The Best WordPress Theme Builder Options, No Coding Required

As WordPress has continued to grow in popularity, developers have constantly enhanced the options available to users through advanced themes and plugins. While WordPress is popular with designers and developers who are comfortable creating custom themes, it’s also a popular option for website owners and bloggers who want to be able to manage their own sites without needing any coding skills or experience.

There are currently a number of products available that make it possible for WordPress users to have control over the layouts and designs of their site without the need to be able to code custom themes, or to hire a designer to create one. In this post we’ll take a look at some of the leading options.

Divi Theme from Elegant Themes

Divi - Elegant Themes

Divi is the most popular and most powerful theme available to Elegant Themes members. The Divi Builder gives you the power to create countless different layouts without touching any code. It comes with 18 pre-made layouts, or you can create your own or customize one of the pre-made layouts to suit your needs. All of the blocks that you’ll use to create your layouts are responsive, so your site will look great on any device. In addition to the drag-and-drop layout builder, Divi also includes a powerful theme options panel and full control over the colors of your site. Membership to Elegant Themes starts at $39 per year.

Theme X

X

X is a popular theme available for $60 at ThemeForest. X includes three Stacks, which are essentially different designs. With several Stacks to choose from it’s like getting a few themes for the price of one. Each Stack is then endlessly customizable with a live preview that allows you to see changes on the fly. With X you’ll have options for different layouts, navigation menu configurations, and custom page layouts. X is responsive and retina ready. It also gives you 600+ fonts to choose from, unlimited backgrounds, and plenty of styling options. With all of the layout and styling options, you can create the site that you want with no coding required. On top of that, X is WooCommerce ready and also includes support for post formats and portfolio pages.

Drag and Drop Builder Plugin from Elegant Themes

Drag and Drop Builder Plugin from Elegant Themes


While Elegant Themes primarily focuses on creating great themes, they also have a plugin that can be pretty useful. With the plugin you can create advanced page layouts without touching any code. You can create columns, sliders, tabs, buttons, toggles, and boxes, and you can resize the elements as well.

To get an idea of what the plugin can do and how it works, check out the video at Elegant Themes. The Drag and Drop Builder Plugin is available to Elegant Themes members with a Developer account. The cost is $89 per year, which gives you access to all of their themes (currently 87 themes) in addition to the this plugin.

Ultimatum

Ultimatum

Ultimatum is a WordPress theme that was created to make it easy for users to have control over the design of their site without requiring any coding skills. You can create unlimited templates, take advantage of an advanced style editor, create forms, create slideshows, and more. You’ll use Ultimatum’s drag and drop editor to create the design that you want without the coding.

You can watch a video on their site to see what Ultimatum can do. The Starter license allows for use on one site with a lifetime membership for $65.  Higher-priced plans are also available for use on unlimited sites.

PageLines

PageLines

PageLines is a drag and drop WordPress theme framework that has been popular for several years. In 2013 PageLines made major changes and launched their Design Management System (DMS) that will help you to have control over your site’s layout and design without the need for coding. PageLines is built with a responsive design to help make your site look great on tablets and smartphones. You can use the drag and drop editor to create layouts on a page-by-page basis. You’ll also be able to change things like colors and fonts.

A demo video is available through the tour at their site. The DMS can be downloaded for free, but an upgraded membership will be needed in order to get all of the pro features. Prices range from $8 – $24 per month.

Themify Builder

Themify Builders

Builder is a plugin from Themify allows you to create page layouts with a drag-and-drop editor. It creates responsive layouts that will work on any device. The Builder comes with all themes from Themify as a part of their framework, or it can be purchased separately for use with other themes. The Themify themes cost $49, and the plugin costs $49 if purchased separately. Builder works live on the front end, so you can create layouts visually very quickly.

Headway

Headway

Headway is another drag and drop theme builder. You can create layouts with its drag and drop layout grid. Headway’s design editor allows you to add things like background images, round corners, and more. Headway also uses a responsive layout.

The personal license will give you the drag and drop theme builder for use on one website for life (updates for 1 year) for $59.

