Thrive Architect is a WordPress page builder from Thrive Themes that lets non-designers create attractive websites without having to write a single line of code. It lowers the barrier to entry for creating original websites, and particularly landing and sales-focused pages. This means you can create great looking pages without having to hire a web developer or designer.
But is it really worth the money?
We’ll find out in this review if it lives up to the bold claims!
If you’re new to WordPress and want more than what a template wants you to have or are a marketer or business running ads, who just wants to get as many landing pages up as quickly as possible, Thrive Architect could be what you’re looking for.
But before you continue – did you know that with the correctly designed landing pages you can:
- Improve bottom line revenue without increasing ad spend or traffic (better conversion rate)
- Reduce the Cost Per Click for your ads (getting further with your ad spend)
- Get better positions for your ads (improved Quality scores)
That’s why the correct tool for designing your landing pages is a critical choice. It’s not just about the money you spend, but about using the right tool.
Let’s see whether this plugin lives up to the expectations!
- What is Thrive Architect? (ex Content Builder)
- How does Thrive Landing Pages fit in?
- Key Features
- User Experience
- Using the Page Builder
- Building Blocks / Page Elements
- Pros and cons
- Discount / Coupon Code
- Alternatives to Thrive Architect
- Conclusion – should you buy Thrive Architect?
What is Thrive Architect? (ex Content Builder)
Thrive Architect is the replacement for Thrive Content Builder which was a successful page builder in its own right. Thrive Architect updates the platform in many ways and offers a few more features too. It may be one of most popular page builders on the market but is it worth the money?
WordPress is an awesome platform but was never meant for designing web pages. In reality it was developer for creating web pages, which is fundamentally different than actually designing them.
It’s a blogging platform and content management system and while there is a page designer within it (particularly with the recent release of the ambitiously named but much maligned Gutenberg), that is not where the strengths of WordPress lie.
If you want a great looking website, your options were to build one, to buy a template and modify it yourself or hire a web developer to create one.
There is also another way, let’s say a new way. You can today use a front end page design tool like Thrive Architect.
With simple drag and drop functionality, you can use familiar controls to create fantastic, original websites. It’s fast, easy and you don’t need to know much about how WordPress works or anything about CSS!
For the sake of clarity, Thrive Content Builder and Landing Pages were the same plugin but were often referred to individually. Thrive Architect has taken over where these two left off so is now a single plugin with a single name.
In particular, this product is aimed at people who want to create pages which are focused on sales, conversions, generating affiliate income, lead-generation, squeeze pages and other conversion-focused assets.
Thrive Architect is a front end page builder like OptimizePress, Beaver Builder, Elementor and the many others out there. It’s a premium product that costs from $19 a month for the basic product or $67 for a single licence.
- Ease of Use – There is a learning curve but it isn’t insurmountable. There is a lot of help out there if you need it.
- Value – A one-off fee that includes free future updates? All core features included at every price point? Access to over 260 templates? Can’t argue with value.
- Reliability – The plugin is stable, well coded and plays nicely with other plugins and existing WordPress themes. We cannot fault it for reliability.
- Support – Although we haven’t used customer support extensively, we find that the documentation and support videos are top notch and interactions with the team have been pleasant.
- Overall rating – This is a five star product in a competitive market and while there are areas it could improve, in terms of value and usability, it is hard to beat.
How does Thrive Landing Pages fit in?
Back when Thrive Architect was Thrive Content Builder, Thrive Landing Pages was regarded as a separate entity to the main plugin. In essence, it was the same product but provided access to different landing page templates. As some users were more interested in marketing and conversion and less about the design aspect, they spoke at length about Thrive Landing Pages as if it were a separate product.
It wasn’t and it isn’t. It is all part of Thrive Architect and comes with the licence or subscription.
The key benefit of Thrive Architect is that it brings website design down a few skill levels into the reach of most normal people. You don’t need a degree in web development or need to know HTML or CSS backwards. If you can learn about elements and how they work on a web page and drag and drop on a screen, you’re good to go.
