Thrive Architect Review: The Ultimate Page Builder?
In this Thrive Architect review, I hope to find out into which category this tool belongs to: Is it one of those tools, which are well-thought in every aspect of their use (usability, customer support ...). Or is it one of those tools, which do their job OK, but there is still something that makes you abandon the product at some point.
So read this post and learn what I think about it!
Thrive Architect at Glance
- Features and user interface: ****
- Compatibility: ****
- Support: ****
- Price and guarantee: $67 *****
- Updates and future development *****
- Overall: 4.4
- Verdict: Yes, go get it!
- The tool is in ongoing development.
- You can create templates to speed up your content creation.
- Makes posts and pages to work on mobile and desktop devices.
- It’s a one-time fee.
- No content lock-in issues.
- It’s also a landing page creation tool.
- It (possibly) reduces the number of plugins on your site (like ClickToTweet sharing plugins or Table Builder plugins).
- Has plenty of elements to choose from.
- You can create variety of pages with the tool
- For additional support (after one year) you need a Thrive Themes membership, purchase another plugin from Thrive Themes or buy a support package.
- You’ll (might) recognize when a page is created with Thrive Architect.
- Some controls are difficult to understand, especially, why they exist in the first place (e.g., Countdown Evergreen).
- Creating a blog post template is irrational.
- Occasional issues with drag and drop.
I had used Thrive Architect’s predecessor (Thrive Content Builder) before, and I thought that it was doing a decent job. Sure, it had some quirks here and there, but the tool worked.
When I heard about Thrive Architect the first time, my heart started to beat faster, and my initial thought was: “Oh no … Another version to grasp, more things to learn.”
So why this reaction?
Well, in the past, and although I loved using Thrive Content Builder, there were specific workflows in that product that I didn’t like. Maybe my initial thought was that these old workflows were still present, while I also had to learn a bunch of new things at the same time.
To describe my feeling with one word was: confused.
Fortunately, these doubts disappeared as soon as I finished writing this post.
Who Isn’t This Application for?
I want to save your time and money, so let’s get this out of the way: If you fall under any of the criteria I’m about to tell you, you might want to stop reading my Thrive Architect review, and start doing something else:
- You don’t know how to work around with WordPress, nor are you interested in learning. Here is the deal: Thrive Architect, like any WordPress-related plugin, does require some amount of WordPress experience. No, I’m not referring to a Jedi-level mastery or anything like that. Instead, I’m talking about the everyday user experience of WordPress (you’ll learn it quickly after playing around with WordPress a bit).
- You want 1-on-1 support. You get 1-on-1 support, kind of. But you must understand that the support requests go through the support forum, and having a chat-style support is not an option. The chat would speed-up the process, but it’s not there, at least not yet.
- You are tied to Thrive Themes. When I talk about Thrive Themes, I’m referring to the company, not their WordPress themes. When you buy the Thrive Architect, you get one year of support for the tool. If you want support after one year, you must either buy something new from Thrive Themes, join the Thrive Membership program or buy the support package for 40 dollars. So if you don’t like this kind of commitment, then forget the product.
- You don’t like doing the site DIY style. Thrive Architect is a page builder, and you build the page. No one is stopping you from outsourcing the page building work for someone else. But initially, it’s your job to create the pages, if you are not outsourcing the process.
- You are running a WordPress.com site. You must run self-hosted WordPress site to use this tool. WordPress.com is not supported.
But what if none of the reasons won’t apply to you? Then get it!
Enter Thrive Architect
Thrive Architect is a drag-and-drop content builder plugin for WordPress. Its purpose is to build two kinds of content:
- Style and format web pages. This is what I have used Thrive Architect for the most. Whenever I’m publishing blog posts, they all go through Thrive Architect treatment (including the post you are reading!)
- Build landing pages. Thrive Architect includes tools for creating landing pages and connecting them to your email service provider.
- Build specialized pages. This includes pages like sales pages, online seminar pages, and product launch pages.
- Create homepages. You can build either new homepages by using the ready-made templates or enhance your existing ones. You can include the visual components of your choice (columns, tables, forms …) in your designs. And yes, there are plenty of elements to choose from.
- Static pages. You can use Thrive Architect to spice up your static pages on your site.
Now that you know what the tool is about, let’s go through it, based on my experiences.