Dynamik Website Builder

Dynamik Website Builder from Cobalt Apps allows you to create drag-and-drop child themes for the popular Genesis framework from StudioPress. It uses HTML5 and creates responsive layouts. You can create static homepage layouts quickly, and you can create custom widget and content areas as needed. The cost of Dynamik is $79.95.

iThemes Builder

iThemes Builder

iThemes is another popular WordPress theme shop, and they also have a product to provide drag and drop functionality. Builder is a WordPress theme that allows you to insert different modules, like headers, navigation, content areas, images, widget bars, footers, and more. The Style Manager plugin that comes with Builder will allow you to change things like colors and fonts without touching the code.

At iThemes you can see demo videos for Builder, the Styles Manager, and Blocks (things like event calendars that can be created with Builder). Builder, 5 Foundation themes, and the Style Manager plugin can be purchased for $80. If you want a large selection of child themes and some additional plugins you can purchase one of the higher-priced plans.

Visual Composer for WordPress

Visual Composer

Visual Composer is a WordPress plugin by WPBakery that is available at CodeCanyon. With Visual Composer you can create layouts for your posts and pages very easily with no coding. You can add columns, tabs, message boxes, image galleries, buttons, video players, Google maps and more.

A one-site license is available for $30, and an extended license for $150.

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44 Responses

Comments are now closed on this post.

  • kamrynhughes, August 28, 2012

    i have to redesign..can i create columns, sliders, tabs, buttons, toggles, and boxes, and resize the elements as well.Which template should use for eCommerce Web Design

    here is my company website:
    http://www.karvysolutions.com/services/e-commerce.html

    • Steven Snell, August 28, 2012

      kamrynhughes,
      I recommend visiting the sites of the products listed in this post and see which one fits your needs the best. In most cases you will be able to create things that you mentioned like columns, sliders, tabs, buttons, etc. E-commerce adds another element. If you are using WordPress you would either need an e-commerce-ready theme, an e-commerce plugin, a separate service like E-Junkie, or have a developer create a custom solution.

  • rickymartin, August 28, 2012

    I have been amazed at how well thing have gone.. By the way I love your blog…

  • Joesam, August 29, 2012

    WordPress is really a great place for new users or site owners for creating the website . As such i also don,t have sound technical knowledge reagading coding and i like to use the same in future for better assistance.

  • Rogue Easyweb, August 30, 2012

    If you are a developer looking to save time on layouts, some of these methods can create a real nightmare when it comes time to dig back in to the code and change stuff.
    For example, the Pagelines system has caused me some headaches. They cater to non-coders, but then, when it comes time to do any real work, it’s crazy under the hood.

    Can anyone speak for a wordpress layout builder that spits out clean minimal code?

  • K G Mozumder, August 31, 2012

    I don’t like coding, for me it is very interesting. Thanks a lot.

  • kamrynhughes, September 5, 2012

    hi steven,
    to which extent e-commerce-ready theme will be seo friendly??? plzz suggest.thank you

    • Steven Snell, September 5, 2012

      kamrynhughes,
      I don’t really know what you are asking. Each theme is going to be different in terms of being search engine friendly.

  • Goran, October 29, 2012

    One more WP theme generator http://www.chameleonthemes.net/

  • Danny, November 13, 2012

    I’ve narrowed my selection down to 2 of the above.
    1. Visual Composer for WordPress
    2. Ultimatum

    Has anyone had any experience with either of these to help me choose which one??
    Ultimatum currently is selling for $57 for the developers licence (half price). From what I can tell watching their videos they are very similar. Hard to tell which is better but leaning towards Ultimatum due to the current sale.

  • Ashu, December 14, 2012

    Great collection.. but out of these PageLines WordPress theme builder is best.

  • Steve, December 25, 2012

    Another WordPress Theme Generator that is missing from your list http://www.templatetoaster.com

  • WebGuy, December 27, 2012

    Ultimatum is by far the best of them all. It gives you a true “blank sheet of paper” starting point and is responsive. Build your site layout the way you want without any pre-defined position constrictions. Headway is good as well, longer learning curve, less options and you have to pay through the nose for most of it. Ultimatum has good support on the forum, most times directly from the developer. I will say that i think Headway code is slightly less bloated, resulting in a bit faster page load, but is 20-40ms or so that noticeable?

  • Karan, December 31, 2012

    Hi,

    I am looking for a theme editor that can edit a theme without code.
    What i have on wordpress is a theme.zip file. However editors like Headway can not as they are themes themselves, and they say you cannot import a theme into a theme.
    So my question is that,
    is there a theme editor, that keeps the already built widgets and links, but allows me to edit it, by importing the zip file?

