In this post, is our "no holds barred" in-depth review of the new Thrive Theme Builder - the 2020 addition to the Thrive Themes suite of tools.
Is it what its hyped to be?
First an important note:
This is a 100% independent review - not solicited or endorsed by Thrive Themes. We have used Thrive products since 2017 across hundreds of our client sites, as well as our own. We were understandably excited to see the launch of the new theme builder, and after thorough testing on our own and client sites, it didn't disappoint.
We've also used numerous of the other popular theme builders such as Elementor, Divi, and Flatsome. While those are all great themes and each has their own strengths, we keep coming back to Thrive for many of our website applications, and in this article, you'll see why.
And just for the record: All the content you see on this page was built with Thrive tools.
Thrive Theme Builder - Quick Review
Thrive Theme Builder offers an unmatched WYSIWYG editing experience for every part of your WordPress site. Let's take a quick look at some pros & cons of its core features:
Bottomline: if you're looking for fast deployment of websites that are primarily business or conversion-focused, and have minimum coding skills, the new Thrive Theme Builder is the way to go and well worth the investment.
If your website is primarily "design focused" - with fancy design elements more important than (for example) advanced email list building elements, Divi or Elementor will likely serve your needs better. Ditto for eCommerce stores - although Thrive Theme Builder plays nicely with shopping cart and membership plugins, it doesn't yet offer native WooCommerce integration.
About the Thrive Theme Builder
Our Review Of Key Theme Builder Tools & Features
The new Thrive Theme Builder comes with it's own theme, named, aptly, Shapeshift. It allows for WYSIWYG front-end editing for all parts of your WordPress site - including the headers, footers, sidebars, blog pages, and 404 pages. All parts that can typically not be edited easily without custom coding, or additional plugins.
Bundled with the theme is Thrive Architect Lite - a lighter version of Thrive's powerful, flagship front-end editor. For the record, its highly recommended you get the full version - the additional features make it well worth the extra investment.
Also worth noting: Thrive Theme Builder is not a plugin or workaround. It is an actual WordPress theme, uploaded through Thrive's "product manager" utility plugin.
Inside the Shapeshift Theme
The official theme bundled with TTB, Shapeshift is a multipurpose WordPress theme that integrates tightly with the rest of Thrive's plugins. If you're a Thrive Themes Member, you'll have access to all of Thrive's other building tools, otherwise you'll need to purchase them each separately.
Page Design Templates
Hundred of pre-built Page Templates are included inside Shapeshift. Like the rest of Thrive's products, page templates are designed to speed up the website building process significantly. Complete, professionally designed landing pages can be deployed at the touch of a button. Edit the text, make the photos your own, and your landing page is complete.
"Smart Color" is built-into the landing pages as well, allowing you to set your master color(s) on a page-by-page or global level. Colors will update instantly across the entire landing page or website. (Similar to Divi's "Find and Select" feature)
Landing Page Templates
Rapid Deployment (Setup Wizard)
Building an entire theme can sound intimidating, especially considering the editing capabilities of TTB. Thrive, however, solves this handily with an intuitive "Setup Wizard". Using this, you can setup your website core in only a few minutes - the core pages and elements used across your entire site, such as colors, logo, typography, headers, footers, and page templates.
TTB Setup Wizard
Inside the "Site Setup" module, TTB leads you step-by-step through the entire "wire-frame" theme setup, from quickly choosing your brand color and logo, to using pre-built templates you choose to load all the core pages of your website. Prebuilt templates include such elements as global headers and footers, blog pages, 404 pages, landing pages, and sub main pages.
When done, you will then be able to customize each page element using the front-end editor, Thrive Architect.
After Theme Setup
After using the Setup Wizard to setup your theme, each part of the setup wizard is further broken down into several quick access modules. (Trust me, not as complicated as it sounds!)
Global Branding Control Module
Inside the "Branding" module, you can control your global brand color. The "Smart Color" feature then automatically chooses a complete color palette to go with it, and loads the colors across all its "Smart Landing Page" templates. Of course, you can tweak these colors to fit your tastes.
Here also, you can set your logo and site icon, and it will be automatically updated across the entire site.
Global Typography Module
In "Typography" is a complete typography editor for every headline, bullet, text, link and quote, globally across your site. TTB comes preloaded with Google Fonts, or you can upload your own. You can edit the colors, weights, line heights, link colors (normal and hover states) and every other aspect you wish to. (Don't worry, the typography comes preset, no editing needed, unless you wish to.)
TTB Typography Editor
Global Templates Module
Here, you can easily manage and edit all the templates used across your entire site. Want all your blog pages to have a specific call to action header? Here's easy access to edit them globally.
