Since I started blogging, I’ve always felt there’s something missing when it comes to writing blog posts in WordPress.
I looked for ways to improve the experience with various WordPress visual editors but each time I’ve come away not feeling they were quite right.
Either the functionality wasn’t what I was looking for, the price was too much or the product was buggy and visually unappealing.
For the moment, I’ve given up my search.
I’m hoping that what’s in the pipeline for WordPress core may be the answer I’m looking for.
Aesop Story Engine And Editus
The last visual editor combo I used on my blog was the Aesop Story Engine with Editus.
That was before I moved back to the Genesis Framework.
The Aesop Story Engine is a WordPress plugin which has 13 components for building interactive stories and articles.
I’d assumed that since I’d positioned this site as a personal blog, I’d find Aesop invaluable.
And I did find some of the components quite useful but I also found the experience quite restrictive.
I came to conclusion I’m just not a storyteller in the Aesop Story Engine sense.
My mind doesn’t work that way with huge parallax images, nice neat chapters and multiple column text.
Editus is a front end wordpress visual editor which integrates with the Aesop Story Engine.
I found that Editus was the most authentic experience when it comes to frontend editors.
It truly felt like you’re editing the frontend of your site, unlike many of the other plugins on offer.
But that wasn’t enough.
I wanted to be able to add components but not the ones on offer through Aesop.
Of all the visual editors I’ve used, Beaver Builder felt the most polished.
A big draw for me was that if you ever decide to remove the plugin, your blog posts would still be intact.
And you wouldn’t be left with a garbled mess of shortcodes.
I loved how easy it was to build great looking pages and position things precisely.
You can drag and drop modules and switch things around to your hearts content.
The way you can divide and sub-divide columns is sublime.
It’s also very smooth.
There were a couple of things that led me to move away from Beaver Builder however.
The first was price.
Of all of the WordPress visual editors I’ve tried, Beaver Builder is the most expensive.
I couldn’t justify renewing my subscription even though there was a 40% discount.
The other thing which niggled me was the text editor.
Having a box pop up to enter text into isn’t really front end editing in my opinion.
It makes it hard to have continuity in your writing if you’re using the plugin to write a blog post.
I thought it wouldn’t bother me but in the end it did.
Thrive Content Builder (Now Thrive Architect)
I tried hard to like Thrive Content Builder which is now Thrive Architect.
I thought it would be the perfect answer to what I expected from WordPress frontend editors.
But I found the experience very buggy.
Sometimes the buttons wouldn’t work or I couldn’t click anywhere to add a new element.
It felt fiddly and counter-intuitive to use.
It was the only one of the editors I’ve tried that I’ve asked for a refund on because I was so disappointed with it.
God forbid you ever wanted to remove the plugin because you’d lose everything.
Any blog posts written in Thrive Content Builder would just be blank without it installed!
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been looking again at Thrive Architect which seems to be a much improved product.
I even contemplated signing up to the annual membership for Thrive Themes to get access to everything they do.
A couple of things really put me off though.
Again price came into it. It’s just too expensive for me to justify investing in it.
I also don’t like the designs of their WordPress themes.
They seem cartoon-like to me visually and not something I find appealing on a blog.
That also buried my thoughts about buying Thrive Architect separately.
Visual Composer was one of the first WordPress visual editors I tried.
For a single site license, it’s good value but it can work out more expensive if you use it on several sites.
There are tonnes of different components available; it can be overwhelming.
You can use Visual Composer either on the backend of WordPress or there’s also a frontend editor.
I’ve only ever experienced using the plugin though on the backend.
Whenever I tried to use the frontend editor I got the equivalent of an egg timer.
It just wouldn’t load on my site for some reason.
Visual Composer is certainly very useful within the WordPress editor but it always irritated me that I couldn’t use the frontend.
When I discovered the complete mess of shortcodes and gobbledygook the plugin leaves behind when deactivated though I couldn’t see a future for it on my blog.
I don’t want to be completely reliant on a plugin ever.
You’d have to commit to using Visual Composer forever if you didn’t want to have a big mess should you change your mind.
I’m excited by the prospect of what Gutenberg will bring to WordPress.
As WordPress visual editors go, I’m not sure feature-rich it will be.
It’s also a shame that it doesn’t look like it will have a frontend editor.
However, I like the addition of editing blocks as an idea for the WordPress editor.
It hasn’t gone down well so far with developers though from what I’ve read.
Yet I’m still hopeful that it will bring a new dimension to writing blog posts in WordPress.
I doubt it will please those who write their articles in Word and copy and paste into WordPress.
Although by the sounds of things there will be a plugin to put things back to how the editor looks now.
I’m sure it will be a big upheaval for the greater WordPress community.
And who knows how plugins and their custom meta boxes will work?
Overall though I think it will be a huge step forward even if there’s no frontend editing yet.
Have You Used Any WordPress Visual Editors?
What’s been your experience with them?
Do you still use any of them? Are they the way forward for writing visually appealing blog posts?
What are your thoughts on Gutenberg and how the WordPress editor will be changing going forward?
Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.