Hands On With Thrive Architect – The Replacement For Thrive Content Builder

Is Thrive Architect a buggy upgrade which is going to break your site? Here’s a quick hands on with Thrive Architect, from the perspective of a Content Builder veteran.

I have been a fan of Thrive Themes tools for some time and have been recommending it to my readers and students. My strong recommendation, in fact, because it really doesn’t get much better or cost effective in terms of marketing tools for blog owners than the suite of Thrive Themes tools.

Very recently, though, they publicly released their much anticipated update to Content Builder. They call it Thrive Architect.

Content Builder, and now Architect, is the underlying visual editor behind all of their tools. Whether you’re editing opt-in forms in Thrive Leads or creating a landing page, you are using their visual editor.

In most every case with new software, though, there’s that initial period after release where it is best to wait and see. Typically the first versions are buggy and cause all kinds of problems.

I expected this with Thrive Architect. Especially after I saw a Lab member post this in our Lab Community Forums:

Uh-oh. Did Thrive Themes blow it?

In all fairness, Architect was released to Thrive Members first and they expressly said it was for testing purposes and to report all issues.

But, then it was released to the public – and yes, you can grab your own copy of Thrive Architect now.

So, is it a safe upgrade? Is it bug free? Is it all it is cracked up to be?

Well, I take my product recommendations very seriously. So, in order for me to continue to recommend Thrive Themes so strongly, I had to test out Thrive Architect to ensure I wasn’t going to send my readers and students into a buggy piece of software.

I took a full copy of the Blog Marketing Academy website into my private staging site (thanks to the one-click staging of WPEngine), upgraded all of my Thrive plug-ins, and proceeded to take a look at Architect.

Here’s what I found…

A Total Redesign

Content Builder was something I had become pretty adept with and it was pretty powerful. But… it was a little “old school”. While it was still the most powerful editor around for WordPress, it didn’t have that look of modern user interface (UI) design.

Architect solves that.

Here’s the BMA homepage opened up in Thrive Architect…

All the tools are now graphically presented to the side rather than the textual (and sometimes confusing) list that was in Content Builder.

When you click on any element of section, you get the properties to edit. With Content Builder, it opened up in this funky looking popup window. With Architect, it is all kept in the same section and much cleaner looking.

It is simpler to use, too. Whereas Content Builder had a lot of numerical fields you had to type into (for padding, margins, font size, etc.), Architect uses sliders and graphical UI to edit it.

For instance, the method for editing padding and margins uses this:

It takes a little getting used to but once you got it, it is much easier than before.

I’ll leave it to their videos to show you more of the innards of how Architect works. No need for me to do it.

The important thing is…

Is it buggy?

Is there anything that previous users of Content Builder are going to be surprised by?

Let’s look…

A List of Findings (From A Previous Content Builder User)

First of all, all of your pages will be backwards compatible. If you built a page with Content Builder, it will still look fine and will work with Architect. But, there are some things to bear in mind…

Elements will need to be “migrated” to Architect in order to edit them. When you click on a page element to make changes, it will ask you to migrate it. Doing so is just a click of a button.

However,  migrating it will mean a few of your fine-tuned settings might be lost in translation.

After migrating several elements, I found that I had to redo several things. Such as…

  • Sometimes my font color wouldn’t hold and I had to reset it.
  • My margins and paddings for page sections would sometimes changes.
  • Text color on buttons reset to black. Strangely, I couldn’t seem to put it back to white. Even when I defined it to white, the text color would not change. The only way to fix it was to rebuild the button and delete the original. Takes time.
  • Stretched image backgrounds (like I have on my homepage) don’t seem to control height very well. It insists on full vertical height for the image whereas I could keep my minimum height before and it would work.

It’s just… little things. A few things get lost in the migration and I have to redo it.

It isn’t a big deal. Once it is done, it is done and future edits with Architect will be fine. But longtime users of Thrive might find themselves needing to redo some things when making page edits.

Overall, though, I was actually surprised how bug free things were. I expected worse after seeing that initial report in the Lab Community. But, overall I found Architect to work as designed.

IMPORTANT: All of your Content Builder pages will work without any work needed. The only time you may experience changes will be when you migrate an element to Architect in order to edit it.

Improved. Just Different.

That’s the real thing. Architect is much better than Content Builder. It is a radical redesign and a major improvement.

But, if you’ve been using Content Builder for awhile, you’ll perhaps find Architect frustrating for a little bit as you relearn the new interface.

You’ve got to learn where things are now. For instance, the graphical UI where previously it was number entry will feel awkward at first.

It makes more sense now, actually. Things like custom CSS are just easier. Custom CSS for a page was previously jammed up with the other tools of Content Builder. It was awkward but you got used to it. Now it is in the page settings. It really belongs there, but now I have to get used to it making sense. 🙂

Editing the full, raw HTML of a page was kinda awkward before. Now it can open up full screen and it is honestly just better. At first, though, it is weird to find it.

Inserting templates used to open up the template list all mashed up in the main tool list. Really odd to use. In Architect, you drag in the “Content Template” tool then it opens up the list of available templates contextually.

Just so much cleaner.

It will take some getting used to, but it is clear to me that Architect is a radical improvement over Content Builder. It feels polished.

My Recommendations For Previous Thrive Themes Users

Architect is a worthy upgrade. And it is one you will need to make eventually because all of their tools use it.

The transition will likely have a few speed bumps, however.

What I would recommend is that you test it out first in a private staging copy of your site. Get the hang of it.

When it is time for the upgrade on your live site, back up first. If your site is anything like mine, it shouldn’t throw you any big problems.

All of your pages will work just fine if built with Content Builder. No action will be needed.


When it comes time to EDIT something on an existing landing page, you will need to migrate sections over to Architect. When you do, you may find yourself needing to rebuild aspects of it. I would imagine the need for that will get even better as Thrive continues to issue updates (something they’ve always been awesome at).

If you build a NEW page with Architect, it should be no issue at all. You’ll just need to get used to where things are now and be willing to put up with a little time finding things you previously used without thinking.

It took me about an hour of messin’ around with it to begin to feel somewhat adept with it. I’m not totally there yet, but I’m good.

Once you relearn the location of tools, you’ll find it makes MORE sense than before. We got used to the weird aspects of Content Builder. Architect makes more sense once you get used to it.

Here’s the TLDR version, then…

I continue to hold my very strong recommendation for Thrive Themes suite of tools for all online businesses and marketing people who use WordPress. Their membership is simply the best value out there, and it has gotten even better with the upgrade of their visual editor to Thrive Architect.
For all previous users of Thrive Themes tools, Architect is a worthy upgrade. I recommend you test in staging first to get acquainted with the differences, which are many. But, once you get over the initial confusion of a new interface, you’ll find it to be a very worthy and welcome change.
About David Risley
David Risley is the founder of the Blog Marketing Academy, a 20-year veteran blogger and online entrepreneur. His focus? Building a reliable, recurring business around his "lifestyle" and the lives of his students. He has this weird obsession with traveling in his motorhome around the country with his wife and 2 kids. David also likes to talk about himself in the third person. In bios like this one. Read his full story.