Site Speed Module
To help address the concern of slower sites by some users, Thrive recently added another module not found inside the setup wizard: An easy optimization dashboard you can use to setup AMP, Image Optimization, and one of two caching solutions: W3 Total Cache, and WP Total Cache. At the push of a button, TTB downloads the appropriate plugin(s) and configures it to work best with the Shapeshift theme.
Once done with the setup, Thrive's powerful front-end page builder comes into play! With Thrive Architect, you can customize each part of your pages, including the global elements, blog pages, etc.
If you've used a drag-and-drop editor such as Elementor before, Thrive will be easy for you to learn. If you're a complete newbie, Architect is fairly intuitive, but can still present a wide learning curve. Thankfully, Thrive also offers a wealth of how-to tutorials as well as a support forum for whenever you get stuck.
Featuring True Front-End Editing Across All Elements
Built into the smart landing pages, are hundreds of pre-built Content Elements. Elements include such things as CTA Boxes, Steps, Pros & Cons, Author Boxes, Pricing Boxes, and many more.
This dramatically decreases the amount of time spent creating your pages - more like putting a puzzle together, vs creating each element from scratch.
The elements are all professionally designed to match a wide variety of designs, and will automatically load the global colors used on your landing page.
A key Thrive Architect element worth mentioning: Its ability to display dynamic elements such as post lists on any page, based on rules you define. You can choose what is shown by categories, featured, tags, most popular, latest posts and/or other rules, based on what element you're using.
Other examples are date and contact data entered in the backend "Smart Site" dashboard, and displayed dynamically on the front end. If, for example you wanted to change your email contact address, you can change it inside the Smart Site dashboard, and it instantly changes everywhere you used the dynamic text element.
What is a dynamic element? Put simply, it displays content based on user input, for ex, when posting a blog post, a "latest post" list element will automatically display the post last published on the front end.
Mobile Responsive Design
Thrive Architect has the ability to edit and completely customize your pages in both Mobile and Tablet view. You can add or hide elements depending on screen size, reverse columns, adjust padding and widths and otherwise adjust nearly every aspect, for the ultimate mobile experience for your readers.
The pre-built elements are already optimized for mobile view, so with a little practice, you can build entire landing pages with minimal mobile responsive editing needed.
Other Architect Features
Thrive Architect Lite included with the TTB, comes loaded with all of the main elements to design your website, such as Background Section, Text, Content Box, Columns, Photos, and more. With the full version, also comes a wide variety of conversion focused tools such as Click to Tweet boxes, Lead Forms, Countdown Timers, and Guarantee Boxes.
Other Thrive Themes Tools
The strength of Thrive Themes is undoubtedly their laser focus on conversions. Thrive Leads is a shining example, offering email list building tools unrivaled by others such as Optinmonster, Ninja Popups, etc.
Key features include:
- 8+ opt-in form types - in-content, lightbox, post footer, ribbon, screen filler, scroll mat, slide-in, widget, and php insert.
- Builtin delivery system for delivering eBooks or lead magnets without using your email autoresponder.
- A/B split testing with traffic distribution and automatic winner selection.
- Multi-state opt-in form for more conversions and properly segmenting the audience before adding them to the lists.
- Custom fields, hidden fields, and tagging ability for list segmentation.
- Inbuilt analytics (you don’t need to make use of Google Analytics)
- WordPress hooks for auto loading logged in user information - and passing it on to a thank-you page (for ex, "Thanks for subscribing, Eric!")
- Native Integrations with 35+ other tools and services. It’s a lot.
Thrive Quiz Builder
Another conversion-focused tool, Thrive Quiz Builder is a powerful quiz builder for building various quiz styles. It offers two main objectives, List Building, and Social Shares.
Main features include four main quiz types, quiz templates, powerful analytics, dynamic results pages, opin gates, and an easy to use quiz builder flow-chart.
Thrive Ovation is a great plugin to gather and display social proof on your website. A testimonial management tool, it allows you to convert comments to testimonials. It also gathers social testimonials on autopilot with a testimonial collection form.
After a testimonial is collected, you can easily edit and publish it from the Ovation dashboard. You can choose to dynamically display it on the front end according to display rules you define.
Thrive Ultimatum has been called the best scarcity marketing plugin available for WordPress. It enables you to create countdown campaigns and lock down the offer after a duration you specify.
There's many scarcity marketing plugins. Unfortunately, most of them don't offer true scarcity marketing. Meaning your visitors can still access your offer even after the countdown is over.
With Thrive Ultimatum you can use a "Lockdown feature" that lets you create uncheatable and authentic scarcity marketing campaigns.