Another benefit is that it works seamlessly with other Thrive plugins. As SmartAffiliateSuccess.com said:
‘Products made by Thrive Themes are kinda like Apple products. They can seamlessly integrate with one another and help you customize almost every single detail of your website.’
We would echo this sentiment and offer it up as another key benefit of the system.
Thrive has also created Thrive Leads, Quiz Builder, Membership, Ultimatum, Ovation, Comments, Optimize, Clever Widgets and Apprentice.
While each is a premium product, they all work seamlessly with websites created with Thrive Architect.
To say this product is feature-packed is an understatement. Most page builders come with a raft of useful tools to make creating pages simple and this plugin doesn’t leave you wanting. I consider these features some of the strongest of this plugin.
- >Page Templates
- Popup Engine
- Advanced Marketing Features
- Works with any theme
- Mobile Options
1. Hundreds of Page Templates
At the time of this review, Thrive Architect has 276 page templates available on its website. All of them are available for use with the plugin and all work seamlessly as you would hope. You can use them in their entirety or cherry pick elements you like the look of to feature on your own page.
2. Fully-integrated Popup Engine
Many marketers use standalone popup plugins to manage that most annoying website feature. If you want to feature popups on your pages, you can do it from within Thrive Architect. The popup engine is fully configurable and makes creating them as easy as creating the page itself. Whether it’s a video, image, or lead-gen popup, you’re sorted.
3. Advanced Marketing Features
The ability to quickly create landing pages is a neat feature but there’s more. You can create sales pages, webinar pages, product pages, lead-generation pages, funnels, opt-in pages and some very professional-looking marketing pages. All from within this single tool.
4. Works with any theme
If you already have a theme you like and just want to expand on it, you can. Thrive Architect stands independent and overrides any style sheets of your original theme. That means you can use the editor to adapt your existing theme and add new features or add new pages while retaining the same brand image.
5. Mobile / Responsive Options
Thrive Architect is responsive but also offers more. It includes a Mobile Responsive Editing tool that lets you tweak your main website theme for mobile. This is an excellent feature as more people surf on small screens and not all responsive templates work properly. This is your chance to tune your pages specifically for mobile.
There is a learning curve to mastering Thrive Architect and elements of the plugin are quite complicated. It is true that page building is many times easier with this plugin but there is also a lot to learn. With so many tools and features, it is going to take a few hours, maybe days, to truly get to grips with it.
Fortunately, Thrive has a collection of instructional videos on YouTube that explain most elements of the plugin. Expect to spend at least a couple of hours watching and re-watching them to get to grips with it!
Navigating Thrive Architect is very straightforward and the basics of page building are very intuitive. As it works with most plugins, existing themes and its own themes, there should be no strange errors or issues with the building process. The design is very simple and seems content to stay out of the way until you need the tools.
The only exception to this is menu stacking. Where there are so many options within the page builder, you will find they all stack in the menu.
Until you learn where everything is, expect to spend some time hunting for what you’re looking for.
Using the Page Builder
Using Thrive Architect to build pages is fast and easy once you get used to where everything is.
You begin in the Thrive Architect menu with a blank page. Your options are on the left and right and the page in the centre.
You can drag and drop an element onto a page or click it to add it to the bottom.
Once on the page you can rearrange the elements as you need and change the colour, size and some behaviours from within each element’s configuration menu.
As you add an element, Thrive Architect automatically switches to that element’s properties. This is a small thing but makes page creation much faster. As long as you have a plan and already know what will go where, putting a page together couldn’t get much easier.
You can add headings, content, links and all the usual within individual elements from that menu.
Let’s cover some specifics:
- Using landing page templates or sets
- Customizing a template
- Lead generation options
- Email Service Integration
- Mobile responsiveness options
Using landing page templates or sets
Templates are a large part of what makes Thrive Architect so powerful. To use a template, launch Thrive Architect from the green button at the top of the page and select Change Template on the right sidebar.