Features and User Interface
This is where you are most likely going to have your “culture shock,” because the UI is entirely different than with Thrive Content Builder. However, if you haven’t used Thrive Content Builder before, this is not an issue.
In its simplicity, the UI looks like this:
As mentioned, this tool is a drag-and-drop editor. In other words, you drag the elements on the left to the post or page. You can also click the element, and it is added to the page/post:
At the time of writing, there are 36 elements to choose from. While most of the elements are self-explanatory, some of them sparked the question inside of me: “Why?”
For instance, there is a Countdown element, which is easy to understand (for displaying the Countdown timer on the page/post). But then there is also a Countdown Evergreen, which acts like the Countdown, but starts the timer again after a pre-defined time has passed.
In cases like these, Thrive Themes should add a proper use case of the element to their documentation, like when to use it and when not. Now it’s left for guessing.
When you have added the element, you can change its properties in two ways:
- By changing the element-specific properties
- By changing the common properties
Once the element is on the page/post, you can move it around and sometimes even resize it:
Some elements expose other properties, especially if you are working with text:
You can even edit the raw HTML and CSS if you want a fine-level control of your pages or posts. While this is a wonderful thing to have, the implementation (especially of HTML editing) is awkward:
I know … Thrive Architect is not an HTML editor, but a proper formatting of the code would help a lot if you are editing the code.
But Wait, There is Even More!
Not all the settings are visible at the same time, and this is, of course, good, from usability’s standpoint. Too much clutter on the user interface would make the application overwhelming.
For instance, clicking the Gear icon (first image) at the top-left reveals more options, while the toolbar at the bottom (second image) gives its own set of options:
In general, the UI and usability are in great shape. Sometimes, though, I run into issues.
One of these issues was the Content Template, something that I discussed in my Thrive Architect tutorial.
The long story short: The only way to create the blog post template is by creating a page and save it as a template, or stuff everything inside a content box inside a blog post (rather than just saving the blog post as is into a template).
I also noticed that in some situations, there were some bugs around.
For instance, dragging and dropping an element inside another element was confusing. In this case, the blue indicator should have shown the drop location inside of the element. However, it didn’t do that correctly:
When I then dropped the element, it was placed correctly inside the element:
There are plenty of landing pages to choose from – 197 at the time of writing – and Thrive Themes is adding new ones now and then. These landing pages are organized into sets (landing pages of the same sort and styling; for instance, Confirmation page, Video landing page, Webinar registration page, …), where one set has multiple landing pages.
Working with landing pages user interface was quite straightforward, and finding landing pages was easy. So after clicking the Gear icon at the top-left (in page editing mode), I was greeted with this menu:
After clicking the Gear icon, you then got to choose whether you want to use a blank landing page or a pre-defined landing page set.
Finally, after making your changes, I just saved my creation for further use and my landing page design was done.
To be honest, some designs looked a bit clumsy. I wouldn’t use them all as is, without making my own customizations to them first.
On the other hand, getting a landing page straight out of the box is a wonderful time saver. Especially if you can implement a landing page on your site with no or little customization, the pre-defined landing pages become handy.
From user interface’s perspective, designing a product this big is a challenge since you have so many options to choose from. But overall, I got used to the interface quite quickly, although I had the “burden” of using the Thrive Content Builder before Thrive Architect.
Features and user interface:
Support, Support, Can You Hear Me?
There are two kinds of support to help you if you encounter issues with Thrive Architect: public Knowledge Base (KB) and Support Forums.
If you pick this tool, do yourself a favour and bookmark their Knowledge Base page. It gives you plenty of answers to the questions you might have with Thrive Architect.
Unfortunately, the KB route is not always enough, as you may not get all answers to your questions. If so, head over to Thrive Themes’s support forums.
To be honest, I wasn’t impressed with this support model at first, since I’m all for personal service. For instance, with my web host, I can get answers to my questions in minutes.
Yet, Thrive Themes support performed well.
First, I got replies to my questions quickly. Not necessarily with the same speed as I would get in a chat support, but still fast enough. This experience trumped my fears on getting the support ticket lost somewhere in the forums.
Second, the support forum serves another purpose: If you get a reply to your question, perhaps there is someone else with the same issue. Then, he/she can find an answer quicker without asking the same question again from the support staff.
