The day that Thrive Theme Builder was released, I came out with my handy “First Look” look back at the Theme Builder platform.
Shortly afterwards I looked at the process of converting this site to Theme Builder. However, the project was not completed because when converting pages that were created with a Thrive landing page template, I encountered a problem with the new topic.
In this post, I said I would update once the job was done.
This post is the update. 🙂 This entire site has been running on Thrive Theme Builder for a few days.
Let me take a look at how it went and share a few little “tricks” with you if you are considering switching your own website to this platform.
One of these “tricks” is very powerful for conversions and something that most other topics can’t do without hacking …
It wasn’t broken. So why did I “fix” it?
So this page worked perfectly before Thrive Theme Builder. And I know how to code my own topics by hand. So why did I bother?
There are actually two reasons:
Reason # 1: It makes my life easier
Although I know how to create my own topics (and the previous topic was created by me), it meant that there was an additional headache when I did things manually.
If I wanted to change the subject fairly easily, I had to turn off my code editor and CSS editor. I would have to create the design change – by hand. Then I would have to create the CSS so that it looks good. This process is something I’m very used to, but it can be time consuming depending on what I’ve done.
Although I know how to do it – and I honestly enjoy it because I’m a huge nerd – it wasn’t the best use of my time. I have to run a business. I don’t spend my time best playing around with my topic.
Thrive Theme Builder radically speeds up my workflow. I can make changes much, much faster than I could in the old way.
Reason # 2: It was important that I agree with my own recommendations
Look, I’m not going to use my own horn here. It is not my style. But you know that …
My integrity is very important to me. I will ONLY recommend what I either use personally or have spent time personally.
I don’t use everything I recommend to my readers now. But you’d better think I used it pretty extensively at some point. If I recommend something to my readers, I have to be able to stand behind it.
I was thrilled with Thrive Theme Builder when I heard about it. And when I started playing with it, I decided that this would be my official topic recommendation for ALL of my readers who ask me. That’s because you can use a solution and shape it to your liking – without the need for coding or geekery.
As someone in my position, this solves a big problem. I always hated having to send people to “tech hell” when it came to their topic. Now I can refer to ONE solution – AND support it.
However, to fully meet my own recommendations, I felt that I had to use the platform myself. If I recommend Theme Builder but say it’s not good enough for my own needs, that’s not right.
I’m not just using it personally now and this blog is now running on Theme Builder, but …
I can tell you that it is good enough for my needs. I’ve turned the standard ShapeShift theme into what you’re seeing here on this blog. It works great.
My general impressions now that the job is done
I really like Thrive Theme Builder. It is a quick platform to work with and I can make my website look very nice and do it quickly.
Things I really like:
- You can create multiple templates for different purposes (more on that in a minute) and give yourself a lot of flexibility
- It reduces the number of plugins you may need to use as some of these features are built right into the platform. For example, I could get rid of my related post plugin because Theme Builder does it alone. I could get rid of a plugin that I used for menus that responded to mobile devices … because Theme Builder does it all automatically.
- The standard templates that come with ShapeShift are actually pretty good, and in some cases I’ve used aspects of this design because I honestly thought it was better than what I did before.
- The speed of the workflow is FAST. I mean, when I compare it to what I need to do it manually, it’s a whole new world here. Even for techies, this is a huge time saver.
As with everything, there are some areas that are rough around the edges, and I hope this will be fixed in future updates.
Things I didn’t like:
- It seems that I could create different list templates (for archive pages, etc.), but I can’t see how I can use any of them other than the default for my whole life. I can of course change the default setting. But what good is it to be able to create additional list templates if there is no way to use them? I am not sure if I missed anything.
- A basic function of topics is the ability to list subpages. When you visit a parent page and the content of that page, child pages are displayed in a well-formatted manner. Apparently this functionality is currently missing in the Theme Builder. I found a workaround, but it’s annoying that it hasn’t been installed yet.
- As described in my other post, there is no way to insert a post statement into a single post template. This option must be added as a dynamic text option.
I made some compromises on this transition. There were a few things from my old theme that I couldn’t duplicate with Theme Builder due to platform limitations.
Overall, however, I think the benefits far outweigh the few minor annoyances. And I think they are likely to fill these gaps in future updates.
A few “tricks” that I realized using Thrive Theme Builder
OK, I’m not sure if these are really “tricks” or not, but maybe some advice on how you can actually use the features of Theme Builder in a real live environment.
# 1 – Make a copy of ShapeShift and customize it
When you start, you are working with a standard version of ShapeShift. In the future you will have other options besides ShapeShift.
