Earlier I had gone over various landing page creators, critiquing UnBounce & LeadPages (monthly services) before recommending the InstaBuilder plugin for WordPress (one-time fee). The primary benefit InstaBuilder had over LeadPages was the simplicity of its funnel creation tool while still offering a large assortment of ready made landing page templates that could be deployed with any WordPress theme.
Those all look great and simplify the landing page design process, but I also like to roll up my sleeves and see what kind of landing pages I can create myself. Fortunately there’s a bunch of plugins for designing a landing page with WordPress that works well with whatever theme you happen to be using.
WordPress Tools for Building Landing Pages
• Shortcodes Ultimate is probably one of the first things you should install if you’re interested in building WordPress landing pages. You get a large amount of shortcodes you can very quickly drop into any page, from accordions to image sliders to various colored buttons. The following video does an excellent job showcasing the design potential of this one simple plugin:
• Drag and drop html editors. If you’re using the text tab to edit a page in WordPress then you can drop in any well-formed html code and inline css. Two of the newer drag-and-drop web page creators that excel at designing landing pages are Macaw.co and Webflow.com. Macaw is a desktop app for Mac & Windows that costs between $100 – $180 (trial available) while WebFlow is a monthly service that also includes hosting. A paid plan is required to export html and get rid of the WebFlow branding on your created page.
• WordPress page builders – These are capable plugins that make creating complex, multi-column designs a snap from right within WordPress. Two that I did want to mention in passing without necessarily recommending them are Visual Composer (popular, but I’ve heard the complaint that it adds some bloat to your site’s load time) and Velocity Page which is quite expensive and looks a bit lacking with regard to updates (but one of WordPress’s core developers, Mark Jaquith is involved so I will probably revisit it later).
- Beaver Builder is a new WordPress page builder that’s quickly gaining popularity. It’s a paid plugin (with an optional theme) that also has a variety of pre-built page templates for you to tweak right out of the gate.
- Page Builder by SiteOrigin is a free plugin that makes it easy to piece together panels to form a coherent page. Notice that it gives you an extra tab right within your editor to start constructing your page:
- MiniMax Page Layout Builder gives you much of the same options that other WordPress page creators give you except that it allows you to edit the page right from the front-end so you can see your changes instantly. The linked version is free and a pro version with more modules is also available.
- ModoBuilder is another WordPress Front End Editor great for making quick changes and seeing it reflected instantly in your design. Available at the CodeCanyon marketplace.
WordPress Themes for Designing Landing Pages
I spent a lot of time researching the themes purported to work well for designing landing pages and have to say that my opinion hasn’t really been swayed by the usual recommendations.
- HeadWay has a vocal group of fans who love its drag-and-drop simplicity – you literally draw on a grid where you want an element to appear. But I still don’t really trust “drag-and-drop” when it comes to building an entire theme – I think drag-and-drop works better in the page design context that we explored earlier.
- Ultimatum. I kept hearing over and over about how you can design anything you want in Ultimatum, but the numerous people complaining about the lack of support totally turned me off from the theme.
- Pagelines DMS. Looks like the worst of both worlds to me – a somewhat dumbed-down drag and drop metaphor complicated by having to click drop-downs to change simple things. I confess that I’ve never gotten Pagelines and their design philosophy so your mileage may vary.
With that out of the way, here are my two recommendations for the best WordPress themes for designing landing pages in:
• LayoutPress is a premium theme that makes it easy to visualize how your design elements are interacting with the WordPress loop. The theme options panel is well thought out, making design changes simple and it even has Bootstrap built right in.
• iThemes Builder remains my favorite theme for designing any kind of layout in WordPress. It’s what this site is built on and their layout editor really appeals to my logical sense as I can see exactly what’s going on and where on any post or page in my site.