    Please help as i have searched everywhere.
    Kind regards
    Karan

    • Steven Snell, December 31, 2012

      Karan,
      I’m not aware of anything like that.

  • Goran, January 2, 2013

    @karan do you need something like this? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zsvim358IA4

  • Amy, January 6, 2013

    Don’t bother with Ultimatum. It is overly complex and difficult to use, not to mention not having a proper user manual or help pages… I was never able to complete a full site with this tool, even though I have been able to achieve complete sites without it. I asked for a refund and never heard from them.

  • lochu, January 14, 2013

    I have a print background so which of the above (if any) is the closest to InDesign and Quark?

    • Steven Snell, January 14, 2013

      lochu,
      I wouldn’t say that any of them are very similar to InDesign. I don’t have experience with Quark.

  • Sara Howe, January 16, 2013

    I am proficient in XHTML/CSS. I am downright dangerous with Photoshop CS5. I’m currently working in WordPress, hardening installs and purchasing turn-key themes that I modify via Notepad++ and FTP.
    I want to learn to custom theme with PHP but at the moment, I’ve got to keep bringing in money. Would you recommend a theme generator as a good way to start with custom themeing?
    I don’t want to get lazy or let my coding skills slip. Advice please….

    • Steven Snell, January 17, 2013

      Hi Sara,
      Personally, I would recommend learning more about WordPress theming by hand coding custom themes over using a theme builder. It sounds like you already have the necessary foundation of knowledge, you just need a little bit of time to gain experience with custom themes. I guess it depends on the type of project and the client. While theme builders are helpful, there are limits to what you can do with them. In my opinion they are most helpful for situations where a client wants to have a little more control over being able to customize a post/post with things like columns, buttons, sliders, etc. And also for those who don’t have your coding skills and experience but still want to be able to set up a basic site of their own without hiring a designer.

  • Chris, January 27, 2013

    Some of these are really useful especially for new web designers starting out etc and also for those who have the need to to be able to generate new concept themes for clients. But i find most are not entirely clear on what you get for your buck some are themes with drag and drop features some are just drag and drop plugins that require images and photos etc to fill out the actually template. and some like the toaster one someone posted are clearly rip offs of the artisteer theme generator. Ultimatum does look good as well as headway .

  • Trev, January 29, 2013

    I have been using Ultimatum..I suggest you avoid it..doesnt work well on multisites, developer is one man in Turkey, overly complex, not really WYSIWYG, have to keep refreshing in your browser, whereas in Builder your changes are show to you on the same page.

    • Steven Snell, January 29, 2013

      Thanks for sharing your experience Trev.

  • chris, February 23, 2013

    BEWARE OF WPTHEMEGENERATOR.COM.

    Templates and template designer doesn’t work properly more than half of the time. Templates either won’t install, installs with wrong images, or give your site 404 errors.

    I made the mistake of signing up for their $69 plan. Trying to get a refund for the last 7 days. I’ve sent numerous emails and they have not even attempted to give me a refund.

    Last email they replied to said they will handle my issue when they have time – after 7 days they haven’t had time. I just don’t want anyone to get ripped off the way I have:(

  • Tom, February 23, 2013

    I use Headway Theme and Ultimatum Theme and find them equally impressive and easy to use. They are both being actively improved with updates being pushed out.

    They both have their strengths so I wouldn’t say one is better. Having to refresh a webpage to visualize change made to it is not the end of the world for me.

    Like I said, Headway is good and getting better but so is Ultimatum – and it’s a one-time purchase of $57 for the developer edition at Mighty Deals.

    Next purchase – Catalyst Theme. ;)

  • Krishoo, March 10, 2013

    Nice wp themes builders is great i like it. thank you..

  • James, March 20, 2013

    Can someone give some guidance to a WP novice? I am looking at Catalyst and Dynamik for Genesis. Also considering Headway, Builder, Ultimatum and Elegant Themes. I know this is a broad question but any guidance would be appreciated.

  • charles, April 8, 2013

    BIG WARNING: http://WWW.WPTHEMEGENERATOR.COM , THEY ARE SCAMMERS, THEY DONT REFUND YOUR MONEY, 60 DAYS MONEY BACK IS A BIG LIE, DONT TRUST IN THIS “COLOMBIAN SCAMMERS” , WPTHEMEGENERATOR IS A BAD TOOL, HAVE TOO MANY LIMITATIONS AND WHEN YOU ASK FOR A REFUND THEY DISSAPPEAR,.