However, I would really recommend taking advantage of Thrive Theme Builder’s built-in theme management ability.
- Go to the “Manage” section for themes in the Theme Builder
- Click “Duplicate” for the ShapeShift design. A copy is then made.
- Rename the copy to something that reflects the name of your site.
From there, you can make changes to your topic or even delete templates that you will never use. This has no effect on ShapeShift. This gives you a lot of flexibility and a better organization for the future.
# 2 – Rename templates to suit you
Some of the template names it contains are verbose and not very descriptive. If you customize templates to your own needs, it helps to rename them to something that makes sense to you.
The names for your templates will later appear in dropdowns when you select this template. So make it useful. This is YOUR site and you do not have to accept the names used by Thrive Themes.
# 3 – Create templates for different purposes – and call for actions
It’s pretty easy to have a standard template for all blog posts. All posts just look the same.
However, one of the possibilities of Thrive Theme Builder is to have multiple templates available for each page or post … and you can choose the one that fits best.
Most topics don’t even offer the ability to create different templates for different blog posts. Most people never do that. However, this is a powerful feature of Theme Builder. And here is a strong use case for it …
You can create different blog post templates that are optimized for different audience segments.
In my post talking about switching 100% to ConvertBox instead of Thrive Leads, I shared a strategy for managing calls to action using blog categories. Now that I’m in Theme Builder, the same strategy still works to control ConvertBox, but not for the top / bottom CTAs. I encoded PHP code into my theme by hand, and that’s currently not possible with Theme Builder.
I dealt with this by using different post templates that were optimized for different lead magnets. At the top and bottom of this post, you can see CTAs for lead magnets. That is now part of my topic.
I have a different post template for each of my primary lead magnets that was created with Theme Builder. And then my standard mail template contains the CTA for the online business roadmap.
Once you’ve received your standard post template to your liking, simply duplicate it. Then make the appropriate changes to the copy.
This new setup actually offers a lot more flexibility that I can use later. Now that this is a full post template optimized for specific interests and not just optins, I could go even further by inserting CTAs for relevant courses in THE LAB or customizing a CTA for the LAB itself, but the most relevant one Topic as “im”. For example, I could advertise THE LAB by talking about training member sites … in all blog posts that talk about member sites.
The on-blog marketing ability of these templates offers a lot of performance.
# 4 – Delete ShapeShift templates that you will never use
ShapeShift contains many available templates. If you customize things to your liking, you will find that many of these standard templates are simply never used.
So delete them. Clean up the room. Get them out of your template dropdowns so that only those templates that are relevant to your own site appear on your editing interface.
This is another reason why it is nice to clone ShapeShift before making changes. Make this your own.
# 5 – Take the opportunity to optimize different types of content
With Theme Builder, you can now choose formats for your blog posts. This can be a standard blog post, a video post, an audio post, or an image post.
Personally, I never use picture contributions. But I sometimes use videos. And all of my old, archived podcast contributions are now audio contributions. And Theme Builder includes templates for the post types, which you can optimize accordingly.
For example, I took the time to go back to all of my old podcast episodes and convert them all to audio postings in Theme Builder. Of course, this brings with it the template that I created specifically for audio posts, and I used this template to optimize specifically for the podcast. These posts now look different than regular posts on this blog.
The same applies to video postings. This post has a video above, so I’m going to make a video post out of it. The format for displaying the video is different.
I think that’s a powerful skill. Most people who have a video post simply embed the video in the written part of the post. With Theme Builder you can go one step further and optimize.
Last words on this transition
I had to make a few compromises when switching to Thrive Theme Builder – just because I was trying to completely duplicate my original setup. And that was difficult to do.
However, the compromises were minor. I doubt anyone but me will notice. And…
The improvements I get are light years better than my original topic.
I have a feeling that the site is doing better than it was. It feels cleaner to me … but probably only because I know some of the difficulties behind the scenes are gone.
The flexibility that I now have with the different templates gives blog-based marketing a lot of strength. I don’t even fully use the options there. 🙂
There are a few things that I hope will be added to the platform in future updates, but none of them are a deal killer. Not even from a distance.
And get that …
The page you’re looking at right now … I didn’t touch a single line of code to do that. The ONLY code I migrated from the original theme was a custom CSS to make the table of contents look a certain way. I realized that I could add this custom CSS to Thrive Theme Builder using the customizer:
Overall, I’m very happy with Thrive Theme Builder and can’t wait to see how it evolves.
So there it is …
This page is now full with Thrive Theme Builder.
And yes, this platform is now my official recommendation for anyone who asks about it. And I would be happy to help you with the changeover – if you decide to do so.
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