Thrive Architect Review: Is It The Best Page Builder For WordPress?

Thrive Themes is one of my favorite software marketing companies out there today. They create great products that I actually use, and they consistently improve and update them over their lifetime.

My first introduction to Thrive came a few years ago when they launched an innovative page builder called Thrive Content Builder. At the time it was released, there was nothing like it. Not only could you use it to build highly converting landing pages, but it was also great for spicing up your blog post content with eye catching visual elements.

Thrive Architect Review

Last updated: Sep 4, 2017
First Published on: Aug 24, 2017

tl;dr Summary
Thrive Architect is a page builder for WordPress that allows you to create high converting landing pages, eye-popping blog posts, and other custom pages.

The ability to add elements like table of contents, styled lists, buttons, countdown timers and other custom widgets allowed you to really make your content stand out. I still use it today on some of my posts like my popular post on the best email service providers.

Inevitably, all software products start showing their age and the same thing happened to Thrive Content Builder. While still a good product, it started being surpassed by flashier competitors in terms of innovation and ease of use.

That’s why I was so excited when the first sneak-peek of Thrive Architect was announced in the beginning of this month. I hungrily consumed all the preview videos as they were released and I was so happy my Thrive Content Builder plugin ready to update to the newest version.

So in this Thrive Architect review, I’m going to take a look at all the key enhancements of this new plugin, and give you an in-depth look at how it works.

What is Thrive Architect?

If you haven’t been following closely to the previews then you might have some initial confusion about what Thrive Architect is.

Thrive Architect (TA) is the newly rebranded name of the old Thrive Content Builder (TCB) WordPress plugin. However, it’s not just some polish over the existing plugin. It’s a complete rework of the product with a completely new UI and workflow.

Yet Thrive Architect is completely backward compatible with your old TCB generated content. So when you do the update, all your old content will look completely the same. This was very important to me, and gave me peace of mind when doing the update on this site.

You also get all of the same widgets that TCB was known for like countdown timers, testimonials, lead generation forms and many others. Plus it gives you the ability to create various layouts that the default WordPress editor just can’t do.

What can you use Thrive Architect for? As a WordPress plugin, it gives you the flexibility to do many things on your site including:

  • Designing simple or complex landing pages for lead generation.
  • Creating beautiful custom pages on your site like home pages, contact pages, resource pages and more.
  • Enhancing your blog posts with eye catching visuals.

Not only that, but Thrive Architect is also the visual editor that powered other Thrive products like Thrive Leads and Thrive Quiz Builder which I’m also using on this site.

So it will definitely improve the experience you have with those products as well.

How it Works – A Mini Case Study

The best way to learn about a product like this is to actually use it to build something. So for the purposes of this review, I decided to build out a partial replica of the LeadPages homepage using Thrive Architect and documenting my experiences.

You can view what I created here.

I also purposely did not watch any of the tutorial videos, as I wanted to see how easy or hard Thrive Architect was to use on my own.

After updating your plugin, you will notice the new ‘Edit with Thrive Architect’ button on the Edit Page screen.

Clicking on it will bring you inside the editor where you will see the Thrive Architect sidebar on the left and your content on the right. Compared to TCB, the toolbar is wider and features bigger clearer icons.

I wanted to create a page from scratch, without any of my theme’s styling. So I picked the Blank landing page template to start with.

With the blank canvas in place, you can drag elements you want from the sidebar directly onto the page. Once you do that, you will notice the sidebar switches views so you can see the specific element properties you can modify.

This is a nice improvement from the (sometimes annoying) floating toolbar that TCB used to use.

To begin building my demo page, I started by adding a few Background Section elements. These would be the containers to hold the various elements I needed.

I really like the way they implemented the color picker. It makes it easy to choose the color you want, adjust its transparency and you can even save colors you use a lot as favorites.

Adding paragraph elements and aligning them how I wanted was very straightforward. To create the logo and menu section I added a Column widget to my section and added the Image and Custom Menu elements into their respective cells.

The widths of the column element is easily adjusted by dragging the vertical line between cells.

Creating nice looking buttons with Thrive Architect is much easier than with TCB. Previously, you were really limited to 6 different button styles. But with TA, you can pretty much design any type of button you want.

You can see that LeadPages uses ghost style buttons where the background is transparent and you only see the outline of the button and the text. Creating these style buttons in Thrive Architect is super simple, as there is already a predefined ‘Ghost’ style button you can use.

It’s also easy to create rounded buttons, buttons with icons, or buttons with drop shadows. You also have the ability to switch to the hover state for individual buttons, so you can change the style when a user hovers over your button.

Overall it took me about 30 minutes to come up with what I did. I didn’t end up trying to match fonts or anything like that. But overall I think it looks pretty nice for the amount of effort I put in.

The only part I was not able to figure out is why the child menu opens up behind the section below it. I’ll have to follow up with Thrive support to see why that is.

What are some of the best features of Thrive Architect?

There is a definite learning curve to being productive with Thrive Architect, but I am quite happy with how powerful and flexible it is. After playing with it, I’m quite confident you can design any type of homepage or landing page you want with it.

Here are some of the things I’m really like about the product.

Nice Feature #1: Easy to modify properties

The dedicated sidebar is much nicer to work with than the old TCB floating toolbar.

I really appreciate the thought that went into designing its UI as there are tons of small and big improvements.

For properties like font sizes and container widths, Thrive Architect gives you a few ways to change values. I like how you can be precise by entering specific inputs or using the sliders to quickly tweak values.

 

The margin and padding editor is also pretty cool.

