Thrive Architect is already the best optimized page builder available for WordPress. However, it's still a WordPress website platform and that means there's a lot of extra things you can do to improve performance.
If you're looking to squeeze out every ounce of performance you can from your website, then here are the areas where you'll find the biggest gains.
NOTE: This post has been updated for the second half of 2020. Any links in this post should be considered affiliate links, but I'm only linking to tools I highly recommend. Thanks for supporting our site!
Optimize Images the Right Way
Optimizing images is, by far, the area where you'll see the biggest gains and the biggest hits to performance. If you're uploading massive file sizes to your pages, then regardless of what tools you're using the page will load slow.
Every kilobyte you add to the page has to be loaded by your server, sent to the recipient's browser, then viewed/downloaded by that browser and rendered. Packing in megabytes means you're bogging down your host (and slowing down your website at the source) as well as making it take longer to render for visitors.
Here are a couple tools you can use as well as a few guidelines.
Ideal Image Sizes
I try and avoid uploading images greater than 60kb in a standard blog post. There are times my featured images and more detailed images will reach 80 or 90kb, but that's pushing it. Most people will say I'm being generous there and would cut the size much further.
When using your favorite image editing tool, look for an option that allows you to reduce the quality by compressing it slightly. I use Photoshop, so I export my images for use on the web and tweak the quality settings to find an acceptable balance between file size and quality (usually 60% on JPGs).
ShortPixel - The Best Image Optimization Plugin for Thrive Architect
I highly recommend ShortPixel (link gives you bonus images if you sign up) to help you optimize your images even further. ShortPixel uses some kind of crazy optimization magic to reduce file sizes sometimes greater than 70% beyond what you've already done in something like PhotoShop.
ShortPixel is reasonably priced as well. You get 100 images / month optimized (+100 more if you use this link here) for free, or pay for $5/m for $5000 images/m. There are other one-time purchase options as well. Awesome, awesome tool.
It even integrates directly with WordPress. You simply upload your image and it'll work its magic.
Short Pixel's Free Online Image Optimizer
ShortPixel also has an online image optimizer that you can use for FREE. I find it's way better than Kraken.io (which I used for years) and really helps in a quick pinch. If you're willing to open a browser tab and upload the images, you'll save yourself plenty of space.
Use a Caching Plugin
Here's where things can get a little tricky. Caching plugins are an absolute must have for your website because they drastically reduce load times and strain on a server. However, they also have a tendency to not play nice with other plugins -- particularly Thrive.
There are two caching plugins I recommend that work great with Thrive, though one is better than the other.
W3 Total Cache - The Best Caching Plugin for Thrive Themes
W3 Total Cache is my new favorite caching plugin. Last year I would have told you to go with WP Rocket, but I've become a true fan of W3TC because of its native integrations with Thrive Theme Builder and WPX Hosting.
Hard ignore the price: Free.
You can set up all of the settings yourself following the video below, or you can simply click one button in Thrive Theme Builder and they'll automatically install and apply all the settings you need.
The team at Thrive Customer Service put out this video where they go over the settings.
WP Rocket - Still a Great Caching Plugin for Thrive Architect
WP Rocket is still one of the best caching plugin for Thrive Architect and Thrive Theme Builder. I have no complaints about the server other than they're a paid solution and an equally great option is completely free.
You can install WP Rocket and it will right out of the box improve your website's performance and the performance of Thrive Architect.
There are a few settings that I recommend you enable to ramp up the performance boosts even more.
Optimize CSS Delivery
The biggest additional boost you'll get comes from a setting called Optimize CSS Delivery which will defer the loading of that CSS that your site may have otherwise waited on to load. Anything blocking the rendering of the site will be optimized, which is great.
This setting does not conflict with Thrive and will give a great speed boost.
Other WP Rocket Settings
There are a few other WP Rocket settings I would make sure you have enabled.
- Under File Optimization > Combine Google Font Files
- Under Cache > Enable cache for mobile devices (also separate cache files for mobile)
- Under Media > Do not use lazyload for images if you are using ShortPixel's Adaptive Images and have this setting enabled. They conflict. Otherwise feel free to Lazyload.
