When deciding what template and/or page builder for WordPress you want to use, you have a difficult choice to make. Your decision can leave you short-changed and unsatisfied with the results you obtained. But there's a new kid on the block to help you make a good decision - it's the CornerStone WordPress PageBuilder brought to you by ThemeCo, the makers of one of the best selling WordPress premium themes X.
In this post, we're going to dig deep and give you a full CornerStone PageBuilder review.
Not sure whether or not you should use this plugin? In our review, we will analyse the benefits offered by this plugin and the related theme X to help you decide whether you should use this product for designing pages for your WordPress website.
|Overall||4.7/5 Advanced WordPress Pagebuilder that's a perfect partner to X theme|
|Ease of use||5/5|
|Interface||Simple, intuitive user interface|
|What we liked||Ability to create custom layouts for pages and posts|
|Ease and simplicity of use|
|Reputable vendor with long history|
|Cheap - great value for money|
|What we didn't like||Not many page templates available out of the box|
|Feels weaker than other mature page builders such as Divi and Elementor|
|Website||Visit Website Now|
We'll start this Cornerstone review on CollectiveRay with a bit of history about the Cornerstone page builder and the X theme which goes so well with it.
As you might know, ThemeCo has been selling the X theme like hotcakes, it has pushed the company to become a Power Elite Author on ThemeForest. The theme has to date sold more than 212,000 copies.
When something sells at such volumes, there must be something good about it.
But still, X as with most premium WordPress templates still had one drawback. Flexible as it may have been, there was only so much you could push the theme. Something had to be done about that.
As of Version 4.0 of X, there was a major upgrade of the theme which made X the queen of premium WordPress themes on ThemeForest. X became one of the fastest-selling themes across ThemeForest (with Avada which we have reviewed here, being the most popular).
And what was it that made such a difference? It was the introduction of the Cornerstone page builder.
Users and clients went crazy. Ratings and reviews (4.8/5 stars!) of the X theme and the page builder soared. Let's just see why ThemeCo managed to achieve these amazing results.
Why Page Builders Became Popular
How many times where you designing a web page using a premium WordPress theme, only to find yourself boxed into the "predefined" layouts offered by that theme?
Don't you really hate it when you have to face a client and say "Sorry, we can't do that - the theme we are using does not allow that".
Ready-to-use themes are awesome when you are really sure of how you can use the WordPress theme to produce a final result without making a lot of changes. However, they are not so good when customization demands are high and the design requirements are fairly complex.
Yet people still use them because they are the easiest, fastest and possibly the most affordable way to design a website.
However, when we really need to push customization up to the highest level, themes with predefined layouts only start to fail.
That's why page builders are all the rage these days. They give you the benefits of a theme, whilst not restricting your customizations in any way. But where else do most other WordPress page builders fail?
Real-Time Design / Editing
One of our pet peeves which have always made us want to scream with page builders is the fact that most of them actually work through the backend.
Because of this problem, while you are designing, you won't be sure of what the design will actually look like. In essence, you are still "coding" but through an easy page builder UI. Then you have to refresh the frontend every time to see what the actual design looks like.
This has been something that eventually becomes a nightmare to work with. So what's the difference with this page builder?
Whilst working on a WordPress page or post in the Cornerstone plugin, you are actually looking at the exact end result. You are working and building, AND seeing the actual design.
Some people call this real-time design, or real-time editing.
And that, of course, is what makes us thrilled to work with it. There's not only something amazing about seeing the page come together as you work, but the fact is that this is the final result, is like you're doing proper design, not coding a page, and hoping for the best.
Backend Access Problems
WordPress page builders have another drawback.
Most of the current WP page builders require you to grant access to users in the WordPress administration backend. This is something which you might want to avoid, especially if you will be granting access to people who might (how can we put this mildly?) break stuff.
Roles in WordPress are great but sometimes giving certain people access to the backend is not a good idea. It's inviting problems.
This is another feature where Cornerstone Page builder shines - contrary to most other plugins, this page builder is based 100% completely in the front-end.
You don't need to give users of the page builder access to the backend of your website. Webmasters, especially those who are control freaks with their beautifully created sites will love this feature.
So the claim is that this page builder is "Built with you in mind".
The claim is that they have truly achieved a fully functional frontend page builder which is "Simplicity is best". But does the page builder live up to these bold claims?
Our Experience With Cornerstone
We've already experienced the pleasure of working with the X theme.