A popup window should appear with a blank template and the list of currently available preformatted templates. Select the template in the window and select Choose Template. It is then loaded onto the new page.
You can use the same method to overwrite an existing page too. The process is exactly the same.
Customizing a template
Customizing a template is equally straightforward. Load a template onto a page and select the gear icon on the right to access Settings. Here you can customize global or page settings including fonts, headers and footers, background style, sidebars and theme CSS options.
To modify the elements within a template you just drag and drop and change text, images and effects from the live editor.
Starting with a blank page
Starting with a blank page is the same as using landing page templates. Use Pages and Add New and select Launch Thrive Architect from the green button. This brings up the template window where you can select a blank template to build your own page.
Once the page loads, drag and drop page elements from the element menu onto the page to begin the process. Modify each element as you add it and watch the page build live on screen.
Lead generation options
The Lead Generation element within the plugin is designed to collect email addresses for future use. It integrates into your existing mailer or directly to WordPress. To get it working, set your form fields, name, email and phone number or whatever you need.
You will then need to add a confirmation prompt for double opt-in and select the post opt-in action. This is usually a simple ‘Thanks’ notification but you can redirect to another page thanking and assuring the subscriber you won’t bombard them with spam or something else entirely.
Email service integration
Thrive Architect can work with leading email services when you add the Lead Generation element to a page. If you followed the lead generation process above, you will have seen the menu that appears on the left.
You may have seen Connect Form to Service. Select this and connect MailChimp, iContact or whatever tool you use.
Use can elect to create an independent mailing list if you’re planning multiple websites by setting Separate Mailing lists and then Groups. You would then want to add a confirmation prompt as above.
Mobile responsiveness options
The mobile responsiveness element will appear as a menu option for every page element once you begin creating a page. Selecting Responsive will present you with three screen sizes, desktop, tablet and mobile. Select one to see how the page looks in that screen and select elements you don’t want to see.
For example, you add a video element on a desktop page but don’t want to see it on mobile. Add the element, when the element menu appears, select Responsive, select the mobile icon to turn it off on mobile. Repeat for every individual page element you do not want to see on its respective page version.
This process takes some time but is the easiest way we have ever seen to control the different experiences without building separate pages.
Of course, you can also select whether you want certain elements to show or not, based on the devices, as can be seen in the screenshot below.
Building Blocks / Page Elements
Building blocks or page elements are a big part of any page builder and it’s the same for Thrive Architect. There are the usual elements present like paragraph and text elements, images, backgrounds, and custom menus but also some very cool ones like Click to Tweet or Disqus Comments.
Other notable elements include retina icons, responsive video elements, animations, social sharing, star ratings and others. If you use other Thrive plugins, they will integrate themselves into the elements where appropriate too.
Pros and cons
As you would expect with any advanced product, there are distinct strengths and weaknesses. Thrive Architect is no different in this regard.
Some of this plugins’ strengths include:
- Stable and easy to use – Thrive Architect is very well designed and takes most of the heavy lifting out of page building. Even non-coders will be creating pages in no time.
- Templates – The quality and quantity of available templates is excellent. There are some lower quality templates but they are in the minority. Page templates, landing page templates and template sets can save a huge amount of time.
- Price – For such a feature-packed plugin, $67 for a single licence is a steal. Sure that includes just a year of support but does include free updates.
- Lots of options for marketers – Even though Thrive Architect can be used for standard pages, its real strength is for marketers. Opt-in pages, funnels, landing pages and lots more options make this a powerful plugin for marketing websites.
Nothing is ever perfect though and these areas could do with some improvement in my opinion.
- Complexity – While the main plugin is very intuitive, the sheer volume of options and features takes some getting used to. Expect to spend many hours reading Thrive’s excellent guides or watching their instructional videos.
- Lock-in – The main issue with all page builders is once you have built your site using one, you have to keep using it until you update your entire site. Remove the plugin, the design goes back to stock.
