Like many website owners, WordPress is my website publishing tool of choice, and as an internet marketer, blogger, and product creator, I’ve tried a large number of page building themes and plugins to help me build attractive landing pages, squeeze pages, membership sites and sales pages quickly.
But recently, I have found and fallen in love with “Thrive Visual Editor”, a WordPress plugin that builds awesome looking marketing pages much faster than anything I’ve used before, while also being more flexible.
Review Of The Many Page Builders I’ve Tried
Over the last few years, I’ve used Optimize Press 1.x, Thesis 2.0, Optimize Press 2.0, and Instabuilder, to name but a few of the better ones. And while each of these page creating solutions has things I like, ultimately, there were always some real ‘gotchas’ that kept me looking for something better.
But then I found what I was looking for when another blogger introduced me to Thrive Visual Editor. I like this page builder so much, in fact, that I have already started migrating my OLD content from my Optimize Press 1 & 2 and Thesis sites to use the Thrive page builder when more than a simple blog post is needed.
But before I share the details of what I like about Thrive so much and why I switched, lets do a quick review of the different landing page builders I’ve used and what I like, and don’t like about them so you have something to compare Thrive Visual Editor to.
Optimize Press Theme
Optimize Press 1.x
Optimize Press 1.0 was groundbreaking in it’s heyday. Created by James Dyson, Optimize Press 1 was one of the first landing page template page creators available to make marketing style pages fast.
Optimize Press 1.x was wonderful because it came with an array of squeeze page templates, sales page templates, and other pages marketers need to create every day. It also came pre-loaded with a library of call to action graphics, arrows, buttons, webfont styles and more to make designing great looking pages easy.
So Optimize Press 1.0 was a HUGE help to marketers, and it even looked great as the base of a membership site with beautiful header options, and attractive menu bars. After working with Peter Garety on some product launches in 2012 and 2013, I was sold on Optimize Press 1.x and got myself a copy.
Currently however, Optimize Press 1.x has been superseded by Optimize Press 2.0 which is NOT an upgrade to 1.0– it’s an entirely different page builder under the covers. So you will have to manually re-build your content in OP 2 if you are still using version 1 and decide to move over.
A few notes about why I stopped using Optimize Press 1:
- OP1 is Aging and is now pretty “Dated” looking – Optimize Press 1.0 is still getting the occasional maintenance release from Dyson’s team, so if you have it, and you want to stay with it, you can for the time being, but the page templates are increasingly looking dated and shabby, compared to the more modern page styling being used today all over the web.
- OP1 can be a Memory Hog – Another problem with Optimize Press 1x series is that it is slow and memory intensive under load. So if you are planning a product launch and might have oodles of traffic coming your way in a short amount of time, OP1 is capable of bringing your site down.
Optimize Press 2.x (theme and plugin)
Optimize Press 2 was released a year or two ago as a totally different type of page builder. Some of the reasons I bought Optimize Press 2.0 when it came out were:
- Block manager style page building meant more flexibility in how finished pages could look, compared to Optimize Press 1.0.
- Elements could be dragged, copied, and inserted just about anywhere on the page which meant given enough time, you could build just about anything.
- Additionally, Optimize Press 2.0’s new templates are up to date and fit in with the flat, minimalist website designs that are now so popular.
- It comes preloaded with a number of templates to suit different uses which makes building a page in a few minutes if you can use one of the provided templates easy. Plus if you want to pay a monthly subscription fee, you can get new templates every month.
What’s Not so Great About Optimize Press 2.0
- Like it’s predecessor, Optimize Press 2 is a memory hungry theme that can cause a website to fail under medium traffic such as the traffic of a medium sized product launch. (In fact, Optimize Press 2.0 is even more taxing on server performance.) This means it also runs slowly, which can cost you conversions and search rankings.
- While the selection of different elements you can add to a page is huge, finding and adding them to a page can be slow with a lot of clicks needed to do something fairly simple.
- The “Add Element” dialog box always starts you at the top level, and from there you have to search for the element type, select the element, and then click through about 6-10 more choices before that element appears on the page. And after that, you still may need to tweak dialog boxes one by one to get the effect you want.
