We decided to do an in-depth Thrive Architect Review, after having used it across a couple of our websites. One of the questions we often get asked from fellow digital marketers is, did we finally fire our web designer because Thrive Architect is purportedly so easy to use? The good news for our web designer is that he is still working for us and even helped with this review. However, that does not automatically mean that Thrive Architect is a dud, as some would assume.
In the world of page builders, Thrive Architect has to be amongst the most popular and newer ones around. Perhaps not as new as competing landing page builder Elementor but not as old as Beaver Builder. However, the history of Thrive Architect goes back several years to when it was called Thrive Content Builder. So, if you previously used the Thrive Content Builder plugin, you’ll feel right at home here because a lot of the tried and tested tools have been carried over to Thrive Architect, along with modern updates. Though the company does say that Thrive Architect was built from the ground up, using thrive isn’t all that different.
So, the question you’re probably asking is, how does Thrive Architect fare as a WYSIWYG drag and drop custom WordPress page builder compared to the competition? That’s a complex question to answer, which is why we have pieced together our experience in this review so that you can decide if it is a good choice for your business.
Thrive Architect Overview
Thrive Architect is designed, built, and sold by the same folks that were responsible for the highly successful Thrive Content Builder. Back in the day the Thrive Content Builder plugin was the talk of the town for DIY landing page builders. Almost anyone who wanted to design a website or landing pages on their own, without having to mess around with coding and style sheets chose the plugin. However, as the story goes despite its success, Thrive Content Builder had its limitations, which couldn’t be outdone, especially keeping in light the fact that WordPress had evolved so much. That led the team to build a brand new WYSIWYG, drag and drop WordPress landing page builder that offers more features, makes adding a lot of new stuff easier, and, most of all ensuring that it was compatible with all past, present and arguably future versions of WordPress.
Fast forward to today, and Thrive Architect, delivers on its promise of being able to build a landing page with drag and drop ease. You don’t need to know anything about coding, and the only code you might have to add is shortcodes for features like a ‘Contact Form.’ However, that isn’t a requirement with any Thrive Theme.
The big selling point for Thrive Architect is that it can be used by anyone to build any type of page. What’s more, the plugin continues to receive more updates, and with it comes new features. So, it is a consistently evolving plugin that keeps its loyal users happy.
Thrive Architect Features
To truly understand how Thrive Architect is similar to or better than the competition, it is important that we examine its most prominent landing page builder features. Now whether you have used Thrive Content Builder, or any other WordPress page building tool, or perhaps never used a page builder before, it is important that you read through our take on the features offered. In our Thrive Architect review, we tend to dissect the features offered so you can decide if they will actually work for you or are just a marketing gimmick.
Front-End Page Builder
The first and perhaps the most important feature is that Thrive Architect is a true WYSIWYG, drag and drop WordPress page builder. Our Thrive Architect Review can’t be complete without stating this enough times. Once you have installed the plugin and paid for it, you are good to go! All elements from content boxes to text boxes, buttons, headers, etc., are all drag and drop compatible. What’s more, is that dragging and dropping feels smooth even if you’re using a half-decent computer. Though Thrive Architect isn’t heavily dependent on your computer’s CPU or GPU.
We are big fans on the in-line text editing feature, which allows you to type in text, in real-time on a landing page you’re designing! That’s a feature we’ve not seen in other WordPress landing page builders, and yet it is so useful because it makes the job of editing and adding text easy and quick.
When building a test page for our Thrive Architect review, it was apparent that just about every element can be dragged on the page and placed exactly where you want it. What’s more, the plugin is stocked with just about any element you would need which makes using Thrive Architect feel more comprehensive. The current updated version as of April 2020, has 34 elements, and each element has a set of sub-features which help customize everything from the color to its shape.
That’s why in terms of being a comprehensive drag and drop front end WordPress page builder, we give it full marks. However, using Thrive Architect similar to Thrive Themes can take some getting used to.
Thrive Architect though a page builder does not skimp on the quality of its template library. We were admittedly impressed with the selection of templates offered, which range from ones for restaurants to dentists, and ones that can be customized to suit any business. Using Thrive Architect means you get access to around a hundred or so of these templates.
The amazing thing about these templates is that once you load it, they can just as easily be customized. Global settings like colors, fonts, etc. can be changed with a few clicks. You can then save all the changes as your own custom template. Most of all, these templates aren’t stored on your website but instead on the cloud. Only the template you’re using gets downloaded on to your website. While that means it won’t end up costing you a lot in bandwidth it also means that switching landing page design takes a few seconds.
