A recent set of themes that we ran across here at The Idealist Designer were those of Thrive Themes.

Shane Melaugh, the owner and creater of Thrive Themes has done something that we really should see more of in the web design/themes industry. And that’s create a lead conversion focused WordPress package that has one goal in mind; growing your business!

What Did We Like?

The Themes: Rating 7/10

Thrive Themes does a good job of varying up the playing field with their different selection of availible themes. Ranging from everything from content based blogs to flat and modern; Thrive provides a solid offering in terms of variety; and with 10 different themes offered with their membership, it’s safe to say you won’t run out of options any time soon! Unfornately when compared to the customizibility and power of it’s competitors, the actually themes of Thrive Themes didn’t seem to stand out and is most definitly not the selling point of Thrive.

Thrive Leads: Rating 10/10

This is the selling point of Thrive and probably my favorite feature. Leads is a conversion centric plugin swiss army knife that gives you just about everything you need to turn your valuble leads in loyal customers.

Thrive Leads includes everything from A/B Testing, highly customizable optin forms, to light boxes, and analytics for about everything you can think of.

From The Thrive Themes Website:

The Content Builder: Rating 7/10

Probably the most noticable feature of the thrive themes package, other than leads, was the content builder.

The Thrive Content Builder is powerful front end wysiwyg editor that utilizes a live preview set up where you simply drag and drop elements where you would like to see them on the page.

Overall, I found the content builder average in terms of features. Especially when compared to the likes of page builders like Divi from Elegant Themes.

Features that I would have loved to have seen would have been some kind of mobile design tool or the ability to at least specify what can and can’t show up on each platform (Desktop, Tablet, Phone). Statisics show that 60% of a web site’s traffic now comes from a mobile device. With the conversion focus of Thrive, one would expect something in that department at least.

Something else that would’ve been nice to see would have been a simple slider function. (Excluded due to Shane’s vehement hatred towards them) Read here

What We Didn’t Like

Simple Changes Can Be Difficult for Non Designers/Developers

For the swiss army knife that Thrive claims to be and is in most cases, it’s kind of ridiculous that such a package doesn’t come with a built in option to change menu font color or size. After looking for quite some time for these options I ended up just using custom CSS. Which is no issue for me, but for the less tech savy it’s a shame that a premium theme that prides itself on user friendliness fails to offer something that even the most basic WordPress theme has.

So what? It’s geared towards designers and developers right?

Nope. Which leads us to our next complaint.

It’s Not Geared Towards Designers and Developers

Shane writes in an article:

If someone hands you a blank piece of paper and a pencil, can you create a sketch for a beautiful and functional website? Unless you’re a professional designer, the answer is probably going to be “no”.

A theme that gives you a blank template and a million design options is not that different from a blank page and a pencil. It’s asking you to do design work and unless you’re a professional designer there are two issues with that:

1. Your time is not best spent doing design work.

2. The results of your design work are not going to be very good (no offense, but most of us simply don’t have the skills required to create good web design).

Now, I understand Shane’s reasoning for this; he wants Thrive to remain conversion focused and it’s that focus that is the very reason why Thrive is so successful. But there is no reason to sacrifice the theme’s power to remain “conversion focused”. Furthermore, from the way he talks in the above section, he sounds like he’s gearing Thrive Themes towards non designers.

There are a couple of things wrong with this.

  1. Most people who aren’t professional designers, aren’t going to be paying $19 or $49 a month for the Thrive Themes membership. And if they are, the lack of simple customization options mentioned before and the need to use html/CSS to do simple tasks is probably not going to appeal to them; as opposed to easy to use site builders such as Weebly or Wix that require zero coding.
  2. On the other hand if it is being used in the hands of a professional designer then their time IS best spent doing design work. It’s kind of their job; and they most likely and would hopefully have good web design skills. In which case, why not just get a more customizable theme and use the Thrive Leads plugin along with it? After all, that’s all that really sets Thrive apart from more powerful, design centric themes.

Our Rating: 8/10

The actual themes themselves are no different than the typical themes found in competing packages; and while the content builder’s strong point is it’s front end editing style geared towards non designers, the lack of user friendliness in other areas makes this feature a moot point.

No, what makes Thrive stand out from the crowd and the reason it still recieves an 8/10 rating in this review is the pure power of it’s leads conversion plugin. Thrive does lead conversion and it does it VERY well. And while the rest of the package may not “thrive” the leads plug in alone justifies the $19 a month price tag that thrive asks for.