- Saving of elements on each edit is rather slow.
- Some pre-made templates are mobile friendly and responsive, others are not. As Mobile is becoming a big deal, responsiveness is more and more necessary.
- There is also no guarantee that page layouts you build from scratch will be properly responsive unless you know what you are doing. As most of us don’t have that kind of deep knowledge of responsive CSS, it’s easy to screw this up.
- Exporting saved templates for use on other sites is available, but the options to perform this task are not placed in an easy to find location, and they insist you create a thumbnail before you can do so.
Thesis 2.0 Theme
Thesis theme was my favorite for a long time because it was the first block page builder I had used and I still think it is pretty awesome in the right circumstances. In fact, when I first bought it, I liked it so much I recorded some Thesis theme training videos.
What’s great about Thesis 2.0 theme
- Thesis is extremely flexible in the kind of page and blog layouts it can produce. You can rearrange the whole look of your site from individual posts, to category templates, landing pages, and more.
- Thesis is also pretty fast, because it compiles the layouts into plain HTML and CSS code when you save the template or page. This means Thesis is not likely to bring your website to a crashing halt under load.
- Thesis also makes it easy to add a new favicon, tracking scripts, retargeting pixels and custom CSS to the site.
What’s not so hot about Thesis 2.0 for Marketers
- The biggest drawback of Thesis 2.0 is Templates that come with the basic skin (Classic Responsive Skin) are much more generic in nature and less optimized for marketing pages. It’s true you can build almost anything, but you will need some design smarts to make pages look good. Most of us marketers and business owners don’t have those kind of design skills.
- Some basic things are missing, like native countdown timers, and numbered paging for blog category pages. For those kind of features, you usually need a special kind of thesis theme plugin called a box.
- While the classic responsive skin IS responsive, if you don’t know how to build responsive designs, the tweaks you make to the pages may not be responsive and mobile friendly.
- Individual pages require a template to be built first– you can’t just out of the blue build a single page layout while writing the page.
Why I Fell In Love with Thrive’s Visual Page Builder
While I will tell you up front that Thrive is not perfect and has a few little quirks, for me it’s a huge step towards a page builder I actually love to use. It’s easy to use, creates great looking pages pretty fast, while being very flexible. And it remains fairly speedy in serving up the pages, unlike some of the heavier page builders I’ve already mentioned.
Here are some of the things I adore so far about Thrive:
- Thrive’s pages are 1-click live-edit. This means that anything you can see on the page, you can change instantly with one click and then just type.
- And Thrive is speedy to use. Because when a page element is selected, an editing toolbar appears right above that element, letting you change almost anything you like without multiple popup box clicks.
- By way of comparison: I find Optimize Press 2.0 really slow and clumsy to use because of it’s multiple clicks to access most properties of page elements, which cannot be edited live as they appear. This means in Optimize press, you have to edit, save, check your work, and then go back and edit again if it doesn’t look as you wanted it.
- Adding elements to a Thrive Builder page is also much faster than optimize press because all of the available elments appear in a menu bar to the right of the page.
- For example, If you want an image, it’s easy, just drag one out of the sidebar and onto the page where ever you want it. Then set the image URL or choose it from the uploaded media, and it’s there. And those images are then responsive and scale down to fit smaller screens.
- Ditto for responsive page columns, content boxes, icons, text, countdown timers, grids and tables, styled bullet lists, menus… just drag them onto the page and edit live.
- And with the Thrive builder, what you build from one of the many templates (Including a blank template) really IS responsive and mobile friendly even if you know nothing about responsive design.
- Thrive builder also allows you to save page snippets as content fragment templates you can insert into any page you please. So if you have a standard footer or disclaimer you want to use often, just save it as a content template and drag it into your page from the side bar when you want it.
- Thrive supports vector icons that you can add as elements of your page, set custom colors for, change the size of and more. Vectors are light weight and scalable graphics that don’t lose resolution like pixel format graphics do when enlarged.
