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Layers – A simple WordPress site builder (layerswp.com)
152 points by spark3k on Feb 20, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 68 comments

There are tons of WordPress site builders out there. WPMUDEV released one yesterday, calling it 'the future of WordPress'.

Everyone is hell bent on turning WP from a CMS to an app platform. This is what results in 5mb sites and gives WP a bad reputation for being slow and clunky.

Yeah, it's what prompted the creation of Ghost.

I sometimes see people doing more in WordPress than I have yet to get Django to do.

Yeah, I know a startup which 'ingeniously' used Wordpress as their platform, turning it into a 'two sided commerce marketplace'.

I'm not sure if it was brilliance or stupidity.

Question is, how is their business model performing? Has WP hurt or helped that? In that end, that is really what matters.

Here is a direct link to the WPMUDEV site builder: http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/introducing-upfront/

(Not affiliated to them. Just spent some time searching for it myself as it is nowhere mentioned on the WPMUDEV website)

Slow front-end templating is definitely a major problem for many WordPress installs. Varnish can work some magic, as can a little Cloudflare, but agreed: WP performance must be engineered.

Varnish does go a long way, on the HTTP side combining and minifying scripts helps a lot too. I think the heavy load is almost the nature of the system, but there are some ways to alleviate the pain!

The site says "Layers is built into the WordPress core.." That means any site built with Layers could potentially break horribly when you update Wordpress. Doesn't sound like a good idea to me.

Hey Onion, I think we need to tweak that copy. Quite the opposite will happen. We haven't touched the actual core of WP but instead made sure to use what WordPress already offers and work to improve the UX around it. If WP released an update tomorrow Layers + WP would still work as promised. Dave

It is very misleading to say "Built into WordPress core." It's actually factually incorrect, and it took me a while to decipher what you meant. Instead you should say "The First Major Page Builder to Leverage the WordPress Customizer" (assuming Layers actually is the first.)

Yes, agree. Love the look of Layers WP - but the people that you're trying to attract (people that actually know what the WP core means) are the ones who want exactly the opposite of something built into the WP core.

Thanks Joseph. What we are trying to communicate is that we haven't built a clunky piece of tech on top of WordPress - which is common amongst most site builders. Going to chat to my team about refining that line as we believe it's an important point. Thanks for the comment :)

> What we are trying to communicate is that we haven't built a clunky piece of tech on top of WordPress

Now I'm confused. Didn't you just say that your tech is built in top of WordPress (below)?

> We haven't touched the actual core of WP but instead made sure to use what WordPress already offers and work to improve the UX around it.

We didn't want to fork WordPress and turn it into a Frankenstein. The actual core of WP is untouched however if you look at our code and the interface, we've tried to stick as close to what WP recommends as possible.

Many existing WP page builders out there look nothing like WordPress at all. Their interfaces are totally different and their code is not to WP's high standards. We wanted to avoid that with Layers. We wanted you to still use WP as is without feeling like you'd just installed something that takes over the normal experience.

Further commentary, you could also instead say "Built with a look and feel that would make you think it is built into WordPress core." But not "Built into WordPress core."

yeah you should rewrite that i didn't understood what you mean wile reading.

yeah, as someone who has worked with WordPress a long time, "built into the WordPress core" is a terrifying statement. I didn't read any further.

This must be geared toward non-developers because any WP dev worth their salt always thinks of the kittens and never hacks core.

Core wasn't touched

The demo http://sites.layerswp.com/coffee/ is down.

Also, what am I downloading? A plugin to wordpress?

It's a theme. "Layers is activated as a WordPress theme and works directly with the built-in WordPress Customizer."

It seems to be up maybe it was a temp glitch :)

You're downloading a theme for WordPress.

Is it only for static page sites? I'm not seeing any demo pages for articles/blog posts

I guess the underlying question is - can I have articles that similar feel to a Medium post (Large featured image with overlaying title, scroll for article - https://medium.com/help-center/images-652ee60abea6 )

Currently it's just for pages, we are working on ways to bring the builder into any post type so which will help users make beautiful posts as well as pages.

We are trying as much as possible to take inspiration from Squarespace in that our main focus is the User Experience.

Anything decision we take with Layers has to meet our UX expectations before being added, which I think is something lacking from the WordPress industry at the moment, features are added but are not usable, which sucks for the end user.

We want to fix that as much as we can.

well even "pages" driven by a CMS wouldn't be static

Regardless: under the Layers paradigm, "Blog posts" are a widget. So you might build a page for viewing one blog that is centered around a Posts widget, then maybe make a second blog the same way, and then a combined archive, etc.

I like the approach but it feels a bit frankensteiny… but I only gave it a cursory look. One thing is for sure, Squarespace has set raised the standard that Wordpress has yet to meet, so something like this needs to happen eventually.