Ideal for managing and encouraging user comments on your blog, Thrive Comments is the ultimate gamification for comments on your WordPress site. It offer upvotes, downvotes, badges, blocking, and many other features.
Thrive Optimize brings powerful A/B split testing for headlines and pages on your WordPress website. Analytics include click-through rate, time on content, and even scrolling. You'll get detailed headline testing reports and can be set to automatically show the winner.
You'll certainly want this if you have a website with tons of direct visitors. Content focused websites, such as news sites, can especially benefit from Thrive Optimize.
An awesome LMS plugin, Thrive Apprentice provides a powerful tool for delivering online courses with video, blog, and audio style content in a professional looking environment you can edit easily with Thrive Architect. Worth noting is that it doesn't include any built-in payment processor or content access restrictions.
A better way to build content fast
Overall, Thrive Themes plugins are a terrific suite of tools to build your WordPress site with.
Thrive Theme Builder takes everything up a notch higher yet, allowing virtually anyone to easily build their own site that looks professional, yet can be customized on every front without knowing a line of code.
After using TTB on a number of client sites, the place we feel the Theme Builder really shines, is the speed possible in getting a website live, and/or deploying new content. It can often take minutes to publish a new post, page, or even setup a whole website, vs days, weeks and months.
Need Help Getting Your Website Setup with Thrive Theme Builder?
We'll setup your entire WordPress website backend - hosting, domain, TTB, and access to the entire Thrive Themes product library - all you need is to add your own content!
How does Thrive Theme Builder stack against other theme builders?
There's no doubt the new TTB is a heavy hitter in the WordPress themes field. But how does it stack up against other popular theme builder platforms? In this section I'll compare three popular ones we've personally used over the past few years: Elementor, Divi, and Flatsome.
At the end I'll compare each one, to help you make an informed decision.
Thrive Theme Builder VS Elementor
Key features of Thrive Theme Builder and Elementor, side by side
Elementor is one of the most popular WordPress editors out there, and thanks to its open source API, it is also one of the most extendable. It is known for delivering speedy websites, and its advanced design capabilities.
How It Compares: The main difference between TTB and Elementor comes down to marketing/ conversion focused, vs design focused.
Although this is slowly changing, Elementor has an edge in design, with advanced design capabilities. It excels in building websites that follow the latest design trends. Another plus is WooCommerce integration, unlike TTB.
TTB has the edge for advanced lead generation tools. While Elementor has custom popups, it lacks A/B split testing, asset delivery feature, sign-up segue, advanced reporting, multi-state opt-in form, analytics, and much more.
Pricing: Elementor Pro (there's a very basic free version) is $49/year for one site. Their top level, Elementor Expert, is $199/year and can be used across 1000 sites.
Conclusion: If advanced design abilities with WooCommerce integration are your forte, than Elementor might be the one for you. Elementor is also good for virtually any kind of website or blog where design freedom is more important that advanced content marketing.
This can come down to personal preference. If you don't need WooCommerce, but you do need advanced email and content marketing capabilities, than TTB will certainly bring home the bacon. The front-editor is also a bit simpler and more intuitive, in my opinion.
Thrive Theme Builder VS Divi (Elegant Themes)
Key features of Thrive Theme Builder and Divi (Elegant Themes), side by side
Divi is the ultimate designer's dream. The advanced design capabilities are unmatched, as well as Elegant Theme's huge library of over 100 complete websites, and 800+ page templates.
How It Compares: It still lacks a bit in the advanced lead generation department vs TTB. Like TTB, Thrive Architect and Thrive Leads, Divi pairs with Bloom (Divi's Lead Gen plugin) and a number of other plugins for a complete tool stack.
Although very similar in capabilities as Elementor, Divi is geared towards beautiful corporate websites - especially for clients, and does well for WooCommerce stores as well.
Pricing: Divi is priced for agencies, and offers their flagship tool stack (Divi, Extra, Bloom, & Monarch), for $89/year for access, support, and updates across unlimited websites. Or $249/once for lifetime access, support & updates.
Conclusion: If you are a agency that does primarily corporate websites with advanced design needs, and advanced lead gen is not of utmost importance, Divi is an excellent fit. Especially considering unlimited use across the web, and a great life-time deal.
TTB still outshines the others when it comes to email marketing and conversion-focused elements, so if that's your focus, TTB or Thrive Membership will be better, even with the yearly cost of Thrive Membership.
Thrive Theme Builder VS Flatsome 3 (UX Themes)
Key features of Thrive Theme Builder and Flatsome, side by side
Flatsome was first and foremost developed for WooCommerce, and indeed, that is where it shines. It is also a great choice for business and corporate websites, with many special effects, and smooth modern styling.
