Oxygen WordPress Plugin - #1 Best WordPress Page Builder

by 
Mike C.
 on 
February 13, 2019

Oxygen WordPress Plugin - #1 Best WordPress Page Builder

The Oxygen WordPress plugin is the fastest, most customizable page builder that I have ever worked with. Historically, page builders are clunky and counter-intuitive, pushing bloated code into your website design. In 2018 the developers at Soflyy released Oxygen version 2, which I have used on multiple client websites and has exceeded my expectations from the beginning. Those familiar with page builders will feel right at home, but you will have much greater control over all of your elements and layouts.

Oxygen WordPress Page Builder Performance

I've used a half dozen page builders in various projects before, and I've always felt they were clunky to use (looking at you Cornerstone). After the initial page load, averaging 2 to 3 seconds, the tools are responsive and easy to control. Elements are created using flexbox, allowing minimal code for fluid layouts. If you haven't been using flex in your CSS layouts, I'd recommend giving it a try. Although flexbox browser support is not too shabby, I'd recommend testing your designs if your project requires ancient browser support. Overall, I am extremely pleased with how quickly I can create content or make changes.

Playing Well with Others

While in the editor, I ran into several compatibility issues with other plugins. Nothing that I experienced so far was unfixable, but given enough time, you will run into a conflict. Typically it ends with two developers pointing at each other for a fix. It happens.

To date, I had Charts.js break the color picker in the Oxygen WordPress editor due to naming conflicts. The Monarch Social Media plugin throws some errors, fixed by changing two lines of code. Disqus also throws Javascript errors within the editor. These issues did not make their way into the live site, but it is something to be aware of.

Oxygen WordPress Plugin

HTML Output

Below is a sample of the HTML generated from section tag in the GIF above. Clean, unbloated HTML created by the Oxygen WordPress Page Builder.


SmugBits.com was built using the Oxygen WordPress plugin.

If I run into trouble that is not a plugin conflict, it will typically involve a more complicated section that utilizes Javascript or PHP. For example, certain PHP errors can corrupt the Oxygen shortcodes and leave the page you are working on crippled until the error is fixed. When troubleshooting, I suggest using the Oxygen Facebook User Group before contacting support.

My Favorite Features

The ability to create templates lets the designer style posts or pages that maintain the same layout. This mimics the use of using a theme, while giving you layout freedom. You can have templates for Posts, Pages, Custom Types, Blog Posts, 404 Pages, and more.

In addition to templates, you can store reusable elements that can be shared across your entire website. Make the change once and the update will apply to every instance of that element. You can also create reusable elements that you can customize without affecting any other page.

Access global CSS styles right from the editor, allowing you to make changes on the fly. Although you can change the styles of each element through the panel, I find it is sometimes quicker (and sometimes necessary) to modify the stylesheet directly.

Finally, there are global colors, fancy effects, blend modes, and modal boxes. You can save as many colors as you would like and quickly access them when styling elements. Global colors were released in version 2.1, this was a great quality of life improvement. From 2.2 and onwards, you can easily animate elements and use blend modes on elements. Some great features have been added, and the pending release of version 2.3 looks exciting as well.

Oxygen WordPress Color Picker
Oxygen WordPress Elements

The Interface

Adding elements is incredibly simple and is broken up into five categories.

Basics
Sections, divs, columns, headings, text, links, images, videos and more.

Helpers
Social icons, sliders, testimonials, price blocks, Google maps, etc.

WordPress
Menus, shortcodes, dynamic data (titles, authors, etc.), comment form, widgets.

Library
Great looking, pre-designed templates for contact forms, call to action, headers, and more.

Reusable
Content that you create and reuse throughout the site, including headers, footers, and the like.

There are plenty of elements to play with, but most are pretty standard for most page builders. I do like that you can have dynamic data and insert the page title, author, or featured image anywhere on the page without having to hard code it.

Other pieces I found useful included the shortcode and shortcode wrappers, the code block (PHP, HTML, Javascript), and link wrappers.

Pros

  • Quick and responsive when creating content and making edits.
  • Good load speed on published websites.
  • Unrivaled control over the design of your posts and pages. 
  • Clean HTML without nesting dozens of layers of divs that other builders generate. 
  • Structure panel allows you to see the nested elements and easily reorganize page layouts that are quirky with drag and drop.
  • The price. Currently, Oxygen is available for a one time fee of $99 which allows installation on unlimited websites.
  • The Oxygen developer license allows you to use the tool on your clients websites in addition to your own.
  • Excellent Facebook User Group for support or ideas.

Cons

  • Minor compatibility issues.
  • Disable the plugin and your site becomes an unreadable jumble of shortcodes.
  • May require troubleshooting if you are doing advanced work.

Mixed

  • Does not use a theme. This can be bad for plugins that rely on template hierarchy such as wp_head. It is good in that you have full control over your design.
  • No published roadmap. The developers keep it a secret so the competitor ninjas don't steal their secrets.
  • If you are not familiar with HTML and CSS, you will have a difficult time learning Oxygen. An intermediate level of understanding will go a long way in how successful you will be with this tool.

Comparing Oxygen WordPress Plugin to Competitors

When comparing the page builder features to competitors, I find that Oxygen is one of the fastest, most responsive tools available. If I have trouble with drag-and-drop, I can open the structure panel and reorganize elements that way. It works as you expect, but gives you options to modify way more than just margins.

Oxygen disables your WordPress theme. What does this mean? Well, it means that you can have any layout that you can dream up for any particular page. You are not restricted to the layouts forced by all-in-one themes and other page builders. This is a huge plus for me, however, it comes with a big downside. If you disable the plugin, your page will be nothing but shortcodes.

Oxygen WordPress Page Size
For any selected element you can modify the style for a particular screen size or state (hover, active, etc.). This made customizing for mobile very easy since selecting a page width will show you a live preview. Because we are not using a template, you may need to do this more often, as it is not handled for you by a theme.
Oxygen WordPress Element Options
The Advanced Tab when editing an element.

Some Issues to be Aware Of

A theme has a standard structure depending on the type of page being displayed. Within that structure, WordPress sets a header, footer, and the content in between based on a template. This does not apply to a website built with Oxygen. Disable the Oxygen WordPress plugin and your layout goes poof. You will not be able to switch to a theme and keep your content because your page is stored as a bunch of nested shortcodes.

In the back of my head I am wondering how long the developers can maintain their current price structure of a one time fee of $99. I do believe that they are committed to the project, as incremental updates happen just about once per quarter. More popular builders such as Elementor are charging $199 per year. Time will tell, but hopefully they can sustain large volumes of sales to maintain the costs of development.

Conclusion

Overall, I have definitely gotten my monies worth out of the Oxygen WordPress plugin.  I have used it on a few client websites and was pleasantly surprised at the freedom I had versus a more traditional approach. Give it a shot, and if it doesn't work out there is a 60-day money back guarantee. As an aside, I am in no way affiliated with Oxygen Builder and have provided this review based on my experience using the plugin for real clients.

Posted by 
Mike C.
on 
February 13, 2019
SmugBits provides web design and development services from southeastern Pennsylvania. Contact us to find out more.

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