So I’m quite excited to be writing this today as one of the better WordPress Page Builders (Thrive Content Builder) has just got a massive upgrade and a new name Thrive Architect. You can purchase the plugin by itself or get it bundled with the Thrive Themes membership. (for a low monthly fee)
Now I say excitedly as I have been getting quite disillusioned with WordPress recently because of how annoying it can be to design attractive websites with it. Thrive Architect is designed with this purpose in mind and promises to offer us, even more, ease of use than its predecessor.
So let’s see if it lives up to the hype.
The first thing I notice upon writing this post is the new edit button (left). After clicking it I am presented with this screen to begin editing the page. Notice the new visual block builder.
As you will see the design is definitely a lot more modern and cleaner than before, which always helps with usability.
One of the first blocks I checked when logging in was the icons feature and how easy it was to add them. This was one of my pet peeves with Thrive Content Builder because it had no icons built in, you had to download them from icomoon and then import the file into Thrive.
As this lady so eloquently puts it.
This was one of the main reasons I actually chose to build my other website IMDC using Beaver Builder. Let me clarify this, it was not just because Thrive Content Builder couldn’t automatically add icons but rather compared to Beaver Builder it just felt way more fiddly.Nothing kills content creation than a fiddly page builder.Click To Tweet
In defence of Thrive there plugin has always had more marketing focused features than Beaver Builder especially when combined with Thrive Leads. But as we all know more features is often at the expense of usability, which is what Shane and his Thrive Architect team are addressing with this latest version.
And to my joy adding icons was a breeze as it should be!
Margins and padding
If there is one thing every designer needs in their tools it’s the ability to edit margins and padding to get your designs looking just right!
I caught Shane demoing the tool and saw how easy it was now to adjust padding and margins. This is a game changer when it comes to WordPress and getting content to display exactly as you want. I am really impressed, it is even easier to use than Beaver Builder.
All you do is select an element, click layout and then drag the sliders in whatever direction you want and your content block moves effortlessly.
I will admit, just simply creating this block of text and image (with drop shadow) and adjusting the margin was a joy to use. This is what building WordPress websites in 2017 should be like.
One thing I will point out though is to remember to save – Thrive Architect doesn’t seem to auto-save your work. I would sometimes click preview and think where did all my work go, but I had to save first and then preview.
It does remind you after about 10 minutes to save but quite a lot can be done in 10 minutes so it’s good to remember to press that green button.
So after initial success creating a brand new post, it was time to see how backwards compatible the plugin was with my previous content. According to Thrive, it is fully backwards compatible, but you can never truly believe that can you? See the video below.
I proceeded to edit a post I had done over a year ago on Thrive Content Builder to see what the experience is like. For some reason, I was just presented with this loading screen. This is an initial release of the plugin so hopefully, it will be fixed soon.
The very next day after writing this review, there was an update waiting for me and the issue was fixed. I have mentioned this before but the Thrive team have an impeccable record when it comes to maintaining their plugins and service. This should always be high on your watchlist whenever dealing with a company you have not bought from before – but rest assured Thrive Themes have you covered.
However, I still have this loading screen when I have had a bad internet connection (understandable) but also when using Thrive Leads. I have noticed it seems to be doing this all the time on my other website where I use the caching plugin WP Rocket – W3 Total Cache is working totally fine for me. I then deactivated WP Rocket and it still didn’t work, so there must be another bug somewhere.
Let me reiterate though Thrive Architect worked perfectly well it was just Thrive Leads not loading.
In case you were wondering Thrive Architect is integrated into Thrive Leads. So you will get the Thrive Architect builder within Thrive Leads even if you only purchased Thrive Leads. This doesn’t mean you can use Thrive Architect to create pages outside of Thrive Leads though. Just to clarify.
Let’s talk about speed for a moment
For those of us who have been using WordPress for a while we know one of its weaknesses is speed. With its clunky database architecture and legacy WordPress codex now over a decade old it’s not always nippy. Adding third-party plugins has always made this issue worse and you would think a plugin like Thrive Architect would really add insult to injury.
I’m glad to say it doesn’t.
Here is a brand new site with no plugins installed.
And here is the exact same website with Thrive Architect installed.
You will notice there is an additional request placed on the homepage and a slightly higher page size of 307.8kB. But seriously this is an excellent result for Thrive Architect – you know that installing it is not going to hamper your site speed.
The server used to host this is my trusted WPX Hosting, for which I consistently get under 2 second load times even for larger 5 MB plus websites. They even have a new feature they call WPX Cloud which means you are getting a free CDN as part of their hosting service to you. This is quite unbelievable considering they are one of the better-priced WordPress hosting services you can buy right now and they consistently win all the speed tests.
So I have to say this again – give WPX Hosting another look today (They will do your whole site migration for you so it won’t be a headache!)
Let’s have a look at editing old content in Thrive Architect.
It didn’t quite go to plan honestly, but it does highlight some good real-world usage of the plugin and what you will have to check for when using on your website.
In response to this issue
Thrive themes released a video, which shows how to add the call to actions, guarantee boxes and other elements.
I will also add a new video in the coming week showing a brand new page and using all the elements available in Thrive Architect.
For now, I would like to end this review by highlighting some things I would like the developers to work on in Thrive Architect.
Things I would like to see in Thrive Architect
This by no means is trying to be an exhaustive list.
I will keep adding to it the longer I use the plugin. I am hoping Thrive Themes will keep an eye on this post to be able to address them and any feature requests you have – just use the comment box below. I will make sure Thrive Themes gets it one way or another.
PS: Before I go, I just had to show you another thing (the more I use, the more I discover) I really like and that is the video elements in Thrive. It allows you to edit start and finish times and have different video styles (like drop shadow or even a full-blown Mac computer with your video playing on it). This is definitely not a feature you will see with other page builders like Elementor or Beaver Builder.
It also has the ability to use a custom video thumbnail and edit things like showing controls, related videos and autoplay. Features like this used to be reserved for high-end video players like Wistia.
So now what? >