Once you buy Thrive Architect, you get one one-year access to the support forums. But my next question was this: What happens after one year? Because, most likely, you might have something to ask about the product after a year has passed.
If you want to extend the support past one year, you can either:
- Purchase another product from them (whether this is a theme or a plugin).
- Purchase Thrive membership, which gives you the access to their forums.
- Purchase a support package for one extra year ($40)
If you choose either of the options, you still have support past the one-year mark.
Pricing and Money-back Guarantee
As mentioned, Thrive Architect can be bought for a one-time fee of $67. With this price point, you get the whole product, with one-year support. There are other pricing options available:
- $67: Single License (on single site)
- $97: 5 License Pack (for 5 sites)
- $147: 15 Licence Pack (for 15 sites)
Thrive Themes makes some other products than just Thrive Architect, and if you end up buying other tools from them, like Thrive Leads, then you might consider purchasing the Thrive Membership instead.
It’s also good to know that Thrive Themes offers a 30-day money back guarantee for this product. In other words, if you don’t like it for some reason, you get a full refund during this time.
Pricing and money-back guarantee:
Updates and Future Development
Thrive Themes keeps continually pushing updates to Thrive Architect. This is something that I could verify, by seeing regular updates in my plugin (through WordPress admin panel) and when looking at the Thrive Themes Change Log:
I also found it comforting, that this tool is going to be updated with new features in the future.
For instance, things like A/B (split) testing landing pages, new landing page and content templates, and Contact Form element are planned into the future versions of the product.
This is good because you want to ensure the continuity of product before you commit to it.
Updates and future development:
Compatibility – Backwards, Sideways … You Name It!
There was one issue that left me cold with Thrive Architect’s predecessor, Thrive Content Builder.
What I noticed was that the pages I had built with WordPress’s editor weren’t editable with Thrive Content Builder. This led to the situation that, if I wanted to manage these pages through Thrive Content Builder, I had to re-create them.
Things have gotten a bit better with Thrive Architect. If you open a page created with WordPress’s content editor in Thrive Architect, you can manage the content with WP’s standard editor, inside the WordPress Content box:
You can also add content to the top or bottom of the WordPress Content with Thrive Architect. However, Thrive Architect won’t let you update the content inside WordPress Content Box.
The content created with Thrive Content Builder is *almost* editable when opened in Thrive Architect. It should also look nearly as usual, according to Thrive Themes. But keep these things in your mind:
- Certain elements, namely text, images, and columns, should work as is. They also should be editable right after upgrading to Thrive Architect.
- Elements (Styled Elements) like Buttons or Content Boxes need to be migrated to work correctly with Thrive Architect. According to Thrive Themes, you should see a migrate button on the sidebar of Thrive Architect to migrate.
- The Compound Elements that need the most attention in the migration process. These include elements like Pricing Tables or Guarantee Boxes.
The text inside those elements is editable, but you can’t access style properties of those elements. Fortunately, Thrive Themes has promised to bring these elements back into their glory at some point.
The dreaded content lock-in
One thing that seems to be present in some page builder tools is the content lock-in issue. In other words, when you create content with Tool A, and then deactivate it, your edited pages are full of short codes.
If your site is young and it doesn’t have search engine presence yet, this issue is minor, since you can re-work those pages with your new tool.
However, with Thrive Architect, this kind of issue is not present.
When you deactivate the tool, it doesn’t clutter your content with short codes. At the same time, the pages you created with this tool do not look like the same as with Thrive Architect. This is, of course, natural since there is no way that WordPress could retain the layout that was created with an external tool.
Thrive Architect Review: The Conclusion (Is This the Right Tool for You)?
You can do a lot with this tool; in fact, this review post was built with Thrive Architect.
My overall experiences on using Thrive Architect were positive, and I recommend it.
The tool helps you to create stunning pages and posts easily, without having to touch the code if you don’t want to. Yes, there is a small learning curve involved, but this shouldn’t be a more significant issue after building a post or page just a couple of times.
Also, the support works, although it takes longer to get a reply than if the chat option were present. But what mattered the most is that the support replied to all my questions, and nothing was left unanswered.
By the way: if you liked this review and you'd like to learn more about this tool, please check my Thrive Arcitect tutorial on how to use this page builder.
The pricing model is also good since you pay for it only once, and that’s it.
Also, since there are planned new features to the product, the future of Thrive Architect looks bright!