Thrive Architect Review (2020 Edition) Is It Time To Fire Your Web Designer?

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Thrive Architect is a powerful, front-end, visual page building plugin for WordPress. However, it is not one of a kind. When it comes to WordPress page builders there's now quite a few to choose from. So, what makes Thrive Architect so special and different? Let's find out.

On one random rainy day, during the month of June of 2015, I stumbled upon a plugin called Thrive Content Builder. If you're new to Thrive Architect or Thrive Themes products altogether, you probably won't remember it.

Thrive Content Builder was a plugin that was fast becoming the 'talk of the town' back in the day. This was the first time I'd ever come across a true to its name, "visual page editor" for WordPress.

With Thrive Content Builder, anyone could take care of their own design needs for landing pages, sales pages, lead generation pages, and more.

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Above: The old Thrive Content Builder Plugin was an amazing early phase page builder tool when I discovered it in 2015!

Thrive Content Builder changed the game by making it super simple for none-techies to be able to create beautiful, professional-looking landing pages, all without the need to hire a developer/designer, and, or have to mess around with complicated bits of code.

Some time ago, that amazing plugin was superseded by the Thrive Architect plugin.

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Above: The New Thrive Architect Plugin Interface 2019

My online journey with Thrive Architect

As I said at the start, I started using Thrive Content Builder when it was in its infancy, which over the years have gotten better and then eventually transitioned into what is now known as Thrive Architect.

The existence of this amazing plugin has made so many things possible, for me, at least, both as a web designer and as an online business owner. It truly has been a huge part of my small but significant online success.

So - the burning question is this

Is Thrive Architect really that good and should YOU consider investing in it yourself?

My short and precise answer would be:

F**k yes!

But, I want you to keep reading to understand why I think investing in Thrive Architect will be the best thing you ever do for your blog or online business.

What is Thrive Architect?

If you're just stumbling upon this review for the first time, and have no idea what Thrive Architect is or what I'm even rambling on about, here's the quick low down -

Thrive Architect is a powerful, stand-alone, front-end, drag-and-drop page builder plugin for WordPress.

So, what this means is that you can build any type of page in WordPress using simple drag-and-drop. No coding is required.

Now, you're probably thinking, what's so amazing about that?

Well, we all know WordPress is an awesome canvas tool for building websites with. But, where most of us hit a wall with WordPress is when it comes to creating and styling content to look just the way you want it to look.

And, of course, to do this all without touching a single line of HTML or CSS, unless you're a developer, which most folks aren't.

Designing landing pages using Thrive Architect, makes it super easy.

All of the design elements, options, and features that you can think of using in your landing page designs are available in this plugin.

We'll look at the various types of pages you can create with TA later on in this review.

Thrive Architect was created by Thrive Themes. Thrive Themes is a software company that also provides a wide range of high-quality, conversion-focused tools built for WordPress.

What are the benefits of using Thrive Architect in your business?

Essentially, you're going to be able to solve three main problems with Thrive Architect. Thes are the most common problems that a lot of online business owners face too.

  1. You're no longer going to have to rely on your web designer to get your pages looking the way you want them to look. You're now independent.
  2. Since you're not going to need a web designer or developer, you're going to save time and money.
  3. You can create any, absolutely any, type of landing page you need for your website and business.

Almost everything you ever imagined of doing with your WordPress site, from creating a custom homepage, creating detailed product pages, designing conversion-optimized sales landing pages, designing attractive lead generation pages, podcast pages, video archive pages, custom blog posts, and everything else in between, is possible with Thrive Architect.

I know what you're thinking, why haven't you come across this plugin before, right?

Because Thrive Architect, before we became swamped by the many page builder plugins that are available today, was one of a kind.

Can you really do everything with Thrive Architect?

The short answer is... No.

Whilst I absolutely love using this tool in my business, there are some design limitations and things that you simply cannot do with Thrive Architect alone.

The one thing that I see a lot of users trying to use Thrive Architect for is creating a full-blown website.

Now, this is NOT possible and users shouldn't even try. Unless, of course, you're creating a single-page website, then yes, it's possible to use Thrive Architect for a one-page site.

The reason you cannot build a full-blown website with Thrive Architect is that there are no options for designing global and custom page templates. By this I mean, a blog template, a blog archives template, custom page templates for header, footer, and sidebar sections, etc.

Other than that, you can use Thrive Architect for any other purpose.

OK, so how do YOU, Fabrizio, use Thrive Architect in your business?

Gulp! Now you got me... Just kidding.

Let me quickly explain how I'm using Thrive Architect in my business, even today as I am updating this post in September of 2019.

I use Thrive Architect for both my client website design projects and my own projects.

