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 even a new name Thrive Architect.
I say excitedly as I have been getting quite disillusioned with WordPress primarily 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. After clicking this button I am presented with this screen to begin editing the page.
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 things 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 the previous version 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 the 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 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.
In defence of Thrive there plugin has always had more features especially when you combine it with Thrive Leads. But as we all know more features is often at the expense of usability, which is what Shane and his Thrive team are addressing with this latest version.
And here is an example of some icons added using Thrive Architect using a 4 column row. I was actually looking for a 7 column row but was not presented that option easily. I added some effects to see a little snippet of what you can do including gradient backgrounds as seen on that last icon.
Another thing that caught my attention when Shane was demoing the tool was how easy it was 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 live.
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 bottom left.
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.
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 that was 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.
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 doesnt.
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 results 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.
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 this video, which shows how to add 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. (Click screenshot to enlarge)
Notice how you can edit start and finish times and have different video styles (like the drop shadow lift I chose for the video in this post above).
You can also have a custom video thumbnail and edit things like showing controls, autoplay etc. Features like this used to be reserved for high end video players like Wistia. But not anymore...