You can input values, click the arrows and even just drag to more quickly adjust your padding and margins. It all works pretty well.

All these important details make designing your pages so much easier.

Nice Feature #2: Better responsive pages.

While TCB was mobile responsive, Thrive Architect takes this to a whole new level.

Now you can separately edit your pages for desktop, tablet, and mobile devices, so your page will look exactly how you want it on each screen size.

At the bottom of the sidebar, there’s an icon called Responsive View that lets you switch between Desktop, Tablet, and Mobile views. (Desktop is the default)

It’s a little tricky to explain but essentially changes to each view’s styles cascade downward where Desktop > Tablet > Mobile.

Changes in the Desktop view will apply to all 3 views while modifications to Tablet will affect Tablet and Mobile views. And finally, changes to Mobile will only affect Mobile. Phew!

Take my Leadpages demo page. For desktop, the “See a Demo” and “Try now for free” buttons are laid out side by side. But on tablet view I wanted them to stack on top of each other vertically.

To implement this, I switched over to Tablet view and adjusted the layout of the buttons vertically. This change then automatically propagated down to the mobile view as well.

You also have the ability to show or hide different elements in the 3 views. So if a particular image is too big for mobile screens you can just hide it from that view. This is available under the ‘Responsive’ section in each element’s properties.

By taking the time to do this, you can now make your pages look great at all screen resolutions.

Nice Feature #3: Breadcrumb navigation to select elements.

Thrive Architect lets you select elements on the page just by clicking on them.

But when elements are nested inside of each other, selecting the specific thing you want becomes a little trickier.

TA solves this issue by introducing a breadcrumb navigation menu at the top of the screen. It shows all the elements in the selected item’s hierarchy so you can easily choose the one you want to edit.

I found that it works quite well, and I ended up using it quite a bit while designing my page.

Nice Feature #4: No content lock-in.

One of the main concerns people have with using a page builder is that they fear they will be locked into the product forever. I think this ended up being the main issue that people had with using Thrive Content Builder. If you uninstalled the plugin, all your TCB content was gone.

Fortunately, Thrive Architect made this a priority and has addressed this concern.

If there ever comes a day where you want to uninstall Thrive Architect, all your content and images remain. And your content will remain clean, free of messy shortcodes that some other similar products leave behind when they are uninstalled.

I’m also happy to report that you can disable TA at the post or page level as well. Let’s say you have used it to enhance a particular blog post. On the Edit Page screen, you will then see a link titled “Return to the WP editor”.

Clicking it will enable you to edit your content again using the normal WordPress editor. You will lose all your special TA formatting of course, but your content remains which is the important part.

What can Thrive Architect improve?

Thrive Architect is a brand new product, so there were a few annoyances that I found along the way as well. Here are a few things I think could use some improvement.

Improvement #1: Changing fonts takes too many clicks.

Setting my fonts for various elements is one of the most common things I was doing while designing my page.

The problem is that it can take up to 4 clicks to select the font you want for any particular element.

First, you need to click the ‘Change’ button. Then pick your source, choose your font, and then press the ‘Apply’ button. It gets a little tedious after doing this over and over.

It would be nice if Thrive Architect could remember the last font you used and just be able to apply it.

Improvement #2: Sidebar ends up getting cluttered over time

By default, the element properties in the sidebar are grouped into sections which are neatly hidden away using accordion style menus.

But after you start opening a few of the sections, it becomes harder to find the properties you want since the sections remain open until you close them again. You have to do a lot more scrolling which can become annoying.

It would be nice if TA added a button that would automatically collapse the open sections.

Improvement #3: Still some general bugginess.

As I was working on the design of my page, I did notice some sporadic bugs. Occasionally when I selected an element the selection highlight didn’t appear. I also notice that when I pick certain fonts, sometimes it doesn’t fill in the default values correctly.

These were just small annoyances and none of them are deal breakers. As a new product, bugs are to be expected and I’m confident that the Thrive development team will fix these issues very quickly in a future update.

Thrive Architect Pricing

Thrive Architect follows the same model to its other products. You pay a one time fee, with the cost increasing depending on the number of site licenses you want. So in the case of Thrive Architect, it’s $67 for a single site license, $97 for a 5 license pack, and $147 for a 15 license pack.

With this one-time fee you get access to all the plugin’s features, lifetime updates and 1 year of support.

Or, if you are a Thrive Themes member, you get access to Thrive Architect free with your yearly membership. This is what I have.

At launch, there were some limited Thrive Architect discounts given out to select affiliates. But you typically won’t find any working coupons for Thrive products.

Final Thoughts

If you are a current Thrive Content Builder user, then Thrive Architect is a massive update that I’m sure you will love. The UI improvements are amazing, and I think it’s better than TCB in every way. Plus it enhances your experience working with other Thrive products like Thrive Leads and Thrive Quiz Builder.

And this is just the start. The Thrive team is very responsive to feedback, and what we’re seeing now with Thrive Architect is just the beginning. Over time, the product will continue to improve and get better and better.

So if you are looking to design a new homepage, landing page, or just want to create visually appealing blog posts, why not give Thrive Architect a try?

Create better pages with Thrive Architect

Thrive Architect Pros

  • Extensive customization and styling options for every element.
  • Easier element selection with breadcrumb navigation.
  • Better responsive mobile designs for desktop, tablet and mobile.
  • Backward compatible with all your old TCB content
  • No content lock-in.

Thrive Architect Cons

  • Elements can’t be directly dragged anywhere on the page.
  • Sidebar navigation can get cluttered over time.
  • Still some bugs after initial release.

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