We’ve just re-build the Raison site. I hope you like it. We did a rebuild for a few reasons:

  • We were not satisfied with mobile responsiveness on all screen sizes
  • We were adding a WooCommerce membership component
  • We wanted an easy way to add new pages and landing pages

So, I’ll show you some of the decisions we made and why.

Moving away from WooThemes Canvas

We have invested a huge amount in Canvas. We love it. Many of our sites are built with it. We even built an entire framework and Canvas child theme. So, why have we moved.

Theme building is changing

We wanted to experiment with Page Builders. That’s a plugin or theme that adds a WYSIWYG designer for pages.

Normally I would stay away from anything that proclaims to herald the ‘end of coding’, but then I saw LayersWP created by OBox Themes. This was an open source page builder that was integrated directly with the WordPress Customiser.

It ticks all the boxes. It really gives the site owner the freedom to build their own sites. We knew this was a killer feature that our clients would love and we wanted to put it to the test.

The verdict on LayersWP

The first thing to note is that Canvas has been honed over many years. Layers is a newborn and you can tell. There are some basics that still need to be fixed. In fact I’ve submitted over 20 items on the GitHub Issue page. Some of them are only small tweaks, but then sometimes it is the small items that matter (such as getting the correct H1 tag for the Site header).

The good news, no the fantastic news, is that OBox are seriously pro-active. They have been looking into all the items I have submitted and are really investing in this product. It’s a true demonstration of why an open source application always wins. The community can interact directly with the creators and better the product.

The same way that WooCommerce became the no.1 eCommerce platform so too will LayersWP be with Page Builders.

I met WooThemes Tiago at the last WordCamp London. He’s the lead developer for Canvas and there is an imminent release of Canvas 6.0. I look forward to that to see how it will compete with these new page builders.

However at the moment I suspect that Woo will put their main focus into Storefront and that LayersWP will become our main theme for building sites in.

Moving from Formidable Pro to Gravity Forms

Another change in tech is how we manage our enquiry forms. Previously we used Formidable Pro and now we are using Gravity Forms. Both are fantastic but we had a few criteria that needed to fulfilled:

  • Create user account with Forms
  • WooCommerce integration

We found Gravity Forms for our client sites more than Formidable and were better versed in it. We also think they have put added attention on the form styling and user experience in the backend. So we decided to go with Gravity. We’ve been happy with the choice so far.

If you have any questions about how we have built the new site, do let us know in the comments.