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Official emblem of the distinctive Milwaukee web designers known for highest-quality work

Milwaukee Website Design

Javelin Communications on Facebook
Javelin Communications on LinkedIn
Javelin Communications is on Twitter
Internet Marketing Matters
Thoughts on website design and Internet marketing for Milwaukee, Waukesha and southeastern Wisconsin.
Page Building With Smart Slider 3

Smart Slider 3 as a page builder
Most people who design websites think of Smart Slider 3 as a fantastic tool for building slideshows and banners. Here's one of the best-kept secrets in the business: "SS3" (pro version) also is an amazing page builder. It lets us create dazzling, dynamic multilayered custom designs just as you would design pages and ads for glossy print publication. I have done both, so I know.

Also it will work on any WordPress or Joomla website. It's more versatile and powerful than either Divi or Elementor for WordPress. It easily beats the three best page builder extensions for Joomla - SP Page Builder, YOOtheme Pro and JD Builder. When you need impeccable, bulletproof responsive design that renders flawlessly across all viewport ranges, no page builder can touch it.

SS3 lets us target up to six viewport ranges, versus the standard three. You can see exactly what you're doing in real time. I call this "hypermobility," because it is so much more flexible and accurate than any other method available to us.

All in a drag-and-drop visual editor, without having to write any code, unless you really want to. SS3 doesn't demand coding knowledge, but makes it very easy for those who are adept at writing CSS.

For Professional Use - Mainly

I want to be clear right from the top that this system is for advanced users who want to make sophisticated custom websites for themselves or for clients. It's not a quickie template-based DIY platform like Squarespace or Wyx. While you could get by without basic knowledge of HTML and CSS, that really comes in handy..

SS3 is especially great for homepages. We use it that way a lot. If we're doing a larger site with lengthy articles, we let Divi or Elementor carry the load on the inside pages, dropping SS3 modules into layout wherever they can help. SS3 readily adopts whatever default typography you set for the rest of the site.

Sites which have only a few pages and no lengthy articles can be built almost entirely with SS3. Works great. Look at our own company website if you don't believe it.

For clients who want razzle, SS3 serves up the dazzle, with its unlimited visual, typographical and animation possibilties. Endow your pages with a wide range of engaging motion and transitions. Also add awesome parallax effects to whole content blocks or to individual layers within blocks. Not everyone goes in for that fancy stuff, though. You can leave it out and still build beautiful hypermobile pages.

Just like with Divi or Elementor, we make SS3 pages out of screen-filling content blocks stacked one after another. Max width is usually set to 1500 or 1600px. The blocks are comprised of rows, columns and layers containing text and images and embedded modules. We assign blocks to a group and then publish the whole group to our web page by means of one simple shortcode. Many page builders come with SS3 integration, allowing us to publish groups or blocks via a dropdown/select list.

As an alternate method, publish individual content blocks to your page, again by means of shortcodes. This no-fail system will work with any theme or template, so long as the platform will accept SS3 as a plugin.

Urban legend holds that page builder systems such as this are bad for SEO. Not so. Two sites we built recently with these methods are at number one nationally. Both started from zero. Speed has never been an issue. Never mind the loose talk about page builders slowing sites down. Nowadays we have some wonderful gadgets to address that, in both WordPress and Joomla. SS3 also gives us some highly effective built-in speed-enhancing features.

Having listed all the positives, now for the negatives. You're probably like me in that I've never used a page builder, theme or template which did not bedevil me with quirks, bugs and head-scratching functionality gaps. So it goes with SS3. But at least in their case they are committed to continual improvement and they do listen to us.

1. You can't type in layout. No, we are forced to use a maddeningly miniature field housed under the content tab of the popup properties window.

2. The properties window has an annoying habit of popping up right where you are working. You can drag it to top left or right, but the positioning never seems to stick.

3. Ability to save styles at the system level is minimal. For example, we can save font styles, but this feature is limited and user-hostile. We used to be able to build a robust font library, but that was dropped. Big step backward. Currently, animations are the only styles you can copy and paste across different blocks. It isn't possible to save a row style or column style, as we take for granted when using one of the pure page builders.

4. NextEnd Web, creators of Smart Slider 3, offers minimal support for use of the extension for page building. Their slider template library contains a few examples of full pages. They look really cool but are not helpful to designers who just need a big cache of mobile-responsive rows and columns which are always at your fingertips. We built our own extensive library of blank SS3 content blocks in a wide variety of configurations. With them we can go lightning-fast and achieve a superior result.

5. Frontend editing, which we take for granted with pure page builders, is not available. We have to log in to the backend. However, once you are there it's a very nice user experience, precisely emulating what you would see on the frontend if we could edit there. Even unskilled users are readily able to make copy changes and update images.

In a perfect world we'd see NextEnd launch a variant of SS3 called Smart Builder. I don't think that's going to happen because they have been incredibly successful selling SS3 as a slideshow plugin. It may be the most popular extension for WordPress. Meanwhile those of us in the know still have a pretty awesome way to make killer custom web pages.

Contact me if you'd like to add this skillset to your agency or group.

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