How it compares: Like TTB, Flatsome is a theme coupled with it's own front-end page builder. It offers high value for eCommerce projects with specialized front-end product blocks, and social media integration. It also boasts nearly unmatched theme customizability via the stock WordPress "Customizer" dashboard.
Its also easy to edit every core page via "Page Blocks" built on the backend and displayed via shortcode on the frontend.
Where it falls short is with email or content marketing. It has built-in contact and email forms element via Contact Form 7. In order to customize it, however, you'll need to download other plugins or code your own. There's also no built-in popup builder.
It also lacks in user design customization, instead relying on pre designed "blocks" to display the chosen element. You can choose from various styles among the blocks, but you'll have to use custom .css for any major changes to a particular element style.
Pricing: Flatsome is currently $59/year and comes with 6 months of support. Ongoing support can be purchased separately.
Conclusion: For a WooCommerce project, Flatsome shines. If you don't mind writing some of your own .css code and using 3rd party plugins for what's lacking in lead gen, it also works very well for business and corporate websites.
If your primary focus will be content marketing and lead-gen, Thrive Theme Builder will be the better investment by far. Ditto for code-free design freedom of every element of your site, vs uneditable pre-built blocks.
Thrive Theme Builder Pricing
Thrive Theme Builder is competitively priced with the market and value at $67/single license and $97/5 license pack.
While you can't use it across unlimited sites for one price, like Divi, it offers lifetime updates, even if you don't renew the support.
An even better deal, and one I highly recommend if you plan to use the other Thrive tools, is the membership offer. For $228/year ($19/month), you get access to the entire Thrive suite, including Theme Builder, Thrive University and fast support via forum.
Why get Thrive Membership?
While TTB is a great standalone product, and includes everything you need, many of the advanced features are only available through purchase of their other plugins. For example you'll need Thrive Leads for the advanced lead gen tools, and you'll need the full version of Thrive Ovation for reviews management.
The support team at Thrive Themes is very responsive. Support tickets can be created inside your Thrive dashboard. A support team member usually responds to you within 24-48 hours or even less. They are friendly and highly knowledgeable.
With Thrive products, you also get access to Thrive University, a powerful support forum with dozens of video tutorials and a knowledge base with solutions for your common problems.
Thrive also has new marketing training videos that are released every month on increasing conversions and designing landing pages, plus premium courses that are available for in-depth training on a variety of marketing topics.
FAQ About Thrive Theme Builder
Q: What is included with Thrive Theme Builder?
A: TTB comes with Thrive Architect Lite, and Shapeshift theme.
Q: Does Thrive Theme Builder integrate with my existing tools?
A: TTB integrates with dozens of the most popular email responders, and many other tools. You can also integrate with Zapier, which gives you access to thousands of apps and services.
Q: Can TTB be used with a 3rd party payment plugin?
Q: Will I lose my content when switching my theme to TTB?
A: No. It will change the appearance (visual design) but won’t affect your current content built on WordPress. However, all content you've made that relies on shortcodes to display, will no longer work.
Our Final Word On Thrive Theme Builder + Shapeshift
Is the Thrive Theme Builder for you? Check out the official Thrive blog post if you're still on the fence and not sure.
Bottomline, if conversion-focus, and rapid implementation is of utmost consideration, a Thrive Theme Membership will deliver the goods.
If unlimited design freedom is more important, Elementor or Divi are both slightly more inexpensive, and both more geared with designers in mind.
Thrive Theme Builder Review
From a marketing perspective, TTB is pure gold. The ability to completely design every part of the site and a sharp focus on conversion elements outweighs its shortcomings. It's an A+ value rating from us!
Built for speedy implementation, a complete website template can be knocked out in 10 minutes or less! However, it loses one star for the slight lag time we've noticed on the front-end editor on longer content.
Overall, TTB is a solid investment at a very competitive price. If you want more than the basics, you'll need to invest in the Thrive Membership. The good news is, Thrive Membership is an incredible value.
Overall rating : 4.5 / 5
You'll likely want to invest into the Thrive Membership to get the full value of what TTB has to offer. However, TTB by itself is still an incredible product for any DIY business website. They have great support and ongoing tutorials for every aspect of your website and marketing. You're not just downloading another theme - you're getting the support and tools to build a dynamic online business.
Still Have Questions About Using TTB?
We can setup your entire website and marketing system using Thrive Theme Builder and other Thrive tools. You'll get admin access to it all - ready to start building your content!
About the Author
Eric is the owner of Troyer Websites of Texas, a full service digital marketing agency in east Texas. He is passionate about empowering other entrepreneurs to build their businesses online. If not designing a website, or writing copy, he can generally be found outdoors, on a motorcycle or playing music with his friends.
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