- Thrive supports Google web fonts and allows you to configure custom fonts with the options you use most.
- Thrive also has support for animations, and click events, as well as custom light boxes you can use as popups to perform specific actions on your pages.
- UPDATE: Recently the Thrive team has added yet another fantastic feature to the content builder– you now can export and import your own templates, making it easy to move pages from site to site for reuse.
Now as I mentioned, Thrive is not perfect and I’ve seen quirky behavior occasionally on some of the text elements styling– but it is still being improved by it’s creator.
Here are a few of the little annoying quirks with Thrive that I’ve discovered so far.
- Thrive sometimes loses font color and size information while editing a text element if you change bolding or italics. It seems to partly revert to the defaults for that element, unless you duplicate the element and edit properties on the new one.
- Thrive Page Builder has no fixed footer or floating top navigation elements, which marketers like us like to use for timers on sales pages.
- Thrive’s countdown timer element is not easy to customize with colors or font sizes, but with custom CSS, it can be done.
There is no direct way to download your page templates and upload them to another site.However, Thrive DOES let you get at the full HTML of the page from the editor, which you can easily copy into the thrive page builder on another site. UPDATE: Recently the Thrive team has added yet another fantastic feature– the ability to export and import your own templates, making it easy to move pages from site to site for reuse.
Video Demo – How to Build a Complete Page Using Thrive Content Builder
While there are many WordPress webpage builders available with varying features and numbers of templates, Thrive Content Builder resonates with me because of it’s easy, live editing features, great looking templates, and it’s beautiful usable design that spares the user endless clicking and saving and re-saving. And with the fantastic responsive designs and native speed, it’s hands down the winner in my book.
ted friel says
a helpful review of thrive, and a good demo of its use.
i want to develop an education/training site, for subscribers, with the content divided into several “chapters”, each chapter containing several “sections”, each section containing several “skill modules” with examples. the content contains text, images, tables, comment blocks, links to other content and other sites, … along with a forum for user interaction/collaboration …
the thrive examples seem to focus on marketing/sales efforts … with limited content and images … but good conversion options.
are you aware of any education/training sites that use thrive, that you could point me to, so i can see how it could help me with my objectives?
Lisa Allen says
Actually yes, I just used Thrive to build two membership sites for my latest launch. The templates are very flexible, and there are some really nice features that they haven’t demonstrated in their sales videos.
Here’s what the inside of TubeViperX 2.0 looks like in the video training section.
I created an accordian slider to hold the different sections of the help videos, and each video pops up in it’s own lightbox, which could contain more than just the video if you wanted to add text or links.
Tomas Michaud says
Great question. My hesitation to move over to Thrive themes from Optimize press is I don’t see any templates that look like good membership teaching sites. Optimize press has some really great templates sets designed by KM Lee for a very affordable price in their market place.
Thanks for elaborate post reg thrive, you just helped me with long bothering concern whether to moved to thrive suite. It looks great, despite the quirks you mentioned here.
Hi, thanks for your review and comparison. I am going to swith from OP2 to Thrive soon. Did you have an established site before you swapped over?Did you experience any issues during swap over of themes? I look foward to your feedback. Thanks
Lisa Allen says
Well the problem with an established site is going to be that you probably already have landing pages built with your old page builder that will stop working if you completely remove OP2.
The good news is they will work together fine. I have a couple of sites with older OP2 pages that I just added Thrive to, and just started building the new pages with that instead.
I’ll eventually migrate those pages by building new ones using Thrive, but it’s not all or nothing to start using Thrive.
Maybe I’m doing something wrong but when they upgraded to OP2, OP1 stopped working. I hadn’t had it for maybe 2 years before they upgraded and now it’s useless. When I install it and try to activate it, it shoots me over to the upgrade page so OP1 is worthless to me now. I switched over to Thrive last July and I love it!
Lisa Allen says
Thanks for swinging by to comment. 🙂 I experienced many of the same issues with OP1 not working anymore, as well as OP2 breaking after one of the WordPress updates. But after getting Thrive, honestly, I never miss it anymore.