Thrive Architect is already one of the best optimized page builders 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.
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 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.
WP Rocket - The Best Caching Plugin for Thrive Architect
Hands down the best caching plugin for Thrive Architect and Thrive Theme Builder is WP Rocket (link to their official site).
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.
W3 Total Cache
W3 Total Cache is a great option as well. I currently use W3 Total Cache -- completely free -- on several of my clients websites. Sometimes, however, I haved noticed strange behavior with W3 Total Cache that causes Thrive elements on my site to load strangely. Though still good, for the reasons above I have begun to migrate my more important sites to WP Rocket.
That said, you should definitely try it for yourself because it's free! You can find it in the WordPress plugin repository here.
The team at Thrive Customer Service put out this video where they go over the settings.
- 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
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!
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.
Shared Hosting vs. VPS and Managed Hosting
Shared hosting means that you are essentially sharing a wall with your neighbors. When one site is slow, it can really affect the other sites as well. Shared hosting typically places restrictions on resource usage, and when it comes to WordPress and page builders, this can be extremely problematic.
For this reason, I highly recommend you avoid shared hosting environments wherever possible. The alternatives to shared hosting are to either get VPS, or a Managed WordPress Hosting environment where you are given your own unique resources.
Using a VPS, while affording a lot of customization for performance, is definitely something to consider only if you're willing to put in the time to learn and become an advanced user. Otherwise, get yourself a good Managed WP host.
I highly recommend Bluehost VPS. All of my clients websites that I host are located on a VPS with Bluehost, and I haven't had any problems. Their Managed WordPress hosting (business class) is also really good, though I prefer to have more control over my settings.
Managed WordPress Hosting Providers
Additional Managed WP hosting providers I recommend are Siteground and WPX Hosting. These companies have gone to great lengths to give great hosting.
Hosting Providers to 100% Avoid Using Thrive
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.
GoDaddy & Shared Hosting
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 shared hosting and GoDaddy hosts.
Hosts on Closed Platforms
There are several hosts out there that do a phenomenal job for managed WordPress hosting. These include Flywheel, WPEngine, and others of their kind. Though technically you can host a Thrive Architect or Thrive Theme Builder site there, you'll find that you run into significant issues.
The biggest issues is control over caching. These platforms have their own internal CDN and caching plugins, meaning you can't bring your own. That's fine, except for when their settings conflict with your Thrive plugins.
The Thrive Support Forums are full of people having issues with things not working properly, and the problem ultimately comes down to the Thrive support staff saying that it's a caching issue with WP Engine (or other host).
I also find these providers use firewalls that conflict with a lot of Thrive's code.
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 Architect!
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.