particular kinds of pages, and how the content fits on them. In that case, you’d really enjoy Builder from iThemes because that’s exactly how that works. This is great for beginners.

A second approach that would be equally viable would be to “draw” your design on a canvas – especially if you were a bit more artistic. Sure you’d have types of pages, but your real focus would be crafting where all the parts of content would go on your pages. In that case, Headway would be a great choice. This is great for professionals designing many sites.

I’ve used both and recommend them without hesitancy. Both have fantastic support organizations for beginners and professionals alike.

Do you know one way to determine if I’m suggesting something crazy or legitimate?

Check out the communities of users in both camps and you’ll find thousands of people willing to tell you how awesome each one is. Not a few. Not a couple hundred. Thousands.

The Non-Drag and Drop World

Before I tell you about a couple other alternatives, let me first review with you one of the most interesting developments in web design that I’ve noticed in the last couple of years.

It’s called in-place or in-line editing. What it means is that you’re looking at the finished page, with text on it, and you just click right there to edit the page you’re writing on. The benefit of this is that you’re seeing how your finished product will look.

Medium, a non-WordPress solution, lets you author in an environment that feels like the finished product – so it gives you the same kind of feeling. You know what you’re getting.

Plugins like Front-End Editor are making this a reality for everyone.

The reason I bring it up is because I wonder if people really want a lot of dragging and dropping, or if they just want a simple way to adjust their site and “drag & drop” sounds easy (even when it’s not).

Other Drag & Drop WordPress Themes

There are a few other drag and drop WordPress plugins out there – but they all feel like they struggle in the same way.

Both Visual Composer  and Drag & Drop Builder expect you to design everything one page at a time. They don’t create templates to use and re-use like both iThemes Builder and Headway do.

And personally, I think that’s a serious problem. (UPDATE: see comments below, VC now supports templates.)

Wait, aren’t there two more? Pagelines DMS and Thesis 2.1?

Before I answer that, have you ever driven out – and I mean way out – in the countryside and just seen a house all by itself?

Have you ever wondered about the folks that live in that house? Wondered if they’re lonely? Wondered if they’re unhappy?

When I saw the image above, I thought of the nursery rhyme I learned so long ago about a house that Jack built. I don’t remember all of it but I remember feeling pretty sad listening to it.

Well after 30 minutes on Thesis 2.1 and another 30 minutes on Pagelines DMS, I came away thinking about that lonely house I saw way up in Northern Michigan – away from everyone else.

These are different products. They approach things differently. They think about the world differently. And they ask you to as well.

And if different included being easier, then that might be a good thing. And while I feel like I understand where each one was going, the end result of each was the same: they were incredibly confusing and hard to use.

And isn’t the whole point of drag and drop themes to be easy?

Want to see my in-depth review of Drag & Drop Themes?

About Chris Lema

Chris Lema has been working with WordPress since 2005. Over the years he's been a blogger, a speaker at WordCamps, a coach for WordPress product companies, and the founder of the conference for WordPress business owners, called CaboPress. Today he's the VP of Products at Liquid Web, where he manages the world's first managed platform for WooCommerce stores.

Chris Lema

Chris Lema has been working with WordPress since 2005. Over the years he's been a blogger, a speaker at WordCamps, a coach for WordPress product companies, and the founder of the conference for WordPress business owners, called CaboPress. Today he's the VP of Products at Liquid Web, where he manages the world's first managed platform for WooCommerce stores.

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