Oxygen WordPress Site Builder Review
Oxygen is a fairly new visual WordPress site builder from the Soflyy team – the developers behind WP All Import and WP Sandbox. The software has just officially launched as version 2.0, which offers advanced functionality from the initial release.
Oxygen was designed to offer the ease of use of other theme and page builders with more power and flexibility, allowing design control to the pixel level without any coding knowledge required.
Unlike some other WordPress site builders, Oxygen is not tied to a theme and actually replaces the WordPress theme files. The developer team claims this eliminates the problem of bloated code in theme files, resulting in a potentially faster site.
Although it is aimed at WordPress site designers rather than complete beginners, Oxygen is simple enough to get to grips with quickly after a little experimentation. Newcomers to WordPress design will probably want to start by customizing one of the existing design sets to see what’s possible and how the software works.
So lets take a deeper look into Oxygen to help you decide whether it’s a tool that would work for you.
Oxygen is a visual editor that gives you the power to create unlimited responsive layouts for WordPress. Some of the notable features include:
- Visual editing of page content, headers, and footers
- Easy creation of horizontal or vertical layouts
- Automatically responsive with full design control
- Create sticky headers
- Multi-level configurable menus
- Layouts for dynamic content
- Insert dynamic data
- Display posts in list, grid, or masonry layout
- Compatible with any other plugin, including page builders
- Extensive library of page elements
- Global style controls
- Extensive reference manual and video tutorials
- Access to user forums, Slack, and Facebook group.
For more details and the full list of Oxygen features, please visit the official developer website.
When you install Oxygen you have the option to start with a completely blank canvas, or to install a premade website that you can then customize to your liking.
As Oxygen 2.0 is newly launched, there are curently only five designs to choose from but there are many more designs promised for future updates.
The installation of the pre-made theme is one-click and is completed in just a couple of minutes, after which you’ll be taken back to your WordPress dashboard.
One issue that I noticed is that once you’ve chosen a design, there’s no option to go back and start with a fresh blank canvas. Although you can do this by deleting all the templates it seems like a clunky way of doing things unless I’m missing something.
You can then go ahead and look at your live site and check to see if the theme installed correctly – it won’t look exactly like the demo site because it’s missing images and content (it would have been helpful if there was an option to import the demo content this as many WordPress themes allow you to, as it’s a lot easier to customize a fully set up site).
You should have a new menu item for Oxygen in your WordPress dashboard. From here you can select a different design from the design library, create or customize sitewide templates, upload SVG sets, import or export theme options, edit general plugin settings, and access support and tutorials.
Oxygen Visual Editor
Oxygen comes with a drag and drop visual editor that makes it easy to design any kind of site you want without any coding knowledge.
Choose from the elements to add to your page in the menu, click them to customize, adjust CSS styles, reorder items by dragging and dropping, adjust padding and margin by dragging.
Templates allow you to create design features that can be inherited site-wide or for certain areas of your site such as the archives. You can also design pages with the visual editor to be completely unique.
Lets have a look at how the visual editor works for a new page added to one of the pre-built Oxygen site designs:
To add a new page, you use the normal WordPress Add New Page menu link. After entering a title for your page and saving as draft, you’ll see the option to “Edit with Oxygen”:
This will then take you to the Oxygen visual editor, where you can add any design elements to the content that you wish. Design elements such as the header and footer are inherited from the template and you’ll need to edit the original template if you want to change these.
Adding and customizing elements is pretty simple – on clicking the Add+ button you are presented with a visual list of elements in different categories including
- Basics – sections, columns, headings, text, image, video etc.
- Helpers – pre-built site elements such as sliders, testimonials, social icons, progress bars etc.
- WordPress – WordPress specific elements including menus, shortcodes, sidebars, widgets, ad dynamic data
- Library – pre-designed elements specific to the Oxygen pre-built designs
- Reusable – any design elements you create and want to use multiple times.
To add a new element, simply click on it from the menu and edit the available options. You can then click on the element to edit the styles including alignment, background color or image, borders, and so on.
