I’ll be honest. The page builder market has been exploding for some time and from what I can see, it isn’t going to be ending soon. But healthy competition is a good thing for the user because it gives them lots of choices and options for finding just the right product.
Forge is one of the newer ones to enter the page builder scene. Their site shows a focus on three key benefits:
Let’s Dive In
With any page builder, the best way to get a good feel for it is to look at the back end. For this review, I will be using one of their themes, Allegiant from CPO Themes, plus these three premium add-ons:
- Advanced Elements
- Layout Library
The Forge Page Builder Interface
When you are in any page, post or public post type you have the option of activating the page builder and then opening it. This option is also in your admin bar when you are viewing your site while logged in.
From here, we can start building our site using the drag and drop features. You will see that you have both a Discard and a Publish Changes button. The Discard is nice if you want to start over and, of course, nothing will change on the page unless you actually Publish Changes here:
The third option is a nice touch. If you click on this, you can exit the page builder window and your changes will be preserved until you return.
On the right, you will find the redo arrow. Again, it’s a nice added feature that keeps the last 10 actions you made so you can easily return and change any one of them back to the original.
The gear icon gives you some additional features.
As you can see, the settings here are pretty basic. You can change background color and add custom CSS.
This add-on is a helpful option if you do not want to go through the process of building your own page. We’ll be exploring this a little later in the review.
This is a bit of a different approach to being able to copy the content from one post or page to another. If you look at my current page, if I select Export, there is a block of code that I can copy.
Then you simply open the page or post you want to copy that content to and paste it in.
This will save you lots of time if you want to duplicate the content layout of a page and even tweak it a bit to fit the new page.
These are what you are going to be using to build your page.
Just put put your cursor in the box and the whole list will appear.
This is just one of the places where you will be able to expand your options by purchasing one of their add-ons.
You have a select amount of elements that you can use to build out your pages with the free version. Of course this may suit your needs if they are simple, but by adding the Advanced Elements add-on, your options expand quite a bit.
There are three things to keep in mind here:
- Besides the array of advanced elements here, you can also use the default WordPress widgets in your page builder.
- There are a couple of elements specific to two popular WordPress eCommerce plugins: Easy Digital Download and WooCommerce products. Obviously, you will need to be using one or the other to take advantage of the elements.
- And since they have created those latter two elements, any widgets you have from other plugins will not automatically appear here.
With that said, I imagine that they will be growing their library to accommodate some of the other popular plugin-related widgets.
Since I cannot show you each element in this review, I’ll randomly choose four of them to give you an idea.
As you can see here I have the 2-column layout selected, but there are several other options.
By dragging the Button element over into the first column (highlighted), again it gives you several options for formatting the button and also for adding icons.
This gives you the option to add a navigation menu just about anywhere you want to on a page or a post.
The last one gives you an easy way to add a pricing table to your pages or posts.
As I mentioned, it’s impossible to go through all of these elements, but you can see that there are several options that will help you build a robust layout without having to know code.
Earlier in the review I mentioned the Layout Library add-on.
This is an ideal option if you want to take advantage of the versatility of the page builder but don’t want to start from scratch. As you can see, most of the current pre-made layouts are landing pages or homepages.
Note: If you want to use this plugin for landing pages, and hide your current header and navigation, you will need to use a theme that allows you to do this per post or page.
For example, you can see the theme I’m using here, Allegiant, has these options for each post or page.
Once we select a pre-made layout, with this head start, you can roll over any element and edit, replace, add your own content, and create your new page.
This cool little feature is a time-saver. You can create templates from blocks that you can use several times in a site and just add it as another element.
It will give you the option to name it and once you save it, all your templates are accessible through your dashboard.
As you can see, you can open and edit it here, and even create more templates.
Once you have created them, now they are available to you through your front-end Forge editor window.
Now my price page template shows up in the builder and I can easily add it to any block.
If you know me or or have been to my workshops, you know my views on page builders. I believe they are a great tool that allow people to build custom sites without knowing code. But for the casual user who needs a simple site, it may be overkill or overwhelming.
I found the Forge plugin to be fairly intuitive and not too hard to use. But if you have never used a page builder, even though it looks easy, there is a bit of a learning curve, so be prepared.
There are a ton of options and elements that you can add to a page, and with the right direction in both design and marketing, you can create a user-friendly site that is easy to read and navigate. This plugin has a lot of shiny, useful pieces to apply to your site. Just make sure you don’t overdo it.
With the array of page builders out there for WordPress, I would recommend putting this one on your list. They are fairly new to the market, so I’m sure there will be bugs to work out, and we will see even more growth in their existing add-ons as well as some new ones.
Give the Forge plugin a try and explore the amazing things you can do without knowing code.