Furthermore, you can create templates for landing pages of your own. If you have worked hard to create a layout for different landing pages, that layout can be saved as a template. You can then use that layout on subsequent pages like your ‘About Us, ‘Contact Us,’ ‘Terms of service,’ etc.
While all of this sounds great on paper, the fact is that the landing page templates are severely limited. You can’t find a template for a digital marketing agency, for instance, also digital services don’t seem to be represented in the library.
The other frustrating part of using these templates is that you can’t preview how they would look before being applied to your website’s landing pages. We were initially caught off guard countless times because we clicked on a template, assuming it would show us a preview before confirming we’d want to apply it to our page. Once a template is applied, you can’t undo it! So, you’re pretty much stuck with it. But that’s just half of the frustration we encountered when researching to write this Thrive Architect review.
Using thrive Architect we found yet another source of much frustration is the size of these templates. Now, most people may not notice this, but on average, the size of a single template is around 7 megabytes, which is very large compared to competing Elementor that has templates that are on average, 400 kilobytes.
The other consequence of these large template file sizes in Thrive Architect is an inherently slow-loading webpages. Despite compressing all the pictures, and running through a battery of page optimization techniques, we couldn’t get a score better than a ‘C’ on most speed tests. So, there is no way to speed up your landing pages beyond a certain point.
Widgets aka Elements
Now using Thrive Architects means that for the most part, you’ll be working with dozens upon dozens of various elements as we had to for this review. Similar to Thrive Themes, all page templates are made up of elements. The good news is that all elements can be changed and customized as per your needs or likings. Elements like content boxes, table of contents, columns, and styled lists, etc. can easily be customized.
Now because there are so many elements in Thrive Architect, the best way to explain all of them is to break them up into three categories, i.e., Foundation elements, Building Blocks, and Integration elements.
Consider these to be your basic set of page templates’ elements i.e.paragraphs, headings, images, columns, and content boxes. The reason they are thrivearchitects foundation elements is that no page can exist without them. Ever try building a WordPress content page without images or headings?
Now, these are mainly elements that help organize your content and make them stand out from standard WordPress content. Building blocks include star ratings, styled list, and table of contents, etc.
These are mainly elements that you add, and they help integrate the page into other ecosystems. For instance, contact forms, video embedding from YouTube, perhaps, social media integration, lead generation items like content reveal, rights reserved, click to tweet etc. Like all other elements, these are easily dragged and dropped into place on blog posts and regular lead generation pages.
Many WordPress page builders may slip up in the content editing department which makes drafting blog posts difficult. However, here is another area where Thrive Architect tends to excel. Unlike other plugins we’ve tested, you can edit content and see exactly how it will look in the builder plugin. For instance, when editing the text on a button or content box, you can see if the text is going to overflow, and then tweak it accordingly. The same goes for text boxes and other content which allows you to type in what you want, in real-time, or simply paste the text you have from a Word or Google Docs document.
Furthermore, if you’d rather handle editing text over on the backend, i.e., how WordPress traditionally handles it you can add the WordPress element into your content box. However, in our experience, the text looks out of sync with this element, and so you’re better off adding a text box on the page and editing it on the front end.
Speaking of editing everything from font sizes to types and colors can all be changed in real-time on any page. You can see how the font will look like on a lead generation page. For instance, on the header as you click through to choose one. This content feature alone saved us a lot of time and allowed us to find the perfect font.
The one drawback of the content editing system at least it was something we noticed is that the page tends to slow down and become jittery when editing content. However, if you save and preview, the page looks fine, and you can scroll through with ease. So, it appears that something is bogging the page down when in editing mode. Our suspicion is that it has something to do with having a content box or too many of them.
When designing important sections of your websites like landing pages, you always want to make sure that the layout looks and performs perfectly across desktop, mobile, and tablet screens. Furthermore, Google wants websites and pages to be highly mobile compatible first, so it pays to put in extra effort to make sure that’s the case.
Fortunately, Thrive Architect is amongst the few page builder plugin we’ve tested that make building mobile-centric pages or responsive pages as they are called easier. You can use mobile, tablet, and desktop modes by simply switching from one to the next below the editor screen. Doing this will allow you to see in real-time how the layout appears across all three types of screens. Furthermore, you can edit it in those modes. For instance, if you see that the ‘click now’ button appears to be cropped on the mobile screen, you can choose to move it into view by clicking and dragging.
Interestingly all 34 elements that come packaged with Thrive Architect content builder come with what’s called a responsive design option for all pages. So, you can choose to show certain elements, for instance, on a WordPress page on a mobile device which is otherwise is not available on desktop and vice versa. For instance, the ‘rights reserved’ box from the mobile version of the website, to make more place for perhaps an exclusive discount. That said, a discount may not be available if being accessed via a desktop browser. So, in other words, you can choose to turn certain elements on pages off for mobile or desktop devices.