- Enable 'Optimize CSS Delivery'
- Enable Mobile Caching
W3 Total cache
- Enable Page Cache
- Enable Minify
- Under Minify > Disable for logged in users
- Enable HTML Minify Settings
- In the "Never Minify JS" box type in: frontend.min.js
- 1-Click Install all settings from Thrive Theme Builder
Use a CDN
CDN stands for Content Delivery Network. In layman's terms, this means your media can be served up to your visitors from a server other than your own. The files are cached elsewhere, ideally closer to your visitors, and take the strain and load off your server. This means the core files of your site load faster -- core files like Thrive Architect!
ShortPixel Adaptive Images
ShortPixel has a second plugin called ShortPixel Adaptive Images that will serve up all of the images on your site through their own CDN! You literally have to do nothing except activate the plugin and it'll start serving your images from another server!
Worried about SEO? Don't be. The images are properly marked up to let Google know they're from your website.
Check out these results from a client's website I'm working on to improve the load times:
Let me point out a few things about this client. His website pages were full of images ranging from 500kb up to 1mb. He obviously needs to resize those images and re-upload them. However, before I sent him off to do that I simply installed the ShortPixel Adaptive Images addon. Look what that immediately did to his page size and loading times. Incredible!
If you use this link here you'll get an additional 100 images optimized each month when you sign up!
WPX Cloud is now my preferred CDN because it comes bundled with WPX Hosting (more on that below). WPX Cloud essentially loads your website from multiple points around the world wherever it's closest to the person visiting your site. What's great about WPX Cloud is its ability to integrate seamlessly with W3 Total Cache and any of your sites hosted on the platform. Toggle it on or toggle it off, it just works.
A more traditional CDN that I recommend is called BunnyCDN. It's super cheap and integrates seamlessly with WP Rocket. All you have to do is go into your WP Rocket settings and paste in the CDN information given to you by BunnyCDN. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment and I can walk you through it.
Get Fast WordPress Hosting
Hosting matters A LOT for your Thrive Architect performance. You need a host that is set up by default to support the technical requirements of Thrive Themes plugins and themes, and you need a host that has a proven track record of reliability. That's why there's really only one host that I can possibly recommend wholeheartedly.
My #1 Recommended hosting provider for Thrive Themes is WPX Hosting. This is an EASY choice.
- Blazing fast hosting that is always rock solid.
- Their CDN and Caching integrations work flawlessly with Thrive Themes.
- Customer service is SO FAST and helpful. Any time, day or night, within seconds they answer their chat and get to work on helping me. Hosting over 60 sites with WPX right now, I contact support for various things like help with SSL and they solve my problem quickly.
- No sneaky price hikes or tricks that end up costing you hundreds more per year. What you pay now is what you continue to pay (unlike Siteground).
Unlike most people who refer people to hosting, I actually use who I recommend. This website is hosted on WPX Hosting.
Here's what Shane from Thrive Themes has to say about WPX.
Hosting Providers to 100% Avoid when Using Thrive Themes
While I'm hesitant to say "omg avoid these hosts," I have to pass along knowledge I've gained first-hand from working with hundreds and hundreds of websites utilizing Thrive Architect.
I would stay away from GoDaddy. Although I have successfully managed many sites on GoDaddy that use Thrive Architect, in recent months there are many issues starting to crop up pertaining to server settings and the plugins being slow to load, breaking when updating, and simply not working. Just avoid GoDaddy plans altogether.
For a long time I hosted about 30 client sites on Bluehost, but after repeated downtime and failures in their system I had to make the move off of their servers. They actually blamed my websites for the problem, but after TWO MONTHS of arguing, I finally got a message that it was their fault and they overlooked something. Blaming me, blaming Thrive.... no thanks. Avoid them.
Tweak Your PHP Settings
This is the most technical part of this entire post. You'll need to be able to access your host or server's PHP settings in order to make these changes.
This is not a "must" change setting, but I must point out that for almost every site I have that uses more than just a couple of plugins, you'll be bumping up against those default PHP values real quick.
'500 - Internal Server Error' with Thrive Themes
This error can almost always be blamed on needing your PHP memory limit increased.
The Ideal PHP Settings for Thrive Architect
- the PHP memory limit set to 512MB
- the max post size bigger or equal to 50MB
- the WP-memory limit set to 128/256 MB
- the max upload size should be 50 MB
- the max input vars 2500
- and ideally the max execution time should be around 300.
[Source: Thrive Themes Knowledge Base]
That concludes my guide for improving the page load speed for pages and sites build in Thrive Themes!
I will continue to update this post as time goes on and new resources become available. Please feel free to comment and ask any questions you have about improving load times. I've spent countless hours working to achieve great results, and would be happy to share what I have learned.