It was already a pleasant experience, so we were looking forward to the release of X bundled with Cornerstone. We felt it was always going to be an improvement on an already wonderful product.
As it turns out, we were not disappointed.
The last time we had finished working on a website without a page builder (which was a while back at this point), there were always times when we had to make a compromise.
Given that WordPress theme save you a lot of time, there's always going to be some give and take. However, it gets frustrating, irritating, and extremely tedious when you find out that you have to rework the same piece of code just because the client’s requirement shifted slightly.
With this page builder though, that compromise is no longer something which we have to live with. As people who work with websites, this is a huge relief.
X Theme + Cornerstone
ThemeCo has always focused fully on the X WordPress theme as their workhorse.
Just to use a bit of an oxymoron, X is the Cornerstone of Themeco. Rather than trying to support many templates like most vendors do, they embarked on a mission of creating one of the best WordPress themes on the market.
The results speak for themselves, and we do strongly believe this is one of the very best themes you can get your hands on.
The only 3rd party plugins which they have created are created solely with the intention of making the X WordPress theme better. The Cornerstone page builder is one of those missing links. ThemeCo and Envato are describing it as a 100% frontend complete drag and drop WordPress pagebuilder.
This does sound like the bee's knees!
But are we to believe every word all of the hype about the features? In this review, we're going to show you why we believe that this new WordPress page builder is a great addition to your set of tools.
The Cornerstone page builder comes with plenty of features, some of which, we are listing as below:
Rather than having to work in the backend and not know what your design looks like, Cornerstone is 100% frontend. You know exactly what your page/site is going to look like as you are working.
Simple to use
There are many people out there who don't need to use their website on a day-to-day basis.
For these people, overwhelming them with options just creates a confusing experience.
ThemeCo has focused on creating a simple two-column interface. A work area and a preview area where you see your design come to life. In the work area, you can edit all of the designs, text, images and all relevant elements without having to revert to the back-end.
Page and Block Templates
Cornerstone includes a number of page templates to help you create specific pages of your sites (such as sales or about pages), these are a great time saver.
Block templates are a similar concept, but rather than full pages, they are section or "blocks" of a page, such as team profiles, parts of the about page, etc.
Extensive set of pre-built elements (40+)
The "cornerstone" (excuse the pun) of every WordPress page builder is the ability to use pre-built elements to construct a page with as little effort as possible.
At the time of writing this article, there are 40+ elements you can work with. If you want to have specific custom elements that you want to reuse, you can always create your own elements.
The Inspector allows you to edit any of the parameters of any element of part of a page through a visual interface with which to change the parameters of an element.
Compatible with any WordPress theme
Although the page builder has been built with the X WordPress theme in mind, it works well with all themes. You can edit posts and pages as necessary in any theme into which you install it.
For more features of the plug-in, visit ThemeCo's CodeCanyon page.
What We Liked
Let's just see a few examples and use-cases of how this page builder can make a real difference in your setup.
First of all, setting it up takes 5 minutes and you are good to go.
Just like we highlighted earlier, the editor is really simple to use. Every feature has a very clear function, there's no guessing. It is a pleasant experience working with this tool, because the UI has been built with simplicity in mind.
You can set up a page in literally minutes and before you know, it is all set to present to your clients.
First of all, Cornerstone page builder is free if you have already bought X, or are planning to buy it - it comes bundled with the plugin.
If you're already working with other WordPress templates, you can take advantage of the page building capabilities by buying it by itself for just $39.
Given the hours you are bound to save, this will pay for itself long before you've finished your very first project.
Custom + Ready-made templates
There are even more ways of getting value out of the X theme and Cornerstone plugin.
Let's start with the X theme. X comes integrated with more than 30 variations of layouts which we can use as a starting point rather than starting from scratch. We've always found this as an excellent shortcut to producing great results.
You start from an existing demo and then tweak to suit the needs of your current website project. This is an awesome time-saver.
When you choose to work on a particular layout, there might be just a few elements that would be needed to become what your client (or your website needs). With Cornerstone templates, you just need to select an element that you want to add to the ready-made template, and then drag it down to where you want it to be.
So you're starting from a beautifully designed layout already, and tweaking it involves either changing the properties of some of the elements or adding the few additions elements you need - the design is practically effortless.