The following pages were originally created using Thrive Architect.

  1. Homepage for Magnet4Blogging. (view here)
  2. Blog Planner eBook landing page design. (view here)
  3. Signup thank you page designs. (view here)
  4. Video landing page design (view here)

CONTENT UPDATE: I recently upgraded the design of Magnet4Blogging and all of the above pages are now built with Oxygen Builder.

In the video tutorial below, you can watch me create a custom blog homepage design from complete scratching using Thrive Architect. The video is a few years old, but til provides an insight into the amazing capabilities of this tool. Take a look.

Thrive Architect User-Interface And Options

The UI in Thrive Architect boasts a clean, simple, and intuitive layout. Navigating around the various elements and options takes a little getting used to, but once you've got the knack of it, it's a real pleasure to work with.

Over the years, the interface has changed dramatically, and it's really nice to see the Thrive Dev Team take into consideration their users feedback to come up with a great interface like this.

And yes, there are quite a few elements to choose from in Thrive Architect, and if you can't find what you're looking for, you can use the nifty Search Elements box at the top.

When you launch Thrive Architect from any page or static post, a new tab will open with the editor and design options. See images below.

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Thrive Architect is a pleasure to work with on larger screen sizes.

I use a 27" monitor when designing sites, so I have plenty of screen space to work with. However, if you're working with smaller screen sizes, like a 13" or 15" laptop, I'd recommend minimizing the main editor sidebar to give you more screen space.

To start editing a page, all you do is find and add an element from the right sidebar, and drop it into the center canvas.

You'll notice the left sidebar options will open up in order for you to edit that particular element. See images above again.

The UI also has a useful navigational breadcrumb feature at the top of the page to let you know what element you're working and also where.

This is extremely useful when you're working with multiple elements inside of content boxes, columns, and nested divs. See image below.

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Settings and template setup

Before you build any kind of page with Thrive Architect, you have the option to make some changes to the default settings according to your preferences.

Under Settings, you have some global options which include -

  • Global settings - (For changing fonts, header, and footer)
  • Landing page settings - (Able or disable theme CSS, revert to the theme)
  • Advanced settings - (View page HTML, custom CSS, page events, custom scripts, CSS in <head> section, turn off reminders)
  • Save/Import/Export landing page
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If for any reasons you don't see some of the features displayed above in your version of Thrive Architect, it may be that the Thrive Team have since decided to make them redundant, or you don't have the latest updated version.

A full suite of design options and elements

Before we look at the elements and design options in detail, with Thrive Architect, you get access to the landing page template library, which is, by the way, f**king awesome if I may say so!

All you have to do is pick one, customize it, and you're ready to rock and roll.

Heck, you don't even have to customize any of the templates if you don't want to, as most of them look great just as they are. But, I'm sure you want to keep your design consistent with your brand.

To add a pre-designed template to your page, you simply click on the small cloud icon in the right sidebar menu, you'll see a pop-up with a bunch of templates for you to choose from.

These templates are stored in the Thrive Template Cloud, and not on your website.

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So, let's now look at the full list of design options and features in the Thrive Architect plugin.

I won't dive too deep into each of these elements, I'll leave you to discover them for yourself.

Foundation Elements -

These are the basic elements that you will probably use most often when creating content in your landing pages.

  • Paragraph / Text
  • Heading
  • Image
  • Button
  • Columns
  • Background Section / video backgrounds
  • Content Box
  • Templates & Symbols

Building Blocks -

These are some advanced building blocks which you can use depending on the type of landing page you're trying to create.

  • Click To Tweet
  • Content Reveal
  • Countdown
  • Countdown Evergreen
  • Credit Card
  • Custom HTML
  • Custom Menu
  • Disqus Comments
  • Divider
  • Facebook Comments
  • Fill Counter
  • Google Map
  • Icon
  • Lead Generation (Integrates with most major email marketing tools)
  • Plain Text
  • Post Grid
  • Progress Bar
  • Social Share
  • Star Rating
  • Styled List
  • Table
  • Table Of Contents
  • Tabs
  • Testimonial
  • Toggle
  • Video
  • WordPress Content
  • Call To Action
  • Contact Form
  • Guarantee Box
  • Numbered List
  • Pricing Table
  • Styled Box

Thrive Integrations

  • Thrive Leads Shortcode (For Thrive Leads plugin)

Important notice - Please note that whilst I've done my best to keep this review fresh and updated, there will be many more features added to Thrive Architect that might not have been mentioned here.

Once again, with almost all of the elements in Thrive Architect, you have multiple options to customize them even further, giving you complete creative freedom and control over the entire design and layout of your pages and content.