This looks nice. I particularly like the fact that it comes with example layouts. I recently had a look at Scribe from WPMU that uses Upfront. It seemed pretty powerful, but for a non designer I need something to get started with, similar to the layouts that come with Bootstrap.

I'll give this a go tonight.

I'm disappointed that I can't find two pieces of information that are essential for me on this website:

* the identity of the author(s) * a link a repository hosting the source code

Our company is called Obox, you can get the git repo here:


Enjoy :)

It's good-looking. The discussion here alerted me to Layers and to give it a test drive. I'm working in the trial on a tablet. The layout's cutting off a lot -- can't even h scroll to it. http://m.imgur.com/RggaJgr

Site building on an ipad's an edge case, but updates from one will not be.

How do I download the demo themes? I was hoping to download the http://sites.layerswp.com/acquire/ business theme, but can't seem to figure out how to do that through your docs.

"Free Forever" scares me.

There is a business model behind it but Layers itself will always be free and we'll be here to support it! We've been in the WP game since '09 and have zero intention of going anywhere anytime soon :)

Care to elaborate on the business model? Honestly interested.

Paid for extensions, themes and a marketplace for designers and developers which we hope to launch in 30-60 days time.

Its the "Forever" part that makes me not want to use it as much, because I'm afraid of actually liking it and coming to depend on it, and then it going away. I'd much rather just pay some modest amount and know that I'm contributing to a viable business than hope that the owners have a business plan that works with "Free Forever"

I can assure you that in the WP industry paid for themes is not a guarantee for success. We know, we've been there with Obox Themes. We have a business plan that we are confident will keep Layers around for a VERY long time.

It seems to lack the ability for adding a widget into a content column. Beneath my slider I display three columns, and each column contains a widget. Is it possible to add widgets into one of the columns within a Layers content widget?

Each widget occupies one whole row by itself. The bundled Content widget can generate columns and can't accept other widgets into one of its columns. Might be a future feature tho...

I maintained a wordpress site for a client and found it to be a security nightmare.

You were either hosting it on the wrong place or using sketchy themes and/or plugins. WordPress core itself is very secure.

I suspect it was the hosting.

Those pesky bots bruteforcing wp-login.php..

I want to see how it evolves in the future. Cool project indeed.

What's the catch?

Why would this be free forever? Seems like something you could charge at least a small, one-time fee for.

It looks great, I will surely give it a try on of my parent-in-law's restaurant website.

Just had a look at the landing page. Did you guys/gals forget some meta tags? SEO.

What META tags would you suggest are critical to SEO performance (aside from 'DESCRIPTION')?

Here's a good article on Moz for the basics. http://moz.com/blog/meta-data-templates-123

If you have an iOS app, you'll need smart app banner tags https://developer.apple.com/library/ios/documentation/AppleA...

Heads up that you have duplicate title tags.

So this isn't a plugin or a theme but a Wordpress clone with a custom spin on it?

"To install Layers, upload the layers zip file to your self-hosted WordPress install under APPEARANCE →THEMES → ADD NEW."

It's a theme framework, like Pagelines et al.

Thanks for clarifying. It's not obvious enough on the site. Most WP users will be looking for something obvious whilst scanning. It should probably say this on the homepage. I assumed they modified core at first look.

You could be forgiven for thinking that, since the first claim on the home page is

> Layers is built into the WordPress core, creating a familiar but joyful building experience.

"Built into the WordPress core" is a very different thing from "is a theme framework."

Hi Vidyesh, it's a theme for WordPress as opposed to a custom spin. Our main focus was building the best user experience we could for a WordPress product.

Thank you for clearing that up.

Good to know. I got a bit confused. The Admin theme made me question it.

Why not go the Plugin route and let the user use Layers on any theme ?

Lack of consistency in wp plugin design. You would have to have others buy into what your are doing.

I don't want to download, just use.

'Designed for Mobile ' Never mind then.

Care to explain?

I'd gather that with the constantly growing mobile percentage of a general site's audience it makes sense to build things future-proof, that is mobile-first. It wouldn't bother me if desktops were an afterthought, would it you?

Anyone notice how crazy similar that is to Digital Ocean's site? https://www.digitalocean.com/

I know it's Wordpress and all but come on.

Maybe the color blue? Other than that, both sites look follows the generic tech website layout.

Digital Ocean's website is following a pretty standard design trend that has emerged over the past few years, the long scoll page with numerous horizontal sections. Lots of sites look like that these days.

There are far more differences than similarities. I would analyze them more before making an accusation (didn't sound like you were just trying to harmlessly point out the similarities).

I wasn't taking an action. I didn't know if it was a completely custom layout as seeing it was Wordpress layout.

I think it is pure coincidence. It is because of current design trends, this is ok for current websites to have this layout and design principles.

Can't say Digital Ocean was ever looked at when we designed Layers I'm afraid.

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