When you’re building a WordPress site you’ll need to make sure that page elements such as your post titles, date, featured image, and author are loaded and in the right place.
To do this you can simply add a WordPress Dynamic Data element. For example, adding a dynamic Header element will load your post or page header text and style it however you’ve set it to be displayed.
You can re-order elements on the page by dragging and dropping them where you want them to be. Alternatively you can click on the Structure button to see a DOM tree view of all the elements on your page and re-order them there.
Margin and padding of individual elements can be adjusted simply by dragging until you’re happy with the spacing.
There’s a delete button to get rid of any elements you add accidentally and an ‘undo’ option for any unintended deletions.
Once you’re finished, just hit the save button and then “back to WP” to see your finished page.
There’s also a helpful WordPress menu link when you’re logged in as admin to “edit with Oxygen” so you can make any design changes without having to go back through the dashboard.
Oxygen gives you the power to knock up a pretty nice looking site in a matter of minutes with the visual builder, but if you’re a developer and want to fine-tune anything yourself, you also have direct access to the code so you can make your own edits.
Making Responsive Layouts
The visual editor enables you to choose from various different screen widths so you can see how your in-progress design will look on different devices. If you need to make any design adjustments for smaller screens, this is easily done through the editor as normal. For example you can change horizontally stacked elements to vertically stacked and adjust spacing as necessary.
You can also hide or display items based on screen size, for example displaying a button to download an app only on mobile devices.
If you’re starting from scratch or want to make design changes to the existing design elements on the pre-built designs, you’ll need to create and/or edit templates.
You can do this from the template menu and it’s pretty straightforward – add a new template, title it, save the draft, and you’ll then have access to the Oxygen template settings.
Here you can choose if it inherits design from another template, and where the template should apply (posts, pages, archives etc.). You can also choose to only apply the template to specific taxonomies or parent IDs and set the template priority if you have more than one template that may apply to a particular page.
Once you’ve set up your template save it, and then you can hit the big blue button to access the visual editor.
From here the process is exactly the same as editing an existing design, only you’ll be starting with a blank white site.
To create a basic site you can simply create a new template including a header and footer. You can then set up new templates for all the different types of content on your site and set these templates to inherit your main site template so that the header and footer will automatically be included on every page of the site.
However if you do want to have a standalone page that looks a little different from the rest of your site (such as a landing page or sales funnel) you can simply set up a new template that doesn’t inherit anything.
Oxygen Support and Documentation
Oxygen offers a well-written and extensive reference manual including videos with instructions for everything from installing the plugin and making your first site to advanced functionality of the visual builder.
Good documentation is so important when you’re working with a new plugin, especially one as complex as this, so it’s nice that this hasn’t been overlooked by the developers.
Once you’ve bought the plugin you’ll also have lifetime access to direct developer support either by sending an email or activating a support ticket on the website.
Oxygen also has an active user community including forums, a Slack chat, and a Facebook group.
In terms of updates and future developments, Soflyy is a small development team but they seem to be dedicated to their users and have certainly listened to feedback and made improvements based on requests from those using Oxygen 1.0.
Is Oxygen Right for You?
Currently Oxygen is offering lifetime support and updates for a one-off payment of $99 that will give you a license to use on an unlimited number of sites. This makes it a great deal compared to other site builders, but is it worth the investment?
I did find that Oxygen had more of a learning-curve to it than some other site builders so it’s probably a better tool for designers and developers who already have some WordPress experience, rather than complete beginners looking for an easy solution to create their own site designs.
The visual editor seemed slow to load initially, which could be frustrating for some users, but once it’s loaded, building your design is quick and intuitive.
If you’re after a powerful and flexible visual WordPress site builder, Oxygen is definitely worth a look. The team are obviously working hard on improvements after the initial launch and there are lots more exciting features to come, so if you want to grab it for the introductory offer of $99, now is the time to do so.
I’ll be very interested to see how the WordPress community reacts to Oxygen 2.0 and where it’s going in the future. If you’ve had a chance to test out Oxygen please share your thoughts in the comments.