The age of big WordPress mega themes is fading, and the hot themes now are lightweight, customizable themes that you can pair with your favorite page builder, like Elementor or Beaver Builder.
Page Builder Framework, as you’d expect from the name, embodies that trend. It aims to be the fast, flexible canvas that you can build upon with your page builder of choice.
The core version of the theme is available for free at WordPress.org, where it’s active on over 10,000 sites with a perfect 5-star rating. Then, there’s a Pro add-on plugin that tacks on tons of new options for your header and footer, as well as more WooCommerce support, more blog layouts, and lots of other goodies.
In this Page Builder Framework review, I’ll share more about what features this theme offers, and then take you hands-on and show you how it works…
Page Builder Framework Review: The Feature List
Because Page Builder Framework comes in both a free core theme and a premium add-on, I’ll break down the features by the different versions.
The free core theme is basic out of the box, but that’s the point!
Instead of looking finished out of the box, it gives you a bunch of controls to mold it into your own preferred design. All of these options are available in the real-time WordPress Customizer, which is quite convenient as you’ll see your changes update on the live preview in real time.
While I can’t share every single customization option in the free version, you’ll have a good range of options to control:
- Overall site layout, like the width, sidebar usage, etc.
- Basic colors and typography
- Header, including dedicated mobile navigation settings
- Blog archive and single pages
- Footer, including multiple column options
Beyond that, it’s super lightweight, weighing in at just 47.4 KB. On a brand new WordPress install, my site was 215 KB and had 12 HTTP requests (including WordPress – that’s for the entire site).
And the “page builder framework” part really comes into play when you create a new piece of content, where you’ll get special page-level controls that let you:
- Change the width and sidebar usage
- Disable specific elements, like the title, featured image, header, and/or footer
This lets you create the perfect “canvas” for your page builder design.
And finally, the free version includes basic WooCommerce compatibility.
Then, there’s also a premium plugin add-on that adds a lot of new features. With it, you’ll get:
- Lots more header options, including options for sticky navigation, transparent header, more mobile menu options, off-canvas and full-screen menus, etc.
- Mega menu and menu hover effects
- An option to create your own custom responsive breakpoints
- More typography options, including the ability to use your own custom fonts
- Beaver Themer integration
- White labeling
- A deeper WooCommerce integration
- More footer options
So basically, the free core version is totally viable as a theme, but the Pro add-on will give you a lot more customization control, especially when it comes to your header/navigation and other non-page builder areas.
One thing Page Builder Framework does not have, though, is importable starter sites.
Page Builder Framework Pricing
The core Page Builder Framework theme is available for free at WordPress.org.
Then, there’s the premium add-on (which is actually a plugin, not a new theme).
You have two options for purchasing the premium add-on, each of which let you use it on unlimited sites:
- $58 for one year of support and updates. You also get a 20% discount if you renew after that first year to continue receiving support and updates.
- $248 for lifetime support and updates. You’ll never pay another dime.
I’d say those prices are quite fair and in line with other similar themes. Additionally, the option for a lifetime license that allows unlimited use should make developers happy.
Hands-on With Page Builder Framework
Like other themes with this approach, Page Builder Framework doesn’t look like much when you first install it. Here’s the default styling:
However, the power comes when you jump into the WordPress Customizer and start making it your own.
I won’t be able to show every single feature, but I’ll try to hit the high points.
Page Builder Framework gives you an entire dedicated Header section in the WordPress Customizer, which contains a ton of sub-options:
You get a ton of different menu options/layouts, which I think is one of the theme’s high points. You can choose from:
- Stacked (advanced)
- Off-canvas right
- Off-canvas left
- Full Screen
For example, if you choose off-canvas, you’ll get this nice slide-out effect:
Beyond that, you also just plain get a lot of different menu locations, which makes it easy to add different types of content. All of these menu locations also get their own settings areas:
You can also enable:
- Sticky navigation
- Transparent headers
And remember, you get a separate section dedicated to just your mobile menu, which lets you create a great mobile browsing experience as well:
Finally, one last feature I like is a dedicated CTA button integration, which makes it easy to add a CTA button to your menu. Here’s an example:
Next, let’s dig into the blog options.
