Last Updated on February 18, 2020 by Fabrizio Van Marciano
Thrive Architect is a powerful WYSIWYG, front-end, visual page builder plugin for WordPress. There are many similar page builders available on the market, but Thrive Architect is one of a kind. So, what makes Thrive Architect so special and quite different? Let's find out.
On one random rainy day, during the month of June of 2015, I stumbled upon an ad on Facebook about a plugin called Thrive Content Builder. If you're new to Thrive Architect or all of Thrive Themes products, you probably won't remember Thrive Content Builder.
Thrive Content Builder was the plugin that was the 'talk of the town' back in the day. This was the first time I'd ever come across a true to its name, "front-end 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.
I purchased Thrive Content Builder to create custom landing pages for my website. However, I soon discovered that I could use it to create any kind of page, like building a custom homepage for my blog, which at the time, not very many users were doing.
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Some time ago, that amazing plugin was superseded by the Thrive Architect plugin.
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 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:
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.
I will also explain why this particular page builder is way ahead of the any competition out there.
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 point-click, drag-and-drop. No coding is required.
Now, you're probably thinking, what's so amazing about that when there are other page builders that can do the same job?
Well, we all know WordPress is an awesome canvas tool for building websites. But, where most of us hit a brick wall with WordPress is when it comes to creating and styling content to look just the way we 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 pages are available in this plugin. The asset library is full to the top with awesome elements.
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 digital software company that also offers a wide range of high-quality, conversion-focused tools built for WordPress.
As an online business owner, essentially, you're going to be able to solve three main problems with Thrive Architect. These are the most common problems that a lot of other internet business owners face too.
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.
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.
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 entirely 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 website.
The reason you cannot build a full-blown website with Thrive Architect is that there are no options for creating and 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, 404 pages, search results page, etc.
Note: Thrive Themes is releasing a new Theme Builder plugin that aims to solve this problem on the 2nd March 2020. Click here to learn more.
Other than that, you can use Thrive Architect for any other purpose.
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 February of 2020.
I have used the Thrive Architect for both personal and client website projects.
The following pages on my own websites were originally created using Thrive Architect.
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 still provides an insight into the amazing capabilities of this page builder. Take a look.
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 browser tab will open with the editor and design options. See images below.
Thrive Architect is a pleasure to work with on larger screen sizes.
I use a 13", 27", and 34" monitor when designing sites and working with Thrive Architect, 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 the 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.
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 -
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.
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, 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.
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.
Building Blocks -
These are some advanced building blocks which you can use depending on the type of landing page you're trying to create.
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.
One of my favorite features in Thrive Architect, of course, is the Custom CSS and HTML boxes.
I love using code in my designs. Even when I'm using a page or theme builder.
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 the image below.
Custom HTML added to the Custom HTML building block element.
Custom CSS added to the CSS feature under settings > advanced settings
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.
It would have been nice to have multiple breakpoints and orientations with this responsive feature, but for now, it will have to do.
This feature is located at the bottom of the screen along with the review option. See the image below.
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.
Here is a list of the types of landing pages you can create with Thrive Architect.
OK, now for another bit of awesome news.
What makes Thrive Architect even more powerful and unique 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.
Check out my review of Thrive Optimize Add-on plugin.
OK, time to have some fun, especially if you're new to this page builder plugin.
Once you have the plugin installed, activated, and your license key activated too, you can go straight ahead and begin using Thrive Architect.
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.
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 the image below.
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 the image below.
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 -
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.
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 five-year 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 that respect, 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...
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 now offer more features and 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.
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 or developer. Besides, this is not a web design tool, this is merely a content creation tool, and a powerful one at that.
Sure, you will not need your web designer for simple page design tasks, but anything complex, Thrive Architect cannot replace.
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.
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