  • 7-side, April 19, 2013

    Can you recommend me which one is powerful builder today as cheaply as possible.

  • Lauren, April 23, 2013

    Hello,

    I work for a non profit and am setting up our site. I have zero coding experience and am fearful of buying a theme that has bad support or is too hard to set up. Headway looks nice but there were comments here that it is too bloated and that you have to “pay through the nose” for it.

    Can anyone clarify or direct me? Thank you!

    • Steven Snell, April 23, 2013

      Hi Lauren,
      I’m not a Headyway user, but from what I know it has a pretty good reputation. My suggestion would be to come up with a few questions about features or functionality that you need in a theme and then contact a few different theme shops to see which one would be a good fit for you. That will give you the chance to get answers to a few of your key questions to make sure you’re getting a theme that will work for you, and it will give you a chance to try out their support.

  • Kate, April 29, 2013

    Watch the videos on YouTube for each theme and see which one speaks to you. I find Pagelines to be confusing but lots of people love it. So it’s personal.

    I own Headway, Ultimatum, and Catalyst. ALL have a learning curve. Ultimatum has the most built In features (with cool build in mobile layouts for developers) but is a big theme that takes a lot of file space slowing it down. Headway is expensive but fast and flexible for quick changes and makes it super easy to create unique pages but if you don’t have design skills you can get really lost..Even if you do you can get lost. Believe me, I know.

    I think the best support is at Catalyst. However, if you are really brand new new new, I suggest Canvas at Woo Themes as the easiest to create a basic site with. Then join Pootlepress to learn more about how to use it.

  • Kate, April 29, 2013

    Also, if you are a newbie with limited funds and can’t hire a designer, you can use Visual Composer or Ether Content Builder from Code Canyon to build individual pages on Canvas. THEN you have the Woo e-commerce plugin right there at Woo Themes for those of you who mentioned that. Tada!

  • jen, May 4, 2013

    Thanks Kate! Those plugins are exactly what I was looking for to keep things simple yet customizable!

  • Minh, May 6, 2013

    I’m just looking to create a simple download page with WP. Like a landing page for a download for 1 product. What do you recommend?

    • Steven Snell, May 6, 2013

      Hi Minh,
      You could really use any of these options for just creating a page.

  • Bastian, May 11, 2013

    There are so many awesome wordpress themes at themeforest.net which have rich theme options in the dashboard, so buyer can customize it. Can I build theme like that using your list? Thanks.

    • Steven Snell, May 11, 2013

      Hi Bastian,
      The details and features of each option listed in this post will vary.

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  • mgarfath, July 17, 2013

    Thanks for the detailed post, it was really helpful, I have tried headway, catalyst, pagelines theme frame works and in plugins I have tried Visual composer and elegant theme builder.

    First lets start with headway, its really great framework, very easy to use for a non coder ( I’m a graphic designer ) but it has its limitations, we cannot create complex designs with it one more thing is that we have buy blocks for adding several basic functionalities, but still it cannot achieve some complex designs that we create in PSD. I’m talking about psd to wordpress conversion.

    2- Catalyst – its a great theme but mainly for those who know html /css, becoz u will struggle to create websites if you don’t html / css. with this one its highly possible to do psd to wordpress transition but the learning curve is heavy for someone who is non-coder.

    3- Pagelines – we can create layouts easily but will struggle when styling / designing the layout, need to learn html / css for this one also to create different looking websites each time.

    4 – Visual Composer and Elegant page builder, these can help you create create layouts in just secs but again its difficult to customize them, like adding shadows to the box or creating text dividers in different style, good for newbies to create a one off site but for psd to wordpress conversion this plugins won’t be efficient.

    I’m using the psd to wordpress yardstick becoz 99.99% clients wants to see the design before the site enters the development stage, so I have to provide them a psd layout first and then do the coding which i find really difficult.

    I would like to know from the author of this post, is there any such plugin or theme that i have missed out that can help me do the psd to wordpress conversion easily. thnx and sorry for this lengthy post, all the views of the theme / plugins are my own, based on my own experience.

  • Joey, July 19, 2013

    Hi Steven,

    Thanks for reviewing all drag and drop themes. Have you had a chance to review http://themify.me? What are your thoughts on it? Is it better to have frontend drop & drag ability?

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