Custom HTML and CSS

One of my favorite features in Thrive Architect, of course, is the Custom CSS and HTML boxes.

Why?

I love using code in my designs.

As a designer and front-end dev working with WordPress, I love having the best of both worlds - In this case, using visual editing with custom code implementation.

Using the HTML and CSS features is really easy and fun as they also support Syntax. See image below.

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Custom HTML added to the Custom HTML building block element.

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Custom CSS added to the CSS feature under settings > advanced settings

Preview screens for mobile responsive design

Another useful feature in Thrive Architect is the mobile responsive design modes. You can use these modes to tweak or completely redesign your landing pages for mobile devices, however, as useful this is, you can only tweak your design for portrait orientation and not landscape, which is a bit of a shame.

This feature is located at the bottom of the screen along with the review option. See image below.

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Whilst still on the subject of responsive design, many of the design elements come with a Responsive option. In other words, you can choose to switch certain elements off so that they don't appear on mobile devices at all. See image below.

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What can Thrive Architect be used for other than creating landing pages?

Here is a list of the types of landing pages you can create with Thrive Architect.

  1. Custom homepage 
  2. Content-rich blog posts.
  3. Product information pages with pricing table.
  4. Lead generation pages.
  5. Testimonials pages.
  6. Course content pages.
  7. Custom services page.
  8. Product review pages.
  9. Product download pages.
  10. Podcast signup landing page.
  11. Podcast episodes page.
  12. Mini squeeze pages.
  13. Webinar landing pages
  14. Thank you pages, and more.

Addon A/B split testing capabilities

OK, now for another bit of awesome news.

What makes Thrive Architect even more powerful is the add-on plugin that is available from Thrive called Optimize.

With the Thrive Optimize plugin you can perform simple but effective A/B split testing campaigns for every landing page you create using Thrive Architect. It truly is awesome.

If you're a Thrive Themes member, this plugin is available in your membership dashboard. If you are not a member and only have Thrive Architect, you'll need to purchase this add-on separately.

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Check out my review of Thrive Optimize Add-on plugin.

How do you use Thrive Architect?

OK, time to have some fun, especially if you're new to this plugin.

Once you have the plugin installed, activated, and your license key activated too, you can go straight ahead and begin using the plugin.

To create a new page or post, you simply go to page/post > add new > add a title and save draft > click on the green Edit with Thrive Architect button.

A new tab will open up and you'll see the front end of your page or blog post - you're now ready to start adding elements and creating your content. See image below.

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Adjusting the layout and position of your elements is easy too. With each element, you can open up the Layout & Position tab adjust both margins and paddings. See image below.

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If you want to get a better idea of how to use some of the elements in Thrive Architect, check out the video tutorial above where I use this plugin to create a custom blog style homepage in WordPress.

When you have finished creating or editing your pages with Thrive Architect, you can simply hit Save Work and close the tab. If you make a mistake you can use the Undo and Redo buttons or click the clock icon to view recent saved versions of your saved work. See image below.

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How much does Thrive Architect cost?

OK, so you're probably thinking that all this comes at a heavy cost, right?

Well, it actually doesn't. Here are the pricing options for this plugin alone -

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Here are the membership prices.

Thrive Themes Membership will give you access to not only Thrive Architect but all of the conversion optimization plugins too. Please check out my full review of Thrive Themes Membership.

Pros and cons

Now, let me finish this review by sharing what I love and what I hate about Thrive Architect.

As I said at the start, I started with the original Thrive Content Builder plugin back in 2015, so I've kind of gone through the journey as a user.

Of course, Thrive Architect is a huge leap forward from those early days.

And sure, there are a few small niggles here and there that still need ironing out, not so much from a technology standpoint, but more from usability.

Something I should have mentioned earlier, actually, is the Thrive team's ability to provide exceptional support, updates, and fixes for its software and customers.

You can't fault this company at all in this aspect, and that's another HUGE reason why I love using Thrive products in my business.

They understand their customers more than any other WordPress software company I've come across, so far...

Pros -

  1. Affordable.
  2. Easy to install and configure.
  3. Clean, responsive user-friendly interface.
  4. Fully loaded with tons of design elements and building blocks.
  5. Tons of customization options.
  6. Built-in HTML and CSS syntax editor for adding your own custom code.
  7. Access to over 120 pre-designed landing page templates.
  8. Import and export feature.
  9. Unlimited plugin updates and they're quite frequent too.
  10. Thrive Optimize Add-on plugin available to help you do A/B split testing for your landing pages.
  11. A resource packed knowledge base with tutorials and an active forum for members.
  12. A rock-solid team behind the Thrive Themes company.
  13. Massive time and money saver.