List of Elements
Let's mention (most) of the Cornerstone Elements which you will probably be using over and over again:
- Cart Dropdown
- Cart Modal
- Cart Off Canvas
- Content Area
- Content Area Dropdown
- Content Area Modal
- Content Area Off Canvas
- Creative CTA
- Global Block
- Navigation Collapsed
- Navigation Dropdown
- Navigation Inline
- Navigation Layered
- Navigation Modal
- Raw Content
- Search Dropdown
- Search Inline
- Search Modal
- Widget Area
Just for clarity's sake, you can see what each one would look like on the actual page builder itself.
As you can add anything you want on a page just by using the page editor.
That includes stuff like adding a grid, a carousel or video player. And remember that making changes in widths, boundaries, padding, sizing, alignment, size of text, etc is all done via the inspector so things are as simple as they can get.
What We Didn't Like
We wouldn't be true to our readers if we didn't find something that we believe has room for improvement.
First, when you've worked with other page builders such as Divi, WP Bakery or Elementor you might feel that the page builder is somewhat simple compared to these advanced builders.
While we believe that such a simple UI can be a strength, because, for many users, this is more than enough, some more advanced users might find the UI is not as feature-rich as they would expect, or are used to. Truth be told, with the ever-expanding array of page builders, some products have grown to have more features.
But there's a fine balance, between too little and too much. We find it enough for Cornerstone, but some will find it lacking.
Second, once again, compared to other builders, you might find that there are few ready-made layouts. Now, once again, we would like to point out that usually, page layouts are a function of a theme, rather than a page builder. So once again, this is a lack that is typically addressed by the layouts offered by a theme.
Third, let's have a bit of a discussion about shortcodes. Most page builders work by creating and embedding shortcodes into the page. This means that the page builder will tie you in.
Any plugin that uses a shortcode will make things simpler, at the "expense" of becoming embedded in your content. If you were to need to change that shortcode, you're going to have to go into your content and change it.
Given that page builders use several shortcodes embedded into each other, removing the plugin means that any pages designed will probably have to be rebuilt. Yes, this is probably the reality of working with a page builder, but when you change such a fundamental piece of your website as a plugin or a theme, you can't expect not to have to rebuild certain pages.
We hardly see this as a drawback. We wouldn't even dare call this a necessary evil. It's the reality of using shortcodes.
Installing and Using Cornerstone?
Cornerstone is installed like any other WordPress plugin.
Once you have installed it and logged into WordPress, with the correct rights, you can access the front end and start making changes to the pages.
We've already mentioned above that the price of this plugin is hard to beat at just $39 which includes 6 months of support from ThemeCo.
You can extend the support to 12 months by paying $12.75. You also got all future updates when they come out, which is great!
Let's see what some people are saying about it.
This page builder is not only easy to use, but is a powerful tool for creating visually stunning and functional page designs. I've loved using this builder, as a designer with only basic development and code knowledge, this builder helps me create far more powerful and responsive designs with far less effort than with any previous builder I've used before.
Joe Fylan also thinks it's a solid offer:
If you want a drag-and-drop WordPress page builder plugin that offers real-time feedback while you work, Cornerstone is hard to beat. The live CSS code editing feature should come in handy for both beginners and experienced users, too.
Joaob also has nothing but praise for the plugin:
This is the best page builder out there. I have been using Cornerstone in X Theme for years. I recently moved to PRO Theme from Themeco which has Cornerstone already built in, and this theme is totally awesome. I got to a situation now where I am obliged to use a different theme, after playing for a couple of hours with this different builder I decided to Purchase Cornerstone and install it on this theme. Cornerstone is totally awesome and Themeco support is the best out there!
We're just about done with our Cornerstone review. So what do we really think?
It is a good tool? Is it worth the money?
For sure! The price of the page builder makes it a no-brainer and while there might be other options out there, we think this is a solid investment and a very good companion to themes that do not have a page builder.
The pure simplicity of creating amazing looking web pages in such a little time is a feature that most users will find very valuable. With most people wanting things done yesterday, we now know we can turn around great results in no time at all.
This allows designers to charge premium rates without having to stress out so much about the times we'll have to spend to arrive to an excellent result. This is an excellent opportunity and that is why we are so much in love with X WordPress theme and its companion the Cornerstone PageBuilder.
We'd be happy to add more details should you require them to our ThemesCo CornerStone PageBuilder Review - in the meantime, enjoy using one of the best WordPress page builders around and creating awesome websites!
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