To control your blog archive page, you get three basic layouts:
- Standard list
- Image beside post
You’ll also get additional settings for each layout. For example, if you choose a grid, you can enable a masonry effect and control how many columns appear on different devices:
You’ll also get plenty of options to control what metadata displays, colors and font sizes, and more.
For individual blog posts, you’ll similarly be able to enable/disable different metadata and control pagination options and basic layout details:
There’s a Lot More
There are a ton of different options in the WordPress Customizer, so I can’t show you every single feature.
However, I will give you a quick run-down on some of the other options you get in the WordPress Customizer.
First, you get a detailed Typography area, including an option to use fonts from Adobe Fonts (formerly Typekit) and your own custom fonts:
You can also set up different footer layouts, and even enable a sticky footer. You also get an option to use a custom footer, like an Elementor template that you embed via shortcode:
There’s also a built-in breadcrumbs feature, as well as lots of color controls for various parts of your theme.
And another neat feature lets you embed a page builder template to use as your 404 page – just like you can with the footer.
WooCommerce Integration and Options
If you’re running a WooCommerce store, you’ll dig Page Builder Framework’s built-in WooCommerce integration.
Not only does it automatically apply its styling to WooCommerce, but you also get a bevy of options in the WordPress Customizer (with the Pro add-on).
You’ll be able to control the WooCommerce shop page, with options to control the layout, metadata, and other functionality (much like the blog archive page).
You’ll also be able to control the single product page, including an Ajax add to cart button, as well as switch up the layout of your checkout page:
Ok, now let’s jump out of the WordPress Customizer and I’ll take you through a few other things.
First, let’s take a peek at the page-level controls. Again, these help you change up how your content looks on a piece-by-piece basis, which is especially powerful when using a page builder.
Here, you’ll get new options in the sidebar that let you:
- Change the width
- Disable certain elements
- Change the sidebar functionality
- Enable/disable the transparent header
Lots of Hooks, and Easy Display
If you’re a developer, you’ll love the array of hooks that Page Builder Framework gives you. If you’re not familiar, hooks basically let you “inject” your own code/content at specific spots in the theme.
Beyond just generally giving you lots of options, it also gives you this really convenient option in the WordPress toolbar that lets you display all the hooks on your site. This helps you visualize exactly where each hook goes:
Pro Add-on Settings
With the free version of the theme, you’ll do everything from the WordPress Customizer. However, the Pro add-on also adds a dedicated Theme Settings area to control some of the premium features.
This area includes some nice performance optimizations, like the ability to disable emojis and embeds.
Beyond that, it also lets you set your own responsive breakpoints and white label the theme if you’re building a client site:
Beyond the Theme Settings, the Pro add-on also adds a Custom Sections area.
This is a powerful feature that lets you inject your own content into your header, footer, or 404 page, as well as any one of the huge number of hooks you saw above.
You also get detailed Display Rules that let you use include and exclude rules to control exactly where this custom section appears:
While this is a bit of an advanced feature, it gives you a ton of control for customizing your site. Plus, because Elementor and some other page builders let you display templates via shortcode, this basically lets you inject page builder templates into any spot on your site, without the need to purchase Elementor Pro or Beaver Themer.
Final Thoughts on Page Builder Framework
Like Astra, GeneratePress, OceanWP, and others, Page Builder Framework is part of a new breed of WordPress theme that focuses on giving you a lightweight foundation with tons of customization options.
If you like this approach of pairing such a theme with your preferred page builder, you’ll definitely want to give Page Builder Framework a look.
It’s got tons of options for customizing your theme, as well as lots of neat ways to pair with your page builder of choice.
Plus, developers will love all the header options, the custom sections and hooks, and the ability to white label the theme. And oh yeah, I know you developers love lifetime licenses, too, and that’s another thing you can get with Page Builder Framework.
If you’re interested, grab the free version at WordPress.org and give it a spin. If you like what you see, it’s super easy to update to the premium version in the future.