Cons -

  1. Does not work with free WordPress.com websites. Maybe it's time to move to a hosted WordPress site.
  2. Can cause your pages to become code-heavy, especially if you add a lot of features and a lot of custom CSS to your landing pages. Keep an eye on that page load time.
  3. Not enough screen-size options for mobile design optimization.

And my verdict on Thrive Architect?

I was excited when I first discovered Thrive Content Builder back in 2015, and I'm still very much excited about Thrive Architect today. I'm looking forward to seeing what the Thrive Team will do next.

Thrive Architect has some tough competition ahead, especially today when there are so many other similar page builders to explore as alternatives.

Let's see now, we have Elementor and Divi, both of which are fantastic tools, but these tools also offer a little more flexibility.

Elementor is a close rival to Thrive Architect, except it is used by 3 million users and the premium packages include a complete theme builder, not just a page builder.

Divi is also a very powerful and popular theme builder and not just a page builder. The tool comes with a host of advanced features, hundreds of templates and layout styles.

That said, when it comes to ease of use, flexibility, the level of customization, the support, and documentation, for me Thrive Architect ticks all of the boxes.

Is it time to fire your web designer?

No. Not at all. Whilst I have a lot of love and will always find plenty of use for Thrive Architect, it simply cannot replace a web designer. Besides, this is not a web design tool, this is merely a content creation tool, and a powerful one at that.

Thrive Architect Tutorials

If you've just purchased Thrive Architect for yourself and are in need of some practical tutorials, check out my YouTube channel as I frequently add new Thrive tutorial videos there.

Affiliate disclaimer: Please note that this post contains affiliate links. Should you use one of my affiliate links to purchase a product mentioned in this post, I will be paid a small commission at NO additional cost to you. I appreciate your support always, and I want you to know that I never use, review, or recommend tools or services that I do NOT trust. Read my full disclaimer here.

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7 comments on “Thrive Architect Review (2020 Edition) Is It Time To Fire Your Web Designer?”

  1. Hello Fabrizio,

    Great piece of information over here 🙂

    Indeed Thrive architect comes with the power pack features all along, with a quality one like page builder for wordpress.

    They too offer Vertical split and one can edit previous articles too.

    Inspite of that they are pricing quite a bit, for some new bies.

    Thanks for the share.

    Shantanu.

  2. Thrive Architect is right now not usable due to the mass of technical problems. A lot of common functions from the predecessor doesn´t work or exist at all, e.g. pricing element, content boxes with/without header/icon a.s.o.

    After a couple of hours of testing, I went back to Thrive Content Builder. Glad to had a backup (which I recommend before upgrading).

    1. Hi John,

      Thank you for your comment and feedback. I am testing Thrive Architect every day since I upgraded it on my site, and I too have found a very small handful of issues with certain elements and features. Some of those elements and features, as you rightly said, either don't work, load, or as I've found freezes my site/page altogether.

      I am updating this review as and when I find issues worth mentioning to my readers and customers here.

      I have been a Thrive customer for a long time now and I've used all of their products of which I've never had a major problem with in the past. However, from time to time there are bound to be a few issues and I know that the team always work hard to fix and resolve those issues promptly, ahead of the official release of the plugin.

      Thanks again for your comment.

  3. Hi Fabrizio,

    Just picking up on one point about the missing 'Content Container' element from TCB as I liked and used that too. From my first dabble with Thrive Architect (and watching the Quick Start Tutorial), I think you'll find that the 'Content Box' element is the replacement for our beloved 'Container'. You can do a lot more things with the 'Content Box', and I guess it doubles up as the 'Container + Box' elements from TCB.

    I've not upgraded my previous TCB content yet. Just testing a new install of Thrive Architect.

    Thanks,
    - David

    1. Yo David, mate thanks for the update on that one. When I tried dragging the content box to my page earlier it wasn't working whilst testing each element, so I'll give it another swirl later on.

      Fabrizio 🙂

  4. Hey thanks for the honest review and mentioning about the bugs.

    Wanted to make sure I can update all my client's sites to use the new update. As the same thing happened when they rolled out v1.5 update and so many bugs interrupted productivity.

    I see you have striked-off the last paragraph on bugs, does that mean its safe to update now?

    1. Hi Rajavanya,

      Thanks for your comment, I appreciate it. I'm glad you enjoyed the review.

      I've striked off the last paragraph because those issues appear to be fixed, at least for me anyway, they don't seem to be there anymore when I'm using it myself. I left the paragraph for people to read just in case those bugs might still be an issue for them.

      The more I use Thrive Architect the more tiny bugs I find, but the Thrive team appear to be doing a great job fixing them 🙂

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