Many WordPress users find it easier to use page builders to customize their pages, as they provide an easy drag and drop interface to build up their page blocks. This gives the users the freedom of designing and laying out their content the way they prefer. Adding to that not a single line of code is required in this process.
As the users are looking for page builders that provide various design elements and an easy to use interface, the competition of the page builder plugins got higher. At an average price of $50 for premium page builders, we need to ask ourselves, what do free page builders have to offer?
Released in November of 2015 with over 2,000 active downloads and 4.9 stars rating, Forge page builder makes a solid choice in the market of free page builders based on the numbers it provides, which makes us curious to try it out in this Forge review post and let you know what we think of it.
Forge page builder setup and plugin options
After downloading, installing and activating the Forge plugin, you will see a new menu item on your WordPress dashboard. By navigation to “Forge” you will see:
- The version you are using
- A thank you message
- A link to the:
- Plugin options
- Support page
- Presets section
- Page Building course section
By navigation to the Plugin Settings page, we will see a couple of options that can be tweaked:
- Whether to display the elements setting panel or not when adding a new element.
- Choosing the quick delete option to immediately delete an element without asking.
- Adding the licence key for Forge’s premium extension (We will talk about these later in this article)
On the Connections page, you can integrate with third-party services. For the time being the integration is now available for:
- Active Campaign
Clicking the “Read the Documentation” button, found on the “Get Support & help” will take you to the support page, where you can send support requests and access the different documentation sections.
The documentation is divided into 3 parts:
- Developers: includes articles about using Forge APIs.
- Extensions: includes the documentation of Forge’s add-ons.
- Getting started: has a collection of articles about installing and using the page builder.
On the Presets section, you can see whether the active theme includes custom Forge layouts. Forge team have created the Furance theme, which includes pre-installed Forge layouts. The two layouts that come with the theme are:
- Home page
- About page
You can choose to load and set any of them to be your home or about page.
On the Page Building Course section. You can sign up for a page builder course, which promises to teach you professional designing techniques using Forge.
When you Navigate to the extensions page in Forge from your WordPress dashboard. You will see 1 theme and 5 extensions. Let’s have a quick overview of them.
Furance is a free theme, developed by Forge. It comes with pre-installed Forge layouts and of course, is fully compatible with the page builder.
This is not actually an extension. The starter bundle includes all Forge extensions on a 40% discount, compared to purchasing them separately.
The advanced elements add-on will provide you with 30 new design elements, which will supply you with more designing options.
Templates Global Elements:
Templates will give you the option to save your pieces of your created layouts or even the whole layout to use them on different pages. It will also allow you to create a global element and control them from one place.
This library offers pre-made layouts, which can be imported and customized easily.
Conditional logic will allow you to control displaying the different page elements based on some conditions, like showing a specific element to registered users and hiding it from guests.
Forge Page Builder and Extensions in Action
Now that we went over what Forge has to offer, it is time to see the page builder in action. Let’s add a new page and see how Forge works. You will need to save your page as a draft in order to activate the page builder. Once you have done this you can access the page builder from Forge’s meta-box by clicking on the “Open Forge Page Builder” button.
This will open a new tab with where you can add the different page building elements. You can do this by clicking on the “Search Elements” filed and dragging the desired element.
By default, Forge provides 6 basic design elements only. Installing and activating the advanced elements extension will add 30 design elements to the list, which will definitely increase your creativity in structuring and designing the page.
The Layout Library provides a bunch of pre-built layouts that can be loaded to any of your pages. For now, it includes 12 layouts. The layouts are categorized under:
- Home Pages
- Inner Pages
- Landing Pages
You will find multi-purpose layouts and specialized layouts like a fashion landing page. Bear in mind that some layouts may require the Advanced Elements extension in order to display specific elements.
The Templates extension will give you the option to create your own templates and use them later. Moreover, you can insert these templates into different areas of your website like the sidebar using shortcodes.
The Conditional Logic add-on provides a really nice feature. You will be able to control displaying or hiding specific elements on your page. For example, you can create a number of elements that are only shown to registered users and hidden from guest visitors.
Setting conditional logic for the different elements is done by editing the element’s settings.
The easy-to-use interface makes Forge a good page builder option to be considered. On the other hand, the plugin’s free version doesn’t offer much. With only six building elements there is not much to do.
If you are considering Forge to be your plugin builder, the Advanced Elements extension is a must as it will provide you with all what’s needed to design and customize your pages.
Not to mention that the conditional logic feature is something new to be embedded into page builders. Having the option to display and hide the different building elements based on the visitor profile is a great feature to have.
To wrap things up in this Forge review post, the Forge stand-alone plugin will not be enough to create the pages you have in mind but, if you are willing to invest in buying the advanced elements extension it is definitely the page builder of choice.
4 stars are going for the free version, Forge with its extensions should be rated 5 stars with no questions.