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WordPress Plugins We Love: Page Builders and Meta Data

WordPress is such a flexible platform because the community around WordPress has developed so many plugins. Overall, The quality of plugins is a mixed bag, so it’s always useful to talk to someone who’s tried out a plugin and can recommend it. That’s what this post is all about. Below, you will find the plugins we have enjoyed using the most when building sites.

There are so many WordPress plugins that it can feel overwhelming to pick a plugin. It can help to think about the categories plugins fall into. In this series of posts we’ll be reviewing the following marketing site plugin categories:

  • Content Management
  • Forms
  • Performance
  • Performance Monitoring
  • Security
  • SEO
  • Search
  • Localization/Multilingual
  • Debugging
  • Utility plugins
  • Membership
  • e-Commerce

This post will focus on Content Management plugins.

Content Management Plugins

WordPress is a Content Management System (CMS), but we’ve found that the built-in ways to manage content are not sufficient to create and maintain a content-rich marketing website. The content editing experience has definitely improved in the last few years with Gutenberg blocks, but Gutenberg still has a long way to go before it can catch up with some of the top-of-the-line page builders.

Page Builders

While we have created sites using Gutenberg and hand-coded templates, using a page builder is generally faster and provides better value. Marketing teams can also better control their websites using a page builder than PHP templates. Gutenberg still doesn’t quite feel like a true page builder to us. Some of the goodies we rely on, like complex listing grids with easily modifiable queries, Gutenberg still doesn’t have. Our current favorite page builder is Elementor.


We love building websites with Elementor for WordPress. While Elementor definitely has a learning curve, it is worth investing the time to learn how to use it, since you’ll be able to make essentially any design you think of come to life quickly and often without coding. The thing to watch out for with Elementor and all page builders is not to bog down performance by adding too many bells, whistles, and helper plugins.

In our opinion, Elementor Pro is a great purchase. Before you settle on Elementor it’s a good idea to test out other page builder plugins, and of course, Gutenberg and its add-ons. The main reason we like Elementor is its great flexibility. The Elementor team also does a good job of balancing performance with new features.

Our favorite Elementor features are the theme styles, and of course all the templates.


Crocoblock has a suite of Elementor add-ons called JetEngine. Twenty Jet plugins allow you to leverage about 150 widgets. While we find a few of the widgets indispensable, it’s important to not get carried away with installing Jet widgets. We’ve found that after about 4 Jet plugins, your site will really start to slow down. Only use the plugins you must. That goes for Jet plugins and all plugins in general. 

Aside from the JetEngine core, the plugin we really can’t do without is Jet Smart Filters. We use smart filters to help users navigate listing grids of resources and posts by narrowing them down using the filters.

We’ve noticed that Elementor is slowly starting to pull in some of the features included in JetEngine. For example, Elementor now has listing grids, which are one of the key features for us in JetEngine. 

My favorite JetEngine feature is the QueryBuilder. You can use queries for both Post Types and Custom Content Types, and queries integrate with filters and search, so that you can drill down into custom queries using user input. Speaking of Custom Content Types (CCTs), they are definitely one of the features we love using on more advanced sites. Each CCT gets its own table. There are some restrictions on how CCTs can be incorporated into pages, but creating a custom table with custom columns allows for great flexibility.

With any suite of plugins as complex as JetEngine, there will be some gaps. Jet-engine-repeater-values is a plugin on GitHub that lets you use dynamic tags when accessing values in repeaters. It’s something we find use for in almost every project now. Another plugin that we love which fills a gap Elementor left is the Add Class To Elementor Image plugin. You can add a class or ID to all widgets in Elementor, but when you add a class to the Image Widget, the class is added to the parent of the created img tag instead of directly onto the img tag. The Add Class To Elementor Image plugin fixes this issue and allows the addition of a class directly onto the created img tag. Adding a class to the img tag is needed to, for example, exclude an image from lazy loading via Perfmatters.

We often work on websites that were built with Gutenberg the Elementor Block For Gutenberg plugin allows us to include any Elmenetor templates in Gutenberg. The plugin is built and maintained by the Elementor team.

Meta Data

WordPress stores a limited amount of data in the wp_posts table. It’s not really possible to build a rich and interesting site using only data from the wp_posts table since you’d only be working basically with title, content, post_type, and date. An arbitrarily large number of fields and values can be associated with a post using the wp_postmeta table. The most popular plugin to do this with is Advanced Custom Field.

Advanced Custom Fields

To store data for a page that can be retrieved and used by a page builder, Advanced Custom Fields (ACF) is almost always the way we go. ACF stores data for each post in the post meta table. This data can be accessed via Elementor and JetEngine. Advanced concepts like repeaters are supported. My favorite feature of ACF is the ability to target specific post types with specific groups of custom fields. This targeting is what allows us to build out sites that are tailored to the specific use cases of our clients.

One of the favorite pieces of ACF functionality of the dev team is the ability to create field groups in the WP-Admin and then export the settings as PHP code that can be version-committed.

JetEngine also has the ability to manage meta fields, but we like ACF more since the functionality is just more built out. There are more types of fields available and the UI for selecting items is generally better.


While WordPress is a Content Management System there are some key plugins we recommend to make the content entry and management process enjoyable and efficient. We enjoy using the combo of Elementor and ACF to make WordPress – favorite CMS- even better.

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