In the context of WordPress, theme builder is a plugin that allows you to create custom templates for your site parts such as header, footer, archive pages, 404 page, to single post. The custom templates you created will then replace the default template files of your theme.
In case you didn’t know. WordPress themes come with template files that govern the layout of the particular site parts. For instance, footer.php governs the layout of the footer, header.php governs the layout of the footer, and so on. If you have PHP knowledge, you can edit these files to change the layout to your liking.
Can’t we change the layout — as well as the stylings — via theme customize? Yes, indeed. However, not all themes offer enough customization options to allow you to match the layout and styling according to design style guide. A theme builder offers way more options to customize your site parts. Plus, you are equipped with a visual editor to make the editing process way more pleasurable.
A Brief Guide to Choosing a Theme Builder Plugin
In general, a theme builder plugin allows you to create custom templates for the following site parts:
You can create the custom templates using the visual editor offered by each theme builder. Since most theme builders have the similar capability when it comes to custom template creation, you need to notice some details. One of which is display condition.
Display condition allows you to set where you want to apply a custom template. Whether to the entire website, specific page(s), specific post(s), and so on.
Global settings (typography and colors) and global elements are also crucial enough features to consider. With these features, you can implement a design system to make your site development process be more structured.
Best WordPress Theme Builder Plugins
1. Elementor Pro
Elementor is one of the best plugins in terms of design. Coming up as a page builder, it has evolved into a comprehensive site building tool in WordPress. Its pro version comes with a theme builder feature which you can use to create custom templates for your site parts. Of course, the template creation is done via its visual editor, which offers a very intuitive, modern interface. The theme builder feature of Elementor Pro allows you to create custom templates for header, footer, archive pages, single post, single page, 404 page, and search results page.
The theme builder feature of Elementor also has the ability to create custom templates for custom post types you create with plugins like CPT UI and Pods. Plus, you can display the data of custom fields you create with ACF, Toolset, to Meta Box. That being said, you can use Elementor Pro to create any type of dynamic website. From directory website, listing website, to stock photo website.
Elementor Pro has advanced display condition feature to allow you to apply a custom a specific site part. For instance, you can apply a single post template for specific post only. Or, you can also apply it to posts under a category, posts by a certain author, posts with a certain tag, and so on. Elementor Pro also allows you to set global typography, global colors, to global elements.
2. Divi Builder
Divi Builder is one of the closest competitors of Elementor. The plugin also allows you to create beautiful pages on your WordPress in a pleasurable way. Divi Builder also comes with a theme builder feature which you can use to create custom templates for your site parts. Its advanced display condition allows you to choose specific pages or posts where you want to apply a custom template to.
The theme builder feature of Divi Builder also supports integration with plugins ACF, CPT UI, Meta Box, to Toolset. Therefore, you can use Divi Builder to create any type of dynamic website just like Elementor Pro above. Furthermore, Divi Builder also allows you to set global typography, global color, and global element — which is pretty useful if you have a style guide for your site.
Two features you might interested to are advanced gradient and background pattern. Advanced gradient allows you to set a gradient color with more than two colors, while background pattern allows you to create a stunning, patterned background.
Divi Builder is available in two versions: as an integral part of the Divi theme and as a standalone plugin (which you can install on themes other than Divi).
Gutenberg, the default editor of WordPress, is not just an editor to create blog posts. You can also use it to create stunning pages on your WordPress website. If you enjoy creating pages using Gutenberg, then JetThemeCore is a great fit.
JetThemeCore is a theme builder plugin from Crocoblock. Just like the first two plugins above, JetThemeCore also allows you to create custom templates for site parts like header, footer, to archive pages. JetThemeCore offers two editors to create the templates. You can choose whether you want to create the custom template with Gutenberg or Elementor.
JetThemeCore also comes with display condition feature to allow you to select pages or posts where you want to apply a custom template to.
Since JetThemeCore relies on third-party editor (Gutenberg and Elementor), the editing features depend on the editor you use. If you use Gutenberg, for instance, you can’t set global color or typography.
4. Avada Builder
Avada uses a different term for its theme builder plugin. Instead of “theme builder”, it uses the term “layout builder”. Whatever the term it uses, you can use Avada Builder to create custom templates for your site parts.
Unlike the first three plugins above, Avada Builder is not available for all WordPress themes. You need to use the Avada theme to be able to use it. Avada itself is one of the best-selling WordPress themes on ThemeForest.
Avada Builder also supports display condition to alloy you apply a custom template to pages or posts of your choice.
To streamline your workflow, you can also set global typography and global color. Avada Builder is best suited for a single website project as you don’t need to pay subscription fee on a yearly or monthly basis.
5. Brizy Pro
Brizy is a lightweight page builder plugin for WordPress. It also has a theme builder feature on the pro version although Brizy doesn’t explicitly mention the feature “theme builder”. That’s why you will not see a “theme builder” menu your WordPress dashboard after upgrading to Brizy Pro. Instead, what you will see is a “Templates” menu. From this menu, you can create custom templates for single post, single page, and archive pages.
What about header and footer?
Brizy is a bit different to other plugins above in terms of custom header and custom footer creation. Instead of allowing you to create a custom template for header or footer, Brizy offers blocks dedicated to creating both custom header and footer. You can use these blocks upon page editing. To avoid repetitive job (in case you want to apply the custom header/footer), Brizy allows you to set the header block and the header block as a global block so that it will show up on every page on your website.
To allow you to implement a design system, Brizy also comes with both global typography and global color.
The Bottom Line