- Stacked menus – I mentioned this one earlier. There are so many features in some of the page element sections that menus sometimes stack up and are hard to read. You’ll get used to it but it is a design flaw.
- Strongest features are for marketers – This strength is also a weakness if you’re not a marketer. Some of Thrive Architect’s best features are its landing pages and marketing tools. If you’re not a marketer, you don’t get to take advantage of them.
Pricing is a real strength of Thrive Architect. Where many other page builders will charge a one-off licence fee and call it a lifetime licence, they will then add the fact it will only be updated for a year. This plugin is not like that. A single licence will only provide a year of customer support but still offers access to the documentation, video library and free updates.
There are three options when buying Thrive Architect. Membership, a single licence and a five licence pack.
Membership costs $19 a month paid annually. It then gives you:
- Access to all Thrive plugins, including all those I mentioned earlier.
- Installation on up to 25 individual websites.
- Use of all templates.
- Unlimited free updates.
- Unlimited support.
2. Single licence
A single licence costs $67 and gives you:
- Installation on a single website.
- Includes all core features of the plugin.
- Use of all templates.
- Unlimited free updates.
- 1 year of customer support.
3. Five licence
The five licence deal costs $97 right now (normal cost $335) and gives you:
- Installation on five websites.
- Includes all core features of the plugin.
- Use of all templates.
- Unlimited free updates.
- 1 year of customer support.
The fact that each of these includes access to all templates and free updates means this plugin stands head and shoulders above some of its contemporaries in terms of pricing.
Discount / Coupon Code
If we gain access to any Thrive Architect discounts or coupons, we will list them here.
I am just a single voice in a sea of billions so you don’t just have to take my word on Thrive Architect. Here are some things other people have said about it.
Joe Fylan over at ATThemes.com had this to say about the plugin:
‘After testing out the plugin for this Thrive Architect review, it’s clear that this page builder is up there with the best options from this category including Beaver Builder, Divi, Elementor, and Visual Composer. So whichever one you choose, you’ll have a high-quality tool for creating custom content for your website.’
Ryan Cruz at Traffic Salad said:
‘I believe that the biggest benefit for using Thrive Architect is its ability to turn your thoughts into things. The truth is that I’m not a graphic designer, nor I gifted with creativity. But I do know how to look at design that is working (by looking at what my competitors are doing as well as looking at the biggest brands in my industry).
Then without hiring a developer, I’m able to turn those creative ideas into actual landing pages like sales pages, funnels, landing pages, optins, thank you pages, webinar pages and more.’
David Hartshorne at Bloggingwizard said this:
‘Having pioneered the page builder market with Thrive Content Builder in 2014, Thrive has set a new benchmark with Thrive Architect. The new visual editor is both intuitive and fast. And the results are impressive. Creating beautiful, engaging and visually striking content in WordPress has never been easier.’
See? It isn’t just me that likes this plugin!
Alternatives to Thrive Architect
The page builder market is a competitive one and there are a few viable alternatives to this plugin. Some are better than others and each will have its strengths and weaknesses. Alternatives include Elementor, >Beaver Builder, Divi Builder, Visual Composer and Cornerstone Builder. Each offers very similar features and design and all make designing attractive websites simple.
Conclusion – should you buy Thrive Architect?
Drawing a conclusion is always the difficult part.
What works for us may not work for you and what we think are great features may be a bit meh for you.
So we will say this.
If we wanted a smart, fully-featured page builder for WordPress that didn’t cost the earth, didn’t require yearly subscriptions and that had everything we needed, we would choose Thrive Architect.
As WordPress page builders go, it is clever, well-designed, powerful and has everything you need for landing pages, membership websites, funnels and even standard non-marketing sites. It’s strength is in conversions, but standard pages are good too. And it’s not just us who, there are hundreds of raving reviews for this product.
For those reasons we think Thrive Architect is a solid purchase.