When you create a page or edit one one in mobile mode, the changes you make will only appear on mobile devices. For instance, style changes, color changes, etc., made in mobile view will not carry over to other pages or their instances. For instance, we wanted a slightly darker version of our website on mobile devices, so added an overlay on mobile, and we were done. The same changes didn’t appear on our desktop devices.
When testing the views and editing screens for this Thrive Architect review, we ran into a couple of very frustrating bugs. For instance, once we laid out the desktop version of the website templates, and switch to a mobile screen, some elements to the right of the screen would disappear. Upon closer inspection, they were cropped out. However, there is no way to bring them back into view, without first switching back into desktop mode, then moving the element all the way to the right or left, then previewing it again in mobile mode and adjusting it from there. That said, after we did that, it would ruin things on the desktop layout screen which is one of the most frustrating part of using this plugin.
The other rather irritating thing about the use of mobile and tablet view is that you can’t preview in landscape mode. You’re stuck in portrait mode. So, there is no way of knowing how your website will appear in landscape mode and that limits the way you use and create pages in Thrive Architect.
Finally, you can’t tweak the screen sizes. There is also no mention of what assumptions of screen sizes the preview modes are making. So, you’ll just have to do your own offsite testing and rely on visitors to provide you with feedback which defeats the purpose of using Thrive Architect at least partially.
Thrive Architect’s ease of use with foundation blocks, lead generation, and landing page templates, etc. all appear to be compatible with just about every theme you can think of, but there is a reason for that. When you fresh install WordPress, you have a default theme, that theme is compatible with Thrive Architect regardless of what you create. The reason that’s the case is that Thrive Architect does not build on that theme it will create a blank canvas of its own. However, we’ve tested it with other themes, and as soon as you activate the Thrive Architect plugin, that theme becomes irrelevant. So, you can use the Thrive theme.
We like the fact that the use of the content builder instantly disables the underlying theme and takes over your website. If anything, it reduces if not eliminates the need for compatibility. However, if your 404 pages, for instance, isn’t set up, WordPress will fall back on using the default theme that you had installed. We didn’t know that until we stumbled upon a couple of 404s and figured out that the base WordPress theme was being used instead of Thrive Architect’s template that we had designed and used. So, in a way, Thrive Architect does not auto-apply its own theme or one you create.
Thrive Architect Pros
Thrive Architect Cons
Thrive Architect Pricing
Thrive Architect does not have a free version like other Thrive services. However, the full or premium version of architect is available for a one time $67. The one-time payment of $67 means you can use the plugin forever but only get a year of support. If you want more support, then Thrive charges $40 each year.
Thrive Architect: Popular Questions & Answers
Q. What is Thrive Architect?
Thrive Architect is a WordPress page builder or content builder that leverages the power of drag and drop ease to allow anyone to create landing pages, home pages, and lots of other types of pages on their own. The biggest selling point for Thrive content builder is that it is easy to use. Using Thrive does not take a lot of training or practice. However, it does take some getting used to for a complete novice user. That said, the company’s training videos library should suffice to help most people get started.
Q. How much is Thrive Architect?
Thrive Architect, requires a one-time payment of $67, which entails a year of customer support. Though customer support can be extended for an extra $40 a year. There is no free version of the plugin, so the only way to use it is to buy it.
Q. Is thrive Architect free?
Thrive Architect isn’t free, and there is no free version of the software. Even for existing Thrive Themes users, there are no additional discounts or trials.
Thrive Architect Review: Conclusion
Thrive Architect content builder is one of the best around. Not only can you build your own WordPress landing page layouts but also add a lead generation plugin, if not use the limited few that come bundled with it.
While Thrive Architect does have its flaws, the pros tend to outweigh them. However, many people reading this will ask if it perhaps a better choice compared to Elementor? That’s a hard question to answer, but anyone who does ask that question should try out Elementor’s free version before deciding between the two. Unfortunately, Thrive Architect does not have a free version, which can be a turn off for people who have never used a page builder before.
It is possible to use this landing page builder to build any type of page. Not only will your page be a serious contender in terms of design, and professionalism but is going to be very cheap to update in terms of design. So, it is an excellent choice for someone who wants to get their feet wet and handle all aspects of the process.
Despite a lack of a few features and that the competition seems to be doing many things better, especially in the speed department, and of course the bugs we mentioned earlier, it is still worth considering. It does offer everything; you’ll need to build a serious page within a single plugin. Plus, regular updates means that you’re always getting something new.
We conclude this Thrive Architect review by recommending it. However, it might not be the best choice if you’ve never used a WordPress page builder before.
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